Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Curse You Perry the Platypus! - On Being a Scientist

We all grow up, yet, we all do not, still children inside, even if we won't admit it.  For I have, on more than one occasion, been up on a stand in a courtroom as the expert witness, or offering testimony on a case of my own, doing the double take when my name and title are called, convinced for a moment they've got the wrong person. For honestly, on such days, there in my dark blue suit and button down white shirt and shiny shoes, I still feel like a kid playing grown up. Perhaps it's because I still watch cartoons (an odd combination of Loony Tunes, Pinky and the Brain, Johnny Quest, Phineas and Ferb and Futurama). Perhaps it's just how I view my life and my world.

But in what makes me smile, what makes my mind ignite, some things really never change. You probably see that as well. For in many families there is usually one child that has that deep seated curiosity that sets him or her apart from the others. Sometimes it's as subtle as a lot of "why" questions; sometimes it's finding out someone asked for a lathe from Santa. But for you new parents, here are some helpful hints to recognize if your child is going down the path of saving the world, one science experiment or engineering drawing at a time.

How to identify if your child is going to be the next engineer or scientist in your family.

All toys are first taken completely apart before playing with.

Hooks dogs leash to remote control car so he/she does not have to walk him.

Pumps up his or her Super Soaker with an industrial air compressor.

Can demonstrate  Bernoulli's Theorem with a shop vac and a golf ball.
Jello + BB Gun. Does anyone have a mop?

Installs Dad's stereo speakers in duct work for true "surround sound".

Freezes siblings chair with liquid nitrogen when he's foolish enough to be temporarily absent.

Rolls his/her eyes when you call a Pipe Wrench a Monkey Wrench.

Comes home from Sears with permission slip to buy a nail gun.

Asks for a large sheet of plywood and a saw horse or two to go with the toboggan at Christmas to better make the ski jump.

Uses Dremel tool to convert striped Phillip head screws into slotted screws. Opens the stuck jar of mayonnaise by puncturing the lid with a clean nail to break the vacuum.

After a day of playing "spy", uses the pressed,warm flat edge of a knife to convince a small piece of dry ice to spill the goods.  "We have ways of making you talk . . SQUEAL"

Solves Rubik Cube by disassembling and reassembling in the correct order. (Mad Scientist bonus: Disassembles and reassembles leaving it one cube out of place and leaves it for unsuspecting siblings).

Can repair any toy out of existing garage inventory

Has built a Bazooka out of a floor vacuum cleaner, PVC pipe, a PVC 3 way junction with an  angle of 45° that fits the straight PVC tube, duct tape and a projectile

Takes apart 36 inch model of Cutty Sark with a hammer to build a workable raft for G.I. Joe, accompanied by Barbie and Midge dressed up like Mary Ann and Ginger. (Note, raft not to be confused with a B.O.A.T., (Buoyancy Operated Aquatic Transport)
When given permission to build a tree house, presents a bill of materials including the proper number of nails.

Launches G.I. Joe/Star Wars Project to melt enemy troops with magnifying glass.

Makes Bionic Barbie (Formerly G.I. Joe raft date Mary Ann) with scraps of wire and auto body filler to replace leg lost in tragic potato gun accident.

When asked why he or she is borrowing the vice grips replies "I hear the tooth fairy pays good money."

Passes meatballs to little brother with  tiny trebuchet.

Trip to ocean involves buckets and plastic M80's for building and destroying sand castles.

Takes apart TV set "because there's nothing to watch".
Instead of marbles, has a jar full of nuts and screws. (Got bored playing marbles when discovery made that you can always win using a steel ball bearing.)

Discussion at parent/teacher conference involves discussion of intentional launch of schoolyard bully off of teeter totter to correlate weight and angle to trajectory.

Neighbor calls that your kid is in their back yard with a your lawn chair, duct tape, a two liter bottle of diet coke and Mentos (Remember kids, Mythbusters taught us to grind up the Mentos first!)

While Mom makes cookies, mixes Borax, white glue, water, and food coloring to make homemade slime.

Borrow tools and does not return them.

Has pet that works for OWCA.
 
Try and set a good example of research and safety (eye protection!). School them in the laws of man and physics (those fingers just won't grow back you know).  Then sit back and smile as you quietly watch them do the same things you used to do, remembering how, in the long run, it helped you learn and grow.

For you never know when such skills might come in handy, for that day you might meet pure Evil and he's just invented the "Delete-ALL-initor".