As adults, we often take pride in the reasoning skills that we’ve developed from life’s experiences. Occasionally, however, we are stunned by the ability of the very young to grasp seemingly difficult concepts. Whether operating new technology or answering mind-bending questions, our kids often outsmart us in matters of logic.
To prove the brilliance of youthful minds in comparison to our more mature brains, an interesting puzzle has been circulating online lately. The test begins with a picture of a school bus; it is completely symmetrical with two arrows above it pointing in opposite directions. No steering wheel or driver is shown. The challenge is to determine if the bus is moving to the left or right.
While adults struggle to find a clue in the illustration, children tend to find the correct answer immediately. The puzzle, which was created by National Geographic, is used in some schools to measure the cognitive skills of students under the age of ten. Based on research by the Daily Mail, a whopping 80 percent of the youngsters tested have been able to explain the puzzle right away. Kids appear to be better than their elders at visual challenges and interpretation.
A similar puzzle is presented to kids entering first grade in Hong Kong. According to Elyse Wanshell’s article at www.littlethings.com, most six-year-olds take less than 20 seconds to figure out that a picture can be flipped upside down in order to answer the posed question. They quickly see the sequence in a row of numbered parking spaces and can easily identify the only number that is covered by a parked car. Many adults ponder the concept for lengthy time periods before realizing that the answer is simple.
To find the direction that the school bus is traveling, simply notice that no door is visible in the picture. Therefore, the door is on the back side. If the bus is located in the U.S. where people drive on the right side of the road, then it is obviously heading to the left so that the door can open directly in front of the curb while picking up passengers. Drivers use the left side of the road in the UK, so the door would be located on the driver’s side. The bus in the picture would then be traveling to the right.
The puzzle is easy for a child because she makes a quick judgment after her first glance at the drawing. Adults critique things much more slowly and carefully. In many situations, this learned response is critical. At times, however, the best approach is an intuitive reply.