“Dad, can you help me with this?”
My younger son, a sixth-grader, was trying to finish a study chart for his final exam in Science. The chart asked for planetary facts, such as diameter, rotation, revolution, distance from the sun, etc. I told him what I knew.
“Earth is 93 million miles from the sun.”
He wrote that down, then said he needed more. “What’s the diameter of Mercury?”
I’m always amazed at what things my kids think I know off the top of my head. I’ll admit it. I keep a lot of useless trivia on standby. This wasn’t one of those facts. “You’re going to have to look that one up.”
His face twisted sour. “Dad, I need your help. All you’re telling me is to look it up.”
“That’s why you got a Surface for Christmas. Where is it?”
His face grew red. “It’s charging.”
“Grab the iPad,” I said.
“It’s still no help.”
“Just get it.”
He sauntered from the couch and opened the iPad, still fuming at my lack of assistance. He opened a search page and typed in “Mercury.”
I stopped him. “Type in ‘planet diameters’.”
The results yielded several charts, containing not only the diameters but the other information he needed as well. He quickly filled it in. It lasted him until he got to the section on comets and asteroids. At least, then, his questions showed he was trying to research it. I answered them at that point. He finished his homework and headed for bed. After he drifted off to sleep, I wondered about his homework. My wife and I thought getting him the Surface would make things easier for him. However, the idea of actually looking things up is as much an anathema to him as a dinner of broccoli and brussel sprouts. How can you teach kids to use the tools they have?
Mercury clipart courtesy of www.mail.colonial.net.
Walt Mussell primaily writes historical fiction with inspirational and romantic elements. His favorite setting is medieval Japan and he refers to his writing as “Like ‘Shogun,’ but the heroine survives.” He also writes Biblical fiction and is working on a manuscript with a 19th century American setting. He has one published novella in the Christmas anthology, Hot Cocoa for the Heart.