Why is "ambulance" written backwards on emergency vehicles? Young geometers apply principles of symmetry to translate words written backwards. See if your school or district subscribes to Jobland, where you can view a clip that explains why. Better yet, make a poster with the word on it and have children pretend they're drivers looking in a rear-view mirror. To extend, have learners draw their names backwards: write in chalk on paper, fold and rub to see the mirror image for guidance.