Day 37: Circuits, screws, and (garden) bulbs

We didn’t go to our co-op today, but we nevertheless made good use of the day. We took apart an electric steam iron (which I recently knocked off the top of the fridge and smashed on the floor) to see how it worked, Boy worked on a wooden garbage truck kit (put together with screws), and the kids planted some early-spring bulbs using the ‘real’ garden tools on their own.

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Taking apart the iron was really cool. Just finding the relevant screws was a challenge, and we watched a YouTube video on iron disasembly to figure out what we should pry open to get to the last screw. We also looked up the color coding of wires to figure out what was what. We looked at the simple mechanism that controls steam, the red wires that led to/from the ‘on’ light, and then the circuit itself, figuring out how the flow of electricity goes, and how the little switch mechanism works. It was surprisingly delicate and lovely. Then we reassembled the temperature control and on/off mechanism, listening for the ‘click’ that showed when the connection was made or broken.

Boy was most excited about just unscrewing things, and really, really, really wanted to unscrew the pieces that made up the circuit. I asked him to wait until we remembered it well enough to put it back together, but came up with an idea to satisfy his burning desire to use a screwdriver!


He’d started assembling the wooden garbage truck kit last year, but we’d set it aside and never gotten back to it. So I quickly dug that out and let him have at it. He did a few steps and then left it for later. It’s not the greatest kit, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for things he can do independently with some tools.

We also identified some red beetles that have been swarming at the base of a tree in our neighborhood for the last month, and took a really close look at a millipede that Boy found in the bathroom. We gently put it in a bug cup and checked it out  with one of our magnifying glasses, and then released it in our front garden. It’s little legs were fascinating. We looked up the difference between millipedes and centipedes. Millipedes can have up to 400 pairs of short legs, are slow, and eat decomposing organic material like leaf litter. Centipedes have 15 pairs of long legs, are predators, and are fast.  And yes, centipedes can eat millipedes.

After lunch we headed to the library to return/renew a few things, and pick up our holds: several books about Sacagewea and Lewis and Clark, and one how-things-work book for Boy. (We started reading that tonight, and it seemed at a good level for us.)

On the way home we stopped at the garden store for some additional bulbs and mulch for the kids’ garden. We already have mid-spring daffodils, so we picked out some early-spring crocus and narcissus bulbs. Boy is really wanting to use tools independently, and given my (ghastly) tendency to hover and criticize and generally stress him out, I told him that he could use my (gorgeous) tree spade to dig his holes, all by himself, and I’d stay out back with Girl and Dog. I gave him a craft stick to measure 6″ holes for his narcissus bulbs, and said if he accidentally dug up any other bulbs, just to rebury them 6″ apart. And I emphasized that it really is his garden, so whatever happened was okay.

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Girl wanted to plant her pretty little crocus bulbs along the sidewalk away from the other bulbs. I helped her dig some of the holes, but she filled all of them back in herself. We’ll clean off the paver stones and mulch the bed in the next few days, then just wait til spring.

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