Saturday, June 1, 2013

From M&Ms to Boiling Mercury on the Grill

I made a comment today that this is the kind of weather that proves M&Ms lied. I then had to explain to Jay that I was talking about M&Ms' slogan "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand," because we don't watch regular TV, so he hasn't seen a lot of commercials. This innocent comment on my part spawned a conversation between my husband & son about things that melt vs things that don't melt. That conversation, of course, involved metals. They started discussing the melting point of metals, so I looked it up for them. We discussed the melting points of various metals. Then, they moved onto boiling points of metals, which we also looked up. While discussing the boiling point of mercury (about 674F), we questioned whether we could boil mercury in our oven. So, we had to go see how high the oven went (I can honestly say I had never bothered to look before). Since our oven only goes to 525F, we obviously couldn't boil mercury in the oven (not that we would, we did discuss why that would be a bad idea). We could, however, boil it on the grill, as my husband has gotten that to over 700F. Though, we obviously wouldn't actually try it.

It was an interesting conversation. This is the kind of thing I love about our life. We will go off on these strange tangents, research odd things, and go from talking about M&Ms to why we shouldn't boil mercury on the grill, all in the course of one conversation. This wasn't school. It wasn't planned. It was just one of those things we ended up discussing out of sheer interest & odd chance. We have conversation like this all the time (several times a daily, usually). We start on one topic, end up on something seemingly unrelated, researching, debating, questioning along the way. I think that living like this helps our kids to truly understand that you really do learn for the rest of your life, that education is not limited to "school." We are not afraid to admit when we don't know something. We routinely look up things to find or verify an answer. We debate. We question. We discuss a large, though somewhat odd, range of topics. We sometimes make unusual connections. My husband & I both continue our education formally or informally all the time. The kids see this. They participate in much of it. I very much hope that this modeling of constant learning helps lead them in that direction. I don't care what they want to do when they grow up. They need to decide that for themselves. I will never push them toward or away from a career choice. However, I do want them to always continue to learn. I want them to love learning new things. I want them to always be curious.