View Full Version : Dear Jonathan

July 7th, 2014, 04:27 PM
Dear Jonathan,

Miss Jones told me you are on the waiting list. I am too. While we wait, I thought it would be fun to be pen pals. If we use pencils to write letters to each other, then I guess we would be pencil pals. Actually, I am using a computer to write this letter. If you use a computer we could be computer pals!

Miss Jones said you wanted to be a scientist when you grow up, maybe a paleontologist who studies dinosaurs. Did you notice that "pal" is the first word in paleontologist? If you become a paleontologist, people could call you a dinopal--a friend of dinosaurs!

In this first letter to you, I thought you might like to read some of the things I have learned about being a scientist and about studying plants and animals down here on earth and planets and stars up there in the sky. The first thing I learned is that scientists observe things very carefully. Most people just run around doing everything but never seeing anything. Even if they do see something, they hardly ever stop and take a close look. And how many people do you know that ever write anything down so they will remember what they saw?

So if you want to be a scientist, you might think real hard about teaching yourself to observe things very carefully and record what you see. You might even want to record what you hear and feel and smell and taste! Most people know what a flower smells like, but a good scientist knows how they taste! Have you ever tasted a rose petal? I did! Once. It was sweet and chewy!

I am an amateur scientist. That means I study plants and animals and planets and stars for fun, not for money. I record what I see and hear and smell and taste and touch in my scientific observations notebook. I also record where it was and the date and time of day, too! Weeks, months or even years later, I can go back to my notebook and learn how a plant, animal, planet or a star has changed since the last time I observed it.

For example, let's pretend that you go hiking one morning and see a little bird flying around a lake near your home. Morning after morning you go hiking and see the little bird flying around the lake. You record the size and color of the bird, what it sounds like when it calls to other birds, the time of day you see it and where it flies to and from.

Let's pretend, however, that one morning you go hiking and see the little bird flying somewhere else. Since you are a scientist, you ask yourself...

Why is that bird flying here, not by the lake?

That is another thing scientists learn to do: they ask really good questions! In my next letter, I will tell you what I know about how scientists answer questions. Paleontologists, for example, have been asking this question for a long, long time...
Why did dinosaurs become extinct?

You'll enjoy hearing why paleontologists asked that question and how they answered it as much as you'll like the answer itself. Scientists try to ask the right questions so they don't get wrong answers.

Let's pretend again. You are hiking around the lake one morning and hear a buzzing noise. As you walk over a small hill, you see butterflies and bees zooming busily around some bright-colored flowers. You sit down and record what you see and hear. While you are writing in your notebook, a very good question pops into your head...

"What are those bees doing to those flowers?"

Later that day, you go to the library to find an answer to your question. Then, on the way home, you write the answer in your notebook because you are already becoming an amateur scientist. If you did all those things, people would say...

Jonathan is a good scientist! He studies things carefully, asks questions, looks for answers and records all of it in that notebook of his! Mark my words, that boy is going far. I even heard him tell someone that he was going to be a paleontologist when he grows up. I don't know what that is, but if Jonathan wants to be one, it must be good.

There is something else I record in my notebook. To find out, let's pretend you hike down to the lake to watch the butterflies, the birds and the bees. You sit down in the grass and watch the birds fly and the butterflies and bees flit from flower to flower. You take your notebook and record your feelings about butterflies, flowers, birds and bees...

I am only watching the birds and the bees, but I feel as if I am part of what they are doing. Do they know I am watching them? Does my watching make them act differently? In what ways am I like a butterfly? A flower? A bird or a bee? Can I learn anything from butterflies and flowers? Birds and bees? Why do I enjoy watching and hearing the bees? Feeling the soft, warm grass? Seeing and smelling bright-colored flowers? I like being a scientist. This is fun, even if I do not know why!

I hope you enjoyed this letter. If you become a dinopal, I hope you have lots of fun and make lots of money. Meanwhile, I hope you decide to become an amateur scientist, get a notebook and record what you see and hear and how you feel about plants and animals down here and planets and stars up there.

Your pal, Jack

July 7th, 2014, 06:13 PM
I didn't know I was on a waiting list, nobody told me.

July 13th, 2014, 11:28 PM
I didn't know I was on a waiting ;ist, nobody told me.

That flew over my head. Are you pointing to something that I could change to improve the story? If so I'd sure like to hear it in more detail. Thanks.

October 27th, 2014, 01:34 PM
whimsical, enjoyable

October 27th, 2014, 04:38 PM
That flew over my head. Are you pointing to something that I could change to improve the story? If so I'd sure like to hear it in more detail. Thanks.

My given name is Jonathan...

May 25th, 2015, 11:51 PM
A very interesting piece, but I am left wondering, waiting list for what? Or perhaps it's your intent to keep the reader wondering for now. Between the first two paragraphs, I like what you're trying to do with the different types of 'pals' and 'pal' words, but I think it gets a little repetitive?

I do like your use of repeated words in the science-y paragraphs. The one that starts "I am an amateur scientist" bugs me a bit. For some reason saying, "That means I study plants and animals and planets and stars..." seems redundant, but everything else sits very well. I know that's wishy-washy criticism and I apologize.