When initially setting up our new block room, a peg board was installed and multi-colored pegs (golf tees) were supplied for the children to experiment with. Up until recently, the pegs had been used primarily for collecting, spreading on the floor, or hiding inside of temporary structures. This week, some assorted, recycled, cardboard boxes were added to the room and the children quickly realized that the sharp points of these pegs could be used to pierce through the cardboard.
The experimenting had begun!
Were all the cardboard boxes the same? How did the pegs affect the different cardboard structures? What tools can I use to assist me in poking the pegs through the cardboard? Which tools are most effective?
Some cardboard was thin enough that the children could easily poke the peg all the way through and create holes using just their hands. One idea was to poke a bunch of holes and then see what it looked like on the light table, linking the block room experiments with the light and shadow experiments happening simultaneously in the Art Studio.
Another type of cardboard seemed to have a thicker, hexagonal pattern, similar to a beehive, hidden just underneath its outer layer. The children noticed this by rubbing their hands and blocks along the surface. When this cardboard was poked by the pegs, they went in further, made a circular imprint and also stuck out of the cardboard long after the child was done manipulating the peg. This sparked a flurry of pattern making and excitement.
There are also two very thick boxes, similar to platforms, that the children were having difficulty piercing with the pegs. EB, AB and MH worked tirelessly, pushing with their hands, to get the pegs in a quarter of an inch or so. When their hands grew tired, they looked around for some assistance. They tried putting rulers on top and then pushing so their fingers would be relieved from the hard work. This worked a little better but the force they were producing wasn’t quite large enough to push through the dense cardboard. What they needed was a machine! They looked around their environment and saw some 5-inch, wooden blocks. They grabbed one end of the block and as they used the force of their arm to strike the peg. They had created the simplest of machines, a class 3 lever! Now their force was magnified and focused into a hard object and they could easily push the peg all the way through the cardboard and even a little deeper.
But wait! Now the pegs are stuck! The children were very determined to figure out how to get the pegs back out. They pinched and pulled with their fingers but the pegs were really embedded in the cardboard. They looked around the room and spotted the rulers they had tried using for pushing the pegs in and began using them to dig and pry out the pegs.
This was successful but still proved difficult for the pegs that were pushed in past the surface of the cardboard. Using the same logic and another lever, EB grabbed a peg and used its pointy tip to dig deep around the base of the embedded peg and levered it right out! EB, AB, MH and DB were ecstatic! They jumped up and showed their teachers and friends the discovery. A simple class 1 lever did the trick. They used the strength from their hands to manipulate the tool and use its hardness to easily lift the peg out of the thick cardboard. Re-energized by their inventiveness, the children worked for hours, over days, digging and wrenching until every last peg was removed!