5 Year Old Scientist

“Every kid starts out as a natural boorn scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” -Carl Sagan

Last week my 5 year old came in the house with a brown, dry ball of dead hydrangea flowers from last summer. She had found it on her walk with the puppy.

She told me “Mom, if I put this in water, it will come alive!”. My first instinct was to correct her, but I stopped myself.

“How long do you think it will take?” I asked her.

“Hmmmm. Three days.” She hypothesized.

So we found a vase and filled it up, put the flowers in, and waited.

3 days passed and I said to her, “Hey, look at the flowers. They didn’t come back to life. Why not?”

And together we talked about why dead, dried up cells don’t just come back to life when you add water. She smelled the wet flowers and noted that it smelled like the river. She looked at the water in the vase and noticed that it looked like pond water. We talked about how pond water looks like that because it has lots of rotting plants and animals in it, and lots of living ones.

We noticed the way one of the brown hydrangea petals was suspended in the middle of the water. She asked if it would be ok to drink the water.

This experiment was remarkably more useful and enriching than if three days ago I had reflexively told her that flowers don’t come back to life after they’re dead. It’s too bad that was my first instinct! I guess I need to have the enthusiasm beaten back into me by the kids!

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