On teaching science to toddlers

The bathtub is a wonderful place for learning. My kid has learned about hygiene, the aesthetics of bubbles, boats, and racing cars round and round the tub while making the most noise possible.

Tonight, I tried a new tack. Science. We discussed the phases of matter and the concept of air pressure by trapping air under a small dish with a couple holes in it and letting the air slip away as small or large bubbles. I explained that we were conducting basic experimentation to better understand the behaviour of gases in fluids. This fascinated him to no end. I suspect that he was more interested in the splashing and plopping noise emitted as the bubbles broke the surface of the water, than he was by my eventual diatribe on the compressibility of gases. Nonetheless, I pursued my pontificating right until the moment when a beautiful vortex became as we drained the bath. I eagerly pointed the phenomenon out, hoping he  would be as excited as I was. He then proceeded to scream in horror and scramble madly out of the tub.

Apparently, the main concept he retained was that this was somehow some critter snaking its way at him through the drain, or that he was going to get sucked down into the sewer along with the rest of the bath’s watery contents. In my defense, I never alluded to either of these possibilities, so please don’t toss rotten tomatoes my way.

I will have to revise my plan to elicit his interest in science, but thankfully I still have time. There’s always tomorrow’s bath.


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