(This column first appeared in the December 1, 1997 Buffalo
Some time ago naturalist Sharon Collman
of the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington posted
on the Internet some science information provided by school children, most
of whom were enrolled in fifth or sixth grades. I share some of their insights
When people run round and round in circles, we say they are
crazy. When planets do it, we say they are orbiting.
While the earth seems to be knowingly keeping its distance
from the sun, it is really only centrificating.
Most books now say our sun is a star but it still knows how
to change back into a sun in the daytime.
Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun
but I have never been able to make out the numbers.
Genetics explain why you look like your father and if you
don't why you should.
In looking at a drop of water under a microscope, we find
there are twice as many H's as O's.
To most people solutions mean finding the answers but to
chemists solutions are things that are still all mixed up.
We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation.
Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top
Cyanide is so poisonous that one drop of it on a dog's tongue
will kill the strongest man.
It is so hot in some places that the people there have to
live in other places.
South America has cold summers and hot winters but somehow
they still manage.
Talc is found on rocks and on babies.
Many dead animals in the past changed to fossils while others
preferred to be oil.
In some rocks you can find the fossil footprints of fishes.
Lime is a green-tasting rock.
There is a tremendous weight pushing down on the center of
the Earth because of so much population stomping around up there these
The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming
Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know
we know they're there.
Water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. There
are 180 degrees between freezing and boiling because there are 180 degrees
between north and south.
Some oxygen molecules help fires burn while others help make
water, so sometimes it's brother against brother.
When they broke open molecules, they found they were only
stuffed with atoms but when they broke open atoms, they found them stuffed
You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close
you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it, you got hit, so never mind.
I am not sure how clouds get formed but the clouds know how
to do it and that is the important thing.
Clouds just keep circling the earth around and around. And
around. There is not much else to do.
Water vapor gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough
to be called a drop, it does.
Humidity is the experience of looking for air and finding
water. We keep track of humidity in the air so we won't drown when we breathe.
Rain is saved up in cloud banks.
Rainbows are just to look at, not to really understand.
The wind is like the air, only pushier.
A blizzard is when it snows sideways.
Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their
The future of science may not be in competent
hands but it will surely be developed by creative minds.