I was reminded of my lack of historical knowledge yesterday when I visited the Madison County Public Library, and discovered their latest curricular push featuring a couple "well-known" historical figures. I can't say I recognized George Washington Carver, and I won't brag that my familiarity with the hundred dollar bill helped me identify Ben Franklin, but I could tell Franklin was Franklin and the "Who Am I" placard that accompanied each let me quickly - impressively so, if I do say so myself - name Carver.
If there's any content area where my deficiencies are more apparent than in history, it's science (oh, and math, even more so in math - and, yes, I recognize that's quite a list). My snooping around the library revealed that the real initiative isn't history, or even inventors, but science. I was particularly struck by the informative "Think Like a Scientist" display, because it connected with content-area learning language we use in the writing project and, for kids, encouraged them to spend their summer inquiring, investigating, wondering, and discovering. Kind of like we do in the Writing Project, really.
I'll be honest, I didn't see a bunch of kids running around hypothesizing and filling out lab reports. There were lots of kids, though, and they couldn't help but encounter Franklin and Carver. I can only assume that some of them accepted each man's challenge to guess "Who Am I." And with that simple act alone, perhaps they recognized the sort of curiosity that leads to the next great invention.