Student Journals

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When you join our Student Ambassadors on a journey through Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, you’ll quickly understand what it’s like to have compound vision.

That’s because you’ll see China’s people and places and culture through seven sets of eyes, each looking at things from a little different angle, each seeing different parts of the same whole, each in wide-open wonder as they experience it all for the first time.

Best of all, these intrepid virtual tour guides are students just like you, sharing your interests, enthusiasm and curiosity. You won’t learn from them as much as you’ll learn with them.

Each Student Ambassador writes a daily journal on a topic of special interest to them, bringing their own passion and perspective to the mix and supplementing the reports with photos and videos.

Read their daily journals starting October 24 and follow their live coverage from China beginning November 11.

Each daily report includes questions developed by the Department of Education to help kick-start discussions among friends and classmates.

Start now by reading the students’ biographies, reviewing the research activities, and visiting the Explore More section for short stories about China in each of the subject areas

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For Teachers

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For Teachers

Welcome K-12 Teachers, Students, and Parents! 

Everything in this For Teacher’s section is designed just for you.

Everything in this teaching area is designed specifically for K-12 teachers using the Minnesota-China Connection project in their classrooms. Here you will find information to support your use of the Minnesota-China Connection project with your students. The project is designed to demonstrate effective integration of technology tools, curriculum alignment with Minnesota Academic Standards, and the exciting potential of technology to help make connections to skills, concepts, peoples and nations.

Rather than having the project be an “add-on” to your busy classroom life, suggested learning activities, many of which are aligned with Minnesota Academic Standards, have been designed for you to integrate the Minnesota-China Connection project within the real work of your classroom.

Do you want some help getting started?

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Follow the Mission

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Join Governor Tim Pawlenty and our seven “Student Ambassadors” as they travel to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong on November 11 to 19.

They’re traveling with 200 Minnesota business, education and government leaders to promote all aspects of our state’s relationship with China.

In the weeks leading up to the historic mission, several videoconferences were held with students across the state. Governor Pawlenty fielded their questions in this videoconference, two days before the mission began.

Now that the mission is underway, be sure to check out the daily journals of our Student Ambassadors as they embark on their exciting and fast-paced adventure in China.

Once the mission is underway, you’ll be able to follow the Student Ambassadors daily on their exciting and fast-paced adventure in China.

Let them be your eyes and ears and come along for the ride.

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Explore More

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We are separated by oceans and mountain ranges and deserts and forests, by hemispheres of East and West, by thousands of miles and thousands of years, by different customs and different tongues, by science and philosophy, by flags and ideology, by our view of the world and our places in it.

We are separated by so many things.…Yet we are friends.

We are Minnesota and China, places and people worlds apart but still drawn together by our common humanity, our common needs and problems, our common thirst for knowledge, our common hopes and dreams – and our uncommon friendship that began more than a century ago.

Here in Explore More, you can learn a little about the things that make China distinct and get some good ideas about where to look if you want a deeper, broader view. You can also learn about the long relationship and the bonds that have joined Minnesota and China through the years.

From history to agriculture to economics to science to art and culture, there’s a little something to satisfy every curious mind. So, grab your pith helmet and hiking boots and get ready to Explore More. You may even discover along the way that despite our differences, we’re not so different after all and the most important thing we share is the future.

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Education

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Minnesota-China Connection is your first-class ticket for a whirlwind educational trip to China – without leaving home.

Seven “Student Ambassadors” traveled with Governor Tim Pawlenty on a historic trade mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong November 11 through November 19, 2005. These high school seniors brought you the sights, sounds and their discoveries in China every day through journals, photos and videos. Upon their return to Minnesota, they each filed a “wrap-up” journal, summarizing their experiences, thoughts, and feelings after their busy week in China.

They also sent a daily vote and mystery photo from China


Vote Results
 – Check out the opinions of the voters as they helped guide the Student Ambassadors during the mission.

Teachers, be sure to check out the innovative, engaging learning activities designed especially for classroom use by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Parents, you can share this learning adventure with your kids. See some tips on using this site with your family.

This Web site is brought to you by the State of Minnesota and the Best Buy Children’s Foundation, which supports interactive technology projects to make learning fun.

