Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Overtly-Scientific Bedtime Stories

The Adventures of Carbon and His Electron Collection
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Once there was a lonely atom, who liked to play. His name was Carbon, and he lived on Street 4A in Tabletown. Carbon had 4 bigger brothers and sisters, named Silicon, Germanium, Tin, and Lead.

Carbon was very very small. In fact, he was soooo small, that to him, the period at the end of this sentence looked like the whole world.

Carbon had an electron collection, which he kept on his bookshelf. He liked to show off his electrons to his friends. Electrons were like fireflies only much much faster, and much much smaller. They could move this way ----->, and that way <-----, and spent most of their time spinning around in funny patterns. In fact, they were so fast that when they went by, all you saw was a blur, and you weren't really sure of if it went by over here, or over there, or even which way it went at all.

On the bottom shelf he kept 2 electrons. And on the top shelf he kept 4. These were his favorites, because they were the fastest, although they liked to roam around a bit too much.

Carbon liked his electron collection, it made him feel good. But it still looked incomplete. He had more space on the top shelf for 4 more, that he really wanted.

One day, while Carbon was out playing with his 4 favorite electrons, the two Oxygen twins came by. They were sad. They wanted to play with Carbon's roaming electrons, too, since their electrons were all locked up and couldn't run free. But Carbon couldn't decide what to do. He didn't want the Oxygen twins to take them and leave him without his favorite electrons, but he liked the Oxygen twins, and wanted them to be happy, too.

Then he had an idea. "Let's share them!" said Carbon.

And so they did. And Carbon and his two new friends formed a bond that would last for a long time.

(note: the idea is encapsulated in the title, 'create bedtime / fantasy stories that demonstrate science principles in interesting ways to young kids, so that they'll dream about them)

RayfordSteele, Jul 18 2004

new publication by Springer - author Robert Gilmore. http://www.springer...2-3034362-0,00.html
[po, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Mr Tompkins in Paperback http://www.amazon.c...026-2479732-3394028
Stories about science - certainly OK for slightly older children [hippo, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Alice in Quantumland http://www.amazon.c...54-9219903?v=glance
An Allegory of Quantum Physics [English Bob, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Schrödinger Street Schr_f6dinger_20Street
The televised version? [phoenix, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

There Are No Electrons (Kenn Amdahl) http://www.amazon.c...ce&s=books&n=507846
This book "explains" electricity in exactly that fashion. My kids loved it. [hugesmile, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

WKRP Atom as inner-city gangs http://www.dslrepor...om/forum/r18220312-
Venus Flytrap explains the basics of an atom to Dr. Johnny Fever in under 2 minutes [James Newton, Sep 05 2008]

Nearing Zero http://www.lab-initio.com/random.html
Comic Strips about Science (keep hitting refresh button) [quantum_flux, Sep 06 2008]

Midnight Snacks to accompany this idea... http://picasaweb.go...vtA?feat=directlink
Chocolate Benzene Rings, spotted in the local bakers’ window. [pocmloc, Sep 17 2010]

[link]






       Nice. A carbon-based bun for you.
hazel, Jul 18 2004
  

       C, H and O presumably [hazel]? Can't wait for the other stories in the series, [RayfordSteele], especially the story about the happy alkali metals, Sodium, Potassium and Caesium going out in the rain one day.
jonthegeologist, Jul 18 2004
  

       That's more of a story for the older kids [jtg] - a chemical horror if you will. It doesn't have a happy ending.
hazel, Jul 18 2004
  

       What happens when the kids realise that Carbon's electrons wern't distinct point entities at all, but an amorphous, unknowable cloud of probability that is likely beyond normal comprehension? [+] for the idea [-] for the example.
zen_tom, Jul 18 2004
  

       They don't need to deal with Schroedinger and Heisenberg until later on in their education. This way will work fine for the littluns.
hazel, Jul 18 2004
  

       The kind of this you're talking about is very close to the "Mr Tompkins" books (see link). In these books, Mr Tompkins has all sorts of adventures in lands with slightly different physical properties from our own (e.g. he watches a game of billiards being played in a world with a different Planck's Constant - the billiard balls spread out roughly in the direction they were hit) and also has adventures within the atom. A great read, although a little dated (just flicking through it I came upon a chapter titled "The Gay Tribe of Electrons").
hippo, Jul 18 2004
  

       I really like this. You could make some really cute illustrations for it. I'd read these myself. lol. (+)
PinkDrink, Jul 18 2004
  

       A series would be fun. I think I'd tend to stick to basic physics lessons for the most part, although admittedly, 'Schroedinger's Cat and the Mysterious Box' would be fun to write.
RayfordSteele, Jul 18 2004
  

       A series would be great. i'd love to see that. :)
PinkDrink, Jul 18 2004
  

       Strontium nitrate and Barium chlorate were green with envy. (+)   

       Better living through chemistry.
Asta, Jul 18 2004
  

       Shiny!
Ranger Gord, Jul 19 2004
  

       yawn
xaviergisz, Jul 19 2004
  

       This is brilliant. This would really find its own in something like semiconductor physics.
Detly, Jul 19 2004
  

       //They don't need to deal with Schroedinger and Heisenberg until later on in their education// I can tell you I felt like I'd been lied to by all my teachers when we were suddenly told that the atomic model wasn't the neat spinning solar-system we'd all been led to believe in.   

