I love it when people write books that talk about stuff I’ve been thinking about for ages

For some time now I’ve been struggling with a lot of what I feel I have to do in the classroom. Let’s be honest… I’m a stubborn old git who doesn’t like being told what to do or how to do something. You may argue that 44 is far too young to be considered old or in any way gittish, but you haven’t met grumpy, stubborn, I-won’t-do-it Boon.

However, the longer I travel on this teaching journey, the more confident I am becoming in both the pedagogical underpinnings of my practise and my utter inability to recognise if I should be using the word practice or practise in the first portion of this sentence.

Grammatical faux pas aside, one of the things that has regularly worried me is how our education system seems to (most of the time) revolve around “reading” time, “maths” time and “writing” time. After spending three years as a relief teacher in Auckland I saw how many, many schools worked and the expectation they had for these curriculum areas to be timetabled into the day. Generally (and I’m aware there are also many, many schools who don’t work this way, so apologies to those reading this and grrring away to yourselves) “topic” work has swaddled with P.E. and The Arts in the after lunch graveyard shift where concentration no longer makes an appearance.

What if you aren’t suited to those three “main” curriculum areas? School is just going to be 10 years of ever-building hate until, if you last that long, you leave not wanting to further yourself any longer or, at least, for the meantime.

A particular area of concern for me is maths. So many kids hate it. The reason they hate it is because, for many, it is so far removed from their everyday life as to be utterly irrelevant. How much of the maths you learnt at school are you using on a regular basis? Note: I’m aware I am probably speaking to teachers when I ask that question so let us just assume I’m asking to the whole of New Zealand.

The best maths classes (by best I mean those with the most engagement from the most students) were the catapalts I built with my boys maths class in 2009(ish) and this year’s unit on financial literacy.

Can we do more of this Mr Boon. It’s not like maths at all. It’s fun!

That insightful piece of student voice summed it all up for me. Even though they were adding, subtracting multiplying, dividing and problem solving all the way through the financial literacy activites, they didn’t see it as being maths. Instead, it was fun.

To leap forward to my next point, I caught up with a blog about algebra and art written by (I feel like adding “the one and only” here) Danielle Myburgh. It’s great. Read it. In the post she talks about inspired to change her practice (I got it right that time because I copied Miss D!) after reading The Elephant in the Classroom. 

There is of course also the major shift that occurred in my practice after reading Jo Boaler’s, The Elephant in the Classroom. Increasingly, I have presented students with a problem rather than a method1.

Being a bit of a maths nerd, I instantly popped on to the Google books and get a preview of the first few chapters of The Elephant in the Classroom. I pressed the “buy now” button after about 5 minutes.

As the title to this post suggests, Boaler’s ideas really hit a nerve with me. In short she argues school maths focus on a very narrow set of skills that is, “nothing like the maths of the world or the maths that mathematicians use2

In light of other people agreeing with my way of thinking, and backed with my experiences teaching financial literacy I am now determined to give the kids opportunities for developing their mathematical thinking rather than just their ability to add and subtract using a number line (for example).

So… what’s been happening?

Well, after my students went hunting for a geometry unit last term, they discovered various YouTube videos where kids had built towers using just marshmallows and toothpicks we decided we were going to do that. While I was searching I also discovered the Marshmallow Challengewhere teams of four have to 18 minutes to built a tower using 20 pieces of dried spaghetti, 1 metre of string, one metre of masking tape and a large marshmallow (to be balanced on the top). It’s worth watching the TedTalk for a full explanation.

So what this resulted in was last Friday being renamed Marshmallow Friday and the 18 minute Marshmallow Challenge was followed by students building towers with toothpicks and mini marshmallows. Both challenges were won by the highest tower.


Plasticine & Toothpicks

Unfortunately marshmallows don’t last forever – particularly in a class of Year 5s and 6s, so we’ve had to replace our gelatine-based sweet with plasticine. Here is a picture of the tower 3.0 or 4.0 built by one student.

The great thing about last Friday was the engagement. Every single student in the class was totally engaged in the challenge. They were talking amongst themselves as they problem-solved, designed, tested, re-designed, and collaborated (OH! how they collaborated). This was one of the only collaborative tasks this year I had where there were no arguments.

