In the meantime, how to explain what my son and his sitter were discussing this morning: "Why is the ocean blue?" Why indeed? Again, we go back to light! The water absorbs blue light less than it does that of other colors, and so it's reflected back and dispersed so that we see it. In trying to further my understanding of this so I could explain it, I looked it up and found "Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress"! I didn't know this site existed. (I'm looking forward to exploring it in depth). The site also notes that different parts of the ocean may look like different colors because of particles in the ocean, the color of the sky, and of course because of plant life in the ocean itself.
So in explaining it to my 4-year old, I think I'd start with the Sun. He understands it's a star and that its light warms us here on Earth. Sunlight is everywhere and made up of a lot of colors, just like we saw when the sun shone through the prism. The ocean absorbs (or takes in) a lot of that light but it takes in a lot less of the blue light, which is reflected so that we see it. If there is seaweed or other green plants in the water, then that is reflected too, so we see a blueish/green color when we look at the water. I think that kind of works as an explanation. Now I'm wondering about plant life and chlorophyll and photosynthesis but that'll have to be for a later post as I'll have to look that up in my reference books.
I like the idea of trying to figure out how to explain science — it makes you try to figure out why and when a certain phenomenon happens and how to explain it to a particular audience. It takes the whole idea back to one of the basic tenets of writing and journalism: "Who's your audience?" Well, in this case, a 4-year old who's into the changing seasons (another great Earth Day activity -- talking about spring) and in a way, me. I still want to figure out how it all works!
Later on this Earth Day... our first ground temperature reading in preparation for the great Cicada Awakening!