Sunday, June 21, 2009

Never Underestimate the Mind of a Child

On Friday night we were at the Temecula Children's Museum for a special Friday night event in the Inventor's Series called The Great Build. The objective was to link up different shaped PVC pipes together and shoot miniature marshmallows through them. Adults and children were in the dining room creating wild-looking contraptions and ended up competing against one another shooting for distance.

There was one group of families that decided to take it to another level. The contraptions they made were amazing and they could shoot the marshmallows so far that we decided to take the inventions outside to shoot the marshmallows across the ravine.

The kids and parents were super excited and their competitveness grew once we got to the fence that bordered the ravine. Suddenly, the wind kicked up and gusts blew right in our faces. So, everyone thought that it would be a good idea to use the wind in our favor to shoot for the ultimate distance. The marshmallows went flying! Then, people started taking their contraptions apart to redesign them to make them work even better. What fun! After awhile, though, the marshmallows were getting too wet to shoot because they landed too many times on the wet grass.

At this point, I asked the kids what we could do to solve the problem without getting new marshmallows. Everyone looked at me with priceless, blank expressions on their faces. So, I said, "What if we go inside and put one of the marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds? What would happen to the marshmallow? Also, would it then shoot farther than before or not at all? Then this adorable six-year-old, named Kirra, immediately came up with an answer. She explained that the marshmallow would expand in the microwave and it would not shoot as far because it would become a different shape in the microwave. Then, a father of another child said, "Well, what happens to sugar when it's heated? and his son said, "It melts!". So I said, "It looks like we have another competition. Let's go inside and test our theories." So, we all walked back inside the museum (there must have been about 15 of us), and gathered around the microwave. I put one of the wet marshmallows on a paper towel
and set the timer for 30 seconds. Everyone was watching closely and shouting, "It's going to melt!, No! It's going to expand! Watch!" Then suddenly, it grew. Everyone's eyes grew, too. "The little girl is right!" they said. We all counted down the last 10 seconds out loud together and when I took it out, it was obvious that Kirra was right. The father who thought it would melt was actually humbled by this brilliant six-year-old and admitted that he thought for sure he was right and that he believed, at the time, Kirra couldn't have possibly understood her theory before we tested it. He learned something from this little girl: never underestimate the mind of a child. I think that, now, he looks at his son a little differently, too, because he then started asking him how to design a better marshmallow shooting contraption to make the next marshmallow shoot even farther than the last.

Congratulations, Kirra. Not only was your theory proven to be correct, but you humbled at least one adult who confidently thought he knew the answer. Good job using your creative reasoning abilities and being confident even in the face of an over-confident (and wrong) adult!

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