Not now, Neptune!

You know what I really needed first thing this morning?

To be sorting out printer problems and unfinished homework for Amber, while simultaneously washing Millie’s hair.

Millie’s now 12, so, like us adults, she needs to wash more frequently – including her hair. Twice a week I have to get up at 7am to wash and dry her hair.

As a bald man, this feels particularly unfair.


The other problem was the printer refusing to print out Amber’s homework on the planet Neptune.

After a few minutes spent persuading it that, in fact, there is lots and lots and lots of “paper in the cassette” we managed to print it.

But then I glanced at the homework and knew, as a confirmed science nerd, space fanatic and professional writer, that I couldn’t possibly let this go…


“Neptune is the eighth and farthest known planet from the Sun in the Solar System.”

Well, yes. I might remove “in the Solar System” but this sentence is factually accurate.

“In the Solar System…”

Wait – didn’t we just say “in the Solar System”? I think we know we’re “in the Solar System” at this point.

Remove the second “In the Solar System”.

“In the Solar System it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter, the third-most massive planet, and the densest giant planet.”

Again, all  factually accurate, but I’m curious about the words used. What do you mean by “massive” here, Amber? Can you define “density” for me? What about “diameter”?

“Diameter” is “how wide something is”. Hmm. Well, OK.

“Density” – blank.

“Massive” – “Er, how big it is?”

You’ve just copied and pasted this from somewhere, haven’t you, Amber?

Yes. 😦

“Density” is how… Sigh. It’s 7.15am, I shouldn’t be having to define “density” to nine-year-olds at this time…

“Density” is how…squashed together something is. Like, the difference between water and metal.

And “massive” means… Well, in this context “weight” is as good an explanation as any. It’s not technically correct, but it’ll do.

“Neptune spins on its axis very rapidly.”

“Axis”? – blank.

Let’s just delete “on its axis,” shall we? I think  “spins” covers this perfectly by itself.

“Its equatorial clouds take 18 hours to make one rotation.”

“Equatorial”? – blank again.

Equatorial means at the equator… The equator? The imaginary line round the middle of the Earth.

Yes, and Neptune.

No, we can’t just put “It takes 18 hours to make one rotation”. Why? Because that’s only the equatorial clouds! Clouds at the poles will orbit in much less time. What? No, it’s a gas giant so it all rotates at different speeds, as per the next line:

“This is because Neptune is not solid body.”

Which, I notice, has a missing “a”. Come on, Amber, you’re better than this!

Moons, yes; diameter, yes…

A vivid blue coloured planet.”

“Vivid”? You know what vivid means?

Bright? Hm, well, OK.

“Neptune is a Windy Planet = Neptune is a planet where strong winds and storms are not uncommon.”

Who in Year 5 says “not uncommon”? Let’s make it “common”, shall we? And why the equals sign? You’ve got a tautology here, luv, maybe you should remove…

What’s a tautology? Um, forget I said anything. Let’s move on.

“..Ten time stronger than hurricanes on earth…”

Yep, OK.

“..Smallest of the four gas giants…”


“Much like Saturn and Uranus, Neptune’s atmosphere contains hydrogen, helium and methane.”

“Much like”? Again, no one in Year 5 says “much like”. How might you actually say this? Just “like”, perhaps?

Have to say, Amb, I do like the greeny-blue colour around the title, it adds a bit of…

What? It’s “teal”? All right, I like the “teal” around the title.

Now, wake me up again in 20 minutes. Zzzz…

I am, of course, joking about this, but there is a serious message somewhere underneath, which is that copying and pasting something you find online is not learning.

Hopefully that lesson got across to Amber.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s