So today I tweeted this:

When I gave the maths group their catapult challenge (fire a 10 gram piece of plasticine unaided as far as you can using a device you can hold in your hand) their eyes lit up and before I had finished speaking some of them were already putting their hands up to share their solutions (I my blog more about the Polynesian Migration unit and the Christmas play later – no promises!).

For now I am determined to have every single child leave my class believing maths is a subject full of relevance and excitement and not just working on strategies or the dreaded times tables.

Right. I’m off to read my e-book.

Mr B x


  1. Myburgh, D (2014) When algebra and art meet… Blogger: Auckland
  2. Boaler, J (2009) The Elephant in the Classroom. Souvenir Press: London
  3. Wujec, T – The Marshmallow Challenge 

We are beings of connection

The social nature of humanity has been the reason for our success as a species for millennia. We realised early on in our existence that living and working together helped us both thrive and survive and move from caves into huts. Then we began grouping those huts together into small villages and started to specialise our skills to benefit not just our immediate family units, but the wider village as a whole.

Our need for connectedness is innate. We humans know instinctively that our very survival depends on our ability to connect with those around us. The Internet now allows us to create connections with people we’ve never even met. The tendrils of our electronic connectedness reach further than our physical beings could ever hope to.

I live in a small town and teach in a small, rural school. As idyllic as this sounds, it can, unfortunately, lead to a disconnect. There are fewer like-minded teachers to bounce ideas off. In a larger school in a larger town you may have two or three people at work you can hook into for ideas; you’ll also have a wider local network of mates and colleagues you can call on. This may not be the case when there are only a few of you working together. This is not to say I don’t gel with the guys at my school – far from it. We are a tightly oiled machine dishing out educational genius all over the shop. My point is, we are all very different teachers with very different ways of doing things.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I found the process of returning to full-time teaching after a few years relieving and Hiluxing to be quite difficult. You really do forget just how all-encompassing the job is when you aren’t embedded within it.

The good kind of funk: George and Bootsy

This, along with a couple of other factors, meant I headed to the inaugural #EdChatNZ conference back in August in what can only be described as a funk. Not a good funk either. No George Clinton; no Bootsy Collins. It was the funk of self-doubt. The funk of self-doubt is a dangerous place to be as a teacher. As this funk envelopes you (which it can from time to time), all other things go out the window. It doesn’t matter how supportive the people around you are, the funk of self-doubt drowns out any positive vibrations that may be sliding your way from colleagues, parents or life partners. It’s not because we teachers are a negative bunch, it’s just because we care so much about the young people in our charge that any misstep we make fills us with guilt – the guilt of having failed our learners.

Having painted the picture of where I was professionally, I headed off on the long journey from Geraldine to Auckland for the #EdChatNZ conference. As I walked in the door of Hobsonville Point Secondary School I saw how vastly different their learning spaces were and started thinking that this weekend might be a little different. Sitting alone in the auditorium awaiting the opening I was quietly looking around for people I thought I might know from Twitter. Then it all kicked off with Danielle (@MissDtheTeacher) played the Lone Nut video and it was then I knew then and there the #EdChatNZ conference was going to be like no other.

As an aside, it’s worth revisiting that very video to remind ourselves…

After two days of making real-life connections with me Twitteratti, taking hundreds of selfies, and many discussions of a pedagogical nature I returned to my South Canterbury hamlet revitalised. The funk of self-doubt had been expunged. I now knew the way I had been thinking, the direction I had been travelling was correct. I had just spent the weekend with a few hundred ‘me’s – a few hundred people heading on the same journey as I had been.

The validation I received from this weekend has been the single most important thing to happen in my teaching career. Aloneness is terrible. Being stuck inside your own head is no fun. Being stuck inside everyone else’s heads – that is absolutely the funnest time you can have.

My Twitter connections are the people I turn to when I need support before heading out of my cave into the wilderness (The last thing I need at this point in my career is to be eaten by a hungry sabre-tooth). It is they who understand precisely what is going on in my brain and how the learners in my class learn. It is they whose ideas I steal vision I use to motivate me in my planning.

As I said at the commencement of this post, we are beings of connection. We crave the company of others. We actively seek out those who are like-minded and those who will compliment us in our activities. If we don’t seek these positive connections we run the risk of falling into a funk of disconnected self-doubt.

