25 Middle Children Who Did Big Things

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

Though children in the middle of the birth order may have a reputation for being "embittered wallflowers," experts have discovered that the stereotype is far from the truth. Instead, middle children tend to be empathetic, independent thinkers who don't feel the need to conform to societal norms. Still not convinced? We'll let these 25 middle children speak for themselves.

1. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Honest Abe had an older sister, Sarah, who was more like a mother to him after their mother died when he was just 9 years old. He also had a younger brother, Thomas, who died at three days old. Sadly, Sarah and her infant died due to childbirth complications when she was just 20.

2. WARREN BUFFETT

An older man (financial guru Warren Buffett) in a suit, a red tie, and glasses has his leg crossed at the knee and is smiling slightly.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The financial guru also known as the Oracle of Omaha is sandwiched between two sisters: Doris and Roberta. Doris now heads the Sunshine Lady Foundation, an organization that provides funding and opportunities for disadvantaged people. Roberta, or “Bertie,” who calls herself the “quiet one,” is also a philanthropist.

3. PRINCESS DIANA

Born Diana Frances Spencer, Princess Diana was the fourth of five children; she had two older sisters and a younger brother. (Another brother lived only a few hours after birth.) Prince Charles actually dated Diana's sister Sarah first, but there were no hard feelings: "I introduced them," Sarah later claimed. "I'm Cupid."

4. DAVID LETTERMAN

A smiling, bearded man (David Letterman) stands on stage wearing a suit and a striped tie.
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Peabody

The former late night host has an older sister, Janice, and a younger sister, Gretchen. Gretchen was a journalist at the Tampa Bay Times for 31 years.

5. BILL GATES

Another success story surrounded by sisters, Gates was born between older sister Kristi and younger sister Libby.

6. PEYTON MANNING

Peyton Manning, wearing a football jersey with a collared shirt underneath, smiles and waves.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

You know about younger brother Eli, also a Super Bowl champ. But Peyton also has an older brother, Cooper, who hosts The Manning Hour on Fox Sports.

7. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

His older sister, Dr. Christine King Farris, was a professor at Spelman College and has written several books. His younger brother, Alfred Daniel, also an activist and pastor, drowned in his home swimming pool just 15 months after King was assassinated in 1968. Alfred was a strong swimmer—his family has since speculated that he was also murdered.

8. BRITNEY SPEARS

A blonde woman (performer Britney Spears) wearing a black choker necklace is smiling directly at the camera.
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Clear Channel

You may know Britney's younger sister Jamie Lynn for her Nickelodeon sitcom Zoey 101 or for her work as a country music singer and songwriter. The Spears sisters also have an older brother, Bryan, who has produced various projects for his family.

9. JOHN F. KENNEDY

As part of the famous Kennedy clan, John was the second of nine children. The first, Joseph Jr., was being groomed for the presidency until he was killed during a WWII mission. JFK's younger siblings were Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Ted.

10. MADONNA

The singer Madonna singing into a microphone on stage, wearing a black drapey costume and holding a black guitar.
Graham Denholm/Getty Images

She has two older brothers, Anthony and Martin, and three younger siblings—Paula, Christopher, and Melanie. Christopher worked closely with his sister for decades, but his 2008 tell-all book caused a rift between them.

11. CHARLES DARWIN

The father of evolution had three older sisters, one older brother, and a younger sister. He was exceptionally close with his brother Erasmus, known affectionately as "Uncle Ras" to Darwin's children.

12. DIANA ROSS

Singer Diana Ross, wearing a formal black dress with sheer sleeves, smiles and lifts her hair back as she stands in front of a  wall emblazoned with Grammy Awards.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Diana, the second of six children, isn’t the only star in the family: Her sister, Barbara, is a rock star in the medical field. Barbara Ross-Lee is known for helping to modernize the way physicians are educated, and has served as the dean of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine as well as Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology.

13. ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Hemingway was the second child of six: Marcelline was a year older than him, Ursula was three years younger, Sunny was five years younger, Carol was 12 years younger, and the baby of the family, Leicester, was 16 years younger. Sadly, Leicester followed in his older brother's footsteps and committed suicide at the age of 67.