 

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Great Minnesota Innovations

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The Land of 10,000 Innovations
A Timeline of Minnesota’s Inventive History

Going With Your Gut

Few things hold a teenager’s attention like food, so let’s start with the stomach. Here are some food-related firsts:

1859 – Winter-hardy alfalfa. Farmer Wendelin Grimm developed a strain that could withstand Minnesota’s cold winters.

1912 – Handled grocery bag. St. Paul Grocer Walter Deubener came up with the idea.

1919 – Pop-up toaster. Stillwater mechanic Charles Strite invented the Toastmaster, a brand still produced today.

1922 – Haralson apple. Developed by F.B. Haralson at the University of Minnesota.

1923 – Milky Way candy bar. Candy maker Frank C. Mars invented the gooey treat in Minneapolis.

1925 – The Green Giant. The well-known mascot of the Minnesota Valley Canning Company in Le Suer made his first appearance.

1926 – Canned Ham. The first product of its kind in the United States was produced by Hormel.

1931 – Bisquick. The first premixed biscuit mix was produced by General Mills.

1947 – Packaged cake mix. Betty Crocker’s Ginger Cake, the first product of its kind, was produced by General Mills.

1951 – Turkey roll. Willmar-based Jennie-O for this poultry loaf.

1979 – Crisp-crust frozen pizza. Restaurateur Rose Totino patented frozen pizza dough.

A Whole Lotta Fun Stuff

Over the years, Minnesota inventors and companies have given the world a whole lot of fun.

1922 – Water skis. The brainchild of a bored Ralph Samuelson, who fashioned skis out of two 8-foot pine boards.

1947 – Tonka trucks. Founded by a group of schoolteachers, the Mound Metalcraft Company (which later took the name Tonka) manufactured some of the nation’s most popular toys.

1948 – Cootie. Was one of several games (Don’t Spill the Beans, Ants in the Pants and Don’t Break the Ice) created by postman Herb Schaper.

1962 – Front-engine snowmobile. Ed Hetteen, founder of Polaris and Arctic Enterprises, gave the Arctic Cat its snow claws.

1964-ish – Twister. Originated in St. Paul at a company called Reynolds Guyer House of Design.

1969 – Nerf ball. The famous indoor-safe foam ball was invented by Reyn Guyer.

1980 – Rollerblades. Collegiate hockey player Scott Olson came up with the idea as a way to practice in the summer.

1993 – Magnetic poetry. Aspiring poet Dave Kapell invented the word magnets to help him write.

Medical Marvels and Breakthroughs

There’s really no way to count all the lives that have been saved by the inventions and discoveries of Minnesota’s world-class medical inventors and researchers.

1931 – Wangensteen suction tube. Created by Dr. Owen H. Wangensteen at the University of Minnesota. The device removes deadly gas and fluid buildup during abdominal surgery.

1948 – Cortisone. Nobel Prize-winning researchers Dr. Edward Kendall and Dr. Philip Hench developed this anti-inflammatory “wonder drug” that is widely used today.

1952 – Open-heart Surgery. Surgeons C. Walton Lillehei and F. John Lewis performed the first successful open-heart surgery on a five-year-old girl.

1955 – Blood pump. Dr. Richard DeWall and C. Walter Lillehei made surgery safer with this device that puts oxygen into a patient’s blood during open-heart surgery.

1955 – In-ear hearing aid. Minnesota firm Dalhberg, Inc., was the first firm to market the device.

1957 – Pacemaker. Working in his garage, electrical engineer Earl Bakken developed the implantable pacemaker and started the world-renowned company today known as Medtronic.

1960s – Mechanical heart valve. C. Walton Lillehei helped design two valves that are still in use today.

1960s – Anesthesia monitor. Physicist Alfred Nier and others developed this operating room technology.

1966-68 – Organ transplants. The first pancreas transplant, and the first successful kidney and bone marrow transplants were done at the University of Minnesota.

1996 – Transgenic mouse. Hoping to give researchers a tool to help understand the development of Alzheimer’s disease research, neurologist Dr. Karen Hsaio Ashe bred a mouse genetically disposed to inherit the disease.

