As critical to their work in the STEAM lab (and functioning in international circles) for years to come, last week Beth took on the important task of introducing the 3-4 class to the metric system. As Americans, the Magpies, of course, are all-too-familiar with the archaic and ironically named ‘Standard’ system of inches, ounces, quarts, and other such oddities that have no practical use in the laboratory. Fortunately, Beth knows that, as Steamboat residents, the kids are also highly competitive. So, she had them apply that same aptitude to the ‘Mini-Metric Olympics’, a pre-lab experiment for which they needed to use teamwork and critical thinking within a hands-on, physical quest for glory. Events included ‘Paper Plate Discus’ (the unofficial 3-4 World Record is pictured, above), ‘Cotton Ball Shot Put’, ‘Sponge Squeeze’, ‘Paper Straw Javelin Throw’, ‘Marble Grab’ and ‘Big Foot Contest’. For each, the Magpies worked in teams to make reasonable estimations of their projected physical feats, which they recorded in meters, milliliters, grams, and square centimeters, respectively. Then, the real excitement began as they tested their estimates against reality, hurling cotton and paper plates down the hallway, weighing handfuls of marbles, collecting spongefuls of water, and finding the true area of the soles of their feet. Usefully, Beth steered the apparent rambunctiousness with deliberate, constructive requirements, since the students needed to communicate effectively with their partners and hone their estimations for increased accuracy over multiple tests. Who knew the metric system could be so entertaining? Beth, Master of Ceremony.