14. MICHAEL JORDAN

Basketball player Michael Jordan, wearing a light blue, long-sleeved Carolina Football shirt with the Air Jordan symbol in the middle, sticks his tongue out and smiles in front of a crowd.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The basketball legend is one of five kids: Three older siblings Larry, James, and Deloris, and younger sister Roslyn. According to their father, Larry was the son with the future in basketball—until Michael shot up five inches between his sophomore and junior year of high school. It's said that Michael chose the number 23 because he hoped to be even half as good as his brother, who wore number 45.

15. THEODORE ROOSEVELT

Teddy Roosevelt's older sister, Anna or "Bamie", raised his oldest daughter, Alice, when her mother died shortly after giving birth. Younger brother Elliott was the father of Eleanor Roosevelt, while youngest sister Corinne was a poet and writer.

16. CHARLOTTE AND EMILY BRONTE

A painting of three women with dark, curly hair sitting in a semi-circle and wearing dark, old-fashioned dresses.

National Portrait Gallery // Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Charlotte and Emily are the most well-known Brontës, thanks to their respective novels Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis within six weeks of each other. Younger sister Anne was also a writer who produced work under the male pen name Acton Bell. She died of tuberculosis at age 29. Between Charlotte and Emily was the sole Brontë brother, Branwell, a painter and writer who also died young of—you guessed it—tuberculosis.

17. MICHAEL JACKSON

The King of Pop's older siblings were Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, and Marlon. His younger siblings were Randy and Janet. Brandon, twin to Marlon, was stillborn. All of the Jackson children were musically successful—in addition to the Jackson Five, each of them had at least one hit on the Billboard charts.

18. WALT DISNEY

A black and white photo of Walt Disney wearing a suit coat and smiling up and to the right.
R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images

If you’re a Disney buff or even a casual follower of the Disney company, you probably know Walt’s older brother Roy, who was the financial brain behind Disney operations. Brothers Herbert and Raymond were also older than Walt; his younger sister was named Ruth.

19. MARK TWAIN

He was the sixth of seven children, though only three of his siblings survived to adulthood: Orion, Henry, and Pamela. Sadly, Henry Clemens didn't make it much beyond childhood—he died at age 19 after being badly burned when a boiler exploded on the steamboat Pennsylvania.

20. MARK ZUCKERBERG

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, wearing a dark blue suit and light blue tie, laughs as he stands in front of a pair of microphones.
Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Older sister Randi is the former Director of Market Development for Facebook; she's now the CEO of Zuckerberg Media and working on "a tech-driven pop-up dining experience" for children. He also has two younger sisters, Donna and Arielle.

21. GRACE KELLY

Actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly had two older siblings, Margaret and John Jr., and a younger sister named Elizabeth. John Jr. was a four-time Olympic rower. He gave his bronze medal to Grace as a wedding present when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco.

22. MARTHA STEWART

Martha Stewart, wearing a tan collared shirt, stands in front of a textured background and smiles at the camera.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

The second of six children, Martha brought several family members into her business. Her youngest sister, Laura, ran the day-to-day operations of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, while younger brother George, a contractor, helped remodel her home.

23. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE

Georgia was the second of seven children, three of whom were artists. Sisters Ida and Catherine sometimes exhibited works alongside their famous sister, but Georgia felt that neither of them lived up to their full potential. When Ida died in 1961 at the age of 71, Georgia told her family it was a wasted life.

24. JENNIFER LOPEZ

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez wearing a black, ribbed turtleneck sweater and smiling.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

J. Lo has an older sister, Leslie, and a younger sister, Lynda, who is an award-winning journalist.

25. SUSAN B. ANTHONY

The women's rights leader was the second-oldest of seven children—and nearly all of them were also activists. Brothers Daniel and Merritt worked for the anti-slavery movement. Sister Mary Anthony was also a suffragist and women's rights pioneer.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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17 Odd Things We've Sent to Space for Some Reason

There's a Starman waiting in the sky.
There's a Starman waiting in the sky.

Artifacts, personal and pop cultural totems, and even the dead have made the journey from our planet to the outer reaches of the heavens. We've covered some odd items that have gone to space before; here are 16 more unusual things that took a trip to the cosmos.

