To ensure a comfortable and productive learning environment, teachers have to put in work to cultivate the right space. And that is no small task if you're surrounded by a crowd of 10-year-olds that are still figuring out emotions and how to socialize.
Faced with that obstacle, an ice breaker can do wonders. A simple enough question that every kid has an answer for is ideal: it empowers everybody to begin engaging with group by talking, but it's low stakes enough to keep the space feeling safe.
But the "fun fact" ice breaker--one of the most common of them all--can backfire. One kid's tidbit can suck every molecule of air out of that room, leaving everyone twice as tense as before. In those cases, any chance at the sought after, ideal array of easy teaching conditions is doomed.
Some teachers of Reddit gathered to share the times it only took one strange kid to throw the ice break right off the rails.
An Incest Scare
"I teach middle school, This one still takes the cake."
"That his mom and dad have the same parents. I asked him to clarify because I didn't understand what he was saying and he said 'I only have one set of grandparents, they had the same parents.'"
"I quickly moved to the next student so no one else would realize that this kid just told the class that his parents were siblings..."
"I talked to him about it the next day in private and he said that he got it mixed up, his parents don't have the exact same parents, they shared a dad..."
"I felt so much better when the mom called me to let me know her elderly step-father married her husband's elderly mother. still weird, but much better."
What a Day
"'My arm is F***ED y'all' in the deepest southern drawl and proceeded to wildly swing his 'f***ed"'up arm around."
"He was 12, had Erb's palsy and also got detention that day."
"He might be one of my fav students"
When the Teacher is the Culprit
"Once we were going around a circle during percussion camp in the front ensemble and my teacher goes 'hello everyone, my name is ____ and I have sh** my pants as an adult.'"
"Definitely one of the weirder ones I've heard."
A Local Celebrity
"Student told me that there is a chapter dedicated to him in a dental surgery textbook because of a very rare disorder that he had as a child. I may still have that essay" -- MadWhiskeyGrin
"My brother had something like this. When he was somewhere around nine or ten years old, he had to have 12 teeth surgically removed. He just had too many growing too quickly."
"It was so crazy that the oral surgeon apparently negotiated a deal with my father: the surgeon will completely pay for my brother's surgery....in exchange for taking a couple extra x-rays and lots and lots of photos (to be published in an academic journal of some sort)." -- Random-Rambling
When Studying is Life and Death
"During french class, A guy in my class said that he liked stabbing children. He meant that he fences but didn't know the exact translation for that." -- Muffin141
"I love the French class fun facts. In a beginner French class, I had to accidentally come out to the class when I was asked whether I had a spouse. "Je suis une lesbianne." It was awkward." -- Lulu_42
Sounds Like a Lawsuit
"Kid in my kindergarten class said 'My peepee fell off at Disneyland.' I didn't ask any follow up questions" -- HEYYMCFLYY
"Maybe it's like those lizards who can drop/subsequently regrow their tails to escape predators..." -- khalfrodo34
"I know exactly what this kid is talking about! After my first roller coaster ride as a kid I told my mom it 'made my weenie go away'"
"She looked at me perplexed before she realized I meant the drop gave me butterflies. Apparently they can happen further south as well." -- c_laces
The Nuances of Pronunciation
"I was an ESL teacher in Indonesia and a student once told me every morning she cleaned the sh*t on her bed. I asked her to clarify, worried she had a serious digestive issue."
"She answered: 'I brush my teeth, wash face and clean bed sh*t.' Bed sheet." -- GuruBagus
"Holy sheet." -- netheroth
"It took me a while to learn to pronounce beach and bitch differently." -- Kiloku
Impressive Attunement to Their Emotions, Though
"'My dad clogged the toilet this morning and that's why I'm feeling frustrated' -5 year old child. I will say the question was 'how are you doing this morning?' But I could barely keep from laughing out loud!" -- ModernMissTexas
"I have IBS... My toddler once told visiting friends that 'daddy takes long poops.' I mean, I was having a flare up and had some extended bathroom sessions. But, dang little dude, not cool."
