The past couple weeks have proved otherwise. First of all, we have a large collection of Magic School Bus books, which boys read and reread at will. Then there are other science books hanging around the house, from an old textbook, to my occasional science reading. Then there is library, and boys pick out whatever interests them. 8 yo is still working his way through the dinosaur section. Then there are documentaries, both on Netflix and through the library. The latest one that the kids are enjoying is called SciQ. It is made by Smithsonian, and they cannot stop talking about it.
Then there are dinnertime discussions. One night this week 8 yo started the conversation by informing us about lizards which reproduce by cloning, without a male. We discussed advantages and disadvantages of this: no need for males, ability to colonize an island with just one lizard. Then we discussed disadvantages: passing on genetic defects without variety and reducing the odds of survival. My husband asked if a genetic disease could be an advantage, and brought in an example of sickle cell anemia and malaria. In order to have this kind of discussion, my kids knew what are red blood cells, what are their functions and what they normally look like. 8 yo also knew that malaria is spread by mosquito bites. 6 yo wanted to know how many red blood cells are there in an average person. I found myself marveling when I taught middle schoolers, I could not take the knowledge of basic facts for granted, and here are my kids, without formal curriculum, who are able to hold and comprehend this level of conversation.
When we go on a hike, 2 yo spends some time talking about the roots we step over, the big and small trees we see, the leaves underfoot, why is it winter, and the birds around us. Just this Friday, as we were waiting for the boys to loop around the lake, we opened up a seed pod which was just lying by our feet and looked at the small seeds inside. I have no idea which tree it came from, but it did not matter much. I stressed that each seed can grow into a big tree, and that prompted my daughter to open more pods and to count how many seeds were inside.
But what about scientific method? Experiments?
The results: olive oil burned out the fastest, after 6 hours, followed by corn an hour later, and canola, in another half an hour. 8 yo's conclusion: we should light with canola. An argument about the original menorah and the traditional use of olive oil fell on deaf ears. Afterwards, I speculated to my husband that they did not have good oil blends then, and maybe canola is today's olive...
There is a time and a place for everything. Since the time for science is "all the time", the questions and conversations about it happen all the time. There are no tests, no grades, no standards. But there is also no pressure.
I just wish I could say the same about Judaics...