Sunday, September 29, 2013

What Does Time Look Like? Part I

File this blog under the category:  “Everything is a learning opportunity:” My husband Jack spent a weekend replacing the front porch of our 112 year old house. After replacing a number of boards, he realized that he needed to purchase a plane to make the last few boards fit.  

After the porch was finished, he came into the house with a few of the shavings and asked me, “Do you think your students would enjoy these?”  We quickly retreated back outside to pick up the curliest shavings to bring them into my classroom for a morning provocation. They were laid out in the studio for the children to play with and propose their ideas about what these shavings actually were.  Ideas ranged the gamut of:  "they're wooden lace" to "this is what is inside of a tree."  They also made excellent hair and facial hair:

Later in the day during Project/Investigative Research, we revisted our topic of time with a new approach:  What does time look like?  We examined both the linear construct offered up by N's father and A.L.'s mother's interesting interpretation, which helped us think about time as a non-linear construct.  

The curly wooden wood shavings were used as a springboard to think about non-linear time:

What does time look like?

I: This is a hard one!

After reviewing A.L.'s mother's timeline, M remarked:  When [the timeline] goes down, something bad happened, and when it goes up, good things are happening.  It's like a curl!

A.C.:  Time, when it’s bad, goes curly, and when it’s great, it goes straight.  I have my own time track.  Everyone has their own and it never stops.

The children were shown a photo of spiral clock as a provocation [above]:

N:  That is what a portal looks like!  You go around and around and around and it takes you to the past, present, or the future.  A portal is either a time machine or something you jump into.
Is a portal real?
N: You could build one.
M:  I think it looks like a snail clock.
L.:  It has numbers. Where does it start?  [Starts at 12 and goes around and stops at seven, starts again at seven and keeps going around]
Is it going forward or backward?

N:  Nobody knows. 
J:  Time isn’t in a circle.  It is a spiral that goes around.
There was some disagreement about where the clock actually starts and stops.  Some children thought it would go clockwise, while others thought it would go counter-clockwise.  Some thought that it starts in the past and goes into the future, while others were not quite certain.
T:  It’s going forward in time. 
E.S.:  If you build your own time machine, it will take you to the future and then back.
A spiral time line for the age of the dinosaurs was then shown to the class [left]:
J:  It looks like an overpass.

N:  It looks like a tornado of time. 

A.L.:  It looks like a long road.  It seems like a long, curving road, never stopping.

T:  A tornado with overpasses.
Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory (1931)
Following up on the idea that time can go up or down, depending on the event or our emotions, we wondered what might make the time droop, like Dali's clocks:

C:  It’s like [the clocks] had air in them and the air blew out and then they dropped. 
How can time run out of air? 
I:  If time was too tired.
M:  The past melts.  There is too much heat in the past.
W:  The past melts away, like memories melt away. 
E.S.:  My memories don’t always melt.  In the future…if you think of things that happen in the future, like birthdays, you have to wait for it. 
N:  The past melts away because [in the past, there were] too many volcanoes and lava.


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