dimensions of a toddler

Children’s curiosity never ceases to fascinate me. Neither does the thought process of my son and every time he shares his thoughts with me I feel so grateful. It is exciting to see how his logic is evolving while at the same time being a part of a child’s world where no rules of nature apply. Lately he has been quite interested in geometry and we have been talking about shapes and forms, identifying spheres and cubes and rectangles and stars. With talk of geometry, the dimensionality of space inevitably becomes a part of the discussion and we have been talking about the two dimensions we can experience when drawing a circle or square on paper, as well as the three dimensions we can feel when using the paper to make a box.

Then the other day, I suddenly found the opportunity to introduce the idea of a forth dimension to my son. Last week when going home from kindergarten by bike, we took a different route than we usually ride and suddenly, when arriving at the road in front of the shopping center, we met and waved at the kindergarten bus. It was a very happy coincidence for my son, so this week when I went to pick him up, he wanted to take the same route and wave at the bus again. I said ok, let’s see if we are lucky today too. We followed the same streets and when we came to the crossing in front of the shopping center my son was very disappointed that the bus was not to be seen. It is the same spot as last week, he insisted. There and then, the since long inside me sleeping physicist suddenly woke up, and I started to talk about how in this case a point in space also needs to be combined with a specific point in time to result in a repetition of events. Of course I did not use these words, but while the talk being maybe a bit too abstract for my four-year-old, I felt like my son got the gist of it, and we could share the understanding that our arriving at the intersection today a bit later than last time means we will not be here at the same time as the bus. I look forward to continue our little science talk next time. Come to think of it, there are endless possibilities to talk about science connected to riding a bicycle!

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