I can never understand why a student doesn’t enjoy studying. I suppose the fault must lie with the student’s immaturity or the teacher’s boringness. I remember how much I dreaded waking every morning to milk the cows when I was young. The menial was meaningless to me then.

But what causes me to really scratch my head (or rub my baldness) is chemistry. Why don’t more students love it? Math students should love the orderliness of it. The cook and the cow milker use it every day. Isn’t it cool these days to eat more proteins and fewer carbohydrates? Why then the apathy?

So I lecture and I diagram and I digress in chemistry. I talk about our stomachs and the students wonder why you can’t drink hydrochloric acid if that is what is in your stomach anyway. We pass around the small vial of HCl and practice wafting instead of sniffing. This knowledge I pass down from Lester Showalter and my time in his ninth grade chemistry class. Some students sniff and get burnt.

Another student notices the small skull and crossbones on the label. He pulls out his pencil and adds, “if swallowed, buy a coffin.”

I hope they are enjoying it a little bit.

This past week we made hydrogen.

I stopped along the main street in town and entered a tiny auto parts store. “Acid pentru baterie?” They pointed me down the street to the next shop where I bought some diluted H2SO4 in a bottle labeled “electrolit.”

Zinc was more difficult to resource. Asphalt shingles do not exist in Romania, so zinc strips don’t either. I researched the metal roofing screws that I had left over from my house, and discovered they indeed were coated with zinc.

In an ideal demonstration my sulfuric acid would have been concentrated, and my zinc would have been in beautiful chunks. But we made do with what we had, and what we had made hydrogen.

No pictures of the effect a match had on this little balloon. But it did make a handy pop.

Johnny was a chemist. Johnny is no more. For what Johnny thought was H2O, was H2SO4!

Summer Break

Summer has come and with it this blog has fallen silent.

Not intentionally. But the rush of vacation has kept me from my computer. So now the house is hot, my blog is cold, and I’ve put me down in a coffee shop for some catch-up.

This post is about my summer work. My next several posts will tell of other activities a teacher could engage in to recreate.

A teacher joke sticks with me.

The teacher is asked to give three reasons for teaching. He replies, “June, July, and August.”

It’s true to many degrees. Could teachers hold up if they had to teach for twelve months? Could they afford it?

This summer is finding me pulling wires and digging holes and pouring concrete for an electric company. I’m grateful for the boosted income; it helps support my habit. And I’m grateful for the chance to get out and work in the dirt.img_8037IMG_8058


Because a teacher needs to keep his muscles in tune. He has desks to move, books to carry, and little boys to impress.

The last day of school I was wrapping up reports in the school office when a fourth and a fifth grader came by to give me cookies and a welcome diversion.

I can’t say how it happened, but they were soon asking about my muscle.

And eyes wide, they demanded to take a picture ;/

Pehaps they realized what a risk they had been running all year.

Being Green

Teaching in a small village means most of my students walk or bike to school.

No more big yellow busses.

From the American chatter I hear, AOC would be proud of us!

Wait! Is that a science book?

Hmm… Maybe not so much.