Baby Frederico, Scientist!

20140501-070555.jpg

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story (or book review or movie) from our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…science night. Here’s his story:

From the moment his Papa began teaching his “science for kids” courses at a nearby college, Baby Frederico wanted to be a part of it. He was constantly asking his Papa, “When is science night? How much longer until science night? Is it science night yet?”

Science night was the final event of each semester and was a time for Papa’s students to create all kinds of physics, chemistry, and biology projects for kids to enjoy. There were things like homemade race cars and medieval catapults, live animals like roosters, snakes and sugar gliders, paint and liquids of all kinds to mix, ramps and balls, microscopes and magnifying lenses.

The best part, though, was becoming a Science Detective. It was amazing. Every student created their project around this one idea – how to help the kids (Baby Frederico included!) learn the ways that scientists think. There were hypotheses to discuss and investigations to consider, experiments to think through, and conclusions to make.

Baby Frederico loved this class and he loved his Papa’s students. They were slowly but surely teaching him just what it might feel like to be the Sherlock Holmes/Albert Einstein of his day!

And one day…someday….that just might be who he would become.

The Physics of Childhood

Hot Wheels 3

“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” – Abigail Van Buren

How do things move?  It is one of the most basic questions that can be asked in regard to the science of physics.  In early childhood, movement is everywhere and is itself such a normal part of a child’s life that getting them to think in a developmentally appropriate and imaginative way about such things  and how they move is not hard at all.

When I was young, the physics of childhood flourished in me through an assortment of toy cars and later bicycles and go-carts and trying to build just the right ramps to turn each of them into the General Lee – the starring car of my favorite television show when I was a boy.  I remember the way it felt to get my bike just inches off the ground as it lifted its front wheel into the air from my makeshift ramp.  I was in heaven and imagined myself flying across rivers flanked by “Bridge Out” signs all along the way.  Some 30 years later, I can still remember the thrill of all that playing and working and experimenting!

Hot Wheels 2

So tonight the girls and I decided to take a walk down the toy aisle at our local Target.  I was especially intrigued with their Hot Wheels assortment and the girls and I soon picked out the coolest 3-lane racetrack that I had ever seen.  The girls each chose two Hot Wheels (at only .97 cents, this must still be the cheapest toy in the store!) and we headed home to do some racing.

In my mind, the best part about Hot Wheels tracks are their interchangeable styles, which gives way to some of the most interesting configurations and layouts you’ve ever seen.  I dared the girls (ages 8 and 13) to find a way to bring every set of tracks (we have six separate playsets, four of which we inherited from my gracious nephew Zachary!)  together to create one colossal PHYSICS event!

After more than two hours of thinking and talking and hypothesizing and experimenting and failing and succeeding (and a little Motown music in the background to keep the mood up) – and some very funny debates between the two of them that ended at one point when my 8-year old said, “It will never work,” to which my 13-year old responded, “Don’t say another word” – it was time to bring it all together and see the domino effect that would start with 3 cars colliding into 3 more cars and so on until the final car hit the finish line.

30 Hot Wheels and 22 feet of track later the physics of childhood keeps moving along – right before my eyes and among my kids “the scientists!”

Hot Wheels 1