1998 – Ziagen. Chemist Robert Vance developed the compounds that led to this medication for treating HIV/AIDS.

2001 – Anthrax test. The Mayo Clinic developed this DNA test, which can detect anthrax in less than an hour.

Gizmos and Technological Wonders

Minnesota companies have not only made life easier with technology. In many cases they’ve revolutionized it.

1865 to 1881 – Milling innovations. Gradual reduction milling and the invention of the automatic roller mill increase production from red spring wheat. Pillsbury builds the world’s largest flour mill.

1885 – Furnace thermostat. Inventor Albert Butz’s heating control device was the birth Honeywell.

1888 – The union suit. Not really a technological wonder. But when winter rolls around, thank heavens for this full-body set of long underwear.

1899 – Concrete grain elevator. Constructed by the Peavey grain company, became an industry standard.

1921 – Wet/dry sandpaper. 3M’s improvement on basic sandpaper.

1925 – Masking tape. 3M inventor Dick Drew developed the only slightly-sticky tape for use in auto body shops.

1926 – Closed-cabin aircraft. Northwest Airways debuted the nations’ first closed-cabin commercial plane, a three-passenger craft.

1940 – Uranium separation. Physicist Alfred Nier helped develop the atomic bomb by separating uranium isotopes 235 and 238.

1942 – Electronic autopilot. This Honeywell invention helped guide World War II bombers.

1947 – Magnetic recording tape. Developed by 3M, it became the industry standard.

1951 – Walk-behind snow blower. Thank Minnesota’s Toro for helping homeowners clear their drifted driveways every winter.

1952 – Computer tape. Another 3M innovation.

1952 – First scientific computer. Known as ERA 1103, also known as the Univac 1103, this computer was developed by St. Paul-based Engineering Research Associates.

1953 – Data flight recorder. More commonly known as the “black box,” this aviation innovation was a product of General Mills.

1955 – Taconite process. Edwin W. Davis’s taconite pellet process allowed for the use of lower-grade iron ore and breathed new life into Minnesota’s iron range.

1960s – Ring laser gyroscope. Designed by Honeywell, this invention stabilizes and helps guide airplanes, rockets, submarines and spacecraft.

1962 – ALVIN. The world’s first deep-sea submarine. Developed by General Mills’ Mechanical Division, it explored the wreck if the Titanic.

1963 – Retractable seat belt. Engineer James Ryan developed this restraint that self-tightens during a crash.

1964 – Supercomputer. Developed by Control Data Corporation, this fast-thinking machine was used by the government to simulate nuclear explosions, break codes, and ponder many other complex problems.

1970s – Tissue culture technology. Ronald L. Phillips and a research team at the University of Minnesota paved the way for genetic engineering of crops when they regenerated whole corn plants from a tissue sample.

1976 – CRAY-1 supercomputer. Designed by computer genius Seymour Cray.

1980 – Post-it Notes. 3M’s Art Fry invented the sticky yellow pieces of paper we just can’t live without.

1990 – Gopher Internet portal. The first software for navigating the Internet, created at the University of Minnesota.

1994 – Polylactic acid polymer. Scientist Patrick Gruber figured out how to produce this biodegradable plastic polymer derived from corn. It’s used to make all kinds of environmentally friendly plastic products that can breakdown.

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Chinese Gift-Giving Etiquette

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You may think that the beautifully wrapped box you’re about to present to your host is a thoughtful gesture, something that will be appreciated, perhaps even cherished. But under the right circumstances, your gift may, in fact, may be an insult tied up in a bow.

In China, as in Minnesota, gifts are often given to express gratitude or friendship or hospitality. It’s a common courtesy observed in many cultures.

However, in a business setting, gift giving is generally frowned upon as a suggestion of bribery. Though this is not always the case, it’s important to be proper and properly sensitive when choosing to give a gift in a business context.

For thousands of years, Chinese people have believed that courtesy demands reciprocity, meaning that well-mannered people return favors and kindness. Whenever someone receives a present, treat or invitation from a friend, they will try to offer one back on a suitable occasion. This customary reciprocity is considered necessary to build friendship between people.

