Hot answers tagged

72

My answer for a four year old girl: "You know how your skin gets burnt in the sun? You know your eye is very soft? The inside is even softer and gets burnt very quickly. Pretty much straight away."


52

I like the answer which discusses a sunburn. To get a more visceral reaction, you could show him how a magnifying glass can burn things by "bunching up" (focusing) the sunlight. That should show him that the sunlight really is a destructive force.


47

I tend to think some version of the truth is always best. To deal with this question when my son asked it, I used a fruit analogy: just like apples grow on trees, babies grow in their mommy's tummies; and just like there was no apple before it started growing, there was no baby before it started growing. I'd maybe skip the bit about exactly what triggers a ...


45

It's difficult to understand what children are actually seeking as an answer when they ask a question such as this. Since parents know the whole story, it's a challenge to tease out just enough information to satisfy the child without overburdening them. Asking some questions of them about what they think (maybe talking about other species) might give you an ...


38

Tell him the truth, no weird contradictions. Mr Sun does not shoot something invisible, because obviously you can see light. Furthermore, it is not made of atoms (at least not in physical sense, of course, in some philosophical sense, it is). Just mention that the Sun emits very very much light, and too much light hurts. This is the way it is, although it ...


26

The answer is not convincing because it is not true. Tell the child the truth: that we can see because our eyes are sensitive to light, like our body is sensitive to touch – and like too much touch (a hit, actually) may cut our skin or break our bone, too much light may burn our eyes' interior. Atoms or EM radiation are irrelevant now, but it's important to ...


18

This is going to be somewhat subjective based on your own beliefs & what you want to instill in her. My own mother believes we are in heaven with God before birth, so that is the story I was told. I told my children, that I truly do not know where they were, because I don't know that I have a strong belief on it. I told them that their body wasn't ...


17

Energy is the power to do things. I'm sure your 5 yo is full of it. When he is full of energy he can run and play for hours on end and have a good time. When he runs out, he can't do that any more and needs to sleep and eat to build up more so he can play again. There are many kinds of energy, like electrical and heat. Electrical energy lets the ...


16

First, good on you guys for recognizing this and addressing it both with your daughter and the group that held the event. It's not always easy to speak up in a group setting when this happens RIGHT THEN; although I'm a pretty much "in the brain, out the mouth" kind of person, I fully advocate taking the time to make the CORRECT response, not just any ...


12

say "let's find out together". Then collect some different magnets, some magnetic and non magnetic items, something the magnetism can be transferred to (screw driver or pin). Some type of compass building items would be nice too. Metal shaving would be nice for showing the magnetic field. Then do experiments, when possible have your child guess the outcome ...


12

I am going to answer a bit more generic, because I think this kind of question fits for many topics, not just astronomy. You write: He asks me to point out planets in the night sky which I do (incorrectly as I don’t know where each planet is located) just to engage him. Now, the actual lesson here is not “what’s the name of that star”, but “how can I ...


11

Rather than answering all her questions correctly and fully, what is important to help her develop a scientific mind is to spark her interest in the scientific method: The steps of the scientific method are to: Ask a Question Do Background Research Construct a Hypothesis Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment Analyze Your Data and ...


10

Richard Feynman tells this story in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman": It was the kind of thing my father would have talked about: "What makes it go? Everything goes because the sun is shining." And then we would have fun discussing it: "No, the toy goes because the spring is wound up," I would say. "How did the spring ...


10

Diffuse these situations without adding to a perceived disparity. A simple comment to the tune of "oh, my daughter is at the right age, not my son" would probably have been the best bet. Treat these situations as simple oversights, don't teach your daughter that she will be prejudice against or that she will need to be catered to. You have encountered ...


8

You could do almost anything, but I think you should set yourself some ground rules. Obviously you don't want to put your baby into any kind of potentially harmful situation. You want to avoid any experiments that cause undue stress... no witholding of food, sleep, or affection, no stress testing their capacity for discomfort, etc. So what can you do? I ...


