Monday, June 30, 2014



I started watching some Jesse Schell speeches and eventually came to this one: Learning is Beautiful. His talk is entertaining and he makes some great points, but the one that most hit home was the amazing opportunity open to curious children (here). If they think to ask a question, they can access a huge amount of knowledge, even if they only know to look in Wikipedia or via an internet search.

All children I've encountered are naturally very curious, so I was wondering how best I can help the J's stay curious. My best idea was the curiousity list, to encourage them to ask questions and then take (at least) some of them seriously for further exploration.  Whenever they ask a question, we write it down and, now, it can go on this list.

The List!
  1. What if Josh took a nap mid-day? Jin
  2. What if Josh slept all day and night? How long could he do this? Jin
  3. What causes tummy aches and how can they be treated or avoided? Josh
  4. What is the history of polo shirts, particularly why do they have collars and a couple of buttons? Josh
  5. What causes traffic jams? Jate
  6. Why do all schools start at 8, why is the road crowded at 8? Jate
  7. Why do children go to school? Josh
  8. Why do brothers tease sisters? Josh
  9. Why does stirring ice make a drink colder faster? Josh
  10. How does a freezer work? Josh
  11. How do we log-in to youtube on a Sony TV? Josh
  12. How do the parts of an electronic circuit work? Josh (maybe this is on brainpop?)
  13. Can you spin a turbine with your hands? If you do, what will happen? How does the motion work? Jate
  14. How did the knights' move in chess come about? Jin
  15. Why is so much of Europe devoted to growing crops? Jin
  16. Why do children sometimes not listen to their mothers? Jate (asked with respect to the Madee story การประมาณตน)
  17. Why can egg whites make foam? Josh
  18. How do market sellers weigh/portion sticky rice? Can we trust them? Josh 
  19. How does the price of petrol compare between Thailand, UK, and the US? Josh
  20. What are the fruit seasons in Thailand? Josh
  21. Why are kitkats in pairs? Jin
  22. Why did people make cars if they pollute the air? Jin.  Do trains pollute? What about airplanes? Jate
  23. Why is rice so sticky? Jate.  How do you measure stickiness? Josh
  24. What is stevia and how does it sweeten food ? COul da chocolate cake without sugar be healthy? Jin
  25. Do Pringles have eggs or dairy? Mommy
  26. Why do we need to eat food? Jin
  27. Why do some people sweat out of their noses? Mommy
  28. What are the gift giving traditions in Thailand? Why did our neighbor give us chompoo? Jate
  29. If Mars and Earth were brought closer with their magnetic north poles facing, would the magnetic repulsion or gravitational attraction win? Jin
  30. Does Europe have a desert? Why not, if not? Jin
  31. Where are mangoes grown? Josh
  32. Why do train tracks use/have gravel? some kid on the Heathrow Express (his mother wasn't interested in the question)
  33. When did UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage open? Josh
  34. What do car spoilers do? Jin
  35. Why are exhaust pipes different shapes? Why do some cars have 2? Jate and Jin
  36. When does the rainy season in Thailand start? Josh
  37. How does an Ipad work? Jin
  38. Why do different people's teeth have different spacing patterns? Jate
  39. How did the capital destruction compare with the GDP decline and loss of labour force in WW1 and WW2 (inspired by a discussion of Piketty's new book)? Josh
  40. Is a rackets court the same dimension as a doubles squash court? Josh
  41. How does PV=nRT apply to the coolant cycle in a home freezer? Josh
  42. Why doesn't this ball blow away? Josh
  43. If trees release oxygen gas during the day and absorb oxygen gas at night, do they release or absorb oxygen overall? Jate
  44. How do we make a flashing irridescent light (like the one we saw in the taxi)? Jate
  45. How do they make different flavours of yogurt drink? Jate
  46. Could someone without arms or legs drive? Jate
  47. What is the Higgs boson really? Josh
  48. What are the equations describing a spirograph motion? Josh
  49. What is borax? Josh
  50. Do doctors ever undertake a circumcision as treatment for a condition? Jin
  51. What is the difference between yorkshire pudding and a popover? Josh
  52. Why do we pre-heat the pan for popovers? Josh
  53. What is a winning strategy for the new take-away game (n piles, you can take any number from any single pile, winner is the one who takes the last piece)? Jin
  54. What song has the lyrics: "everything is awesome when you live in a dream/everything is cool when you're part of a team"? Josh
  55. How do they make the little rubber bands for loom band? Jate
  56. Why does eating ส้มโอ make your poop smelly? J0, J1, P
  57. What is a good investment portfolio for higher inflation? J0
  58. How do you buy equities in Thailand? P
