The Johnsen Clan Throws Things From Moving Vehicles

Topic #10, Throw Things From a Moving Car, is a difficult one for many parents. “Why should I encourage my child to throw something out the window when I’m driving?” they ask, often adding, “What if they hit someone?”

There are valuable lessons to learn about fluid dynamics, lift, drag, and assessing safety and risk – those are the things I always mention when I’m put on the spot, but the best reason occurred to me when I read the following on the Johnsenclan blog:

Throwing a Tomato
It’s supposed to be an opportunity to discuss why things don’t land where you think they will. And what effect the moving vehicle has on what you are throwing. Wyatt already gets it though, because unfortunately he loves to throw stuff out of the window so we can’t roll the window down too far on his side.

What occurred to me was this: what better way to help a child learn when is and isn’t the right time to throw something from a moving vehicle than to have a clearly defined context in which it is OK? In setting up the context, Wyatt learns that it has to be an open stretch of road, with no traffic or pedestrians, and he learns what is acceptable to throw (biodegradable items only). Later when he is holding that favorite book of his sisters and watching the countryside fly by the window, he will consider the possible dangers he might create (and litter!) by tossing her book out of the moving vehicle. Just in case the fury of a infuriated sister is not enough of a disincentive.

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