Not so long ago, in the very classroom I am typing in now, there was a short crisis. A group of three girls were doing a module that involved toothpicks (they had to build a toothpick bridge), but no toothpicks could be found. It was also two days before the due date of their module, and they were out of toothpicks. To make matters worse, there was a substitute teacher.
I was one of those girls. Along with my partners, we searched the Makerspace for these little wooden spears. There was plenty of string, plenty of glue, but no toothpicks. We then tried to think of who in the school would have toothpicks on hand. One of my partners and I set off to the Art classroom.
The Art class was in session, but the teacher was happy to help us. He also lacked toothpicks. This was quite unfortunate. He directed us to the assistant librarian, whom also did not possess the tiny spears. She sent us off to some more classrooms, none of which had toothpicks.
Tired and slightly annoyed that nobody in the school seemed to have toothpicks, we headed back to the classroom. The third group member hadn’t had any luck either.
“What should we do?” one of us asked. I forget who.
“Maybe we should check some more.”
“Nah, nobody has any. We should try to find some here.”
“There are some old stuck-together toothpicks in this box. It would be kinda hard to get them apart, but… They’re toothpicks.”
“Let’s use those!”
We then set off to work breaking apart the glue-encased toothpick bundles. It hurt quite a lot, as the glue had probably been on there for a month, and toothpicks are rather hard and sharp. We then glued the freed spears together into our own contraption, and were quite satisfied with our handiwork.
The next class the teacher returned, and so did the toothpicks. In conclusion: Make do with what you have. Also, little wooden spears are not as common as you think.