"I'm terrified/amused about what he might share at school in the near future." -- ecodrew
Struttin' His Stuff
"Not a teacher but I just did a first aid course. During introductions, say your name and one fact about yourself, dude says proudly he once had over 300k of UNpaid parking tickets." -- paxtonious
"I hope the Red Cross got paid in advance for his place in class." -- Krombopulos_Amy
"Are they from Philly?" -- megatron8899
"My first guess too. They just make stuff up to see if you'll pay it." -- c_pike1
All You Need to Know
"This guy in my class named Shane has this medical condition that causes him to grow tons of hair at an early age. Full beard in middle school. He would say 'I'm Shane and I'm Very Hairy.'" -- _JazzyJake_
"He could say 'My name is Shane, but friends call me Harry.'" -- Daveinatx
"He missed out on 'I'm Shane with the mane.'" -- waterloograd
That Settles It
"A guy in my class introduced himself by telling us how he decided he wanted to study philosophy because one day he was really high peeing in the street and he saw a couple of people working and he wondered what they were doing."
"So he realized his passion was wondering. He dropped out like 2 months later."
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
You can never have too many random facts in your arsenal. Lord knows how many ice breakers we're going to deal with after the pandemic eases and we have to learn how to socialize all over again.
It could be a tidbit from history, a statistic that puts abstract information into tangible terms, or something gross that animals do.
With so many various kinds of fun facts out there, it's helpful to have a few from different categories. A cocktail parts may not be the best place to bring up the mating methods of an opossum; multiple dorky solar system facts wouldn't go far on every first date.
Reddit has you covered.
TheRebel2187 asked, "What's your favourite random fact?"
That's a Lotta Planes
"There were more planes destroyed in World War II than there are planes on Earth today." -- Ballisnotlife0
"WW2 was on a whole other level of insanity." -- Sr-71TopGun
"Well that's because most planes are in the air, dummy." -- anooblol
And You Thought the Fun Stopped With the Pee Smell
"Asparagus grows so quickly during the spring (up to 10" in one 24 hour period, or almost half an inch per hour) that you could literally sit and watch it grow were you so inclined (or that bored)." -- panadolxtra1
Growing and Growing and Growing
"Lobsters can't die of old age and they continue to grow until attack or disease kills them. They would be f***ing unstoppable if not for their natural predators, New Englanders." -- swervefire
"There was a vet college at my university that had a lobster that was almost 100 years old I believe. It was gnarly, and gigantic." -- CeeArthur
Russia is Big
"Norway and North Korea are separated by one country." -- tunajoe74
"Noooowaaaay." -- Khibeauo
"Ok I am from Norway and now I am scared of an invasion or something." -- rSunfall
"Slugs like to eat rat poison. It's like candy to them and it isn't poisonous to them." -- JpeNSurf
"Depending on the type of poison, rat poison is just Coumadin, a common blood thinner used in medicine." -- ScroteMcGoate
"Slugs also LOVE beer. I use it to control them in my garden. Just fill the cup with 3/4 of beer and put it in a hole in the garden. Next morning the cup will be full of them. Probably got drunk and fell in there." -- lechi1980
Pump it Up to 11!
"In the production of the 2014 Godzilla movie the sound designers played Godzilla's roar through a whole lot of concert speakers and they got noise complaints from 3 miles away about people thinking there was an earthquake."
Lemurs Gettin' Weird
"So certain millipedes secrete cyanide as a protective mechanism to kill predators. However lemurs are immune to this lethal effect and instead intentionally provoke millipedes to get them to excrete cyanide."
"The lemurs do this because instead of killing them, the cyanide produced by the millipedes gets them high (and I think they can also use it as insect repellent)."
"Alexander the great once built a permanent bridge to an island just because he was upset when they laughed at his offer for surrender on their part because he couldn't get there." -- Zachfulger
"The ultimate flex." -- younghibou
"I believe they also insulted his mother, though i could be wrong." -- dullday1
Claims to Significance
"You might be drinking water older than the solar system." -- FeatheredAamon
"You might be older than the solar system, your particles at least." -- RandersTheLonely
"Everyone in the world has held the title of being the youngest person in the world." -- Joeldaking17
Heck of a Start
"The Muppets singing bohemian rhapsody was the first 1080p video on YouTube." -- Arctinius
"What a great way to kickoff high definition!" -- Slates77
"Apparently, the Muppets were also 11 years ahead of the curve with video conferencing." -- nalgazz
The Great Fuse
" 'Once the male finds a suitable mate, he bites into her belly and latches on until his body fuses with hers. Their skin joins together, and so do their blood vessels, which allows the male to take all the nutrients he needs from his host/mate's blood. The two fish essentially become one.' "
"The male fish becomes a ball sack on the female body."
