Small Things Amuse Great Minds

My Science Adventures and Thoughts for Our Little Stars – Our Children

“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”. “Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”

Elwyn Brooks White, “Charlotte’s Web”

Contents

Foreword: Small Things Amuse Great Minds

The World’s greatest scientists wear nappies

Who has Seen the Wind?

A childrens poem reminds us of the most basic and essential mindset of the scientist

Twist and Wonder

A doll, a ribbon and why stuff takes up space: a child’s look at the Dirac Belt Trick

How to Measure the Universe’s Size by Simply Looking into the Night Sky

A Thought Experiment: One fleeting glance skywards reveals something profound about our Universe

Finding Visitors from Outer Space or “We Are Made of Star Stuff”

Build a cloud chamber and see the whispy spoors of muons: remnants of cosmic ray visitors from outer space

Warped Worlds

An introduction for children to Einstein’s geometrical description of our Universe

Stick Times

Multiplication is simply a warped version of addition and division a warped version of subtraction: build a slide rule and see how

A Wonderful Book For Primary Schoolers Interested in Science

This one is not an activity, but rather a recommendation for the best popular account of science ever. This book should be within the grasp of an eight year old interested in science, but it would be ideal for a parent wishing to read something with their child.

Explaining Newton’s Laws of Motion to a Six Year Old

Again, this one isn’t an activity, but some general thoughts on explaining scientific concepts to children. Actually I certainly wouldn’t begin with Newton’s Laws unless explicitly asked by a child – they aren’t the kind of thing a six year old would find compelling.

 The Blue Dot Over Voyager’s Shoulder

Celestia is free software that allows a child to voyage to all planets in the solar system and beyond and to see what our tiny blue Earth looks like from the surface of our outer planets.

 Let’s Leave Home

Build a rocket cart and think about riding a rocket to the Moon.