The modern world with its interweb, Twitterings and Googletastic linkage allows we teachers to make thousands of connections we would never have made in the past. We are able to validate what we do and how we think in a way that includes teachers and educators from everywhere in the world. It’s, to borrow a phrase from Anne Kenneally (@annekenn), MAGIC!!

Modern teaching, as with modern learning, is about connection and collaboration. Connect and collaborate or you may, as I did, descend into the funkadelic depths of self-doubt.

To conclude, feast your eyes on the mothership for some extremely positive funk:

Student voice – term 3

What is the best way to find out what your students think of you? Whip up a Google form.

Previously the job of collecting student voice has been given to the small, yellow pad of post-it™ notes sitting in my desk. The pad would be extracted, leaves distributed to class members, then collected back in to be collated in some kind of meaningful way before being lost in the clutter of my desk only to be rediscovered weeks (perhaps months) later.

Google forms does all of that for me which means I can now use my post-it™ notes for what they were actually designed for – to play those hilarious “kick me” tricks on my colleagues.

But I digress…

This term, having returned to my class from the #EdChatNZ conference completely imbibed with pedagogical excitement, I flipped the class somewhat (A brief perusal of previous postings will give you all the information you need on that). After a term of this I wanted to know from my students what they enjoyed about the term, what they thought I had changed and what they thought I could change.

Here are the questions followed by a selection of answers (with analysis to follow).

What have you most enjoyed about your learning this term?

  • Everything, because you have tried and made it interesting!
  • Reading because it’s my favourite subject
  • topic:it was a really fun subject because we learned a lot about our history and 1914 day was so fun!!!!
  • My maths: Because it does not feel like maths.
  • maths doesn’t feel like math but i can’t really think of any thing else i would like to do more p.e now that’s fun!!!
  • reading because it is my favourite subject and it is a lot different from the worksheets
  • I enjoyed that we went on Weebly and researched about the ships that came to Christchurch.
  • I loved everything especially liked physed because we did different units and tasks. I also liked doing e-time virtual school again ’cause we got to do different tasks and communicate with others.
  • Topic: because we got to do all sorts of fun stuff (making websites
  • Maths – because I have progressed so well. Reading – because of e-time Topic – because we have done more fun and involved stuff.

What do you think Mr Boon has changed about his teaching this term?

  • Mr Boon has changed the atmosphere in the class room this term by making things more interesting, giving us fun and hard tasks.
  • He taught us about how to spend money wisely
  • He has changed the maths so it does not feel like maths.
  • The financial literacy.
  • Mr Boon is good at ICT stuff, I like doing this.
  • More ICT time for us
  • You changed and did Weebly with us and you brought in the class business
  • Maths we learned it in a different way.
  • maths: because it was a lot more full on
  • Reading: Journal Contracts
  • Maths cause it’s very different from what we do often.
  • This term we have been doing more fun and involved like eating sea biscuits, making a website etc.

If there is one thing Mr. Boon could change, what would it be?

  • More challenges
  • He could… well its hard to think of anything to change!!
  • Maybe he could let us chose what we do for p.e
  • he could make the learning feel fun and not like learning.
  • um maybe do more P.E and maybe a different reading sequence because I don’t really like the one were doing now because its boring
  • Harder math, harder reading, help people like me a bit more and harder spelling words
  • Maybe you could keep your desk a bit more tidy so we can find things a bit better
  • I would like the whole room to be a bit more quiet.
  • Keep your desk tidy so you can find things better!
  • not much
  • I don’t know
  • Make the room quieter
  • I think nothing because he’s a great teacher to me.
  • do some more art & music and make the room more quiet when we’re working.

Interesting points: 

  1. The students are easily able to answer these questions and articulate their needs as learners and what they need me to be as a teacher.
  2. Quite a few want a quieter room. That is easily arranged. We are currently redesigning the class into a flexible learning environment so how we achieve a quieter environment might benefit from the creation of some caves within our learning space. See this Core Education page on learning spaces.
  3. A couple want some more challenging learning activities. That is easily arranged. Earlier this week, as a class, we planned what we were going to do in term 4. This is up on a massive A2 piece of paper ready for me to attack next week when I return for my “holiday” planning mission.
  4. There’s quiet a few back-patting questions that tell me the students are loving the programme I’m delivering and
  5. I need to tidy my desk.

