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Theory of Relativity - Not!

by Cynthia

Okay, I am now lost when it comes to keeping up with Rascal's mental journeys!! He was reading a biography of Einstein and asked what was the Theory of Relativity, exactly. I tried to explain, but I was giving him the stuff. What it finally came down to was that he wanted to know exactly what the theory said.

"Oh," says I, "you want to read what Einstein wrote down?" "Yes, exactly" says #1 son to foolish mother. "Well," says foolish mother, "he wrote it in German."

Son replies to mother, as though she is a very young child, "Well, I am sure it has been translated into English by now, considering it was written almost a hundred years ago."

Foolish mother sends intelligent son to the nearby library to get book on physics, theory of relativity, whatever he can find to answer his questions. Son comes home with 5 physics books, including a translation of Einstein's writings!!! Foolish mother feels even more foolish when son walks in with exactly what he was looking for. I did not see him for the rest of the day without Einstein in hand.

I asked him about it later in the day. He said that he understood all the words, but the math was throwing him off a bit, he said he had never seen anything like it, but that he would get it soon.

He told the district resource teacher--the wonderful woman who has been with him through all the testing---what he was reading and tried to discuss it with her. She was tickled pink that he shared this discovery with her, and when we talked later, she said that "...this is the Rascal that the administration needs to see."

Any body else have areas where their young kids have surpassed them in knowledge? In other words, how often are your kids talking above your heads? Is this going to happen more and more often as he matures? I feel very isolated from him right now. This is not the kind of stuff that the parent's of 11 year olds talk about at swimming lessons or scouts.

Cynthia - once again feeling like Lucy has just pulled the football out from under Charlie Brown.

Go, Rascal! For bewildered parents of relativity-involved children and for younger children, I recommend Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Robert Cwiklik (1987). The back cover says the book is written for kids ages 12-13. The book is more history than science, but does cover the basics of the theory of relativity. - Wenda

I'd like to add the book It's All Relative : Einstein's Theory of Relativity by Necia Apfel to the list of good books on relativity. It has no math but explains the concept in the clearest, most intuitive way I have ever read. At the time, my 8 year old and I were thrilled reading it. - Haika

For more books for your Physics Fiends, see Hoagies' Hot Topics! book list


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