Monday, August 28, 2017

Dr. Lucy Van Pelt, Scientist (Part 2/3)

Let’s talk more about why I think Lucy is the scientist in the Peanuts gang. In the last letter I showed you how Lucy won the science fair. Can you think of other comic strips where Lucy acts like a scientist?

Of course, since Lucy’s a bit of a fussbudget she can be kind of an annoying big-sister scientist. But I still think she’s a scientist at heart.

Here’s one that shows how much Lucy cares about watching the world around her very closely:

Q: What word did Linus use that probably made Lucy mad?

A: Linus calling the bugs “stupid” didn’t help that conversation start well. I think when Lucy looked at the bugs she was probably counting them.

I say this because there’s many other comic strips where Lucy carefully counts things in the world around her.

Or, at least she tries to. She counts the stars:

Then she counts the raindrops, although she may be a bit over her head with this project:

Then she counts the snowflakes:

Linus can count the snowflakes, too:

Q: Do you think that 13,000,004,003 is the right number of snowflakes?

A: If Lucy said it by herself, I wouldn’t believe her, but Linus got the same number. I wonder if it is the right number?

When two different scientists do the same experiment and get the same result, I’m much more confident that it’s the right result. If they’re both counting snowflakes and they get the same number, then they’re more certain that it is probably the right number. So it’s always important for scientists to talk to each other and see where they agree and disagree. And everyone knows Lucy’s not shy with her opinions.

Lucy’s always counting something. Like a scientist, Lucy counts how many times she’s “fallen in love” with Schroeder:

Lucy counts the electrical outlets in her house:

Here Lucy counts how many times she beats Charlie Brown at checkers:

But sometimes Lucy makes mistakes in her counting. Here she tries to improve her position to count the stars better:

Q: Can you think of a reason why the chair won’t help Lucy count more stars?

A: I’d say the distance to the stars is so big that the chair doesn’t make any difference.

Here’s another set of strips where Lucy gets an explanation wrong, but I think she’s still thinking like a scientist thinks.

Q: Can you tell what’s wrong with Lucy’s counting in this next series of strips?

A: I think Lucy’s problem is that she’s trusting too much in what her own eyes see! She won’t listen to Charlie Brown, who has a simpler explanation. It’s simpler to have one sun than to have twelve, with a new sun being made every day. After you count and make careful observations, you still have to listen to other people. Lucy still needs to learn to listen, in this area and in many other areas as well. So do I!

There’s one more way that Lucy thinks like a scientist and it gets her into trouble. It’s hard to count the things you can’t see. Think about what Lucy is trying to count in this comic strip:

Q: How does Linus help Lucy count her blessings in this? Does he help her count something she can see?

A: Lucy’s problem isn’t that she needs to count better. She needs to know that her little brother loves her (despite all the fights they have). Linus is right. That is the right thing to say.

When you say this to your brothers, it gives life to my heart too. Lucy needs to see and count her brother, and that’s what really counts here.

So Lucy is a scientist at heart because she likes to look closely at the world and count the things around her. This helped her win a science fair. Lucy is good at counting. She gets the right answer (or least an answer that agrees with Linus’s answer) when counting the snowflakes.

Sometimes she can have the right answer for one question and still get something wrong, like with the sun and Charlie Brown. But she’s wrong because of what happens after she counts. Her counting is still right.

In the last letter, I’ll tell you about some of the strips where Lucy plays the scientist. She usually gets one thing right and other things wrong. Those are some of my favorites, and I think you’ll laugh at them, too.


unkleE said...


Ben McFarland said...

Oops! I'm surprised my math-nerd kids didn't catch that when proofreading. Thanks!