At 6.5 and 8.5 years of age, the Free-Ride offspring sometimes seem more comfortable expressing their understanding of various ideas with drawings rather than just with words. I sometimes wonder where they pick up their visual vocabulary. For example, the younger Free-Ride offspring provides a picture to accompany the discussion of mutants posted two weeks ago:
Here’s a closer look at the drawing of the genes:
Those are pretty unmistakably double helices! How do first graders know this stuff? It can’t be simply from playing on stretches of DNA can it?
It’s also a pretty good rendering of a mouse.
Of course, we know visual representations can mislead. The younger Free-Ride offspring recently asked, “What are atoms anyway? Are they like little balls with strings around them?” (I took this to be a reference to the standard 1950s pop culture drawings representing atoms.)
They’re not, really. But how do you convey a good feel for the microstructure of the world to grade schoolers? I have a feeling they need a lot of time just to play with the idea before they can squeeze anything like explanatory power out of it.
Nonetheless, the elder Free-Ride offspring seems to be working out ways to understand the stuff of everyday life in terms of elemental “ingredients”:
The drawing was actually done on thin paper, such that if you hold it up to the light, you see something like this:
Of course, if you thought that reality was nothing but atoms of various elements, arranged in different ways, you’d have something like this:
Elder offspring’s thinking about elements seems to have been influenced by a kids’ book about the elements. If I can find it in the sprogs’ den of unsorted books, I’ll try to put up a review.