Teaching About Toilets and Thinking Outside the Box

With the beginning of this new semester we have started our unit on hydrology. This unit focuses on all the water found on the Earth and the water cycle.

I feel like as a middle school teacher I am constantly thinking of out of the box ways to pull my students into a lesson. It is something that is becoming more common in the Science classroom as we search for real life inquiry phenomenon to aid our students understanding. Usually some of my out of the ordinary ideas come up in the form of videos – I mean have you realized how many clips from kids movies can contain science??? I’ll share some of those ideas another time.

This past week I was teaching the kids about ocean currents and more specifically the Coriolis Effect. (Just in case you forgot what that is – it is the concept that water rotates clockwise in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the southern hemisphere) In the middle of class I immediately thought of toilets flushing. I mean as a kid I had always heard that toilets flush one way and another way in Australia. I mentioned this to the kids during our lesson and then set out to find information.

Now many people claim that this is not true. For example in a fact check  I read that this was false because toilets contain such a small amount of water and so forth. Plus with the way toilets are made today it really depends on where the valve is placed inside.

I did not stop there, because there has to be a glimmer of truth behind this tale. My digging proved to be true. On The Guardian – Speculative Science I found many accounts about toilets and their flushing on the equator. One man even said that while in Ecuador he saw an experiment that proved this phenomenon.

Well this was all the encouragement I needed to add this to my science tool belt. I created an info-graphic for my students to color and add to their notebooks.

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You can find this in my TpT store if you are interested. I know that adding a toilet to a handout seems a little weird, but as a middle school teacher the stranger (and sometimes grosser) things are the better!

Happy Teaching!!

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