In the Bag
"The phrase "hands down" comes from horseracing and refers to a jockey who is so far ahead that he can afford drop his hands and loosen the reins (usually kept tight to encourage a horse to run) and still easily win." -- -eDgAR-
"This is hands down my favorite" -- Weclip
An Extremely Old Planet Earth
"In terms of time, Cleopatra lived closer to us than she did to the building of the pyramids. Also woolly mammoths still roamed the earth when the pyramids were built, crazy." -- spliffwizard
"There's a similar one with T-Rex and Stegosaurus. Dinosaurs spanned millions of years and different species came and went in that time, they didn't all coexist at the same time and then vanish simultaneously."
"T-Rex lived closer in time to us than it did to the Stegosaurus." -- sharrrper
"There used to be three staple seasonings for tables in ye olden days, salt, pepper and nobody knows, table sets from back then have been found with 3 containers consistently but no one ever bothered to write down what was in the 3rd one bc?"
"Common knowledge right? What idiot wouldn't know what to put in the third container? Us apparently. Just another random bit of knowledge lost through the ages."
"Dolphins rape sharks. And cows kill more people every year than sharks." -- irlyamkinnay
"It's worse than that: gay dolphins gang rape males from other species of dolphin. Also, they have been known to attempt to f*** the victim's blowhole." -- TelescopiumHerscheli
"More people get bitten by strangers in the city of New York than by sharks every year." -- civicmon
Extra Long Genes
"There is approximately 2 meters of DNA packed into the average human cell. That means there is approximately 20,000,000,000 kilometers of DNA in the average adult human body, conservatively estimating 1013 cells in the body."
"For reference, that is ~66 roundtrips between Earth and the Sun."
A Young Human Race
"I will always mention this, whenever someone asks for a random fact. It blows my mind."
"Considering an average person gives birth to an offspring at the age of 25, in a 100 year period, that is 4 generations."
"So, if you consider from 0 CE to 2020CE, it is just 80 mother's down the line."
"Even more interesting is, if we consider that the earliest known humans that roamed the planet, were around 10000 BCE, it is only around 480 mothers later, we are a strong 7 billion."
An Extremely Sad Fact About Whales
"Its not my favorite but I just learned this today...."
"Whales don't die of old age. They just become weaker and weaker until they do not have the strength to pull themselves up to the surface. From there, they drown to death ;("
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
History is an overwhelmingly broad realm of study. Collecting all of the formative events, by all the influential people, in all of the places in the world--and their interactions--is an insurmountable project.
And that is to say nothing of the minor quirks that, while influential in a niche area of the human story, rarely get much real estate in history text books or discussions.
The task offers internet crowd sourcing a time to shine. One Reddit thread became a common space to collect all those minute happenings from all of time.
The forum assembled a trove of off-hand remarks from teachers, stray paragraphs when a history book author had a little fun, and the commonly omitted marginalized perspectives.
Negative-Pie asked, "What are some history facts that few people know?"
"It's an Honor to Mow for You, Sir"
"Harry Truman was the first US president to have secret service protection after his presidency. He wasn't happy about it and had them do his yard work so they weren't just sitting around doing nothing."
"He was also known to sneak away and go to the bank and by the time they realized he was gone he was on his way back home."
"Mexico City is technically an artificial island. It was built by filling up a lake with dirt to create an island, and then making a city on top of that. The Spaniards then built a city on top of that city."
"This is why the earthquakes are so severe, because the soil is basically the shlurpy stuff at the bottom of a lake."
Glad That Stopped Early
"The Soviets trained dogs strapped with Bombs to run under tanks in WWII. The Soviets mistakenly trained them on their own tanks which run on diesel whereas the German tanks ran on gasoline."
"When they field tested the dogs they ran under their own tanks and that ended that insane piece of history."
It's All About Appearances
"The Netherlands has a city or town named Turkey. The story behind it is that way back in the day Spain claimed to go to war with the Netherlands. The Netherlands not being that powerful asked the Ottoman Empire for their support."
"The Ottoman empire gave the Netherlands one Ottoman flag and one soldier uniform and told them to have someone walk around in that with the flag near it's shores for the Spaniards to see as they arrive (cause they told the Netherlands that they'd attack from sea)."
