The human body, animals and space are of interest to children from year to year.
If hits the jar, will it stink in ten years? What do Daisies Do at Night? How close do you have to get to the Sun to be able to sip a sausage?
The scientific questions asked by the children have been answered by Helsingin Sanomat’s science editorial office for eight years. Now, on the basis of the questions, a third book has been compiled: Why do birds wake up so early in the morning?
130 controversial questions and exhaustive answers have been extracted.
From themes of interest to children also emerge in the new book. It pays particular attention to human anatomy, animals, and space phenomena.
Humans are especially interested in fart and poop and animals are dinosaurs, but this year children have also been amazed by porpoises and plants.
“Adults have a lot to learn from children.”
Originally the adult question column was taken over by the children after their reflections proved to be the most insightful of the adult questions.
Researching animal and environmental philosophy at the University of Turku Elisa Aaltolan according to children are like little philosophers who dare to ask morally difficult topics as well.
“I have been asked, for example, why a pig is allowed to eat but a dog is not, or why animals can be hurt if the hurt is once wrong. These issues are also considered by adults, but it is embarrassing for us to discuss them, as they reveal our conflicting attitudes towards animals. ”
According to Aaltola, adults tend to get stuck in a certain kind of worldview and avoid issues that are in conflict with their own lifestyle.
“Adults have a lot to learn from children who boldly question the world.”
According to Aaltola, answering children’s questions is a balancing act between how steep moral arguments can be said directly and what kind of information should be hidden. The most important thing, however, is that things are expressed optimistically, regardless of the subject.
“You have time to get used to cynicism later. It is good for children to emphasize that even if there is something wrong with the world, it is possible to correct it. ”
Multi in responding to the column, the researcher has found that explaining one’s own field of research to children is surprisingly challenging.
Teaches human anatomy at the University of Helsinki Suvi Viranta-Kovanen in the face of simple questions, one has to think carefully about how they could be explained without expert terms.
“When precise terminology is not used, it is not possible to correct bends. Sometimes it does quite good to have to think things through thoroughly from the function of the nerves, muscles and joints, ”says Viranta-Kovanen.
Children’s questions prompt researchers to look at their own field from a new perspective.
The same has been noticed by a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute Tiera Laitinen, who has explained to children topics related to the atmosphere, space, northern lights and meteorological phenomena, among others. According to him, when answering children, he wakes up to the fact that nothing is self-evident.
“When you study something in more depth, you always get to think through the same formulas,” says Laitinen.
When explaining things to experts, one does not have to understand oneself properly, as the researcher can hide behind the terms and repeat memorized phrases. Instead, when answering children, it is necessary to understand it to the bottom.
“We have to rethink why things work the way we’re used to them. It is very enlightening and also rewarding, ”says Laitinen.
Children’s questions prompt researchers to look at their own field from a new perspective. Laitinen remembered the question of how hot the northern lights are.
“Such a thing has never even been thought of, even though I have studied for many years the Northern Lights. However, this is a very important issue, because in our everyday experience, light and heat are often linked. ”
Physicist Tom Kuusela has found that popularizing science can even be daunting for experts. For the sake of clarity, the answers must be corrected without being misled.
“It is easy for a colleague to say that this is not the case now, and this detail should have been mentioned. But when explaining such attitudes to children, you have to throw them in the trash. ”
Kuusela, who studies the quantum mechanical properties of light at the University of Turku, has explained to children the phenomena of physics and chemistry from side to side, from the smell of fart to seeing electricity. Every question has taught something new.
“Even behind simple questions, there may be very complex phenomena in physics. You need to expand your knowledge by looking for information on the Internet, books and other researchers. ”
“I’m familiar with the structure of the hair and made my daughter with scientific experiments.”
Although no matter how difficult the questions, Kuusela always tries to answer them as exhaustively as possible.
Right now, we are working on a question that Kuusela describes as the most difficult of the issues so far.
“One child asked why the hair first sinks into the water and then rises back to the surface. I am familiar with the structure of the hair and made my daughter with scientific experiments, but I still have not found an answer. “
Kuusela promises to look for an answer, by any means.
“Adults tend to answer children’s questions a bit that way, but I think children also have a right to get decent answers to their questions.”
Why do birds wake up early in the morning? and 129 other controversial questions to which an exhaustive answer is obtained. Ed. Tuomas Kaseva, Touko Kauppinen and Juha Merimaa. HS Books 2020. 159 p.
The book is sold in bookstores. HS subscribers can purchase it at a discounted price at HS.fi/kauppa.