We all deserve a few days to celebrate what we’ve all achieved as teachers this term. I think it’s truly amazing what we do in the 10 week space between having a functioning brain and being unable to verbally construct a sentence during conversation without being able to withdraw the appropriate noun in your vocabulary bank without resorting to the use of ‘thingy.’

You are all awesome.

Mr B

PS: some of the kids are talking about enjoying the process of building websites using Weebly. I have links to share but that will be the subject of a post on its own.



Contextualised learning

Have you missed me?

It’s not that I’ve stopped teaching or reflecting, it’s just that my wife and son have returned home from Scotland so I’m not as available as I’d like to be. After a day teaching, night-time reflection tend to flow from my brain like bricks through a… funnel… small funnel. See? Rubbish. I can’t even muster a simile at this late hour.

As the term has progressed several things have organically metamorphosed and we are now in the process of setting up a class business and redesigning our learning space. Both of these events are at the very early stages, however they are shaping up to be the two most interesting learning sequences I’ve been part of.

As I said, these have both happened organically. Neither was part of my long-term plan for this term, or even remotely close to the front of my brain. I have had ideas along these lines in years gone by but have not had the nous or confidence to undertake them.

Since the glory of the #EdChatNZ Conference, I am pedagogically confident enough to run with things as the crop up mentally rearranging my thoughts quickly before jotting down a few things as the idea unfolds.

Here’s how it has worked…

Learning Space Redesign

This was fairly simple to get off the ground. I suppose the germ of it came on my visit to Hobsonville Point Primary during the #EdChatNZ weekend. Open spaces, breakout zones, self-directed learning and much, much more. It was all there just waiting to be transposed to South Canterbury by a willing lone-nut.

I thought a good place to start was showing the students some new schools to give them ideas and have a discussion with them about what sort of things they wanted in their learning space.

Our various discussions have now led us to the point where we are about to compose a letter to the principal to ask whether there is room in the budget for new things. Tomorrow we will compose this letter and arrange what I’ve called a face-to-face.

This all sounds very formal but the point is contextualised learning, active learning and metalearning (thinking and talking about learning). If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year is that kids are far more engaged and enthused when they understand why they are doing what they do. I can see these guys get excited about this process.

The Class Business

Like the new classroom project our class business idea has morphed out of my brain and into our learning vernacular is our class business. Every year we need to raise and care for a garden. After returning from my conference epiphany I started to ask “why” about everything and the garden was no exception. I posed the question to the class:

How can we turn the garden project into something more interesting?

Our discussions ended with the class deciding to create a herb growing business.

The homework this week: the kids have to write their CVs so they can outline the skills and talents they can bring to the various positions we’ve decided we need to run our business. Those positions are gardener, marketing, financial officers, sales and product design.

It has been really interesting to see the excitement brewing about this project. Living in a rural area most of their parents own their own farms or are self-employed in some way so they are totally aware of the context of their learning. They’re also absorbing the financial literacy learning like sponges because they know exactly when and where they are going to use it.

This is going to be a pretty awesome journey. More updates as they come to hand.

Classify that!

As I’ve said in previous posts, as I read many reflective blogs following the #EdChatNZ conference I’ve been kicking myself for not using SOLO taxonomy as a thinking tool. I don’t know why I haven’t been using it until now. It’s so easy and the kids have responded to it so very quickly. If you can all please now imagine me smacking my forehead with the palm of my hand and admonishing myself with a resounding “duh!” Thank you.

For the past week or so we’ve been investigating the arrival of settlers to New Zealand – specifically Canterbury. This is our what. The why is: I want them to be able to compare their lives as they currently are to those of the first settlers to try to get some appreciation of both what they have and what the early settlers had to toil for.

Yesterday, after a few days of research I would call an information dump – discovering as much as you can about a topic as quickly as possible – I decided it was time to organise the information. I looked through my old SOLO maps and the Classify Map jumped out at me as being the most useful for organising our ideas into some kind of order. Here’s the original.

Here’s our whiteboard version:


Having all our ideas classified and grouped is helping guide our questioning. When we discovered there were gaps in what we had found out, I was able to set up some questions to help fill in the gaps. Translating my board scrawl – How did they know where they were going to live (when they got to NZ)? and How was that organised?