Suitable occasions to give gifts include birthdays or wedding days, or for a special holiday or party. Often gifts are also given as a way of saying thank you. Just as anywhere else in the world, what you give depends on how well you know the recipient. And the ideal gift needn’t be big or expensive. It should, however, be something that the recipient would appreciate.

General Gift Giving Tips

Here are some general rules for giving gifts in a Chinese way:

1. Give gifts to people you visit, as a way to thank them for inviting you.

2. When giving a “visiting” gift, find something the whole family can use. For example, give food or tea. Or, give something that is important in your home country or community. For example, you might give wild rice from Minnesota or a framed photo of your family.

3. In China, tradition dictates that the recipient not appear greedy. Therefore, he or she will often decline a gift two or three times before accepting. If you’re the giver, offer again until it is accepted after the third time. At the same time, especially in business, your gift may be absolutely refused, so don’t press beyond several refusals.

4. Don’t be offended if the person does not open the gift in front of you. Chinese people do not usually open a gift in front of the giver. It might embarrass them. They will open it later, then call or write to thank the person for the gift.

5. Wrap the gift well. Do not leave the gift in the store’s bag. Use colored ribbons to wrap a gift using these colors:

  • Red for general and happy occasions
  • Black and white for funerals
  • Gold and silver for wedding gifts

Business Gifts

1. In business, show sensitivity to people’s status. Give the same type of gift to people at the same level. Or present a gift to a company or organization instead of one person. Giving a gift only to an individual is not acceptable unless it is being given in private as a gesture of friendship.

2. Be sure the value of the gift is not extravagant.

3. Unless it’s a symbolic event, don’t photograph the event of giving a gift.

4. If negotiations are involved, gifts should be presented once they are finished.

Receiving Gifts

Here are some general rules for receiving gifts in a Chinese way:

1. Gifts should be received with both hands when presented to you.

2. Chinese people who have had contact with Americans or other Westerners might expect you to follow the American custom of opening the gift in front of the giver. To avoid confusion, you can always ask, “Would you like me to open this now?”

3. Call or send a thank-you note. And, if possible, offer a gift back on a suitable occasion.

Factoids:

If you’re giving a pen, or signing a card, stay away from red ink. That is a symbol of severing ties. Clocks can symbolize death, and food can connote poverty.

The number 8 is considered lucky, so giving or receiving 8 items is a good thing. Just avoid the number four, which in Cantonese, is a lot like the word for death.

Still Curious?

About.com
www.chineseculture.about.com
Links to articles on Chinese business culture

Executive Planet
www.executiveplanet.com
Tips geared to business gift giving etiquette

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Chinese Footbinding: Broken Lotus

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A small foot on a woman is a beautiful woman, says ancient Chinese tradition. The practice of Chinese footbinding saw women’s feet broken and curled into 3-inch shoes at a tender age. But for what reasons: marriage, status, duty, or beauty?

San tsun gin lian,” “Golden Lotus” or “Lily” – these were the beautiful words used to describe the gruesome practice of footbinding.

Imagine your sister, daughter, or friend – 7 years old – walking, running, and playing. Now take each tender foot, break the arch and the four smaller toes, tightly curl the toes under, and bind them with a long white cloth. Measure it against the three criteria for a perfectly bound foot:

  • Three inches in length.
  • A three-inch deep cleft between the heel and sole;
  • And the appearance that the foot is merely an extension of the leg, not something to ever stand on.

The young girl’s feet remain in these tight cloth bindings and cease to grow.

By today’s standards, the process appears barbaric. But around the collapse of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) when many scholars believe the practice originated, women with bound feet were deemed valuable commodities. One Chinese legend suggests it’s name and origin came from Prince Li Yu during the Tang Dynasty, who saw his concubine dance on her toes like a ballerina inside a six-foot high lotus. Others cite the earliest references to footbinding recorded by Su Shih during the Song Dynasty (960-1270).

But why were women’s feet bound? What was appealing about an entire gender crippled, unable to walk or work properly? And why would mothers willingly subject their daughters to lifelong pain? Debate continues as to whether footbinding was developed solely as a way to dominate women or if it was rooted in aesthetics and tradition.

