My son is convinced that I can fix absolutely anything. Come to think about it, I do a pretty good job living up to his expectations. Granted most things he breaks are not actually damaged or at least not too bad. He is also pretty sure that I know everything. This is a little harder to live up to. He tends to be a very inquisitive child. In general, this is a good thing. At times it can be quite challenging.
Such was the case the other day. I think he was just having fun asking questions. After playing with his toy flashlight he came over and plopped down beside me. Handing me the small plastic flashlight he asked, “How do they make flashlights?” “Humm… that is a good question,” I started. Then I paused. Instead of simply telling him how a machine molds the plastic case and then assembles the other parts in a factory (used this one the other day when asked how they make tractors) I though we could do some research. So we did.
Hopping over to the computer I did a quick search on one of my new favorite sites, MadeHow. MadeHow is a hybrid between a how-to site and Wikipedia. It is user generated and moderated, but gives much more information and much more detailed information then most of the how-to sites out there. In the case of the flashlight it explains the manufacturing process for the plastic housing, light source, switch and controls as well as the assembly process and packaging. We also learned a little bit of history:
The modern battery powered flashlight was created in 1898 by Joshua Lionel Cowen, the original owner of the American Eveready Battery Company. Cowen originally developed an idea for a decorative lighting fixture for potted plants. His fixture was composed of a metal tube with a light bulb and a dry cell battery. Cowen passed his idea to one of his Eveready salespersons, Conrad Hubert, who turned the metal tube, light bulb, and battery into the world’s first flashlight and started selling the batteries and the flashlight.
Taking the time to look this up with my son does two things. First, it lets my son know that I don’t actually know everything, but what I don’t know I can find out. Second, it teaches him to research and look for information on his own. It also opens a door for conversation. After all, everything on the Internet is not fact. Learning to research and discern truth is a skill that one is never too young to start learning.
I expect that he will still think I know everything for a while yet. To be honest, I don’t mind letting him. I know it will eventually give way to him thinking I know nothing. I am in no hurry to get there. Until then, I will enjoy passing on what I do know, and how to find out what I don’t. So, what types of random questions do you entertain from your kids and how do you answer them?