       First Father Christmas, then the structure of the atom, it's a mad, cruel world.
zen_tom, Jul 19 2004
  

       Sounds like a nice way to get your kid beat up every day at school: "My daddy says carbons shares cookies with oxygens...are you carbons?" "Hello my name is sodium and my favorite color is hydrogen". "Do you want to put your white dwarf in my black hole?"
Nietzsche, Jul 19 2004
  

       Think what I might have been if I had heard stories like this as a small girl... heartbreaking!
k_sra, Jul 19 2004
  

       Everyone said it would just make things even more negative when he had set out on his journey, but the littlest electron, triumphant, returned from his quest to reach a higher orbit and vanquished the darkness from the land.
half, Jul 19 2004
  

       okay, nobel and pullitzer in one for this one!   

       i only hope you are published, truly my children would be hearing that every few nights.   

       ooh, but it needs bad-a illustrations. no little bohr picsures....those are bohr-ing, no seriously! get a good illustrator and publish a series of little 12 page "golden books"-type cardboard shorts.
imthatwillguy, Jul 19 2004
  

       My kid's definitely getting a story tonight! May have to plan it on the bus home - this doesn't look as easy as starting with 'Once upon a time' and seeing where you go.
wagster, Jul 19 2004
  

       How about the bear who dissolved in water because he was polar?
hazel, Jul 19 2004
  

       Well done, Rayford [+] Big time pastry.
contracts, Jul 19 2004
  

       Read the one about the three little quarks.
Worldgineer, Jul 19 2004
  

       Left and right are okay with me, [World], but there's something 'off' about that other one.
contracts, Jul 19 2004
  

       Sorry Rayford - I did intend to try out your idea, but I also read the 'Lego House' idea and somehow ended up building a rocket powered lego forklift truck with lazer defenses to deal with my son's lego robot army. I will do it though, and I'll report back when I do.
wagster, Jul 19 2004
  

       Then there were the Xenon kids, who didn't play play with anybody.
phundug, Jul 19 2004
  

       Sounds a bit like the bedtime stories I had as a little kid. I'd ask my dad questions like, "Why is the sky blue?" and - unlike most parents - he'd give me a straight answer. He didn't talk in metaphors like you propose, but it's the same general line of thinking. And kids who get this kind of exposure to science as small children do indeed grow up to be normal. I mean, just look at me! .... Hmmm. Have a croissant anyway.
TerranFury, Jul 19 2004
  

       Is this a "birds and bees" story for smart kids
tasman, Jul 20 2004
  

       Hell yes [RF] If some parents can put their small children through years of tennis coaching then we nerds shouldn't be uncomfortable with Nobel Laureate coaching!
ConsulFlaminicus, Jul 21 2004
  

       Please someone do this. My kid is to old, but it would have been so useful. Many was the time.....
WcW, Aug 30 2008
  

       This would be great if the story characters had regular sounding names, like Caroline or Timmy (but with possessions and qualities the same as atoms). Just wait until the child is studying chemistry in school and realizes: "Hey, wait a minute! Carbon is just like Caroline, and Tin is just like Timmy! I wonder what else my dad's old stories were trying to tell me?"
phundug, Sep 06 2008
  

       I hadn't come across this idea before. Needless to say, i've done this extensively, as bedtime stuff for my own offspring and in other contexts for other home-edded children. It doesn't work at all. There are variations according to the personality of the child, but most of the time, children don't care about the semantic content of what you're saying to them so much as the fact that you're demonstrating love and bonding with them when you tell them a bedtime story. The information goes straight through them or discourages them from learning later in childhood if you try this. Not only will they not remember but it will actually turn them off science.   

       However, if you have a child whose interests are biassed towards science in an unhealthy manner, this would be a good way of getting them to move more towards the liberal arts. Then again, who am i to make such a judgement?
nineteenthly, Sep 06 2008
  

       // biassed towards science in an unhealthy manner //   

       Tautology   

       // good way of getting them to move more towards the liberal arts //   

       PEVERSION.   

       // who am i to make such a judgement? //   

       A heretic, obviously.   

       <Python>   

       "We have found a Heretic, may we burn him ?"   

       </Python>
8th of 7, Sep 06 2008
  

       "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." So you can't burn heretics, only Christians.   

       //note: the idea is encapsulated in the title//   

       Croissanted just from the title. After reading the story, I want to add another.
baconbrain, Sep 07 2008
  

       I can see this as including everything from primary readers to 'case studies' in Jr. High/High school texts.
Alx_xlA, Aug 30 2010
  

       //a child whose interests are biassed towards science in an unhealthy manner//   

       Why was this matter not brought to my attention before? This is equivalent to saying "a child who has an unhealthy interest in the way things actually work".   

       Pervert.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 30 2010
  

       //a child whose interests are biassed towards science in an unhealthy manner//

What, like Josef Mengele you man?

Footnote: Just read his Wikipedia entry. After doing a Phd in Anthropology he got his first job at the Institute for Hereditary Biology and Racial Hygiene in Frankfurt. I think that probably tells you all you need to know really.
DrBob, Aug 31 2010
  

       Are you suggesting all of those things are 'science'?
hippo, Aug 31 2010
  

       + from me!   

       Childrens explaination of Hydrogen separation in a mellow Kerouack vein!
Zimmy, Sep 12 2010
  

       I remember as a child feeling betrayed when I finally worked out/found out for myself how many things actually worked, and realising that my parents and teachers had "lied" to me (out of expediency, I expect).   

       I like this much.
Custardguts, Sep 12 2010
  

       // out of expediency //   

       No, out of a mixture of equal parts of malice, embarrasment and stupidity.
8th of 7, Sep 12 2010
  

       Just wanted to share this photo with you [link], and this lovely idea seemed the best place to put it.
pocmloc, Sep 17 2010
  
      
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