The kids and I attended Ronin’s school science night last week, and one of the experiments showcased was “The Naked Egg.” This really stuck out to the kids as being very cool, and frankly I thought so too. Upon leaving the awesome PTA team had one-sheets with instructions for all of the experiments we did that night, so we took them home for later use.
Ronin and Ellie kept asking to do the egg experiment, so a few nights ago we plopped an egg down in a cup of vinegar and set it to wait. Three full days of waiting and watching, every morning they rushed down to see how the egg was doing. On Wednesday at 7pm, it was finally time to remove the egg from it’s heavenly solution (Yes, I have a thing for vinegar. I actually used to drink it as a kid. But I digress…)
I slowly pulled it out. You see, the acid of the vinegar dissolves the base shell leaving only the membrane in tact. So a squishy “naked” egg results. When the shell completely dissolves, the naked egg looks yellow instead of white and while pretty squishy, ours was still white. I realized a small layer of shell still remained. I brought it to the sink and carefully rinsed in water to see if it would come off, but as I rubbed it a little the egg broke.
Ronin burst into tears. “No, the egg broke! I was SO excited! We have to start again! Wahhhhh!” which of course was very sad. But what can you do, right? These things happen. Experiments fail. All.the.time. I quickly tried to calm the kids and explain to them that when you do an experiment you don’t always know the outcome. Many times these things fail, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s in failing that you actually learn the most.
John has been trying to teach Ronin this lesson for quite some time as it relates to playing video games. He gets very emotional when he loses or can’t figure out how to win or find the solution to a game. I think the idea that you learn more from failing has always gone in one ear and out the other.
But this time, I hit him from 2 sides.
First, we talked experiments and how they often fail. I even pulled out a reference I knew he’d “get” from a movie we just saw “Big Hero 6”. In it, the boy who created the puffy robot Baymax tried and failed about 86 times before his robot worked. There’s a scene in the film where you witness his many failures but see him keep trying until Baymax becomes a reality. OK, that example started to hit home.
Second, we talked about our experiment failure: the egg breaking. So Ronin, what did we learn for next time? He said, “Well, we learned not to rub the egg. And we learned to do 2 eggs next time!” Awesome.
He was of course still disappointed, but with a new plan in place, we plopped to eggs into a cup and are waiting 3 more days to hopefully not fail this time.
I think it was such a good lesson. We often don’t let kids lose or fail these days. We want them to feel successful and confident. But in the end, life doesn’t always work that way, and when we fail we always learn so much more.