Ordered Chaos

From yesterday at 4:00 pm until today at 8:00 am I had been in a very dynamic activity: a student camping at the school’s playground. After asking for all the necessary permissions, my mentor teacher was granted the opportunity to make a camping in the school for fourth grade as part of the theme of their English class, the universe. Twenty four students of fourth grade stayed a night at the school. The activity was called “A Night Out Under the UPR Elementary School Sky.” There were activities of several classes planned.

Here is the official program of the activity:

The first thing was building the camp. We organized the tents in a huge circle and left at least one window open in each tent to facilitate the supervision. Here is a picture of our camp:

The principal activity was related with the universe: observing the planets and the stars with telescopes of the Puerto Rico Astronomy Society. First they saw Venus. Then the people from the Astronomy Society gave an amazing conference about the Universe for the students. In the conference the students were able to make all kinds of questions about the Universe. For example: why Titan has atmosphere? Here is a video of a very small part of the conference given to the students, along two pictures:

After the conference the students were able to use the telescopes again to see other planets. The teachers and the parents also were able to see them. Everyone learned a lot, including teachers! The Astronomy Society brought two big telescopes. Here is a picture of one of them:

After using the telescopes the students had a night snack. The parents brought so much food and beverages that we the teachers thought that it was enough food to survive a whole hurricane in the school. We were wrong: as soon these kids began eating, they ate it all. I learned to never defy the appetite of a growing kid, specially if he or she spent the whole morning (the field day) and early evening (before the camping stared) playing and running with classmates.

After the snack the maths activity started. The math activity was also related with the theme of the Universe: it was building a paper rocket calculating the measures and then throw it with air propulsion and measuring how far away it went. Some parents helped with the process of building the paper rockets. Both students and parents really enjoyed this activity. This activity took so long and they enjoyed it so much that the English activity and the Language Arts activity were cancelled. Here are a video and pictures of this activity:

It was about 11:30 when this activity ended. The teachers expected that the student would be tired at this point, but they were not yet! So, we sang happy birthday to one of the students:

After singing Happy Birthday and eating cake, we made a campfire with marshmallows, honey crackers and Nutella:

After the campfire the students went to the bathrooms to put their pajamas on without any of the teachers telling them so. The parents and the teachers smiled: they were finally tired, or so we thought, so we began organizing for going to sleep. The tents were distributed: some for girls, some for boys. Parents and teachers were distributed too in such way that no tent would be unsupervised.

We discovered too late that giving this kids cake, marshmallows and Nutella before going to bed was a really unpractical idea. Soon the kids began running around and playing along themselves, switching between tents. It was an ordered chaos. Literally.

At 1:00 am we needed some discipline to help them going to sleep. We forbid being out the tent, tent switching, cell phones, tablets and flash lights. Even with those measures, most of them still were talking and laughing at 2:30 am. Teachers put on their pajamas at 3:00 am and many kids still were making chatting and laughing noises inside their tents.

At 3:30 some students complained that they could not sleep, so they were allowed to go out and play silently so the ones that were sleeping in the tents could keep sleeping without being interrupted. Because there were students without sleeping, there were also teachers and parents that would not sleep to supervise them. Of the three teachers that spend the whole night camping with the students, I was the only lucky one who slept something: from around 3:30 am to 6:00 am. I was allowed to sleep because after the school camping I had to go to class at the University, I have a class on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and after that class I need to drive home for fifty minutes, so I needed some minimum rest in order to be able to go to class later and drive in the afternoon. The other teachers would go home to sleep immediately after the camping was over. Actually, I was supposed to sleep until 7:30 am, but one of the students felt funny enough to enter to my tent spray me a green substance, so I woke up, to stop him from waking up the three sleeping girls that were in my tent. Here you can see a selfie with the thing they threw inside the tent:

At 7:00 am almost everyone was in their way to the bathrooms, although two kids insisted in keep sleeping:

At 7:30 there were many playing around:

The breakfast began at 7:30. We had scrambled eggs, cereals, oatmeal, donuts, muffins, bread, coffee and juices:

I needed to confiscate this to a student because they were doing a mess with it:

At 8:00 the parents that did not slept at the school began to arrive and the kids began to leave. At 8:30 the three teachers left everything cleaned and organized and closed the school without any student being left inside.

It is true that I am tired, all the teachers and parents that slept at the school were very tired, but we all think that this kind of activities are very important for the personal and academic well being of our kids, so it is worthy. Everyone had a blast in our ordered chaos!

Let’s keep growing!

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