Combustion and Digestion

9 Sep

The Caterpillar has always been observant, and likes to make connections.  Sometimes she takes analogies we give her and runs with them.  The following is her very organic view of how combustion works:

We have a “First Encyclopedia” book that has several pages on the human body, one of which covers the digestive system.  This lead to a discussion on why we eat food, and the simple answer is, “So we can get energy.”  Then we talked about how the food comes out as poop after our bodies have gotten the energy out of it.  Basic understanding of digestion, check!

Some time later, I was filling up our car with gas.  The Caterpillar asked, “Why does a car need gas?”  The simple answer is, of course, “So it can get energy.”  Caterpillar seemed satisfied with this answer, and apparently made the connection that “Gas is like a car’s food.”  A few weeks later, again at a gas station, she came up with the question, “What is a car’s poop?”  This lead to a discussion about exhaust.  “So, gas is a car’s food and it’s poop is smoke and air, right?”  Right, in a way.

Then “The Magic School Bus” became available on Netflix.  Caterpillar is in love with the show, and at this point has seen both the episode about the human digestive system and the episode about cars and combustion.  This morning at breakfast, she came out with, “Mommy, I think a car’s cylinders are its small intestines.”  Why?  “Because that is where the gas (the car’s “food”) gets made into air and smoke (its “poop”). 

Since she already had some fairly good comparisons going, I asked some probing questions and she decided the gas tank is the car’s “stomach” and the pipe where you put the gas in is its “esophagus.”

She’s now asking where the water goes into a car and where does its pee come out.  I’m not sure how far we can make this analogy go.


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