One of the most exciting things a new parent looks forward to is teaching her child new concepts. The prospect of filling their curious little minds with ideas and thoughts fascinates every parent. But what we don’t know is that we’ve got the direction of knowledge flow all wrong. Kids teach us something new every single day. One of the many things parents re-learn are the concepts of Physics, taught in a fresh new manner by their child. Here’s a brief summary –
Theory: Sound travels fastest in a solid
Practical experience with a child: All kids internalise this theory a few months into their existence. This is the theory kids turn to most often while throwing a tantrum. Have you noticed how they always throw themselves to the floor and bang their fists/other objects onto the most solid object they can find? They never try and wave their hands or their big toy in the air or in water (I’ll save what they do in water to explain another theory); they know what will reach their parents’ ears the quickest.
Theory: The total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time
Practical experience with a child: Notice how parents always look tired and how kids are always bubbling with energy? That’s the law of conservation of energy playing itself out in the isolated system called home.
Theory: The upward buoyant force exerted on a body immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid the body displaces
Practical experience with a child: The most pressing concern a child has is measuring the volume of irregular objects with precision. It seems like Archimedes shared his experience on how best to achieve that with our little fellas. I cannot count the number of objects Advika has thrown into her tub and the sheer glee on her face when a large object thrown almost submerged our bathroom.
Theory: A body continues in its state of constant velocity unless it is acted upon by an external force
Practical experience with a child: Children will keep talking at a rate of a hundred “whys” per minute unless a parent stops them and answers their questions. Or shushes them.
Theory: Gravitation is the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall on the ground when dropped
Practical experience with a child: This is the one theory children don’t accept with ease. They need to throw various objects out of the window many, many times, and only when one such aforementioned object hits a random stranger on the road, do they finally give in to the powers of gravity.
I’m afraid I have to stop the lesson at this point as I hear a loud noise from the bathroom and Advika shouting – something that vaguely sounds like Eureka. Looks like I might have to explain Hooke’s law* to her.
*The stress applied to any solid is proportional to the strain it produces within the elastic limit for that solid