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Explain Science to an 11 Year Old
Old 07-16-2015, 02:55 PM   #1
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Explain Science to an 11 Year Old

I head an interview with Alan Alda (Yes that Hawkeye) on NPR today. He was speaking about his interest in science being explained in an simple manner. As the linked site explains, his initial question for adults was answer "What is a flame?" Following years concentrated on time, color and sleep.

The winning entry this year explains sleep.

Brandon Aldinger’s entry:

Danger! If you don’t sleep, you’ll die! Like us, almost all animals need to sleep—everything from fish, to horses, to birds. Even butterflies and worms sleep!
Although there’s still some mystery as to exactly why we sleep, we know that our body takes care of two big things while we’re sleeping. First, our brain organizes what it learned while we were awake. Your brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons. These neurons are connected in a huge network. While we sleep, our brain strengthens and rearranges these connections to help us remember things more quickly and easily when we are awake. So, the next time your mom or dad yells, “Wake up! It’s time to go to school!” you can explain to them that you were actually still studying from yesterday!
The second thing that happens during sleep is our body heals itself. Sleep is a little bit like a superpower. If you want to get over a cold quickly, make sure you sleep a lot. You might also have noticed that adults in your home don’t sleep as much as you do. That’s because your body needs more sleep to manage the stuff that happens while your body and brain are still growing.
So those are two reasons why we sleep, but what about dreams? Well, as your brain is calming down from being awake, parts of it shoot out random signals, like a TV station with too much static. Another part of your brain does its best to make sense of these signals, but the story it puts together can be pretty weird! Does anyone else dream about fighting a gang of mutant ninjas, or is it just me?

Pretty interesting concept old Hawkeye has come up with. 11 yo kids pick the winner.

Congratulations to Our 2015 Flame Challenge Winners! | Alan Alda Center for Communicating Scienceâ„¢

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Old 07-16-2015, 04:07 PM   #2
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Be fun to see the resident Phd(s) and MDs present their version.

I spent many years w*rking with and for scientists. My explanation to kids about science always was: curiosity first and learn the why and how of it, then explain what you found.

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Old 07-16-2015, 08:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for the tip - I heard last year's but missed this year's. What a great way for a household name to reinvent himself for the greater good - and have a blast doing it.
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute." William Feather
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