Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mind Probes, Good Probes, and Bad Probes at Work in a Worm

R's drawing of the mind probe that he created
We are more closely connected to the invisible than to the visible. (Novalis)
Philosophy and Art both render the invisible visible by imagination. 
(George Henry Lewis)

One of the members of the original worm anatomy group devised what he called a Mind Probe, a device used to send messages from the brain throughout the body.  This rudimentary understanding of how neurons work within the nervous system soon stimulated interest in other "probes" at work in the worm's body - good probes and bad probes - which in turn prompted consideration of how germs and the immune system keep a living creature healthy.  Developing a common probe language - both verbally and artistically - allowed them to think about turning a microscopic form into something visible and easily manipulated.  Drawings became the plans for probe models, which became quickly locked in epic biological battles once they were made into three-dimensional form, using popsicle sticks, recycled yogurt cups, and other cast off materials.  

Where did the word “probe” come from? 
O:  R. inspired us (with his mind probe).
R:  I just thought it would be a good name.
E: It’s like a robot.
L:  A very small robot.
R:  The mind probe sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body. I got the idea from something I read in Calvin and Hobbes.
"Guard probes" protect a worm against bad food, germs, bad probes, other bugs, and bad nutrients

O:  It guards the worm from germs, the bad probes.   
They generate bad germs that make the worm get sick.
O:  Guard probes suck up the sickness.

Above:  D:  Bad probes are coming.  "We will invade soon."  A good guy yells, "Invasion!"  Then come the blood transfusion vehicles (they move the blood around) to attack the bad guys.  The defender chomps down on the bad probe.  "Yeah!," said the good guy, who operates the good guy probes.

R's vision of bad probes vs. good probes fighting inside the body
Generally, the group agreed that good probes come from inside the body and bad probes come from outside the body:

D:  Probes are in your cells, in every part of your body.  I research the human body and how it works. Bad probes are germs.

O/E:  Good probes come from the blood.  Bad guy probes come from the ground.

O:  Good probes are in the body.

L:  Good probes come from the blood.  Bad probes can be made one of three ways:  1) from a dead animal, 2) if the worm gets cut in the dirt, 3) slime and blood.

D:  Good probes come from the brain – [like the mind probe, the defender probes] are just part of the human package.

L:  When the body is created, the probes are created. Bad probes are created outside the body.  There are like little stations that float around everywhere – they’re microscopic – so we can’t see them.  Germs aren’t really probes – they’re just germs.

D: One good guy probe is more powerful than two bad guy probes. Usually the good guy probes win. Germs are their own living things.  They have probes of their own.

L:  Good probes can come from outside the body.  In the Big Bang, it created one good probe and it had a duplicator and it duplicated itself.  They’re visible only under a microscope.
Does duplication ever end?
L:  No.

Left:  L:  Good Probes:  There was only one probe that had a duplicator. He duplicated himself and now there are thousands of him.  It is inside, just like all the good probes, so they formed an army.  Four probes join one probe and equal a helicopter probe (it's good).  The helicopter probe duplicates itself to make hundreds of itself.  A helicopter probe + a helicopter probe = a plane probe, and then the plan probe duplicates itself.
O:  Helicopter probes fly around your body.  They take the sickness out of the body then go out and dump it.  Then they go back in and get more. 
Below: L: There was a bad probe that existed.  He had a duplicator and he duplicated himself.  He made thousands of himself.  The good probes and the bad probes fought.  Then a helicopter probe came.  The bad guy said, "We need reinforcements!"  The bad probes invented a cannon.  It worked! 

[Duplication was a theme that occurred early on in our discussion of how seeds and plants reproduce]

N: How do they duplicate? I have a theory:  factories.

Do you remember the duplicating ray?  (from sunflower project)  How is the process the same in plants and animals?

L: Plants have probes too.  They make more and more seeds.
Are good probes are stronger than bad probes? 
D:  You’re not sick all the time, so the good probes must be stronger.

O: Three bad guy probes can beat about one good guy probe. 

B: I wonder if there really are probes.  I know there are microorganisms and you can’t see them.

D: What do the probes look like?

O: Describes circles, spikes, etc.

D: I’m just using my imagination because I know that we’re talking about real stuff.

The mind probe (on the upper right), along with good helicopter probes, and probe jail (bottom right)
L. creates a probe with a very long tail
O. helps to construct the probe base
The probe base, complete with a probe hospital

Why is it important for probes to have a base?
N:  Everything has to have a control center, to send out messages.

O's schematic of how the probe base/hospital works
 A jail for the bad probes was also created:

According to L., the jail can also work to help "reform" (i.e., change) bad probes into good probes - even though we get sick, the body has the ability to adapt and change. 

The battle between good versus evil has been a pervasive theme in many of the boys' projects throughout the course of the year, and this dichotomous relationship was a common frame of reference used to help them understand the inner workings of the body - our bodies and worm bodies.  Their collective probe composition work supported their dialogue of how this battle actually might play out inside a body, unseen to the naked eye yet part of the living process as it unfolds regularly. 


  1. This is so fantastic-thank you for the insight into the children's minds and work.

  2. I love this. It is so interesting to read about how you all are bringing together the boys' focus on sorting out good and evil and biology. The work is really helping them to play with these really big ideas. Thank you!