I'm a child of the eighties. Growing up, I built with bristle blocks, not Minecraft blocks. If I had a question, I would crack open my trusty World Book encyclopedia. When a teacher assigned a research report on Ponce de León or blue whales, I'd roam the dusty stacks of the local library, looking for every book on the subject I could find. Accessing newspaper articles from the past meant turning to a behemoth contraption called the microfiche machine.
Now when my kids want answers, they turn to tech. "Siri, how many days until February fourth," my son recently implored the iPad, trying to figure out precisely how long he had to wait until his 8th birthday. When my 10-year-old daughter needs inspiration for Halloween costumes, she turns to Google Images. Getting information is quicker and more convenient than I ever could have imagined when I was a kid.
But it also raises a whole host of questions. How do we raise our kids to think critically about online information? How do we teach them to identify whether something is an ad or an article, or comes from a credible source?
In this month's Innovation Issue, I talked to local librarians about their role in helping kids become educated consumers and users of digital information ("Fact Finders").
Innovation doesn't always involve computers. Sarah Stewart Taylor traveled to the American Precision Museum in Windsor, and nearby manufacturing hub Springfield, with her three kids to explore the state's past as a center of machine-tool innovation ("Tool Time"). Sarah Tuff Dunn writes about a Vermont educator who's bringing the maker movement to kids in rural Vermont. And Brett Stanciu highlights an afterschool program in Hardwick that encourages creative thinking through tinkering.
Head to our events calendar full of family events in October, ranging from Halloween happenings to fun runs. We hope it's just the right amount of information to make your family's life easier, and more fun.