"I think I can make a toy out of this".
Richard James said this to his wife Betty during the 1940's. If you don't know the name Richard James, perhaps you know the name "Slinky" instead. Yep! Richard James was the inventor of the Slinky! While working with tension springs as a Mechanical Navy Engineer, one of them fell and appeared to move on its own. He then worked over the course of a year to get the correct weight and quality of metal to make a successful toy. And successful it was! They debuted during the Christmas season in 1945 at Gimbel's Department store and flew off the shelves. 400 were sold during the first 90 minutes. It was absolutely pertinent to his wife Betty, who is credited for naming the toy, that the Slinky remain affordable for all kids.
Reese's birthday was yesterday, and as I went shopping for her present earlier in the week, it dawned on me that she had never even seen a Slinky. A Slinky! It must be against the law somewhere to be 4-years-old without a Slinky. (I know, I know....first world problems!) We used to have one when Reese was a baby, but it has since disappeared.
When she opened the box, she gave me a questioning look. What is this strange object? And then her face lit up brighter than the fourth of July when that slinky came out of the box and she got to hold it, cold metal against sweaty palms.
And then the stretching and the releasing and then the giggling down the stairs, racing the Slinky to the bottom.
This is science. And this is fun. And here my 4-year-old is learning about gravity and momentum. Is there anything more I want for her education, than for her to be truly fascinated?
And maybe...just maybe it needs to start with me.
Oh, how I long to be that kind of homeschool mom. The kind that asks as many questions as my girls do. One who is not satisfied with "I don't know" and sets afoot to find the answers. I want to be curious and for my curiosity to be contagious. To be the kind of mom who says, "I think I can make some fun (a toy) out of this!" I want to record the learning and share excitement in finding out new things. I want to delve deep with my girls, knee deep in books. And I want evidence that there is learning going on here....on the kitchen table, the living room floor, the walls of our home.
How do you promote curiosity in your home?
And for more information about the Slinky:
Did you know that the Slinky has been used by professors to simulate the properties of waves? Did you know that the Slinky was used during the Vietnam war as mobile radio antennas, and NASA has used them in a variety of physics experiments?
For some really cool experiments involving the Slinky, check this site out here!