Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Toddler Physics Test

Question 23

Maia, 27 months, is having a snack: a peanut-butter granola bar and a small plastic cup of milk. Mom pours the milk into the cup incorrectly and Maia dumps the milk on the floor in protest.

• s = amount spilled
• x = amount cup can hold

In your answer, write the equation describing how much milk actually lands on the floor, and explain your answer.

a) s = x - 1/2x. Maia just wanted to make her point, and stopped dumping after half of the milk was on the floor.

b) s = x - 1/3x. Maia was angry, and spilled faster than she had originally intended, resulting in a larger spill than she wanted.

c) s = x. Maia turned the cup over all the way, resulting in a total spill.

d) s = 2x (E=mc2) + p. Recognizing that matter is neither created nor destroyed, we see that Maia, like all toddlers, is fluent in the theory of relativity and transforms her tantrum energy output (E) into matter (m) -- specifically, milk -- thrown, at the speed of light squared, to the floor (c2), then for good measure threw the plastic cup (p) after it. This resulted in a spill that equaled at least twice as much milk as had originally been poured into the cup, then increased by an unqualifiable yet physically represented amount, as evidenced by the disproportionally large spill on the floor.

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