My daughter Lainey is five years old and I love her. Her interest in science accelerates when the catalyst is silly putty.
Lainey received a complimentary egg full of the stretchy stuff at the bank when we opened a new account. She used it like play dough at first, and then I showed her tricks like picking text up off newsprint, or bouncing the putty like a rubber ball.
The latter trick really excited her, and when we got home her lopsided spheres were ricocheting all over the house. Lainey also hid objects, like pennies, inside the putty.
“Where’s the rest?” I asked. The putty was noticeably smaller.
“Watch this!” she yelled.
Her putty bal bounced with a heavy sound.
“Good bounce,” I said. “What’s in the putty?”
“A marble.” Lainey grinned.
“Does it bounce higher or lower with a marble inside?” I asked.
“Lower but straighter,” Lainey said.
“I know! We should make a bar graph!”
She fetched a piece of paper and an orange and a blue crayon.
“Drop it from shoulder level each time,” my wife advised.
The marble ball dropped, bounced up off the hardwood about five inches, and Lainey drew a small blue line on the graph.Next, she dropped the plain putty, which bounced higher but very crookedly. Lainey drew an orange, tall, curvy line on the graph.
“What does this graph mean?” I asked.
Lainey seemed happy with her results. She explained how the marble ball bounced lower but straighter, just as she hypothesized. Then the scientist went to bed.
Minutes later, my wife moved from the recliner to the couch and wanted to take her blanket with her, but it was stuck. A walnut-sized glob of green putty adhered the blanket to the chair. I spent an hour removing the goop and there’s still a stain.
The putty bounced right into the garbage can. Try graphing that, smarty-pants.