In the course of studying the founding fathers, the three branches of federal government and checks and balances, an eighth-grader wondered aloud how anything ever gets done in Washington. "How does this ever work?" he asked during a social studies class at the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. He answered his own question Tuesday morning, after the school's annual trip to the nation's capital was postponed in the wake of a federal government shutdown that temporarily has closed many Washington, D.C., tourist sites. Social studies teacher Jane Varnell said the political gridlock has, if nothing else, been an opportunity for students to learn about and discuss the nature of democracy. “That same student came in today and said, 'Mrs. Varnell, it doesn't work,'" she said Tuesday. Day one of the federal government shutdown hit the Chattanooga area in many ways: It closed Chickamauga Battlefield on the Civil War's sesquicentennial, sent low-income mothers who rely on federal assistance scrambling to sto...