Here’s a riddle for you to try on the kids:
Which is heavier? A loaf of bread or a single bread shaped and sized brick?
You have a minute. Think hard. Read the question again. Understand it. Take your time, within the minute of course. Hmm….ready. Spit out the answer!
Prashant Shrestha from Kathmandu, Nepal [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D
Visually they might not look very different from each other. Try picking up a loaf of bread. Easy peasy. Now pick up that similar sized brick. Oops, not as easy as scooping up that loaf, right?
The brick’s definitely heavier.
Here’s riddle-2 about weights. Yep, a weighty day. Today. Which is heavier? A pound of rocks or a pound of loose cotton?
Visually they look very different. The pound of rocks occupies some space, but the pound of cotton – it looks like a tiny mountain! Go on, take a guess. Which is heavier? Most people would see the visual clue and forget about what was said. They would opt for cotton which occupies more space, and therefore seems the heavier one. Oops wrong again.
Both weigh the same. Remember? A pound was mentioned in riddle 2.
Why does this happen? It’s an illusion, which was observed and stated by a physician in 1891, and therefore got his name and is called the Charpentier illusion. It explains how two brain systems behave differently to create the illusion and have it persist. Some of it is actually still a mystery.
Why get the kids to try this?
Such experiments help kids explore and understand their surroundings with little effort required in setting it up. All such learning leads to kids getting curious about their surroundings, helping their creativity bloom. Also, playful learning is not easily forgotten as the kids explore and learn on their own, frequently getting others to try it, reemphasizing the learning. What we look at as play, is serious learning which the brain uses throughout our lives to come up with ideas and solutions.