I have found many curbside treasures on my afternoon skate over the years. Examples include: sets of vintage TV trays, bicycles, a giant paper-mache rocket ship (7 feet high–wish I still had that thing), high-end patio furniture, a nice stained-glass lamp, the yellow dog-mascot of my classroom, a cast-iron clawfoot bathtub, a stage spotlight, a treadmill, and the Wheel of Doom (a large Wheel of Fortune type wheel that goes clack clack clack as it spins–I use it to choose which tests to rerun questions from).  And that’s just some of the groovy stuff I remember off the top of my head. But this latest acquisition is proving to be one of the most useful yet. Behold the Twist and Ski!

The usefulness and appeal in a seventh grade classroom should be obvious to anyone who has had experience with the animal that is a seventh grader.

  1. It’s weird and new to them. “What’s that? It looks weird. Why do you have it? Can I try it?” (Notice the progression.)
  2. It’s physical. They’re in junior high. They want to wiggle and move. They need to wiggle and move.  And the weirder the movement the better.
  3. I made it a challenge. “You guys probably can’t do it anyway without hurting yourselves. And then I’ll probably get sued, and then where would we be?” “Nuh uh!”

I call it the Excess Energy Dissipation Device  for seventh graders. And boy does it get used!

Now, before school, when I open my door early, and at break, there is a mad dash for the EEDD. They still haven’t really figured out how to do it smoothly, but they sure do love it. Sure enough, we’ve had a couple geniuses fall off, but they’re back in the rush the next day. One kid tried to do a 360 on the turntable, but he forgot about his giant backpack…


Here it is in action.