Fidget spinners banned in this PBC school. How ’bout yours?

This meme of this year’s fads is making the rounds with teachers.

Earlier this month, Superintendent Robert Avossa admitted that, yes, his children, ages 11 and 14, own fidget spinners.

Every teacher in the country is likely familiar with these pocket-sized gadgets which you can twirl between fingers – so familiar that already schools across the country have banned them. (By the calculations of Alexi Roy at spinnerlist.com, that includes 63 of the largest high schools in the country.)

And at least one industrious student has opened a change.org account in pursuit of reversing that ruling – 34 supporters so far.

 

Avossa said during this public admission – really a press conference about something else entirely – there’s no district-wide policy regarding spinners. That’s a decision left with principals.

But at least one school, Palm Beach Public, has lowered the boom. To paraphrase the email to parents Friday:  If your child owns one, keep it at home, please.

It’s not as if anyone needs an excuse to get in on the trend, but the spin on spinners has been that it helps people – people with anxiety or attention deficit disorder – focus.

That spin, however,  is dubious, Duke University professor and clinical psychologist Scott Kollins told NPR this week.

“I know there’s lots of similar toys, just like there’s lots of other games and products marketed toward individuals who have ADHD, and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” Kollins said.

This bit of news has yet to put a dent in fidget demand – at least not at my house, or apparently, the superintendent’s.

Slime science: Why slime is like leftover pasta

Is slime a fading fad? Maybe. (Those fidget spinners look a lot less messy.) But the one thing slime has over spinners and bottle flipping, and whatever other fad you can thing of is its potential for a lesson in applied science.

So what is the science of slime, you ask?

Read how the slime thing is playing out in Palm Beach County here. 

Let’s just assume we all know that things in this world are made of teeny, tiny molecules. Glue is what’s called a linear polymer, it’s along molecule made up from a chain of smaller repeating units called monomers.

The folks at Museum of Science, Boston, can take it from here:

(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

“A linear polymer is like fresh cooked pasta: each noodle is separate from the other and when you go to dump it out of the container, the pasta does not hold the container shape.”

Mix the pasta, or in this case, the glue, with Borax, a mineral made of monomers of sodium borate, and they interact.  More precisely, because you use water when you combine them, you get hydrogen bonding and the long chains turn into a matrix.

“A matrix polymer is like left over pasta: when you take it out of the container it has the shape of the container, with the noodles all stuck to each other.”

Slime even has a place in Florida’s educational standards. And not just in chemistry.

Hagfish (Getty Images)

Slime is a secret weapon for a lot of animals, including the hagfish, said Alexandra Laing, who works in Palm Beach County’s curriculum department.  The hagfish can secrete stringy proteins that turn into slime when they come in contact with seawater. Word is they can mix up buckets of the stuff in mere minutes.

“But it also relates to humans,” Laing said. “We make six cups of slime a day that coats the insides of our digestive system. It’s in the lining of our nose and mouth.”

Still, it seems plenty of parents are over it.

As educational as it may be, one Michael’s clerk confided, “I have a lot of parents who can’t wait for this fad to end.”

Count mom, Latoya Mills, among them.

“It clogged my sink and got into the finish of my sofa. I can’t keep Ziplock bags in stock. All my containers are gone. I have no containers. None,” Mills said.

Who knows what’s happening in the landfill with the discarded batches.

Maybe that’s the next science lesson.

RELATED:

Slime: How tweens make it, tape it and rake it in

Is it safe to use Borax for DIY slime?

The soothing sounds of Slime. ASMR anyone?