Here’s one I made using the Lucid Chart application on Google Drive. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

I am now displaying this flowchart on the board each day. As more information is discovered it is being added to the chart (almost in real time, but not quite!). This is now combining nicely with our Uber-document – a large collaborative piece of work which is also being added to daily.

When I asked, the kids said this classification process has help them organise their ideas and thoughts. It was easy for them to verbalise their next steps based on what they need to find out next. It’s also helped my questioning while I move around the room.

You’ve got some stuff there about how the settlers got over the hills from Lyttelton… how did they get from the ship to shore? How do you think they felt when they were on the boat?

We are now moving on to our final stage – creating websites using their information through the Weebly platform. They will be moving to extended abstract before we know it!

I will have further updates as they come to hand.


Where I is at #edchatnz

I have planned for myself a busy weekend of jobs. Mrs Boon and son are currently away in Scotland visiting her side of the family. They are due back in a week and a half and following the life-changing events of the #EdChatNZ conference, I wanted to update you all quickly on where I currently lie in the transformation process before I begin on the list of things I have to complete ahead of their return.

As I have mentioned previously, it’s very easy to go away to a conference and have an amazing couple of days meeting new people and sharing your ideas. The difficulty comes when you return to the normalcy of your usual work day with all the pressures that pull you this way and that.

How are we able to implement change if we don’t have time?

Well, I’ve made time.

I read or heard somewhere once if you don’t make change within two weeks of some professional learning you will never make any change (I have in my head that Tony Ryan may have told me this, but I could be mis-remembering Ulearn 2009). With that ringing in my generously side-burned ears and the fact that #EdChatNZ is the single most ground-breaking PD I have ever been involved with, I was determined not to let the lessons I had learnt fall by the wayside.

Here’s what has happened:

  1. I am changing the way I plan: too often I write my plans in the two-week break we get every ten weeks or so. By the time week 3 comes around so much information has entered my head that all of the holiday stuff has fallen out. I get a bit lost occasionally, therefore my learners get a bit lost. I am committed to sitting down with my brain more regularly and getting the ideas and directions I have for my learners down in some more official capacity than just daily notes in my planning book. I’m also trying to give students a bit more of a say in what they learn, although I am finding this a bit tricky due to the nature
  2. Student agency: I have made this more explicit to the learners. “It’s much easier,” I’ve told them, “to motivate you all to achieve if you have first chosen what you are going to achieve.” I’m probably paraphrasing myself there in a way that makes me sound a bit more Dead Poet’s Society than I actually am, but the sentiment remains. This is something I have been doing well this year already so I just need to maintain this.
  3. SOLO Taxonomy: I’ve already blogged on this. It was one of the first things I did upon my return to school.
  4. Connected education: as a class we have made contact with Hobsonville Point Primary. I am in email contact with a school in California who are to become pen-friends – old-skool pen-friends as well; pens, papers and envelopes. This term I have used a parent expert to deliver some art lessons. I have also maintained my twitterati connections through the various edchats that are now underway (there are mutterings of more, so more columns will be open on my tweetdeck!). There will be more to come in this section so watch this space.
  5. Teaching as Inquiry: this is our current professional development programme. Apart from #EdChatNZ, it is the single-most important professional learning I have undertaken. Twice a term a facilitator visits and as a staff we reflect on our successes or any issues we may have. This is making me a better teacher. It is giving me skills I can apply to all areas of my teaching, not just numeracy or writing or science or whatever.
  6. #EdChatNZ Conference 2015: Three weeks ago while resting between breakouts with my new homies (@AnnaGerrit, @mrs_hyde, @carobush, @digitallearnin@annekenn etc.), I flippantly said I would be presenting at the next #EdChatNZ conference. Last night I tweeted, reiterating my commitment. So now I have to do it.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. When you make a list like that it seems to be huge, but it hasn’t been a great deal of extra work – just smarter work. Or something.

Right, back to my other to-do list.



Some thoughts on special needs – suggestions welcomed

Following the first online discussion since the conference that changed me two weeks ago, I’ve been having a few thoughts about the students I have in my charge with needs that don’t fit within the current narrow definition of achievement – well below to above – that we work within.

During our #edchatnz discussion last evening, Danielle posed this question:

My answer was swift because it has been something I’ve been grappling with as my teaching philosophy has rapidly developed since my return to the full-time teaching fold a year and a half back:

To expand the question somewhat: How do I provide relevant content to the year 5 & 6 students I have who are achieving at Level 1 of the NZ Curriculum? 

