Dr. Free-Ride: Tell me about the magnets at Kids Day.
Younger offspring: Well, the magnets ... first we got to make our own magnets, and we had a piece of steel or something -- a bar of steel. We wrapped a lot of wire around it; the two ends were sticking out. We also got a battery with it, with two chicken clips.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK. We used to call them alligator clips, but I understand that reptiles and birds have a common ancestor, so chicken clips works.
Younger offspring: Well, it looks like an opterocpteryx's --
Dr. Free-Ride: An archaeopteryx?
Younger offspring: (enunciating carefully) an archaeopteryx's snout and head.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, so you had a battery with these clips and you had your piece of metal wrapped with lots and lots of wire. What did you do?
Younger offspring: Then we had, like, pieces of metal and we got to tell which one was stainless steel and which one was steel. And we picked up the steel ones, and we also tried to pick up the stainless steel ones, with the ends of the magnet that we made.
Dr. Free-Ride: Did it work?
Younger offspring: Mine didn't work because my battery was bad, but then I got a new battery.
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. So, you were able to pick up the steel. How about the stainless steel?
Younger offspring: The stainless steel didn't work at all.
Dr. Free-Ride: Huh. Did they talk about why stainless steel wouldn't be picked up by a magnet?
Younger offspring: Because it's stainless steel, it's not steel. It's not the same.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yeah, but what's the difference between metals you can pick up with magnets and metal's you can pick up with magnets?
Younger offspring: I don't know.
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, that's something we should put in the file as worth investigating as we go on, OK?
Younger offspring: Maybe.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, what else did you do in the magnets session?
Younger offspring: Then we went over to this, that we had to put one person's magnet inside a bigger magnet. It was like this machine and I can't really describe it.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK.
Younger offspring: And when you touched one place and you put your finger in between two things, or your two fingers on both of those, and you like swish the red chicken clip on that place it would, like, give you a shock. It was like the time when some of the kids in my class brought some fake gum and they were like, "Hey, want some gum?" and I was like "Sure, I'll chew it at home." And then it gave me a shock when I tried to pull the gum out.
Dr. Free-Ride: So wait, you used magnets to generate an electrical shock?
Younger offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: That's interesting. So, you used electricity to make magnetism, then you used magnets to make electricity.
Younger offspring: Well, also, we got these pieces of metal, and we put it in this blue magnetizer. First they didn't stick to metal, and then when I put it in the magnetizer it would stick to metal.
Dr. Free-Ride: Did they tell you anything about how the magnetizer works?
Younger offspring: Well, the magnetizer just pulls it away from you. Like, our [name] tags -- it had metal on it, so it was like the tags were hanging up. It didn't stick yet, but it was hanging up when you put it in. You put your seven pieces of metal in, then you took them out.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, so whatever this blue machine did, it made regular pieces of metal magnetic when they came out.
Younger offspring: Yeah, and also, there was a regular piece of metal that was superglued to a string, and it was like a compass, but it wasn't magnetized yet, so we put it in the blue magnetizer, and if you didn't put it all the way in the magnetizer it was like an invisible dog. It was, like, hanging out like your tag, except it was an invisible dog.
Dr. Free-Ride: Interesting.
Younger offspring: And then when it got inside the magnetizer, they said not to pull it by its string to get it out, because the string would rip off even though it was glued.
Dr. Free-Ride: Uh huh.
Younger offspring: And then when we went outside a guy marked it with white-out, and then we put it down. They said that was North pole. He said he marked the North pole, and when you hang it [from its string] while it's twisting, it will point to the South, because it's the magnet's North.
Dr. Free-Ride: I see. And why do we use magnets as compasses?
Younger offspring: I don't know.
Dr. Free-Ride: Does it have something to do with the Earth, and properties of the Earth?
Younger offspring: Magnetic field?
Dr. Free-Ride: Is the Earth like a magnet, too?
Younger offspring: Yeah, it's like a magnetic field. It has gravity, and gravity pulls us down.
Dr. Free-Ride: OK, sure, but for compasses to work, do the North pole and the South pole of the Earth -- do they have, sort of, magnetic-ness?
Younger offspring: I don't know, but there's a magnetic field around Earth. And maybe that -- I'm not sure what that does. Does it create energy?
Dr. Free-Ride: Um ... I think it actually might help us to find our way if we know which way a magnet is pointing, and the only serious magnet around it is the Earth.
Younger offspring: Magnetic field.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yep. So that's another topic, maybe, for further study.