  59. Are there any color combinations that are as attractive as a rainbow sequence? J2
  60. What are New Order doing now? J0
  61. What is required to develop an iPhone app? J0
  62. Is the color for green บะหมี่ artificial or natural? P
  63. what type of tree is this? P 
  64. Why doesn't France have an issue with Basque separatism? J0
  65. Why are bathroom electrical plugs an unusual shape in the? J0
  66. What is the relationship between the distance produce is shipped and the associated carbon emissions? J0
  67. What happened to Rachel Mordkowitz (daughter of a trustee of Institute of General Semantics who was mentioned in Mathsemantics)? J0
  68. Do all series an+b (n varies) that have 2 primes also have infinitely many primes? J0
  69. Where is the brain in a crab? J1
  70. What kind of crabs do we eat in Thailand? J0
  71. Does composting attract pests? J0
  72. Does mass matter downhill skiing or cycling without pedalling? J0
  73. Why do some fruits turn brown very quickly when peeled? J0
  74. Why is it cold at higher elevations, doesn't warm air rise? J1
  75. What is the cost of electricity in Thailand, how do they know if you are using electricity? J1
  76. In the turtle night light, why do the stars shift position slightly when we change the light color? J2
  77. Why are the two bathrooms at my school arranged and decorated differently? J1
  78. Who is the best person in the world? J2
  79. why is facebook so popular? J1
  80. How do you know about facebook, J1? J0
  81. Why do leaves fall off of a tree in a tropical country? J0
  82. How do plants sense gravity and respond to that stimulus? J0
  83. Phillips head screws seem more prevalent than flat head, are they and why? Also, why do the heads seem to strip so easily, cheap screws, bad screwdriver sizing, my technique? J0
  84. What is the phase of a chocolate mousse? What is the ideal fat and water ratio to achieve a (relatively) stable version of that state? J0
  85. How are electronic children's rides evaluated for safety? J0
  86. What determines whether something is a hill or a mountain? Does the classification vary by country? J0
  87. How is the cleavage line for a germinating avocado seed determined?  J1 and J2 (see this post).
  88. Conjecture: (2n+1)! is a triangular number. J2
  89. Are there compensating errors or do errors accumulate? This was inspired by the Numberphile video showing the 17-gon construction. J1
  90. What is the story of the orphanage at which Vivaldi taught and why hadn't I heard about it before? J0
  91. What is the non-prodigy interpretation of Mozart? J0
  92. How does the pressure gauge in our bicycle pump work? J1
  93. How is black rice (riceberry) grown? What makes it different from other strains of rice? J2
  94. Does pomelo (ส้มโอ) continue ripening after it has been picked? P
  95. How do crocodiles reproduce? J2
  96. What is the stall speed on a CRJ200? J2
  97. Why do slinky tangle up so easily? J0
  98. What is the best way to untangle a slinky? J1
  99. Who invented straws? J2
  100. Is it possible to find gold to mine? How would we do it? J1
  101. Where did the first person in the world get milk to drink? J2
  102. Are small motors for rotation (cd player, motor for fan rotation) especially susceptible to damage from hot weather? J0
  103. Why is phosphorus a very reactive element? J2
  104. How did Einstein come up with E=mc2 and how do we know it is true? J2
  105. Which countries are the most food independent? which are the least? J0
  106. What do the chinese numbers on the calendar mean? J2
  107. Why did the hippo get stuck in teh door (in the song animals marched 2x2)? J3
  108. Which were more powerful empires: Roman, British, American? J0
  109. Can giraffes swim? J3
  110. Why did Beethoven lose his hearing? J2
  111. Why was Vivaldi's music surpressed? J2
  112. Is π the square root of something? J1. Realized that it is (sqrt of π2, so refined question to: is π the square root of a rational number?
  113. Why were certain animals widely domesticated and others not? In particular, why not elephants? J1
  114. Why does ice sometimes stick to your fingers? J1
  115. Why is it dangerous for children to ride in the front passenger seat of a car? J1
  116. What does an airbag do? Why aren't there airbags for children? Why is an adult airbag dangerous for children? Why are airbags only for the front seat of  a car? J2


  1. What about answers to the questions? Where are those captured?

    1. So far, we've just been recording the questions here and having been documenting the follow-up exploration. I will start doing some of that.

      Ideally, we would:
      - periodically scan the list to find questions we want to pursue
      - do some research and reading on the topic
      - find a hands-on activity that can help us explore the topic

      If you spot any questions that you find particularly interesting or have an idea for an activity, please highlight it!