How close is Grandma’s house to the sky?


Having spent our holidays in the mountains, my 4-year-old is thinking about how high things are. She wants to know how high-up Grandma’s house is and does it touch the sky?

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Why are humans a animal?


Human evolution was a topic of conversation at the dinner table. My 9-year-old declared that “humans used to be monkeys a long, long time ago”; my 4-year-old worried that she might have monkey children when she grows up.

I explained, as in my answer to Why do monkeys still exist?, that humans have evolved over millions of years, and that monkeys and apes and all other creatures have evolved over millions of years too. I showed her a book called The Story of Life and said that, like other animals, humans have evolved over a long, long time.

She didn’t like the thought of being an animal, so we had a think about what being an animal means…

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How does baking powder work?


Baking is one of our favourite family activities. In fact, we like baking cakes and biscuits and breads almost as much as we like eating them! My daughters are getting pretty good at following a recipe and measuring out the ingredients that we need to use.

Many of the cake and biscuit recipes we use ask for baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. My girls want to know what these same-looking, white-powdery ingredients are made of and what is their job in baking?

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Why do I have to go to bed?


Bedtime is one of my favourites times of the day. For me, going to bed is a time to get comfy and snuggle down under my duvet, head on pillow, for a good night’s sleep. Lovely.

But my daughters have other ideas at their bedtimes – they want to stay up late, read books, watch TV or play games. I insist on a routine of calming down (no TV or games!), cleaning teeth and brushing hair, maybe a bath, a short story and getting off to sleep as quickly and quietly as possible.

And our cat sleeps for most of the day and the night – he thinks sleeping is great!

So why is it so important to go to bed? What good does sleep do?

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Why don’t you get upside-down in a mirror?


Have you ever held up a shiny metal spoon in front of your face to see your reflection? And have you noticed that your reflection changes if you switch from looking at one side of the spoon to the other? Your face will be the right way up when you look at the back of the spoon but upside-down when you look at the bowl of the spoon.

The other morning, my elder daughter was studying her face in a spoon instead of using it to eat her breakfast. She noticed the change in her reflection when turning the spoon around and it got her thinking: Why am I upside-down on one side of the spoon? Why does a spoon work like a mirror? And why don’t I ever look upside-down in a mirror?

The answer to all these questions is physics, so let’s find out more…!

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Do sharks hibernate?


Hamsters are the latest pet obsession in our house – the 8-year-old wants one but Daddy has said “No”.

The girls have friends and cousins with hamster pets and they know lots of facts about the furry little creatures. “Apparently, they hibernate in the Winter” our eldest told us, as she and her sister┬átried to list all the animals they could think of that hibernate. “But what about sharks?” asked the 4-year-old. “Can they hibernate?”

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Can cats burp?

Fishfingers cat

Burping (or, as some people call it, belching) is a normal part of being a human being. Everybody does it. That’s because when we eat and drink (especially if we’re talking at the same time!) some of the air that we breathe gets swallowed down to our stomachs. And then, that air has to find its way back out of our bodies. It either gets pushed back up to our mouths and comes out as a burp, or it gets pushed down to our bottoms and comes out as a fart.

But my girls want to know if humans are the only animals that burp. What about cats and dogs – can they burp too?

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Will we ever be able to time-travel?


Time is something we all use throughout our lives, although many of us probably don’t think about how it work – we just get on with it!

Us humans divide time up into small chunks, like hours and minutes and seconds; or into bigger chunks, like days, weeks, months and years. And we measure time by looking at clocks or watches or calendars.

Animals and plants and other creatures also measure time but they don’t use clocks – they rely on the amount of light to tell if it’s day or night, and they sense more gradual changes in the seasons.

Time-travel, or the ability to move backwards or forwards through time, is an idea that pops up in stories and films. But could it actually happen?

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