This morning, I came upon the younger Free-Ride playing a game.
Younger offspring: I’m playing “launch the bear”.
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, really?
Younger offspring: Yeah. I put the bear on the edge of the piece of cardboard and hold my hands on the other end with the fingers on top, and then I flip it!
Dr. Free-Ride: And there goes the bear.
Younger offspring: Yeah! I flip to try to get the bear past this finish line I made on the floor.
Dr. Free-Ride: That’s pretty cool. Have you tried using something longer to do the flipping?
Younger offspring: Like this blue box lid? Let’s see … FLIP!
Dr. Free-Ride: Wow!
Younger offspring: That went into the next room! I’m going to do it again!
Dr. Free-Ride: Does it make a difference how high you hold the lid as you’re flipping it?
Younger offspring: I don’t know.
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, you’ve been holding it at shoulder-height. What if you launch the bear from higher?
Younger offspring: Here, I’ll hold it where the top of my head is, and … FLIP! That went farther!
Dr. Free-Ride: And it had a flight path at a higher altitude.
Younger offspring: So it went over the kitchen table instead of banging into it.
Dr. Free-Ride: Can we find any longer levers than the blue box lid?
Younger offspring: Levers?
Dr. Free-Ride: Yeah, things to launch the bear.
Younger offspring: I thought a lever was for lifting things.
Dr. Free-Ride: You can lift with a lever, but leverage works for other things as well.
Younger offspring: This place mat is longer than the blue lid, but it’s not stiff enough to launch the bear.
Dr. Free-Ride: Hmmm. How about the cardboard box lid from that board game?
Younger offspring: It’s longer, and it’s stiff. One, two, three … FLIP!
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh dear.
Younger offspring: The bear launched into the floor. It didn’t go far at all. Is it too long?
Dr. Free-Ride: I wonder if that high edge the box top has keeps the bear in the lid rather than letting it launch.
Younger offspring: I’m going to use the blue lid to launch some more.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, it sounds like you learned something about levers in school.
Younger offspring: Yeah. We used a wooden lever to pick up a big, heavy box. We put one part of the lever under the bottom edge of the box, and then pushed down on the other part and that made the box lift. Then five of us kids tried to lift the science teacher with a lever.
Dr. Free-Ride: Using all your strength?
Younger offspring: No, just pressing just with our thumbs.
Dr. Free-Ride: Did it work? Did you lift the science teacher?
Younger offspring: No, the lever broke. The science teacher was too heavy.
Dr. Free-Ride: But your ten thumbs created enough force to break the lever.
Younger offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, do you think if I launched the bear it would go as far when you launch it?
Younger offspring: Maybe. Maybe it would go farther. Maybe it wouldn’t go quite as far, because I’ve been practicing.
Dr. Free-Ride: Do you think my longer arms would make any difference in how far I could launch the bear?
Younger offspring: Maybe. Are our arms levers, too?
Dr. Free-Ride: I think there’s only one way to find out.