Disappearing Spoon

Education is no joke… but that doesn’t mean some of the things we learn can’t be used for a laugh.

Take the disappearing spoon for example. That’s the thing pictured up above.

My sister explained how it works this morning, and it made me wish I had paid closer attention during chemistry class.

Some books I’ve read since my formal education ended such as The Turning Point and The Tao of Physics have made me feel the same way about other subjects, especially the scientific ones, I still remember how hard I tried to pay my tuition physics.

But then again, my sister didn’t learn about the spoon thing in school.

She picked it up recently in a book called The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements, so maybe that just means the door doesn’t have to close on our education when we leave school.

Another piece of good news, according to Kim, is that Sam Kean’s book is a better read than its title.

She says the science reporter explains lots of weird and wonderful elemental facts, and includes stories such as the spoon prank scientist like to play on students and colleagues.

The trick involves the metallic element gallium which resembles aluminium at room temperature in most places in the world.

The prank would be best reserved for winter in Botswana because the metal melts at 29 degrees Celsius.

That melting point is the key.

The prank requires moulding gallium into a set of spoons, serving them with cups of hot tea, and then watching guests’ shock as their utensils disappear.

Actually, gallium is fairly difficult to find and it costs about P300 for 15 grams which is enough to make a spoon, so you might prefer to make only one of them.

Or maybe, like me, you would be happy to just read the book and know such an odd metal exists. If not and you have access to the internet, there are a few YouTube videos out there that show you how to make a melting spoon.

Anyway, what I am driving at here is that I think it is important for teachers and parents to remember that learning doesn’t always have to be hard work.

It can be fun. I’m not saying it has to be a load of laughs all the time, but when students know there is a chance some of it will be entertaining they are more likely pay attention to most of what is being taught.

It is kind of like this column.

Sometimes I have a message I think is important for you to consider… but sometimes I don’t.

When that happens and I just want to share a thought or a possibility or some information about spoons, I try to be entertaining and as easy to read as possible so you will be more likely to come back next week.

If we can see learning as fun, those of us still in school will get more out of the experience and all of us will be more likely to continue learning on our own.

And if we can do that, I believe we will continue to grow and enjoy our lives no matter how old we get.

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