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Teachable Moments

Some of you may have been aware that this past weekend the Pontiac Silverdome was scheduled to be imploded.  I say scheduled, because while there was a loud noise, the building definitely remained standing.  I couldn't help but chuckle as I followed along, joining plenty of others who quickly attached the failed attempt with the myriad other disappointments that are my Detroit Lions.
Then I came across this article on MLive 'Failed Silverdome Implosion - 'A Really Good Mistake,' science teacher says.  That science teacher is Todd Bloch.  On his blog Sweat to Inspire he posted about how the upcoming implosion was a great teachable moment.  He was even taking his son to see the event.  
Turns out it was a bit anticlimactic. Though probably not quite as comical as the Weather Channel bus blocking cameras of the recent Georgia Dome implosion.

Rather than being completely disheartened, and being the educator he is, I think Todd actually got MORE ideas from the 'mistake,' than the material he would have gleaned from a successful demolition!  
What a great lesson this is about the teachable moment - and perspective.  While I'm sure the demolition company is not winning any new business from their very public moment,  think about how you can use this type of event to bring real conversations to your classrooms!
Below is Todd's original post in it's entirety, shared with his permission.  I would encourage you to read the post and then check out the MLive article referenced above that resulted from his original post.  It's a great example of seizing the teachable moment - whatever that may be.
Silverdome Implosion = Teachable Moment
Todd Bloch
Sweat to Inspire

dome
Flicker by Dave Hogg
“Mr Bloch, did you hear they are imploding the Silverdome this weekend?” A student asked at the start of advisory today. “Yes, I heard it on the news.”
“What’s the Silverdome?” another student piped in.
Since Ford Field opened in 2002 the Pontiac Silverdome has become a forgotten relic wasting away in the elements. My students weren’t born the last time a significant event occurred there. I quickly shared how I attended Lions and Pistons games an the occasional concert at the Silverdome while I was in college. Pulling up pictures of the stadium for them all to see.
“Man it would be cool to see it BLOWN AWAY!” I was quickly reminded of how middle school students love explosions. What science could we discuss? I quickly responded,
“You realize the matter is not destroyed, just changed into something else.”
“What?”
“Matter doesn’t disappear it just changes.” A puzzled look over came the 7th grader’s face just as the bell rang for him to move on to his next class.
Middle school students love science, they just don’t quite understand all of it yet. Implosions look like explosions, not many kids care to know the difference. When something implodes or explodes all they cares is what was once there is now gone. But where did it go? Energy transforms matter into something else, dust and debris, that has the exact same mass as the original structure. Students have a difficult time understanding this.
To help my student understand the law of conservation of mass and energy transformations I plan to use a new website, Legends of Learning, where the science is brought to life through games. To help my inquiring students better understand the implosion of the Pontiac Silverdome there is the game Energy Lab that shows students how energy flows in the chemical reactions used to implode the structure. Students are engaged while playing the learning games. Potential Match can be used to explain how the potential energy is changed to kinetic energy and back during the implosion.
Students love seeing science in actions rather than reading about it in a book or seeing it in a video. Video games help science come alive and be interactive, like those teachable moments we find in life.
I plan on getting my 13 year old son up early on Sunday to drive down M-59 and watch the dome go down all in the name of science.
Don’t miss all the teachable moments that occur in your community where science is always in action!

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