Fun Facts and What They Mean for Teaching
June 17, 2020
Five Fascinating Facts
- Plants can learn.
- Rats addicted to junk food will starve themselves rather than eat healthy.
- Some people see impossible colors.
- Caterpillars dissolve their bodies during metamorphosis—but they hold on to their memories.
- You can listen to the sound of the Voyager spacecraft leaving the solar system forever.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
In the middle of the lockdown, when life began to pile on life—when every day resembled more and more closely the life of a goldfish in a bowl—curiosity helped. Every moment of learning feels meaningful, regardless of how crazy the context.
Teachers understand the incredible power of curiosity. We know the thrill of learning and the joy of discovery. Every year, we serve students whose lives are in danger of becoming dull; we owe it to young minds to startle them from complacency and compel them with mystery.
So be on the lookout for the fantastic.
Sharing a single fascinating fact can plant the seeds of dozens of journeys of discovery. Just as importantly, sharing fun facts with your students models fascination for them—it shows them how you dwell in curiosity.
Here’s how you can enjoy finding fascinating facts this summer, so that you have an arsenal of curiosities when you begin the year.
Find Fascination: Websites
Fortunately, there are scores of fact curators out there. Find a favorite two or three, and visit their emporiums often. Here are a few favorites:
The Fact Site sorts facts into categories so you can easily find something for your music aficionado or your history buff. The interface is clean, fairly clutter-free, visually appealing, and easy to use.
Sotruefacts presents simple, colorful squares containing well-curated facts. Categories include funny and weird, so you’re certain to find something to catch the attention of your students.
I love the inquiry-oriented way that Today I Found Out is set up, with lots of compelling questions inviting visitors to investigate the weird and the wonderful.
- What was the largest bet ever made?
- How much caffeine does it take to kill you?
- Why do fingernails on a chalkboard make us cringe?
You know you want to find out.
Some facts might not be appropriate for young audiences, so don’t let kids loose on the sites themselves. Just use them to help you find a few that will pique your students’ curiosity.
Find Fascination: Podcasts
Podcasts can be a rich source of fun facts; here are a few favorites; you can discover a trove of others just by searching.
On No Such Thing as a Fish, four comedians gather around the microphone with their favorite facts from the week. Named Apple’s best podcast of 2014 and the 2018 winner of the Heinz Oberhummer Award for Science Communication, No Such Thing as a Fish is a treasure trove of fascinating facts you’ll love to share with your kids.
On The Memory Palace, Nate DiMeo uses vignettes to investigate the human side of history. This is a show for anyone who wants their fun facts to be richly human — for anyone who wonders, “What was it like to…”
The granddaddy of science podcasts is Radiolab, which focuses on one fascinating issue each week and explains it in a way that’s simultaneously enchanting and edifying. The show investigates everything from CRISPR to colors to how we decide where to place blame. Incredible attention to detail makes Radiolab a truly compelling podcast.
Find Fascination: Twitter
The Twitter feed of our very own VAEI features daily fun facts tailored for educators. Follow us @we_are_vaei for your daily dose of curiosity. Fun Facts, Mental Floss, and Ted Talks also highlight how Twitter can be leveraged to find factual coruscation.
Find Fascination: Travel
Travel enriches us, and it can enrich our educational practice as well. Find interesting places in your backyard, around the country, or across the world using the inestimable Atlas Obscura. Then, make a point to visit a place that fascinates you; make sure to take good pictures. Your students will love them!
The Freedom of Fun Facts
Engagement is the key to learning, whether it’s in person or through remote learning; the beauty of curiosity is that it engages the mind and compels investigation. If your facts truly fascinate, students will want to follow their curiosity. Just outline age-appropriate steps they can take to explore, and establish a way they can share what they discover. Then step back and let students fly away to follow their curiosity wherever it might lead them.
We hope you are all staying healthy and safe during this difficult time. For more free educational resources, or ideas on how to promote healthy Social-Emotional Learning, simply follow this link!
*Today’s image is brought to you from The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. Get your copy today!