Though I’m fascinated by all things scientific now, as a child I was intimidated by the numbers and technicalities of science, and stayed that way well into young adulthood. My electrochemical engineer husband now has to bear the brunt of my trying to play catch-up with basic scientific concepts. I constantly bombard him with questions that fourth-graders have mastered: “So, wait, when you take a cold drink out of the fridge and it starts to sweat, that moisture is coming from the air because the water vapor in the warm air is turning back into liquid water when it hits the cold glass?!” Ergo, I make heavy use of the library’s children’s non-fiction section any time I want to brush up on (or start from scratch about) a topic, whether I need a refresher on how our government is structured or an overview of climate change.
You can never have too many weapons in your knowledge arsenal, so when I stumbled across Wonderopolis recently, I was intrigued. A project of the National Center for Family Literacy, Wonderopolis is a fun and easy-to-navigate treasure trove of learning resources designed for children, parents, and educators of all stripes.
I immediately signed up to receive its Wonder of the Day via email. The next day’s Wonder happened to be #931: Where is the Biggest Castle in the World? The content included an article and video explaining the answer (Prague), sections including Try it Out (comprising activities like how to build your own sand castle based on a “Physics of Sand Castles” article written by NASA); Still Wondering? (with a link to a nearly two-hour film on castles and their historical significance hosted on the Kennedy Center’s website); and Wonder Words (with hyperlinked tags for further discovery within the Wonderopolis database). Teachers and parents will appreciate the ability to find a Wonder by correlation to Common Core State Standards. Kids can even submit their own Wonder for consideration.
It’s so easy to fall into a rut: doing the same things, talking to the same people, ingesting the same news sources, even forgetting to wonder about anything new. So do yourself a favor, and either sign up for a Wonder to be delivered to your inbox daily, or simply remember that when those little questions pop into your head (Why do zebras have stripes?) you could Google them, but the more enriching option, especially for kids, may be to search them in Wonderopolis.