8

Here's one explanation aimed at primary-age children which is probably basic enough, although of course it's focussed on what energy does and what we use it for, rather than what energy is. But that's probably the best you'll get them to understand at this age. Energy Makes Change Energy makes change—it produces a change of some kind; it does things ...


8

Take a bit of toilet paper, and hold it under the bath's faucet. Turn on the faucet just slightly, so there are small drips. See that? The paper holds. Now turn the faucet on full blast. Does the paper hold up? Nope. Intensity can be damaging/harmful. An example could be made by making a soft touch with one finger, or allowing a whole hand to fall ...


7

I'm the author of Experimenting With Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid, which I hope you'll check out. The book takes published academic studies in various fields of child development -- primitive reflexes, motor skills, cognitive development, language development, social/emotional development, and more -- and adapts them so ...


7

I think your question can be generalised to something like the following: I want my child to do something I think will benefit them, but they are resistant to it. If I don't push them to do it I'm worried they will miss out on learning something important and finding out that what they are afraid of will actually end up being fun. If I do push them to do ...


7

In addition to the other good answers: Put Stellarium on your computer and learn to use it. Its a free and highly accurate sky simulator which will tell you where the planets currently are. If you can go out with the current constellations printed on a sheet of paper you can start learning your way around the night sky together. (Of course a laptop would be ...


6

First of all, try to give people the benefit of the doubt. It's not useful to attribute something to gender bias that might have easily been something else. My overwhelming experience is that people in this area bend over backwards to make girls feel welcome. Even if it was bias, in this day and age, it's almost certainly unintentional. I don't mean to ...


6

When you talk about your child not understanding where they were when you were little, the thing that I immediately thought about was Piaget's experiments with children and when they can begin understanding abstract concepts. There is a ton of great stuff about Piaget on the internet, but this article did a nice job of summing it up in a manner that seemed ...


5

One of the best methods I know is to provide age-appropriate toys and then observe. Participate as much as you like (more is better) but don't lead too much so that the child isn't paced too hard. Keep a diary if you like: You could record milestones like: able to turn from back to belly, able to turn back again, able to hold an item, able to sit, able to ....


5

These other answers seem too abstract for a 5-year-old. I don't think he's ready for that yet. Stick to the visible and concrete. Take him outside and show him the power cables going to your house, that lead into your fusebox/meter. Show him the meter moving. Explain to him that there's a company that makes electricity (not quite the right words ...


5

Like other respondents, I think you should tell your son that the inside of your eyes can burn, just the same as your skin can, but quicker. But because your skin is on the outside of your body, it has lots of pain sensors to detect when things could damage it. The inside of your eyes don't have pain sensors because they're inside your body where they don'...


5

Use it as an opportunity to teach moderation. Your child probably knows that being warm feels nice, but too much warmth can be uncomfortable, and even more can burn. A cool breeze is nice too, but too much and we get cold, and can even get hurt. It's the same with light from the Sun, we like having enough so we can see, but too much and it can hurt us. ...


5

The easiest solution is to avoid calling it a science experiment. The harder thing to do is to get a child interested in things that aren't particularly interesting to her. My advice would be to tailor your teaching in large part to what interests your daughter, especially initially. Mixing science projects in with a lot of non-science projects as well ...


5

I think that there are two problems here. The first problem are the details of human reproduction: that can be solved by telling the truth or by telling an appropriate tale - my choice was telling the truth or most of it, but that is a matter of preference. The second (and most unexpected) problem is the idea of non existence and it's a lot harder. One of ...


5

Where does chocolate milk come from? Chocolate milk is a combination. It doesn't exist, until all the needed parts are available. The needed parts are combined, and then the rest of the "chocolate milk-creating process" (a.k.a. "stirring") happens. Where do babies come from? They grow. First, you start out with cells. Cells are so tiny that they can't ...


4

My six and eight year olds know energy as "the ability to do work" or, as AE mentioned, the ability to change something. Make the water hotter? That is change and requires energy. Bounce more photons off the walls so that our eyes can collect enough photons to see? Those photons move very fast so it takes a lot of work (energy) to move them. Note that I ...


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