Government shutdown makes five elementary school kids sad

To a group of five Sioux Falls elementary school kids, the most important aspect of the government shutdown is that they won’t get to learn about tornadoes Tuesday evening.

The first- and second-graders from Oscar Howe Elementary School (full disclaimer: two of them are my own) were going to tour the National Weather Service to learn about tornadoes as part of their study of natural disasters in their Lego League club. The goal of the league: learn more about their chosen subject and use that information to build an awesome Lego set.

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The tour was scheduled last week for Tuesday night and was going to include a short video about tornadoes, a walk-through of the building’s equipment and facilities as well as a question-and-answer session. That is, until a friendly NWS worker called to inform me that the tours were “non-essential activities” and that the shutdown limited the department to all but “essential” activities, such as storm warnings.

Yeah, I suppose storm warnings are pretty important, but try telling two 7-year-olds that learning about tornadoes and seeing cool equipment isn’t “essential.”

How does Ian, 7, feel about the whole situation?

"How does the government close all the places?" he asked. "How do they close Mount Rushmore?"

"They don’t have any money to stay open," I replied.

"Oh," Ian said. "I want to go, and I want to wear my Lego League shirt."

See what you did, Congress? Won’t you please think of the children?