“All right, students, who can tell me three brands of air conditioners sold in Australia?” I asked. “First to do so wins chocolate!”
Several hands shot up, but I chose Sarah. “Alpha, Minstrel and Pan Sonic,” she said.
“Excellent work, Sarah. Come up and choose a chocolate from my table.”
I think the third graders and I are really starting to connect. As soon as I realised the key to their attention and hearts was sugary treats, they were more than willing to learn about all these adult things. We’ve already had courses in plumbing, mechanics, micro-physics and the probability of galactic travel by 2053. Today is all about air conditioners.
“For today’s project, we will be splitting into groups of three and preparing a five-minute presentation on where you can get the best air conditioning service in Beaumaris. Same groups as yesterday, please.”
My students are used to these quickly prepared presentations by now. I gave them half an hour to get ready, which includes all the time for research and putting together a computer presentation. When the time was over, I called the first group up to the front. Billy, Sarah and James stood with complete confidence, unshaken by the prospect of public speaking.
Billy spoke first, while James changed the slides over. “What is air conditioning? Mentone philosopher Jack McCallom says that it is one of the most important aspects of our lives, living in a hot and dry country like Australia. Without our air conditioners, we would all suffer or even die.”
Now it was Sarah’s turn to speak. “Of course, we didn’t always have air conditioners. As few as 120 years ago, people had to endure the heat every single day of the summer. How did they get by? We don’t know. There are few records of that time, and it should not have been possible to survive without air cooling.”
Their presentation continued on like this for some time. Perhaps a little dramatic, but I am proud of my students. They’ve come so far.