The family botanist and marine and land biologist (aka, the 11-year old) and I were having one of our typical conversations in the car. I say “typical,” because they are always focused on things of his interest, which, as I said, are animal and plant centered.
“About how large is a sea nettle’s head?”
“Um… I don’t know…”
“As big as a tree?”
“No, I don’t think so. Maybe a bush. Remember the pictures I showed you of all the jellyfish that were over crowding the seas near Japan?” I asked.
“Well, they were pretty big, remember? I can’t say for sure without looking it up, but I’d guess about the size of a bush.”
“Hmm… so how long are their tentacles? As long as that building?” He randomly pointed one out. It happened to be quite tall.
“Um, not sure, but a man-of-war can have tentacles as long as 60 feet, so I imagine a big sea nettle would have some long ones, too.”
Then, from the back seat, the 4-year old said:
“Wait! I have a hypothesis!” I stopped. I was stunned. WHERE had she heard THAT word? We hadn’t gotten to that in our science lessons yet… I never heard the bigger boys say it before. So, of course I was stunned and impressed and all that good stuff. Perhaps she had something very scientific to add to my reasoning over tentacle lengths…
So I waited. Even the 11-year old was quiet, as he must have been wondering, too!
“What’s a hypothesis?”
I laughed. She may not have known what it meant, but she knew it! And she interjected with it at just the right moment! I remained impressed.