Over the holidays, I got to spend a week with my favorite first grader: my niece, Tia. This girl likes pink twirly skirts, Legos, science, math, and animals -- my kind of girl. Her mom told me a story of Tia faking not sick so she could still go to school. Over the break, we went sledding together, built an epic snow house, trained my puppy, and looked at things under the kid's microscope my sister gave her for Christmas. One morning, during a hot cocoa party (which consists of drinking hot cocoa while sitting by the warmest spot in the house: on top of the heater vent), Tia let me interview her. Here's a snippet of our awesome conversation:
Science. Math. And Art.
What do you like about art?
That you can draw stuff and paint whatever you want to.
What do you like about math?
That you can solve stuff.
Have you ever had a problem that was so hard you didn't know if you could solve it?
[I tell her, "WHOA!"]
What do you like about science?
That you can make potions and figure out experiments.
Do you remember any of the potions that you've made?
I made one up, and I don't know what it's called. It had jelly, baking soda, vinegar. And milk
Did it fizz?
What are some science experiments you've done that you've really liked?
Doing the electricity one. So like um, you hold a bar of metal and then if you hold hands and hold the other side then it will get electricity and if you let go it won't go. And it if you touch somebody's head or anything in their body it will buzz. And another one is one where you can make snow. Fake snow. There's a kind of powdery stuff and if you mix water in it, it will turn into snow. And I figured out how the electricity works. It travels through your body.
If you could solve any problem in the world, what problem would you solve?
I don't know.
[I try to prompt her a bit more…] What are some problems in the world? Or in your life?
Math problems. Which is… Well there's actually one that is tricky. 26 plus a number. It's like a really high number.
So how do you solve that problem? Do you use your fingers? Do you do it on a paper? In your head?
I just do it with my fingers. Peter [a boy from her class] learned that trick even more earlier than my whole class. He learned it in kindergarten. We learned it in first grade and Peter already knew it because he kept on doing it when we were doing math problems with my teacher.
What are different things you might want to be when you grow up?
A scientist. And an…. Somebody that does art? Wait, what's that called? Ya, an artist. And I want to be a vet.
Then Tia and I have a conversation about dogs, and all of the awesome dogs she knows. There are at least three dogs she has gotten to know recently. Two of them are black. One of them is my golden retriever.
Weather, animals, plants, recycling and shapes. Oh, and also… what's that little stuff that floats around that's too small that you can't? Atonims. I learned about that. Gas, solids, and liquids.
Why do you like math?
I already told you this stuff !
Well, tell me again.
Because you can figure out stuff.
If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
If you could have any super power, what super power would you have?
I don't know.… um… I would want to jump really high.
Right at this moment, my dog Lilly sneaks over and starts lapping up Tia's hot cocoa. Tia asks me if she can still drink it, and I tell her that if it were me, I might if no one was looking.
Our interview is winding down -- partly because she's a first grader and ten minutes is pretty long to just sit and talk while being recorded. And partly because we have some fun science experiments to get to -- we want to see if we can look at a snowflake under her microscope.
Tia's enthusiasm for science and math reminds me why I've always loved those subjects -- because you can figure out cool things.