Science at Home: Multicoloured Flowers, ‘What crap will lizards eat?’ and the birth of Mothra!

I grew up on a diet of Attenborough documentaries(where I learned BBC does documentaries like no other), ‘In the Wild with Harry Butler’(where I learned to always put the rock back and drunk pygmy possums are easier to get along with) and some wildlife show that had Lorne Greene narrating and ‘Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring as it’s theme music but I can’t find reference to it anywhere (which taught me slow motion wildlife, Lorne Greene and classical music are pretty epic together). By the way, if anyone can remember what this show was called let me know!

My kids on the other hand are getting large doses of ‘Deadly 60’, ‘Barney’s Barrier Reef’ and a rather cool show called ‘Backyard Science’. The really great thing about ‘Backyard Science’ is that it shows kids doing experiments themselves and discovering how stuff works. It wasn’t long before Gabby was pestering me to try out an experiment I hadn’t seen. It involved taking a white flower with plenty of stem, splitting the stem in two and putting each side of the split into a separate cup. You then put water and different food colouring in each cup and wait overnight. This was our result:

Awesome! Of course the great thing about this is then Gabby asked why it happens. Then we had to find out!(it was almost like I was some kind of responsible parent or something)

Around the same time Isaac and I were encountering skinks in the backyard and he decided that we should feed them as the pesticide barrier or ‘Death Zone’ around our house meant they had fewer insects to eat. So in the spirit of scientific experimentation and being too lazy to chase moths around the back yard I checked what was in the fridge.

Left over Lasagne.

I can’t begin to describe the sacrifice we were making for science, just as words cannot do justice to the lasagne made in our household. Thankfully we didn’t need much as skinks are very small.

We placed the lasagne in places we’d seen the lizards basking and waited. It didn’t take long for the lizards to start chowing down! We were hooked!

The following weeks we tried sausage(eaten), cheese(eaten) and watermelon, filmed with inappropriate music below…

Yuh I know, it’s *just* like ‘Jurassic Park’! (this skink is smarter than T-Rex though, I’m pretty sure it can find something to eat even if the the prey stays still)

The kids are also curious about bugs we find, we’d look up different things uncovered from under rocks or beaten senseless against an outside light .

We’d seen some really big cocoons(10cm long) poking out of holes in trees lately and the kids and I were wondering what emerges from them. During a recent party at a friend’s place we stumbled across another cocoon which was full of what is scientifically known as (orange)goo. The occupant was sitting right next to it… MOTHRA!

To demonstrate how impressed Mothra was at being disturbed while it recovered from getting out of the cocoon it deployed a large tube from its underside and squirted the same goo a quite impressive 50cm or so. The kids didn’t love that part much.

Gabby really wanted to know what it was that had sprayed her with goo, turns out it was a Wood Moth.

I guess the point of all this is that kids really do value knowledge in a way I think many adults forget to do. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routines of work and ‘civilisation’ and forget that there’s a whole lot of stuff going on around us that is worth knowing even just for the sense of wonder, if not the reward of understanding how the pieces of the puzzle of life go together.

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