He blinded me with science.
By Kelley Cunningham
I looked at the book. Reader’s Digest/How Science Works: 100 Ways Parents and Kids Can Share the Secrets of Science.
“Oh boy! You bet!” I said. “Let me at it!”
“Yay!” He said. “Mom, you are the BEST. You always nurture my quest for knowledge.”
“Think nothing of it, my boy! Nothing pleases me more than empowering you on a daily basis!” I said, smiling into his twinkling, intelligent eyes.
We practically ran downstairs.
“Let’s do this one, Mom!”
I read the experiment’s title.“Liquid Density.”
“What kind of syrup?” I asked.
“It doesn’t say.”
“Will Mrs. Butterworth’s do the trick?” I asked.
“I guess. It says that we can show how liquids of different densities float on each other.”
“OK! I have everything here except the glycerol. Now, where did I put that vat of glycerol I got at Costco last week? Oh, here it is, behind the Honey-Nut Cheerios. OK, let’s DO this! Woo!”
I poured the liquids into the glass, starting with the maple syrup, dribbling them down the side of the glass carefully so the layers stayed separate.
“It says you’re supposed to add red food coloring to the water and blue to the alcohol in order for the layers to show up better. The food coloring is in the cabinet over there,” I said.
“OK, Mom, I got it! I am going to put paper towels down on the countertop so I won’t stain anything, and I will add the drops of food coloring without making a mess!” he said.
“Of course you will, honey. It’s because I’ve spent so much quality time with you over the years showing you these skills. I don’t even need to remind you to be neat!” I said, still smiling at his wonderfulness.
We poured the last of the layers into the glass and it sort of resembled the photograph in the book.
“Hey, that’s pretty cool, Mom.”
“What did you learn from this?”
“I don’t know.”
“No matter!” I said.“What are we going to do next? How about this one! It’s called Making a Hydrometer.”
“All we need are straws, modeling clay, and beakers,” he said.
“Well, we can’t do that one, honey, I’m sorry. I’m already using all my beakers for a mini-terrarium/earthworm farm experiment for your older brother’s science fair project.” I said.
“That’s ok, Mom! I know you have to empower all of us siblings equally. How about this one in the Organic Chemistry chapter, instead?”
I read it aloud. “Making Plastic. Adult supervision required. Most plastics are man-made from oil and natural gas, but you can make your own very simple plastic from casein, the curds in milk, and set it in a mold.”
“Mom, that sounds like FUN!”
“Oh, it is, honey! But don’t you remember all the molded casein/cheese curd Christmas ornaments we made last year, wrapped in homemade wrapping paper, and gave to the neighbors as gifts? Let’s try a new experiment instead!”
“How about this experiment, about refracting light rays?” he asked.
I read the list of items needed. “Black cardboard, white cardboard, a craft knife, adhesive tape, battery, 2 lengths of electrical wire with alligator clips, light bulb and holder, glass bottle, mirror, glass tumbler, convex lens, small comb.”
He went to gather the stuff. “Mom, where’s the convex lens?”
“In the lens drawer, right next to the gyroscopes and the ordinary 4.5-volt radio batteries.” I said.
“I can’t find it!”
“Oh, silly me!” I said. “I must be having a senior moment! Ha, ha, ha! I forgot that I lent all our convex lenses to the PTA. They needed them for the “sound and light”show they are planning forPeeWee football halftime.”
He sighed, disappointed.
“Now, now! Don’t be downcast! Let’s do this electrical current experiment instead. Good thing we stopped at the Science Experiment Supplies Outlet on the way home from karate last night and picked up all these leads and three-way connectors! Like I always say, you can never have too many of these supplies around the house!”
“Mom, you’re awesome. What would I do if I had the kind of mom who wouldn’t have three-way connectors and electrical switches handy?”
I shuddered at the thought. “Oh, don’t say that, son. I can’t imagine such a horrible scenario. OK, let’s start!”
“Should we make a parallel circuit or a series circuit?”
“Decisions, decisions…let’s do both!”
I hooked it all up, and he watched. “Do you see what happens when I put a second bulb on this one parallel branch? It creates more resistance, and less of the current will flow through there!” I said.
“Cool! I get it, Mom! And isn’t it amazing how I just stay here with you and pay attention the whole time, unlike most kids who would lose interest after two minutes?”
“I think you have an amazing career ahead of you, my boy! Now let me clean all this up. Why don’t you go out and investigate Newton’s Laws of Motion by riding your bike up and down the street for the rest of the day, while I investigate the rate of alcohol absorption by the brain of a 44-year-old woman!”
“You’re the best, Mom!”
Need more Kelley? A hefty collection of her great essays, What's the Matter With Mommy?, is now available on Amazon.com.
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