Begging your forgiveness for the vertical video, I present a little 5-year-old scientific hypothesizing. Xander was playing the drums in our basement (note to self: get this kid some lessons, he is probably the most musical one of the bunch) and noticed the effect that his playing had on a nearby fluorescent bulb. The results are captured in the video clip above.
Age 5-6 is particularly interesting for its unique mix of the magical thinking of early childhood with the stronger logic that sets in after the "age of reason" (age 7-8).for natural phenomena Kids at this age know a lot about very basic biology and physics, but give explanations that reveal that they haven't quite connected all the dots yet, and rely heavily on imagination in order to understand the world. When my eldest was this age, I probably would have supplied the real explanation for the flickering light. Now, I generally hold myself back, having seen how kids can take their hypotheses to fascinating conclusions, and how they bounce ideas off of each other in order to form a more complete understanding of their environment. So when Xander suggested that our drum kit somehow stores electrical energy (bet you didn't know that!), I sat back and simply reflected his ideas back at him. He clearly knows that his drumming is somehow causing more energy to be supplied to the bulb, causing the flicker. What he hasn't figured out yet is why banging on a drum might have that effect. The simplest explanation for him is that these things are directly related to each other.
We showed the video to Griffin and Reese, who immediately said "he's wrong!", in a shutting-things-down manner reminiscent of Dana Carvey's John McLaughlin. I prefer not to throw about the W word, knowing that it rarely leads to productive discussion and often leads to fighting. I redirected: "it sounds like you guys have other ideas about why the light flickered."
Griffin stepped up: "I think the vibrations are making the light move and more electricity flow."
Me: "how does the drum make that happen?"
Griffin: "the sound waves vibrate the light, and when it moves, more electricity can flow."
Griff's idea was that the light wasn't sitting properly in its fittings, and when the sound from the drums vibrated it, it moved so that it had better contact with the electrical supply. Reese agreed with this hypothesis. Xander maintained that no, the drums themselves store and release energy. I'm wondering if the three of them will discuss this further in the future, and if they'll figure out ways to test their hypotheses. How does one determine whether or not a drum stores electricity?