Monday, April 22, 2013

The Problem with Pluto

Poor Pluto. I remember the days when it was still a planet. It was demoted the year Builder Boy was born, so he should grow up thinking there are only 8 planets. And if he went to public school, he'd probably tell you quite precisely that there are only 8 planets. But in my sentimentality, I screwed up. When he was 4 and I put up the solar system stickers on his wall to interest him in his new bunk bed, I put Pluto up. And of course he wanted to learn all the names of the planets. I didn't think a four year old would understand why it's up on his wall but not a "real" planet, so I put off explaining that part. Little parrot/sponge that Early Bird is, HE learned all the planet names, plus Pluto, too.

These past two weeks or so Builder Boy discovered Magic School Bus. It started with some of the books that I had but hadn't gotten around to reading to him yet. He immediately latched on to the Lost In The Solar System book, which was made in 1992; 14 years before Pluto got demoted. He wanted it read to him over and over, and after the nth time, and while Builder Boy and Early Bird were running around the living room singing about orbiting the sun, I decided to look up the show. There are 45+ episodes available on youtube and what do you know, the first one is the Lost in the Solar System episode. Builder Boy has been watching and reading the book for over a week now and loves talking about it and all the things he knows now like which planet has the most craters, which planet has clouds of sulfuric acid, which has the giant red spot, which one spins on it's side, and which is the coldest planet: Pluto. Oops.

I read him a (different) facts about the solar system book today. It's old (I got it at a thrift store;) it included Pluto. I showed him the Bill Nye the Science Guy video about the planets; Pluto.

Thankfully he's accepting me as a legitimate source of information. When we first read the book to him I explained that after the book was written scientists decided that Pluto was too small to be a planet. So while the book still calls it a planet, it's not one anymore. Which can get confusing when he keeps hearing about 9 planets instead of 8. But I think he's getting it because we've talked a lot (okay, I've listened a lot) today about it and he's self-correcting very well. He even made a "solar system model" out of his Gears! Gears! Gears! toys and he intentionally left out Pluto "because it's not a planet." So I guess it turned out all right in the end.

(Added later) A funny from when Builder Boy was 4 and was learning the names of the planets: When we got to Uranus he thought I was saying "your-anus." So when it was his turn to say it, he would call it "my-anus."  This went on for several months. :)
The Amazon listing says that they updated the info on the ten original Magic School Bus books, but I don't know when they did that.  Also, as of the writing of this post Amazon has the complete tv series on dvd for $43.92.  The Cartoons in English channel on youtube has the first 40 episodes. I created playlists, set up youtube on the Wii, and the kids can watch it on our tv through that.

1 comment:

  1. I have the series on DVD (got it for about $25!) and the chapter books. The solar system chapter book has been updated to 8 planets, and combined Neptune and Pluto. They also go into both Pluto and Charon, but only tangentially. They don't mention the demotion, or that Pluto was ever considered a planet, just that it's the "most famous" of the dwarf planets.


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