This could be a story about innovation, imagination and invention. Or, it could be an historical footnote about manufacturing and engineering. Maybe it’s about words and vocabulary. Actually, it’s all that and a little bit more. Here’s what happened one week at the ‘Curbside Classroom’*
Monday, while waiting for the crossing signal, I asked the kids, “Do you type?”
Silly question, of course they type, in one manner or another; these kids grew up with keyboards. They’re everywhere, keyboards, that is.
Tuesday, I asked, “what is QWERTY?’. That’s right, the top left row of letters on the keyboard. Generally, the kids knew that. But it’s also on the typewriter, that dinosaur of office equipment which most kids have only seen in pictures. Of course, QWERTY is on smartphones, too, everyone knows that, certainly kids do. It’s everywhere there’s a keyboard, QWERTY, that is.
QWERTY is the name of the standard layout of keyboard letters developed by the inventors of the typewriter and refined by the engineering staff of the typewriter manufacturer, the Remington Company. What was developed and improved in the late 1800s is the same keyboard layout we use today. It’s everywhere.
When Wednesday came about, we talked more about the Remington Company, still a major employer in the Mohawk Valley small town of Ilion, NY. While Remington didn’t invent the typewriter, it bought the rights to manufacture it and still operates in the same location today, manufacturing long guns for hunters and recreational shooting.
Finally, Thursday arrived and we put a bow on the week’s topic with the word UBIQUITOUS. How nicely it tied in with the discussion of the typewriter, because unlike that monstrous machine which was last manufactured in the US in 2004, the QWERTY layout still exists and its UBIQUITOUS, it’s everywhere.
We started with a simple question and one thing lead to another. That’s how it works with kids who are interested, at least for the one minute I have their attention. It was almost as though I had planned it.
Friday? Well, I gave them a minute off from thinking…
What’s next, maybe Velcro…
*The sidewalk spot where kids wait to cross a 4 lane highway on their way bto school. I am the crossing guard.