I worry that these students are getting lost within the melee of the unstructured structure I have constructed for my learners this year. 

I truly believe this is my greatest challenge as a teacher. Giving these learners the education they deserve while still delivering challenging learning for those gifted students who are knocking on the door of secondary school achievement levels. 

My question to the PLN I have constructed for myself over the last fortnight is this: What do I do? What do you do? I have a couple of hours of teacher aide time per week. I want to be as inclusive as I possibly can – why should they miss out on the learning of the rest of the class just because of their abilities? I have some ideas but I would love to hear some of the solutions that already exist out there.

I owe it to my L1 students to do the best I can for them. 


Transparent Teaching

One of the sessions that helped blow my mind at the #EdChatNZ conference was Alyx Gillett’s session on teaching transparently. Her idea is…

…that teaching and learning should be as open and collaborative as possible. Students, teachers, parents, faculty, colleagues and peers should be able to see and articulate not only what but how and why we are learning.

This struck a chord with me.

Last year I returned to full-time teaching after three years out of the classroom. Returning was a true baptism of fire. In the three years away I had totally dispensed with any memories of precisely how insane the workload was. I fully admit the first six months of 2013 was a real struggle trying to insert myself back into the teaching groove.

During this struggle things lapsed – particularly my planning. Pressures of time led to much ad-libbing of learning. Literacy and maths I planned well for, but other things not so well. As the year continued things did get better and I now feel I am on top of things.

These are all excuses for not doing giving my learners the opportunities they deserve, but they do provide some context as to why Alyx’s presentation had such an impact on me and my decision to change the course of what and how I am doing what I am doing.

As reflective practitioners, teachers owe it to their learners to be the best they can be. We must reflect on what we are doing and question ourselves and our practice. Is what we are doing the best for our learners? Can we do things better? If we need to reform, how do we reform?

In essence I have spent much of the last year asking the hard questions of myself through our Teaching as Inquiry professional development. Having given myself a swift boot in the pedagogy, I am determined to continue filling the gaps as I move forward.

So as part of my quest to utterly reform my teaching practice I have written a comprehensive plan for what will be coming up in the class. I’ve listed the what and the how but I’ve also asked why we will be studying what we are. Today I messaged all my students giving them access to the planning for our upcoming unit on pioneer New Zealanders. You might also want a look at it. In this new era of collaboration please do feel free to offer suggestions. Twitter has already been a great help during this planning mission. I am feeling most positive about it.

Opening yourself up in this way can be harrowing, but also cathartic. I am finding the latter to be more relevant at the present.

Enjoy your week!


SOLO flashback

In the week since the brain-changing events of the #EdChatNZ conference, I’ve been actioning a few things with my classroom.

The most notable of these is my implementation of SOLO taxonomy as a thinking tool. Although I didn’t attend Pam Hook’s presentations on SOLO over the weekend, the number of tweets popping up in my stream while I was attending others reminded me of the amazing tool SOLO is.

Early on in my teaching career I was lucky enough to be part of a the ICT team at Maungawhau School in Auckland. At the time we were receiving some professional development from Pam on the use of SOLO. This culminated with us presenting a session on SOLO at uLearn 2009 (I’m counting back – I think it was 2009 but I can’t find any actual proof on the interwebs).

My question to myself at the start of this week was: “Why the hell aren’t you still using SOLO you idiot?” Because  of the fact my class is situated in a pre-fab separated from the other buildings and I get to school before anybody else in the morning so I’m able to abuse myself reflect on my pedagogy in this way. So I’ve been trawling Pam’s HookEd website this week for ideas, thinking tools and reminders of the way things used to be.

Hilariously, this morning whilst trawling I discovered an embedded voice-thread from my class talking about their learning and assessing themselves using SOLO taxonomy. Unfortunately the embed code doesn’t appear to be working so you’ll just have to click here to be taken to the page.

This is a wonderful blast from the past and reminded me how long I’ve actually been a lone-nut.

Enjoy your weekend!


UPDATE: Pam has kindly embedded my YouTube commentary on our Olympics unit. As you may be able to see from the hair, there was a definite touch of the mad scientist about me back then…