On one hand, footbinding was a sign of wealth: If you could afford to provide for a woman who was unable to work, your status was clear. In politics, a woman was kept from interfering if she was immobile, and a “kept” woman reflected a powerful man. Mothers would endure binding their daughters’ feet as an investment in the future: The more attractive she could make her daughter, the better marriage prospects she had.

Whatever the origin of the painful process that created them, tiny feet were admired and respected. Dainty feet dressed in silk slippers called Lotus Shoes were considered not only attractive but also regal. Rarely would a man ever see a woman without the white cloth bindings on her feet. He may have known everything about her and saw what every part of her body looked like, but her feet always remained a mystery…

Ironically, had a husband been able to see his wife’s bound feet, he would have seen that the dainty, ornate Lotus Shoes that she wore concealed feet that were grotesquely deformed and far from beautiful.

In 1998, the last factory in China to manufacture Lotus Shoes for women with bound feet ceased production. The Zhiqiang Shoe Factory in Harbin (the capital of China’s Heilongjiang Province) began making the shoes in 1991 to fill a niche market.

In remote mountainous areas of China, women still had their feet bound as late as 1949, and there are women alive today with bound feet.

Factoids:

Mothers bound their daughter’s feet as early as two years old.

Children’s feet are composed primarily of pre-bone cartilage (mostly water), which made them easier to re-shape

Still Curious?

www.sfmuseum.org/chin/foot.html
Information and photos from the Museum of the City of San Francisco.

www.silcom.com/~bevjack/slippers2.html
History of footbinding.

www.iupjournals.org/jwh/jwh8-4.html
Information from the Journal of Women’s History.

www.ucsf.edu/daybreak/1997/11/1104_foot.htm
A UCSF study on the prevalence and consequences of footbinding.

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Great Chinese Inventions

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An Inventive History
How Chinese Thinkers and Tinkers Changed the World

Life in 21st Century Minnesota has been greatly shaped by many inventions and innovations that had their birth in ancient China and are still used today all over the world.

If you’ve read a book or newspaper, flown a kite, regained your sense of direction by using a compass, ooohed and aaahed at a fireworks display, worn a soft silk shirt or eaten spaghetti, you’ve encountered a just a few amazing Chinese inventions.

When the Italian merchant Marco Polo visited China during the Song Dynasty in 1271, he found a place far more technologically advanced than anywhere in Western Europe. Here are some of the most important and far-reaching contributions of the Chinese.

Gunpowder and Fireworks

You may think that fireworks are as American as the Fourth of July, but we would not have them without Chinese inventiveness. The first fireworks might have been an accident. Legend tells that a cook discovered the ingredients for black powder, and quickly the Chinese were entertaining themselves with beautiful displays in the night sky.

In the year 1161, the Chinese used explosives for the first time in warfare. And who invented cannons and guns? The Chinese, of course. They also used gunpowder to make primitive flamethrowers and even explosive mines and multiple-stage rockets.

The use of gunpowder in weapons gave those with access to the technology a greater ability to protect themselves from enemies or to conquer and control others. It greatly affected the balance of power in many parts of the world. Chinese firearms, fireworks and gunpowder were popular items of trade along the Silk Route (or Silk Road) to Europe.

Paper, Printing and Publishing

In almost every respect, the Chinese were at the forefront of developing the printed word.

In 105 A.D., Ts’ai Lun invented the process for manufacturing paper, introducing the first use in China. The paper was superior in quality to the baked clay, papyrus and parchment used in other parts of the world.

By 593 A.D., the first printing press was invented in China, and the first printed newspaper was available in Beijing in 700 A.D. It was a woodblock printing. And the Diamond Sutra, the earliest known complete woodblock printed book with illustrations was printed in China in 868 A.D. And Chinese printer Pi Sheng invented movable type in 1041 A.D. Exported to the Western world, it is similar to the technology that German printer Johann Gutenberg used in the 1450s to produce his famous editions of the Bible. And in 1155 A.D., Liu Ching produces first printed map in China.

The impact these inventions had on the educational, political and literary development of the world is simply incalculable.

