The fall school semester started yesterday and I resumed what we call Cash Cab Friday today. I drive my two kids to the local middle school along with a neighbor kid in the mornings. The drive is short--10 minutes tops-- but just long enough to pick their little brains.
I ask them questions as a group and they have to formulate the answer together just like on the TV show. Each correct answer is worth a quarter which I pay out in cash. Last year I tried to formulate themes for the inquisitions like math, history, geography, but usually tilted towards things that I think they should know. I also try to challenge them too with unusual practical things that strike me as interesting. Believe me, I learn a lot too just formulating the questions in a straight forward way.
Today's questions included:
What are a skunk's two natural means of defense?
Correct answer is of course the odor gland but also the distinct white stripe: no other mammal has this and baby skunks have them at birth. The stripe is a visual defense cue "hey, leave me alone I'm a skunk." A challenge question was "what is the skunk's natural predator? " The answer is large birds of prey that mostly lack a sense of smell.
Another question was: "what's the last day of summer called?" Fall equinox. "What is the significance of the fall equinox?" The answer I was looking for of course was the day on which day and night are equal. They missed that one. That cued me into a little mini lesson of equinoxes, and solstices.
Another question was: "name three common household appliances that heat water". Water heater, stove, microwave were all accepted as answers. Dishwasher was not because it uses household hot water and heats inside to dry.
"Name three common household appliances which heat air." Answers accepted were clothes dryer, dishwasher, hairdryer.
I'm also trying to get them to distinguish between appliances that use electricity and those which use natural gas.
It turns out that I have two budding math geniuses along for the ride. The neighbor boy, in 7th grade, is skipping 7th grade math and going to 8th grade math. My daughter, just starting 6th grade, pegged the standardized math test last year and so we're hoping she continues her interest.