Yesterday, I got to babysit my 8 year old niece. She had been on an earthquake a couple of weeks ago in Mexico City so now that she was back I wanted to explain to her about the movements of the tectonic plates and why there were earthquakes. As it just happens, the latest episode of Cosmos touched this subject.
I told her the video was in English and I would translate and explain as it played. We stopped a couple of times so I could explain better about the Great Dying and how only 1 in 10 species survived.
“Wait… so… those that survived, they got to evolve into humans right!? We are here because they lived”
And I stopped and… I couldn’t help but to smile in surprise. I had just paused the video just before Neil said exactly that and he showed the mammal’s early ancestor scurrying out of his nest.
“Yeah, something like that”
“But…wait, wait, wait. So, then, WHERE do THEY come from?”
“From other creatures… The ones that were similar to fish with little legs that came out of the water”
“But where did THOSE come from? Where did EVERYTHING come from?”
I wasn’t expecting the tectonic plate session to jump suddenly into that subject.
“Ok, we could say they all started with things like germs or bacteria-”
“Yeah, the tiny microscopic ones, but WHERE did they come from? How were they made?”
“That’s very complicated for me to explain, sweetie. There’s something called DNA which is what every life is made of… like instructions. This will make you have bigger eyes. This says your skin will be this other color, etc.”
Thank fully there was a small scene about DNA on that episode.
“Scientist are trying hard to come up with the explanation on how DNA came to be but for the most part they agree it appeared on something called primordial soup”
“Hehehee, a SOUP”
“That ‘soup’ its said to have had chemicals that together made up the first chain of dna”
She looked at me a little confused, trying to grasp the concept, you could tell she was struggling. “Don’t worry sweetie. This is much more complicated that anything you have study so far. You need to study biology on middle school or high school to start to understand it”
We agreed to keep watching Cosmos. By the end of it, Neil says we must cut back our use of carbon based fuels.
“YES! Mexico City is like… full of smoke! Like that picture!”
“Yes, he says if we don’t control that… the thing with the Great Dying could start again quickly. Lots of smog and other gases into the air. He says we should find better ways to harness the energy of the sun instead”
“YES! I… I want to invent something….” she whispers “Like, a thing, with a water bottle… and a metal and wood body, but… it has like glass on top and… uh…”
My eyes widened. “Yes? What else?”
“Like… I don’t know… like a mirror? Something like that”
“That’s… you know, there’s something like what you are saying” I proceeded to show her solar cookers (boxes and parabolic) and solar water heaters.
“I WANT ONE! We wouldn’t pay for gas anymore!” she squeals in excitement. “But, can I really invent something like that?”
“I don’t see why not. There are other young girls that also invent stuff they need. There was a girl that made a flash light that charges its battery with the heat of your hand. And also there are other simpler inventions like a bottle of water filled with bleach that is placed in a whole in the roof, and the light that comes from outside looks brighter, like a bulb. It helps poor people that don’t have electricity”
“That’s… that’s very smart! I want to do that!”
Little Scientist on the making 10% complete!