Recently, our first born has developed an infatuation with the solar system. Every day he reviews the planets with me (and Momma). In addition to this, he has been asking some questions about where we are from – which has given us an opportunity to use the family globe. How did this all begin? Our family tends to frequent books stores – because of our love of books and knowledge. On one of those visits to Barnes&Noble, we arrived into the store came upon the clearance shelves right at the entrance of the store. One book stood out – Our Solar System and Beyond. We read to him every day – sometimes including this book. When he was old enough to have the book to himself he began to devour it – literally.
Over the last couple of months, he began to ask question about why we have night and day. Kat let me use a show to demonstrate. I told him that I can demonstrate why in his room. We entered his room and placed the globe on the flood. We discussed with him how the Earth rotates and is on an axis (tilted). And that the Sun, which he already recognizes, is a star in the sky – just very, very bright. We then used a small basketball to show him that the moon revolves around the Earth. We then turned off all the lights. Using a flashlight, and the small basketball we began to show him how the Sun shines a light onto the Earth during the day and that at the Earth rotates one side gets light (day time) and the other does not (night time). Then we showed him how the moon also receives light from the Sun and how we then see that reflected light here on Earth. I had to do this pretty fast as toddlers’ attention spans are rather short. He then asked why? I looked at Kat and we determined that this would require additional effort. To be honest, this is his favorite question to ask. We went back to his original book to begin the very complex explanation. To help out more, we used the tablet to show him why – which included a journey through the solar system. The video began with a tour of the Solar System. He was hooked. As there were other videos on the side, he showed interest in seeing the others and one in particular that he uses (to this day) to reinforce his learning.
Through this experience, he has learned what the Sun is and that it is, in his own words, “massive.” He knows and can identify the Sun and the first eight planets – though he complains that Uranus and Neptune are still a challenge. He gets most excited when he identifies Earth at it is home. He even knows Pluto is a dwarf planet – and gets excited that it’s just like Pluto from Disney. Beyond this, he knows that the Earth is tiny compared to the Sun, and that the Sun is tiny compared to other stars like: Arcturus and V.Y. Canis Majoris (Canis Major – which can be found in the night sky to the left of Orion’s belt). In addition, he knows that the Solar system is a small part of the Milky Way Galaxy. We hope to continue to engage with him as his curiosity blossoms. I can’t wait to show him a bit of chemistry when he gets there…Kat is not excited about the possibility for other reasons. His new found interest in the Solar System is something that we will continue to explore as a family at Griffith Observatory!