Adventures in Ethics and Science

Elder offspring: Blood is cool.

Younger offspring: (Covering head with blanket) I hate blood, because I hate owies!

Dr. Free-Ride: But your blood does all sorts of good things for your body. You know that you’re filled with blood, right?

Elder offspring: Actually, your body is two-thirds water.

Dr. Free-Ride: And what do you think there’s lots of in blood?

Elder offspring: Oh yeah, water.

Younger offspring: I hate blood. I wish I didn’t have any.

Dr. Free-Ride: You need it to get oxygen to all the parts of the body.

Younger offspring: No I don’t, I’ll just breathe harder.

* * * * *

The sprogs recommend:

A book: A Drop of Blood by Paul Showers, illustrated by Edward Miller.

The text of this book is straight-ahead science for the grade school set, explaining the key components of blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets) and what they do. There are nice diagrams of how the circulatory system gets involved in transporting nutrients as well as oxygen, pictures of a white blood cell eating a germ, and a step-by-step explanation of how a scab forms.

But this unassuming text is illustrated in classic horror movie style.

All the “people” in the drawings are either vampires or … uh, whatever those greenish hunchbacked creatures who become henchmen are. And this illustration choice is brilliant! Kids who might be squicked out by blood in real life cannot resist the scary/funny/cool cartoonish vamps accompanying the text in this book. The drawing of the Count offering Igor a Band-aid for his boo-boo is heart-warming. So is the multigenerational picture that accompanies this text:

Little people do not need much blood. Cathy is one year old. She weighs twenty-four pounds. She has about one and a half pints of blood in her body. That is less than one quart.

Big people need more blood. Russell is eleven years old. He weighs eighty-eight pounds. He has about five and a half pints of blood in his body. That is a little less than three quarts.

Russell is a young vampire, while Cathy is a cute green toddler with purple circles under her eyes.

This is a really engaging book. And, the science looks pretty good.

A song:
They Might Be Giants, “Blood-Mobile” (with an unauthorized animation by Dave Logan).

It’s a They Might Be Giants song, so the lyrics are fun and intricate. Verse by verse, we learn of the various functions the blood serves in our bodies. (“to carry oxygen, nutrients, things that fight infections, do the trash collection and deliver the mail”). Good song. (Lately, though, the elder sprog is more concerned to figure out which verses are sung by John Linnell and which are sung by John Flansburg. They grow up so quickly!)

The animation is pretty neat, too. However, it gets the white blood cells completely wrong (making them look like red blood cells, only white). Trust the lyrics, not the animation, to get the facts right.

Comments

  1. #1 Thomas Winwood
    August 18, 2006

    TMBG are an excellent source of educational music in all respects.

  2. #2 Rebecca
    August 18, 2006

    I think that is fabulous. You know, I’ve often said that history texts should be written in the format of People magazine. Now I also think science texts should be written in cartoons. These subjects are so much more interesting than most textbooks make them sound. It just doesn’t seem fair.

  3. #3 Natalie
    August 18, 2006

    Thanks for the link to the bloodmobile song! I’ll be using that in my college Human Bio class – anything to make the info stick a little easier, right!

  4. #4 Cindy
    September 5, 2006

    Hey, Dave was only a high school senior when he did Bloodmobile! (I am his mother.)

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