The Child’s Mind

Kids are wonderful to talk to because they say the most unpredictable things that even an adult could not possibly come up with. Sometimes, they themselves make me sit in awe at their logic and reasoning. But too much information, their little brains just shut off anyway, so I most often give them short direct answers, and they usually are satisfied and go away happy with the newfound knowledge they just acquired.

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine from my work had his seven year old son with him when we got together for a chat over coffee. I was being asked about any advice I could give regarding his home network he was building, and the kid was patiently sitting, listing to us talk. I went on for about twenty minutes, doodling on some paper, sketching out schematics and plans that I think might work for him. Then the young boy blurted out, “do you know why all the trees are green”?

I looked at him, and said, “Yes, Yes I do, but are you sure you want to hear the answer. It may not make sense to you?” The kid was so focused on me, I could feel his gaze burning through me.

Normally, I just start with a short answer, and then take note if the kid is still wanting more, then pour on some scientific jargon, sprinkled it with some facts and figures, hoping that will suffice. But in this case, the young mind wanted more. And more I gave him.

“Yes,” I said, “ it is because of the Sun, and how the plants, like trees, need the Sun’s energy to live. The Green wavelength of the Sun is the highest out of the Electro Magnetic spectrum being emitted from it.  Therefore, the plants use the green pigment to capture the most amount of that light energy. We call that Photosynthesises. This is when plants use the light energy to break down the chemicals they take from the air and ground and turn it into food they can live off of.”

A quick check, and the kid’s eyes have not glazed over yet…

“So ask yourself this, why do plants not use black pigment instead?” I rambled on.

Kid is still focused one hundred percent on me. OK, keep going.

“Well, the problems with using black pigment is,” taking a long deep breath, “the plants would absorb the heat and other forms of radiation that are given off from the Sun and that would cause more damage than good for the poor plants.” I pause.

The kid’s eyes are starting to glaze over. Yes, he is going into ignore mode. I can feel it.

“So, do you have any questions.” I looked at the kid for a check, and now he is clearly focused on something else. Yes, he is getting bored.

“No” he says. I got it. “I already learned that in Mr. Daten’s class last year. He is a scientist, and he made a tonne of discoveries, and inventions, like stuff they use on the Moon…,  and other things like that.”

Yeah, you gotta love the young mind.

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