Plumcroft Primary School; on the hill. There it is after 60 miles on the Southern M25.
Hi to Bill, the Science Co-ordinator. Sign in electronically, no unflattering photograph this time. Noise from hundreds of happy children on a sun drenched lunchtime play ground. Plumcroft feels good and dynamic despite late Victorian architecture.
Exchange classrooms to one with a more appropriate size and with a sink and a tap. Vital as it turns out. Set up for the first session. Cups, non-latex gloves, latex, vinegar, bowls of water. Get the presentation up on the screen. Access to the computer is over coats, school bags and children’s identities.
Almost ready when the first class lines up and in they come. This is their classroom so they look around at what interference has been imposed upon their environment. They are early, thirty of them; five times six. Good afternoon, I’m Clive and my colleague is Mike.
Into the presentation. Change, water, photosynthesis,, rubber, and lead in to the activity. Good searching responses and questions.
Into the action! Gloves on for the first two groups. Pour, mix hard, wash, dry and bounce. Wow! What have I made! Gloves off, Second group. Slow to start, perhaps it’s the gloves, but soon balls of impossible shapes are bouncing. Smiles of achievement. Ethnic smiles! The last group of session one now know what goes on; they dash for gloves and straggle over the class finish line.
Class two are already lined up and jostle departing class one as they bounce their way out. This group are more unruly than class one but just as sharp with questions in the presentation. This is Bill’s class. Mike does the presentation while I scramble to clean up cups, bowls and stirrers for the next exercise in challenges to elasticity. Gloves on. Ready? Pour , mix, wash dry and bounce. Across the classroom a bowl of murky water is tipped over, and part of the floor is awash. Children on their hands and knees chasing errant, erratically bouncing balls. We are using more vinegar than anticipated. Bill, do you have any vinegar? Surprisingly he has. [ Are modern teachers prepared for anything, or does he just like chips?]
Class two wend their way out of a now latex smeared, saturated floored classroom smelling like a chip shop! Time is short for class three, as awaiting parents are now stacking up at the school gates. A shortened presentation, few chances for questions, but the ticking clock is curtailing class three’s opportunities to test their potential as rubber technologists. Two tables, paddle their way to successful bounces, while the clock ticks to the 3.10 parental collection. Some determined children push for their chance to have a ball, and leave triumphant with their bouncing trophies. Time’s up. But one small glum boy stands forlorn, gloves on, stirrer in hand. We cannot leave him out, so with a quick vigorous mix he leaves with a satisfied grin, to demonstrate his scientific prowess to a puzzled parent.
And then there just were five of us, and no children. Quiet and devastation remain. Discarded gloves, soggy paper towels, cups stirrers, empty latex and vinegar containers disappeared into a surprised waste bin, and tables and slurpy floor are restored, hopefully to an acceptable condition for the incoming cleaners. Bowls are emptied and latex slops discretely disposed for the attention of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The three teachers treat themselves to fairy cakes and Mike and me to Bakewell tarts.
What happened to three hours of our lives? Demo-day at Plumcroft Primary School happened. Two litres of latex, three bottles of vinegar, two rolls of paper towels, 22 stirrers and two Bakewell tarts happened. And by the reaction of 90 children and three teachers it was a happy and successful three hours; so much so that we will be invited back. Mike and I enjoyed this hectic event when science changed liquid to solid, order into chaos, and brought bouncing balls to Plumcroft playground.
Back to the M25, and for Mike and I to contemplate the tranquillity of the golf course.