Very young children can come up with many interesting explanations to make sense of the world around them. When asked about the shape of the earth, for example, some will explain that the earth has to be flat because, if it were round like a ball, people and things would fall off it. Presented with a globe and told that this is the true shape of the earth, these children may adapt their explanation by saying that the earth is hollow and that people live on flat ground inside it.
Even older children can come up with unique “scientific” explanations, as in the following examples provided by middle-school students:
• “Fossils are bones that animals are through wearing.”
• “Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the sun, but I’ve never been able to make out the numbers.”
• “Gravity is stronger on the earth than on the moon because here on earth we have a bigger mess.”
• “A blizzard is when it snows sideways.”