BJ's love of science continues to flourish, which is great fun to see. (Among other bonuses in the new apartment: one of our neighbors is a neurobiology professor. When we moved in, BJ was so thrilled to meet a scientist who would also be our neighbor that he nearly burst with joy). As S put it, for BJ scientists are far cooler than rock stars. (I have to agree -- and not just because I spent a year and a half as a biotechnology major in college!)
Have I mentioned that a significant number of BJ's conversations these days start with the phrase, "And when I'm a scientist...."
Some time ago, I scored a huge set of previously owned Magic School Bus books, more than 20 titles. (They aren't all of the same quality -- the originals by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan far surpass the made-for-TV narratives under the Scholastic authorship, in my opinion. But my analysis of all that is better saved for a separate post. In truth, BJ doesn't care which ones are originals and which ones are adapted from the TV series. He loves them all.) We'd been doling them out a book or two at a time, and then when we moved into the new place I put the rest of them on the shelf. The moment BJ discovered them was definitely one of the highlights of the entire move-in process. He spread them out all over the floor and examined each with great excitement.
He's clearly been learning a lot from the books. He's developed an intense fascination with human biology, thanks to The Magic School bus Inside the Human Body (with a soundtrack credit to TMBG's The Bloodmobile, which he has memorized. Actually, both kids love to sing it!) Many times now, he's taken it upon himself to systematically re-create the organ systems by sculpting them in play-doh. He'd done it several times before I finally managed to get a picture.
He is very exacting about replicating the chart of the human body from the Magic School bus book -- that's what is open on the table above. He molds each "organ" carefully and then puts it in its proper place. It's a far cry from a to-scale model, but not bad for a four-year-old!
The very first time he undertook this activity, he used colored clay that he had convinced Auntie L to buy at the CDM. As best I can tell, he asked her to buy it for him with exactly this purpose in mind. I finally got a pic of the clay version in process over the weekend:
His preschool teacher, who is currently going back to school for a degree in nutrition, joked with me last week that when she gets to her anatomy classes she'll be asking BJ for tutoring. It tickles me to no end that his enthusiasms are so firmly based in wanting to know things -- whether that's numbers and letters (which he still loves) or the names of the chambers of the heart. He's declared that he wants his fifth birthday to have a Human Body theme. Should make for an interesting cake if he holds to that.... Personally, I'd prefer the outer space theme that he suggested a few months back. The planets are still pretty popular, so perhaps he'll change his mind once more. We'll see.
While S was out of town, BJ kept asking me, "Mom! Can we do a science experiment?" I'm sure much of this has to do with the fact that the Magic School bus books include activities and experiments for the kids to do. He would love nothing more than to replicate exactly every activity in every book. I don't have the resources for that, but I'm happy to encourage his interests when it's possible. For example, he wanted to do an experiment that he'd read about in one of the books, involving a white carnation and a cup full of colored water. I didn't have carnations on hand, but I had a vague memory that the same principle might work with celery.
A quick Google search brought up The Great Celery Experiment, which had easy instructions and confirmed my thinking that celery would work in place of a flower. (My mom informed me that I'd done the celery experiment in third grade; I don't remember it exactly, but I believe her.) BJ loved reading over the directions on the web page and choosing which color to use: his favorite color, red. We set it up, and he asked me to take a picture.
It took about a day, but sure enough the leaves started to get red and you could see some red in the lines on the stalk, especially in cross-section.
My boy being the celery lover that he is, he insisted on eating the results! (Not something he could have done with a carnation, eh?)
We'd set up the experiment while BB was napping, and BJ had a great time explaining it to her. Granted, he thought that the stalk would "drink up" all the colored water in the glass, but he mostly got the ideas right. Not one to be left out, BB wanted to do her own version of the experiment the next day after BJ had eaten his red celery. She chose blue, which ultimately had even more vivid results (or perhaps I just added more coloring to the water). I forgot to get a "before" pic, but she reminded me to get an "after."
BB wouldn't eat the celery, though. She was happy to leave that one to BJ. My girl and her vegetables are still not the best of friends.
One last science-related family anecdote: recently, BJ and BB were arguing about astronauts and princesses. BJ insisted that a princess could not be an astronaut. BB declared that they could. After some back and forth, S and I chimed in on the side of the princesses. I called upon the authority of They Might Be Giants -- in The Ballad of Davy Crockett (in Outer Space) Crockett is "king of this brand new place. Davy, Davy Crockett, traveling through outer space." So I reminded him of that and reasoned thus with him: can a king can be an astronaut? Yes. So then can a prince? Yes. What about a queen? Yes. So then could a princess also be an astronaut?
Yes, a princess could also be an astronaut, even BJ had to agree. If it was in a They Might Be Giants song (or, apparently, even deduced from one) then it had to be so. (Never mind that the song itself is based on legend, not fact!)
So that's one more count towards gender equality in the raising of my children, always a good thing. And one more reason to be eternally grateful to TMBG and their kids' music! (With rock stars like these, they might just be as cool as scientists to my son. And I'd have to agree on that one, too.)