Monday, April 30, 2012

Warm ice

Warm ice.  What is this about, you wonder? Sounds like the mood I am in when we have had a fight, the house is quiet and the lights are dim and we are watching some crime show on television.  There is a feeling of peace and relaxation in the air but then I don't want to give in since the anger and coldness is still brewing inside.  It sounds like warm ice.  No, but that's not what this is about.

KB suddenly came to us last morning and said, "Mamma, I want to do an experiment.  I want to put warm water in the freezer and see if it still turns into ice".  Since he is fond of these sort of "states of water" experiments I said, "OK, sure, go ahead".  I didn't think anything of it.  Gave him a cup of warm water which he thrust into the freezer.  Later in the evening, KB asked to see the cup.  And of course, the water had turned to ice.  He looked at it wide eyed with his big eyes and exclaimed, "So my experiment flopped!".

Flopped? I was confused as to why he said that.  "Why KB, why do you think it flopped?".  "Because it is just cold ice".  So I asked him what else he thought would happen.  He said, "I didn't realize that the refrigerator would cool down the water to make it cold and then it would turn it to ice".  I said with a casual tone, "Yenna daa solre KB?! Of course you know the water will cool down and it will turn to ice.  I don't understand why you think the experiment flopped!".  He looked kind of at a loss for how to explain what he had in mind. Again he said, "But Mamma, I didn't realize the water would first cool down.  I wanted to see if the warmth will still be there under the ice".  Then I got it.  "Oh, KB, you thought the ice will form but the ice will feel warm instead of cold?".  He felt relieved that I understood what he had in his mind.  B told him, "KB  you just did an experiment that teaches you the second law of thermodynamics!".  "What is that?!!" KB asked us.  We then told him that heat will always flow from a hot object to a cold object".  Then I explained to him what the word thermodynamics meant.  He was quite excited about his experiment.  He didn't seem upset that it had "flopped" in his mind.  I don't know how much of it he understood but for me it was really special because it is one of those moments when you witness the beauty of a child discovering and understanding the world around him.  I wanted to write about it before I forgot about it even though I was falling asleep just a little while back.