Answering a toddler’s “Why?”

The Boy stumped me today. To be truthful, he’s been stumping me for several weeks now. It’s not that I don’t know the answers to some of his “Why?” questions; it’s more that I don’t know how to explain the answers in a short, easily digestible format that an almost-two-year-old can understand. So, if I can get some help from my neighbors (especially those who did better in their science classes than I did), I would greatly appreciate it!

Some recent questions (not his exact wording, but translated for the reader’s benefit):

  • Why does a magnet stick to the refrigerator but a business card will not?
  • Why am I only able to connect the magnets one way? (“Polarity”, just so you know, is not an easy concept to explain to a wee one. I know this because I’ve tried.)
  • Why will a bridge fall down without supports? (“Gravity” is also a pretty complex concept, it seems.)

I’m totally thrilled with this genuine curiosity in how the world works. I like to think of it as a sign that he has a budding scientific mind. Einstein, after all, realized that there was something forcing the compass to always point due North when he was only five years old. Surely, he was a curious child, too!

Now, some of his questions involve spatial relationships, and I can explain those pretty well. It’s stuff that I should have learned in my Physics class that stump me.

They say you don’t truly understand something until you’re able to explain it to another person. Clearly, there’s a lot I don’t truly understand.


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