Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Science vs. Fairy Tale

Today's science lesson began with an introduction to the animals of Australia & its surrounding islands.   I read to the children, "Unlike other mammals, monotremes do not have any teats.  Instead, baby monotremes lick up milk that seeps out of glands in the mother's skin."  This very interesting fact was followed up with a question from Evelyn, "What's a teat?"  I answered matter-of-factly, using simple words that she would understand easily, "It's like a mamma's boobie, where the baby gets it's milk from."  The light turned on in her mind, and she exclaimed knowingly, "Oh!  Like Boobie and the Beast!" 

Shortly after, we learned about the birds of New Guinea.  Our book described the way male birds of paradise fluff up their feathers & show off their good looks in order to attract a female.  It went on to tell about bowerbirds, who atract their females by building elaborate "bowers", decorated with flowers and berries.  The female selects the male whose bower impresses her the most.  (as a sidenote a bower is defined as, "A large nest made of grass and bright objects, used by the bower bird during courtship displays; A shady, leafy shelter or recess in a garden or woods; A woman's bedroom or private apartments, especially in a medieval castle; A picturesque country cottage, especially one that is used as a retreat" --isn't that romantic!?)   Check out this picture of the beautiful bower that was built for one lucky chick. (found on Nick Triantafillou' flickr site--a great photograph don't you think?)

This lesson on how birds pick their mates seemed like a great opportunity for me to teach my children the importance of picking a good mate for themselves.  I explained how, just like birds, different people are attracted to different things in a husband or wife.  Some people are attracted to a good looking person.  Some are attracted to someone with lots of money, or a nice home.  Some people want someone with similar aspirations, etc.  Then I said (especially to the boys), "Do you think that if you choose a wife just because she's pretty, that you will be happy for the rest of your life with her?  People's appearances change as they get older, and they won't look the same as they did when they were young.  So if that's the only thing you look at when you pick someone, you might be disappointed when you get older."  Zachary thought about this for a minute, while I went on to talk about other things you can look for in a spouse.  And then he said, "Then you should pick someone because you like their hair, because your hair stays the same when you get old."    Guess that's what the handsome prince was thinking  when he rescued Rapunzel. 

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