"The Ottoman empire also sent a message to the king or duke of Spain (idk who the leader was and what he was called at the time) stating that the Netherlands is under their protection and so attacking them ment declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, as the fleet saw the soldier uniform and flag, and got word of the letter they fled before a single shot even occurred."
"As a thanks they named a city after the empire and as the empire then became Turkey of today they change the name of the city too. Not many people know this and I mention it as often as I can when a Dutch person badmouths the Ottomans."
*Very* Influential Figure
"A lot of people know that during the crusades of Ghengis Khan, he wiped out 10% of the worlds population. What many don't know is that he and his army sexually assaulted so many women and had so many babies that the 10% was actually restored."
"This is the reason that a decent percentage of East Asian people descended from Ghengis Khan (and his army)."
"French fries are from Belgium."
"Fortune cookies are from San Francisco."
"Danishes are from Austria."
"Salmon sushi is from Norway."
"During the 1936 Olympics games. Haiti and Lichtenstein both came in with the exact same flag which was blue on top and red in bottom. Up until now both countries weren't aware that they both had the same flag."
"So to stop confusion between the two countries, Lichtenstein added a crown to their flag while Haiti put a white square with their coat of arms inside."
Can't Imagine a Car Chase
"The first car made available to to general public (not just rich people) was the Ford Model T. It was mass produced, keeping it cheap enough for the average working man (and in the process perfecting the assembly line), and it's why everyone has a car nowadays, when it used to be a luxury."
"The catch? Every single Model T was painted black because black was the cheapest paint that dried fastest, so they could get Model Ts off the line faster."
"Every. Single. Car."
"Part of why other car manufacturers eventually became more popular was because they offered a color OTHER than black."
Dairy Is Not a Given
"It's reported that one of the many reasons the Vikings were driven out of what is now Canada was the inadvertent poisoning of many of the Native people by trading dairy with them, which they could not digest due to cattle not yet being introduced to North America."
How to Spin Violence
"Maybe not super niche, but I'm sure most people have not thought of it in this way."
"The bikini became a brilliant marketing strategy for the US military to deflect from the impact of it's nuclear testing. The very first bikini was named after the nuclear testing in Bikini Atol, that devastated the island chain and displaced its indigenous people."
"The London Symphony Orchestra was originally booked to perform on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, but they ended up on another boat at the last minute."
"That surely would have been worse than London Bridge falling down!"
A Rare Unity
"May 5, 1945. Battle of Castle Itter. I believe French POWs were being held in that castle, it was a few days after Hitler's suicide."
"The United States and Defected German Soldiers fought alongside each other against the SS into defending the castle. The only time in the war were 2 opponents turned friendly."
History's Back Room Deals
"The Boston Tea Party wasn't about taxes, it was about blocking free trade. The East India Company had previously been prohibited from selling directly to the colonies, they had to go through middlemen first."
"The Tea Act removed that restriction which cut the price of tea in half. This was bad for American smugglers, like Sam Adams, who were importing tea from France and Spain."
Every Coin is a Portrait
"The eagle on U.S. coinage has a name; Peter."
"In the 1830's the mint in Philadelphia was very rural. The eagle would watch the minting of coins and hung out in the open windows of the mint."
"One day he suddenly flew into one of the presses and was mortally wounded. He later died and was stuffed and placed in the mint as a sort of mascot. He was later used as a model for the eagle on coinage."
"President Abraham Lincoln is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Before he was president, Abraham Lincoln was declared a wrestling champion. The 6'4" president had only one loss among his around 300 contests."
"He earned a reputation for this in New Salem, Illinois, as an elite fighter. Eventually, he earned his county's wrestling championship."
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk to him about it.
You ever read something on the internet and think, "well that can't be real"? Sometimes there are facts that are so outlandish that you can't believe that they're true. The real world is a very strange place, and thanks to the internet, we have access to the weird truths about the world. Here are a few examples.
u/XNTOL asked: What fact sounds fake at first but is actually real?
How do you even figure that out?
The day Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire was the exact middle of his life, to the day.
Talk about a mid-life crisis. I'll see myself out.
A Russian luxury SUV Manufacturer attempted and failed to use whale penis skin for their SUV interiors.
It is estimated viruses kill about 50% of ocean biomass every 4 days.
99.9% of which is bacteria and single-celled plants and animals, just in case anyone's thinking "wow what do they do with all the dead whales".
Iran arrested 14 squirrels on suspicion of espionage.
Some other African country arrested someone for murdering a human in hyena form.
