Simple enough, right?
Some tried blowing directly into the tubes. Others held their tube open and ran back and forth across the classroom trying to fill their tubes with air.
Finally, they discovered the tubes were open at the far end, as well. Still, they couldn't seem to effectively fill their windbags with air.
And lots of leadership skills came into play.
First, I told them that they needed to step back from a problem before beginning to solve it. In other words, they needed to evaluate to see what the other end of a problem would look like. Until all the loose ends are tied up, a problem will never be solved correctly. If your effort is in vain, you might as well stop what you're doing.
Second, it's important to step back and not take complete control for yourself. A real leader does not jump right in. Instead, the leader should try to figure out how to bring others with him/her. A real leader doesn't try to do all the work, but should delegate and foster teamwork instead. One of the secrets to inflating these windbags is to blow from about eight inches back - not directly into the tube.
Finally, by blowing from eight inches back, one can put more air into the tube than just what is exhaled from the lungs. In fact, air from the surrounding area is also swept into the tube (much like leaves chase after a car when it zooms down the road). Air from the lungs plus surrounding air can fill most of the tube in one breath. A good leader brings others along for the ride.
We will complete our beginning the year materials, today, but the concepts students are learning should last all year and for the rest of their lives. Character is important, and I don't want any of my students to miss out on the important core behaviors we've stressed in the first few days.