Questions about physics from kids

My son has some questions about the world. I wonder how often these kinds of questions are asked by children? My suspicion is that almost all children ask questions like this at some point, and that how we react to their questions has a lot to do with their willingness to experiment and figure out the answer for themselves.

Update: I showed some of these videos to a colleague at work, and she told me that her kids ask the same kinds of questions. I had a thought; does anyone have a project where they keep track of questions about science (or mathematics) that kids ask?

 

 

 

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5 Comments

  • I have one about his age! I love those questions. They provide hours of hands on fun. How WE answer the questions is an interesting way to think about it, but I like to think about as how we help THEM in answering the question for THEMself.

    Great post. These short little observations are the reason I love blogging so much.

  • And yes, I do think they all ask very similar questions. I am always amazed when I see my step-son asking some of the same questions and doing some of the same “experiments” that I remember doing at his age.

    I think Craig hits the nail on the head, though. Of course, we as parents (and teachers) need to be careful not to stifle wonderment and curiosity. But we also need to encourage exploration. We can’t simply answer everything.

  • Some kind of joint google doc would be great.

    Two more from my boy yesterday:
    Why is the sky up and ground down?
    Why do cows eat grass?

  • As an elementary educator of over two decades, I would say that your child is unique, and that not very many children would ask these types of questions. I’m really sure that you have a budding scientist or engineer here. Kids do ask questions, but they tend to be questions about what that child is interested in. Some children are interested in things like this at this age, but not very many are in terms of percentages of children.

    I was quite interested in scientific questions at a very young age like this, but not questions of this type. My questions were more along the lines of, “How big is the universe?” I thought about that for many years, and no one could ever give me an answer, nor was interested in discussing it with me. Somewhere I heard about freezing to death being a more comfortable way to die than other ways. When I was quite young, I used to ask people, “Would you rather freeze to death or burn to death?” Of course this would upset people. Looking back, perhaps the reason I was fixated on that is that both my parents died in a car accident when I was four.

    Many kids, if you give them a chance when you start a new unit to ask their questions, will ask questions they want to know about scientific subjects. For example, when starting an astronomy unit with third graders, I asked what they wanted to know. Many children asked factual questions that are covered in the text or normal learning material. But quite a few asked questions such as, “Do aliens exist?” or “Can we travel to other planets?” or “Can we travel through time?” Personally I thought all of these were good questions, and I think they all deserve a serious answer. I took the time before delving into the unit to discuss seriously what would be involved in traveling to another planet, and which problems would have to be solved, as well as how far along we were with solving them. I discussed what criteria scientists were using in terms of looking for habitable planets, and the fact that there might be aliens, as well as the reasons why I thought that aliens, if they exist, were not visiting us, and reasons why they did not have to worry about that. I talked to them about the ideas of time travel and parallel universes (as are presented in many science fiction series to children, but without them really understanding what it is about). Then we start delving into the text book material after a couple of days, and the students who weren’t formerly interested now feel interested as well.

    Regarding your own son, how wonderful that he has a father who encourages his interests and takes the time to TALK to him about these things. I don’t think most parents do this. I used to ask my (second) parents a lot of questions such as “What would happen if this or that happened?” They didn’t like these sorts of questions at all. They felt a girl should not be interested in science. (I used to hide science books under my mattress to read, and would get in trouble when my mother found them!)

    Many children have questions, but they tend to be focused on the areas of interest of that particular child. Again, being an elementary teacher of over two decades who DOES take the time to talk to children when they ask (as well as being a parent) I don’t think many children are thinking about these sorts of ideas, particularly at this age. I would actually not be surprised to find out if your son is “gifted.” But even if he is not, for sure I can see him becoming an engineer or something like that. It’s clear you are a wonderful parent, and are encouraging his interests. He clearly knows that you are interested in talking to HIM about his interests, and that you always make time for him with his questions (which most parents would not).

    –Lynne Diligent

  • Anonymous wrote:

    I am really amazed with your child. I may say that he is such a clever kid and really wanting to learn more. If kids today were like that, learning is really beyond.

    Nikka 

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