and a seed is planted. I don't know that I would ever take this any further, but it is exhilarating to have my mind tumble in a new direction.
What kind of random things have been making you think 'What if....?'"
Since you asked what kinds of things make my mind ask, "What if?" I'll say that many of my own science and math picture books are based on "What if?" questions that I asked, going back to childhood:
"What if I could ride my bike to the Sun -- how long would it take?"
"How about if I rode to the distant stars?"
"What if I could ride to the end of the Universe? What would I find there? Would there be a wall with a sign: "END OF UNIVERSE--DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT"? (I really do remember imagining that sign, not because I really thought it could exist but as a way of expressing the mind-boggled feeling I got from contemplating the idea of a finite universe.)
"What if I could hop like a frog? How far could I go in proportion to my own body size?"
"What if someone filled an Olympic-size swimming pool with ice cream and I dived in--how long would it take me to eat my way through the pool?"
"If I grew to the height of a redwood tree, how high would a basketball hoop be if it elevated proportionally?"
And so on. In various ways, these musings ended up becoming books.
When I visit schools, the kids' top three questions are:
1) How old are you? (Teachers always say, "No, don't ask that question!")
2) How much money do you make? (Teachers say, "No, no! Never ask that question!")
3) Where do you get your ideas? (Teachers say, "That's a good question!")
I answer the first question by telling them what year I was born. (I don't mind if they know how old I am. How else will they learn what a 59-year old looks like compared to a 29-year old?) I answer the second question by telling them how much (little) I make on the sale of one book. And I answer the third question by telling children I get many of the ideas for my books from questions I asked when I was their age, and that they will get plenty of great ideas themselves if they wonder about the world. In other words, if they ask questions like, "What if?"
I also point out that I wrote about my love for the word "if" in my math alphabet book, G Is for Googol, under the letter "I" which, in my book, is for "If." With the word "if," I tell readers, you can imagine anything and sometimes you can use math to figure out what would happen if it were true.
What if we started a nationwide discussion on what to do about it? My two cents: more wondering, not more testing.