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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Alas, poor Pluto -- we knew you well

I started to read with the kids today at about the solar system from our science textbooks. I'm not sure how old these science textbooks are, but I know they're old enough to be outdated in terms of the current planetary lineup.

When we came across the sentence that said "there are nine planets in the solar system, including Earth," I had to stop for a second and explain why this was no longer the case.

All of the kids seemed dumbfounded that Pluto was no longer considered a planet. One student even blurted out, "Pluto got blowed up?"

No, it was more like being voted off the island. Maybe I should tell the kids that there was one big episode of Solar System Idol, and Pluto's performance just wasn't up to snuff. Some experts questioned its choice of "I Can't Go for That" by Hall and Oates, and the gold lame outfit really had people wondering. Here's what the judges had to say:

Randy: You rock, dawg! Really! You're a rock, and you're named after a Disney dawg!

Simon: That was really pathetic. You call yourself a planet -- but where's the warmth? I've seen more personality and spirit from an errant comet. Next you'll be claiming planethood for that so-called "moon" of yours.

Paula: Our mystic fathers joined together to drink from the river of the galaxy. I feel like the ultimate bingo winner in a high-stakes universe with multiple realities. Meet me in my dressing room.

And then, ultimately a big group of scientists banded together to kick Pluto to the curb.

I did tell the kids that one of the reasons for Pluto's exile was that it did not meet size requirements. It was just too small to be a planet. So one of the kids asked me, "So Pluto is so small it would fit in this room?" Um, noooo, not quite THAT small. "But it would fit inside the school, right?"

To them, small means a cat, and big means an elephant. Anything beyond that, and they have a very hard time comprehending. So telling them Pluto is small is kind of like telling them that Pinot Noir from 1857 is overrated -- they're just not going to grasp it.

But maybe that shouldn't be a problem, seeing as how Pluto is not on the approved list any longer...


Hlynn said...

I miss Pluto. I learned the planets in order from the sun by "Mary's violet eyes make John stay up nights plotting". Not as much fun without "plotting". Enjoy your site very much!

Mister Teacher said...

Actually, without Pluto, your mnemonic sounds much friendlier and less stalker-ish...