A Step Back to Today
"Highlights" magazine has been around for a really long time; I remember reading it as a kid. A couple days ago while waiting in a doctor's office, I spied a few editions laying on the children's play area table and decided to walk over and take a look - just for kicks. I expected to find the remembered entertainment items like the Hidden Picture with a dozen or so objects cleverly buried in it to find, Goofus and Gallant demonstrating good manners and cooperation skills, and the Timbertoes family (I never have understood them). Everything is still there just as I remembered.
What I did not remember being there, but was very please to see, were some extremely well-done articles on many topics of science and engineering. Having begun my engineering studies way back in 1976 in the field of architecture, reading the piece on Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" house in Pennsylvania was a welcome distraction while enduring the doctor's waiting room experience. Designed in 1935, it was and still is an engineering marvel. At the time, reinforced concrete construction was just gaining acceptance in the world of large commercial buildings, and Wright exploited the techniques to construct multiple cantilevered platforms that jut out over the waterfalls over which the house is built. Primary structural beams are anchored in the natural boulders surrounding the waterfall.
In the same issue was a story on aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin. Martin was only a short distance behind Orville and Oliver Wright in development of powered flight. Indeed, he sought after and obtained a lot of cooperation from the Wrights. Martin is credited with designing and flying the first successful monoplane. He went on to found Martin Aircraft Company, which has since merged to become part of Lockheed Martin. The article covered both the scientific aspect of his life and the personal side, including the encouragement he received from his sister. Interestingly, the Wrights also received major encouragement from their only sister during their own pursuits.
A different edition had a great article that covered the development of microsensors to detect electrical sparks, while yet another explored the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. The variety of topics was impressive, and the depth of coverage was shallow enough to not discourage young readers, while deep enough to keep me enthusiastically searching for new stories to the extent that I was almost disappointed (almost) when Melanie finally emerged from the doctor's examination room an hour after going in. The time spent perusing Highlights actually made the wait tolerable. If you have children in the 5-16 year-old age range, I definitely recommend signing up for a subscription to Highlights - you will probably find yourself reading it, too.