Kate Gramling Principal consultant Illumineer

20 Seconds

PostedThursday, March 26, 2020 at 9:12 PM

20 Seconds

One thing I have heard with comforting regularity over the last few weeks – from every responsible source – is that washing hands is essential to staying healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Not just a splash of water and a dash of soap, but a good lather and hardy scrubbing that lasts 20 seconds.

Twenty seconds, according to several sources, is about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Not being crazy about singing this particular song for this particular reason – twice – I wanted to find something else that could help me time my ablutions.

I approached this like a design problem. There were constraints: it needed to be something I could remember; something that I could easily recite, sing, hum, or whistle; and something that I wouldn’t mind being overheard doing. And it had to be something I liked, because, let’s face it, I’m going to be washing my hands a lot.

I started with brainstorming. There were all kinds of things I could try: counting, a timer, a song, a nursery rhyme, a poem, a quote from a book, dance steps from a Gene Kelly movie…

Next came the research. I asked around, hunted through old journals, and did some online searches. (I lost quite a bit time watching videos of very bad handwashing ditties.)  I listened and timed the chorus of several songs. I found some quotes and poems that when read aloud came to 20 seconds. I have a long list of things to try.

I’m currently in the testing phase. The most successful timers so far have been:
•    Shel Silverstein’s poem, “Listen to the Mustn’ts
•    The opening of the Great Big Sea song, “England” (This is also the chorus, which I like to whistle)
•    The chorus of the Ray Stevens song, “Mississippi Squirrel Revival

Along with being a useful reminder to wash my hands for the recommended time, finding the right 20-second mantra has been a fun distraction from the increasingly solemn news of late.

Many, if not most, of us are adjusting to new ways of doing our work, interacting and guiding students, and/or providing more learning opportunities at home. Keep checking the Find and Add collection for new resources that can help you like:

Resources for Educators to Prepare for Coronavirus School Closures
A site that includes links and resources to help teachers prepare for and make the most of teaching and learning during school closures

Supporting Students’ Science Learning During COVID-19 School Closures
NGSS aligned resources that might be useful to educators, families, and educational leaders.

For a limited time the Nation Science Teaching Association is offering a free 30-day membership to anyone. This provides access to their more than 12,000 digital resources and tools.

And as always, TeachEngineering provides free STEM lessons, including several engineering design projects that can be done at home.

Look for new special collections to come online soon that will provide targeted lists of resources on specific topics.

All of us at LinkEngineering wish you and your family good health now and in the difficult days and weeks to come.

Hand washing photo by jacqueline macou on pixabay