Vocabulary Lessons

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.


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