When compasses were first used on ships, sailors were afraid of them because they thought it had evil powers. Compasses were stored in boxes called a "binnacle".
That's funny. My husband was asking me, "How do you say compass in Spanish?" to which I replied, brújula. He was like, "Brújula? That sounds like bruja, a witch." The name makes sense if they were thought to have evil powers/brujería/witchcraft.
Why would he eat it?
President Coolidge got sent a raccoon for Thanksgiving one year, but instead of eating it, he granted it a pardon because it was "cute".
Orcas are a natural predator to moose.
Moose swim between islands or from land to islands and orcas annihilate them from below.
I didn't know clouds weighed anything.Giphy
A typical cumulus cloud actually weighs 1.1 million pounds (498,951 kg).
The rare pineapple.
It takes 2 years for a pineapple to grow.
Have a pineapple plant in my yard. Can confirm. It's now Year 4 and it's about to bear 2nd fruit. And you only get one pineapple.
There isn't a single bridge across the Amazon River.
I'm so glad all those bridges across the Amazon River found love.
Possessing an intriguing fact can be a trusty dusty ace in the hole when conversation wavers. A tidbit that manages to surprise while it caters to logical intuition is worth its weight in gold.
Many of them, however, despite being interesting, are complete nonsense and they came from God knows where.
This Reddit thread is stocked with the vigilantes of the fun fact. They've adopted the thankless, but important role of setting the record straight.
The result is a list of deflating revelations. But arguably, these corrections carry as much, if not more interest than the original *incorrect* facts themselves.
Ryrylx asked, "What's a common 'fact' that's actually incorrect?"
Bring a Shield and it's Safe and Sound
"It's not dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. They won't have a heart attack or be put into a coma. They'll just be confused and it won't be pleasant for them, that's it." -- calathea1
"And depending on what kind of dream they're in, they might hit you." -- Fantastic-Mrs-Fox
Gotta Cut Corners Somewhere
"The beverage used by Jim Jones to kill all of those people was not Kool-aid, it was another brand called 'Flavor-aid.' " -- FloralBison
"When you're making enough fruit-flavored beverage to serve a thousand people, the savings from using a generic brand can really add up." -- brberg
Better Odds, but Still Bad
"Gladiator games in ancient Rome were not 'two men go in, one comes out.'"
"The figure I've seen in most studies is a chance of 1:9 for a gladiator to die during a munus that he took part in."
"That's huge, of course... but still means that, in most cases, it wasn't a fight to the death."
Work Smarter, Not Harder
"You most probably weren't the fastest sperm cell. The egg has an outer protective layer that takes several sperm to wear down before fertilization."
"Honestly, you were probably one of the slowest sperm cells who arrived too late to do any work but still won the race of life."
"Also, the egg actually has a number of chemical barriers that select sperm with certain attractive chemical markers. The egg actually chooses which packet of DNA makes it to fertilization."
Don't Flatter Yourselves
"Humans eat 8 spiders a year in their sleep."
"Spiders generally like cool, dry places. The inside of your mouth is not an appealing place for them."
Brian Power--About Three AA Batteries
"'We only use 10% of our brainpower.'"
"You always use 12 watts. That is the total power of the brain." -- DjDisingenius
"This is why you never hear doctors saying, 'Thank god, he got shot in the 90% of the brain that doesn't do anything.'" -- Kakyoins_Egg
"'Breakfast is the most important meal of the day...'"
"Kelloggs payed researchers to create studies confirming that statement and started using it as a slogan to sell more cereal."
Standard Measurement Strikes Again
"Napoleon wasn't short, he was actually 5'7" which was considered average-to-tall height for the time."
"Apparently the only way we can surmise that the urban legend started that he was short was because of the difference between English and French Imperial units, which led to his height seeming small by British figures."
And How do you Account for the Lungs Hmmmm?
"That the blood in your body is blue until it hits oxygen." -- StrikingWeb3
"I got onto a debate about this last year and dropped the 'blood literally carry's oxygen through your body' and they shut up." -- onionswithrubber
Would Have Run Out of Places a LONG Time Ago
"It's commonly said that 'lightning never strikes twice in the same place. In fact, it does - and frequently.'" -- Back2Bach
"Otherwise lightening rods would not be a thing." -- otter_pickles
"Or the one guy that has about 7 lightning strikes in his medical history." -- redbetweenlines
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk him about it.