Agricultural Innovations

Around the Third Century B.C., China produced the moldboard plow for tilling farmland. This ground-buster had a wing-shaped cast-iron blade that turned up the soil more easily and efficiently. Eventually, these plows would revolutionize agriculture in the Western world.

Chinese farmers greatly improved the ability of horses to pull wagons or plows with the “collar harness.” Unlike the “throat harnesses” used in Europe, the collar harness did not choke the animal. When horses breathed easier, they could pull more weight greater distances.

The wheelbarrow is another laborsaving device invented by the Chinese during the First Century B.C. These one-wheeled wonders wouldn’t even exist in Europe before the 11th or 12th Centuries.

Scientific Innovations

When Chinese invented the magnetic compass it was originally a religious device. People believed their homes should face north to be in harmony with nature. So, they used the compass before they built. Later, the compass was used for navigation on land and sea, and there’s no telling how long human progress and discovery would have been delayed without it.

Hoping to help predict oncoming earthquakes, a Chinese scientist and mathematician named Chang Heng invented the world’s first seismograph – in the Second Century A.D.

By 1080 A.D., Chinese scientists were advancing theories that the Earth’s climate had changed over time, based on their studies of plant fossils. Two decades later, they explained the causes of solar and lunar eclipses.

As early as the 2nd Century B.C. there is evidence that Chinese scholars advanced the idea of blood circulation, long before William Harvey “discovered” it in 1628.

The Chinese used the decimal system in the 4th Century B.C. The first evidence of decimals in Europe is in a Spanish manuscript of 976 A.D.

Cast iron made its appearance in China during the 4th Century B.C. It was not widely available in Europe before 1380 A.D.

The Kite

No one knows for certain where the kite originated, but many believe it was invented in China a couple thousand years ago. Many credit the Chinese with the kite because they had bamboo to build the frame and silk to make the sail and flying line. Both materials were strong enough and light enough to fly.

There are many legends about the origins of the kite. One suggests the idea came to a Chinese farmer who tied a string to his hat to keep it from blowing away. Kite maker Kungshu P’an is said to have made bird-shaped kits that could fly for up to three days.

The earliest written account of kite flying was about 200 B.C., when the Chinese General Han Hsin used a kite as a kind of tape measure. He flew it over a walled city he wanted to attack as a way to measure how far his army would have to tunnel underground to enter undetected.

Another story tells of a Chinese general named Huan Theng, who got an idea after a gust of wind swept his hat from his head. One night, the general flew noise-making kites over an enemy camp. The shrieking from the sky so frightened the enemy soldiers that they fled in terror.

Other Chinese legends tell how kites were used to lift observers into the sky to survey a battlefield before fighting began and were used to send messages during wartime.

Kites were introduced to Europe by explorers returning from Asia. Italian merchant Marco Polo carefully documented how kites were built and flown.

Musical Breakthroughs

The Chinese court musician Ling-lun created the first reed instrument, the bamboo pipe, sometime between 3000 and 2501 B.C. By 2500 B.C., Chinese music grew more complex, employing a five-note scale.

Pasta

When you think of pasta, you think of Italy, but it was the Chinese, not the Italians, who used their noodles to invent noodles. The Chinese had been eating pasta for four thousand years. Early European explorers to Asia learned the delicious and nutritious value of noodles during their encounters with the Chinese. They quickly brought back the taste for noodles to the cooks of their homeland.

The Fortune Cookie

Gotcha! That clairvoyant sweet served in many Asian restaurants in the United States isn’t a Chinese invention at all. The fortune cookie was invented by an American advertising company. While the Chinese have lots of proverbs, they don’t keep them tucked into cookies wrapped in clear plastic!

Factoids:

The abacus was a great invention in ancient China and has been called the world’s first calculator.

The sciences of astronomy, physics, chemistry, meteorology, seismology, technology, engineering, and mathematics can trace their early origins to China.

Still Curious?

Chinese culture can be credited with several very important inventions. This web site explores many of these inventions. 
http://library.thinkquest.org/23062/frameset.html

Learn about ancient Chinese inventions technology and the history of Chinese inventors.
www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/china/age2.html

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