Monday, April 30, 2012

Science in Everyday Conversations

The amount of water Niño drinks during the course of the day has been a cause of concern for me for a while. The Delhi summer took care of the problem itself when the scorching heat even inside the house or his school made sure he drank bottles full but here with the majority of the time being the cold season, he barely drinks any if left to himself. During this past weekend, I made it a point to literally thrust those 270 ml bottles in him every 2 hours. He was delighted to be peeing out white fluid which I keep telling him is so good as opposed to the yellow one which he passes out rarely during the day otherwise. So after one such elated trip to the bathroom, I asked him to recall why after all is water so essential for our human bodies. I had told him a couple of times but then that's my other concern, how much really do 7 year olds actually listen and pay attention to. My answer would be 5%, without exaggerating. Anyways, that's not the topic for this post, probably for another one!

So the first very obvious reply was to make us pee white pee which is good and not the yellow pee which is bad. I told him he was right but still I was looking for an even more vital function of water in our bodies which I had mentioned to him and he would earn 7 stickers for if he could recall. And without us realizing, it became a kind of a game. He asked for a hint. I think it would be interesting to narrate the conversation the way it happened after that

Myself: Okay, here's the deal for you! You guess the answer after 1 hint, you get 6 stickers; after 2 hints, you get 5, 4 stickers after 3 hints and so on ..and his interest was piqued!
So your first hint is why do we eat food?

Niño: To get all the proteins and vitamins! Oh I know (at which point I was so proud of my son having figured it out right after one hint) - so the food goes through the food pipe and there is another wind pipe and one time I was laughing really loudly while eating my food and the food entered the wind pipe and made me cough so badly!

Myself: (This is what I thought - Duh? So what about the water dude? ) But this is what I spoke (I am the Mother after all,  I remembered) - I know you did and that was pretty unpleasant. Okay, so how do you think water helps?

Niño: Ohhh! (making the face that he makes when he realizes he is far from his goal) So the water also goes down the food pipe and not down the wind pipe that is why you tell us not to talk or laugh while drinking water!

Myself: Absolutely! Are you ready for the second hint?

Niño: Okay

Myself: So where do you think all the food and the good nutrients go?

Niño: They go down the food pipe and the ones that are not needed, we potty them out! So the water helps to potty out what is not needed?

Myself: Yes it does. Good job figuring that out! We are still looking for the most important function though. So where does the food pipe take the food?

Niño: (Touches his stomach and says) Here! And I know so the water mixes with all the food in the stomach and becomes muck! But Oh! We are trying to figure out why water is a good thing, not why it is bad!

Myself: No it does mix around with the food and helps digest it in the digestive system. Even if it seems like its mucky, that's the way food is digested! Okay, so all the food and all the good nutrients have been accumulated in our stomach and our digestive system. So are these the only places in our body which need all the good nutrients?

Niño: No our growing bones need them too! Oh I know - so there are like pipes from the stomach to the bones.

By this time he is beyond himself with excitement with hands making out the pipes and the bones in thin air which is when I pick up a scrap paper and draw a rough sketch of a human body with just a box for the mouth and a circle for the digestive system we have been talking about. We pick up some brownie crumbs still left over on the table from the brownies we had just had before this (yeah we are that creative ;) !) and assume them to be the nutrients packed with all the goodness! So Niño draws the pipe from the mouth bringing the food into the digestive system and figures there must be a pipe taking the nutrients to the bones. We then pick up a straw and put some brownie crumbs to see if they would move to reach somewhere else and Eureka!

Niño: Oh so of course they need water to reach the bones, to be able to flow in the pipes!

Very rough I know but the joy of self discovery! At the end of it, he doesn't care how many hints he took or how many stickers he earned but the fact that he discovered something for himself! How he thought and how mesmerized he was with his own thoughts! How 'cool' the commonest of drinks really is, after all!

That's the first thing he treats his dad to when he returns home from outside! And he has been asking for more such 'Discovery Projects', as he called them, ever since! We did shorter versions on conservation of water today. But I still need to think of other such topics which can give him the joy of discovering and which can be done in this impromptu manner. Suggestions? Experiences? Please do share :)

And I was inspired to pen down this post because of the super smart kid KB who was sure he'll be able to make warm ice if he put warm water in the freezer and learnt the second law of thermodynamics in the process. :)


noon said...

Loved your post and the way you dealt with the whole conversation with Vansh...and it was a joy to see the joy he felt when he figured things out himself. I too see it time and again - when they discover something for themselves they are so thrilled as opposed to us telling them how to do it. The magic school bus books are a great way to start and understand more science topics. Simple books that even we learn from. I read a MSB book on recycling to them the other day and I learned so much from it...
Super smart...I don't know. Honestly every kid (almost) I see both in our blog circle and here locally seem so so bright and so enthusiastic about learning. I think it is a combination of parents being so involved and so much being made available to them. But with KB I have some other things to deal with...his hyper focusing habit...being slow to do things...he is getting into trouble at school. Anyway - will talk to you about it later.

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