I have a five year old boy, some of you may know that already. Part ofthe joy of having kids is teaching them. Now having a slight scientific bent a lot of questions I answer tend to be about science or things I point out are about science. Recently J said that he was not part of me as he came from his mummy and not from me so he could not be “from” me. So without going into squishy details I still have to explain this one.
It was not that hard, but some of the credit goes to a computer game called “Cloning Clyde”. In this game the character has clones, I did mention that these meant copies but did not want to go there. There are also things to collect like DNA symbols around the place, also the character gets merged with chickens and sheep and monkeys, I explained that Clyde’s DNA and the sheep’s were merged to make a clyde-sheep (look its only a game its not real, before you start on that one). Those ideas seems to have settled in his mind. Other conversations we have had have involved that living things are made from cells, skin cells, brain cells, plant cells etc. From those elements of understanding, I managed to pull it off. I explained that every cell contained DNA (“Like in Clyde dad? ” ) and that had all the information to make every part of you. That when babies start they are the merging of two sets of DNA to create a new type of DNA and those cells with that DNA grow into you. That’s why you look like me and mummy. He just accepted it. Totally got the idea that despite being born of one parent he is comprised of parts of both. That he can take these abstract ideas that I cannot prove or demonstrate(much like I have myself) then logically assemble them or understand when I assemble them is just fantastic. Later I hope to explain evolution in these terms, currently I told him people were monkeys (simplistic explanation, true, but close enough) and he will quote the line I used to explain the differences along the way”monkeys, children, children, children, children, children, children,children, children, children, children (ad nauseam) and then people”.He even saw that in the start of a Simpsons* episode once where cell-homer evolves into current homer, although when we reached Homer he said”rat-thing, monkey, people, people, people, idiot”. Putting those two concepts together and understanding them will be a great day. Then hopefully one day he can go and explain it to the denialists and they “get it” to ;-). For a great read on teaching kids science read the Friday Sprog Blog entries here . *Occasional Simpson’s episode, vetted beforehand (i.e. they are repeated so often on sky I know what’s coming).