Third Grade Plumbing

I think the third graders are finally starting to catch on to my teaching methods. I’m really proud of them, because I know it’s hard learning about mechanics, conveyancing and the Australian legal system when you’re only eight years old. They’ve stopped complaining about no lunch breaks and started answering my questions with the required detail.

Just the other day, I was teaching them about plumbing and the sewer systems of Melbourne. Billy politely raised his hand.

“Yes, Billy?” I said.

“Miss Frankie, may I go to the bathroom?”

I nodded, but he did not stand, for he knew a series of questions were coming. “If you can tell me why ‘bathroom’ is the wrong term to use, where your waste will be going once you are done, and who we would call if the drains were not working properly.”

He did not blush, as he once would have. Instead, Billy took a moment to think. “In Australia, we don’t say bathroom, because there are usually no baths in there. Instead, we just say toilets. All waste from the drains and toilets in the school connect through pipes to the sewers beneath the streets, which then goes to the waste treatment plants of Melbourne. And if you have issues, you should call a drain plumber.”

“Very good, Billy,” I said, ecstatic. That was perhaps the best answer I’d received yet. “You may go.”

I turned back to the rest of the class and told them to continue drawing their diagrams of the Melbourne sewer systems. They drew for another twenty minutes before I collected the diagrams and called the class to attention.

“All right,” I said, “who can tell me the number of blocked drains in the Brighton area?

Several hands shot up. They answered in an orderly fashion, as trained.

“Two hundred!”



I didn’t know the real answer, but it doesn’t really matter. I just wanted them to think about it and have a guess. We play these types of games often. I love my class and am really proud of their progress. Hopefully, I take them into grade four, so that we can study nuclear physics together.

– Miss Frankie