1. Human remains

Thanks to Celestis, a company that specializes in booking “memorial spaceflights,” and an agreement with private rocket company SpaceX, the remains of several people who have died have been launched into the great beyond (for a couple of hours, at least). Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's remains were on the inaugural Celestis flight in 1997; his remains took flight again in 2012 with the remains of actor James Doohan, who played Scotty. Astronaut Gordon Cooper’s ashes were also on that flight.

2. A toy dinosaur

In 2020, astronauts aboard SpaceX’s first crewed missions packed an unusual travel companion: a plush dinosaur. During the historic flight, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were accompanied by “Tremor,” a sparkly Apatosaurus. The crews’ sons chose the toy, which acted as a zero-g indicator.

3. Actual dinosaurs

In 1985, astronaut Loren Acton brought small bits of bone and eggshell from the duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum along on a mission on SpaceLab 2. Thirteen years later, the skull of a meat-eating Coelophysis from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History was a passenger on a trip to the Mir space station.

4. A car

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, with Earth in background
Nothing clears the head like a long drive through the stars.

In 2018, Elon Musk took off roading to a whole new level. SpaceX launched a red Tesla Roadster into space as part of the Falcon Heavy rocket’s test flight. “Starman,” a mannequin clad in a spacesuit, sits in the car’s driver’s seat. You can track Starman’s cosmic journey here.

5. Salmonella

Lots of strange things have been brought to space in the name of science—including salmonella. Two shuttle flights to the International Space Station (ISS) contained samples of salmonella to determine how the bacteria would react to low gravity, and the findings were kind of scary. When the salmonella returned to Earth after being in orbit for 12 days on the space shuttle Atlantis, the bacteria became even more virulent. In the first study to examine the effect of space flight on the virulence of a pathogen, the bacteria that had taken a space trip was three times as likely to kill the lab mice as the salmonella that was kept on Earth in as close to similar conditions as possible.

6. Tardigrades

Tardigrades, a.k.a. water bears, became the first animals to survive exposure in outer space. The eight-legged creatures typically spend their days on a moist piece of moss or enjoy feasting on bacteria or plant life at the bottom of a lake, but they survived being frozen at -328°F or heated to more than 300 degrees on their trip to space. The water bears, which typically don’t grow more than 1 millimeter in length, were dehydrated and exposed in space for 10 days by a group of European researchers. Back on Earth and rehydrated, 68 percent of the tardigrades that were shielded from the radiation survived. A handful with no radiation protection not only came back to life, but later produced viable offspring. Excitedly, an “amateur tardigrade enthusiast” theorized the water bears must be extraterrestrial in origin if they can handle such conditions, but that claim has boringly been denied by the Swedish and German scientists, who made up for it by naming their experiment "Tardigrades in space," or TARDIS.

7. Sperm

Without gravity, samples of animal sperm don’t work the way they should. Putting bull sperm in orbit made the tiny cells move faster than usual. Meanwhile, in sea urchin sperm that flew on NASA missions, the process of phosphorylation screeched to a halt when the enzyme known as protein phosphatase didn’t do its job. In 1979, two female rats that went to space became pregnant but didn't carry the fetuses to term, and the males’ testes shrank along with their sperm count. Fortunately (or unfortunately), one creature has been able to reproduce far from our planet: the cockroach.

8. See-through fish (medaka)

Since the medaka’s organs are clearly visible because of its transparent skin, this species of fish was the obvious choice for scientists to test the effects of microgravity on marine life—and to help determine why astronauts suffer from a decrease in bone density while in orbit. Bones naturally break down and rebuild, and osteoclasts help break down bones while they're under construction, as it were. In space, the process gets wonky, which is why astronauts endure two-hour high-intensity exercise routines and take vitamin D supplements. With the medaka’s help, scientists discovered the time-consuming space exercise could be avoided, and by finding the mechanism in bone metabolism, it may lead to the development of an osteoporosis treatment.

9. Soft drinks

Special designed fizzy drinks cans taken aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985
Even astronauts quenched their thirsts with a fizzy treat.
shankar s., Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In 1984, Coca Cola decided it wanted to put the first carbonated beverage on a space shuttle. The company spent $250,000 developing a can that would work without gravity, keep the drink fizzy, and not spill all over the place—even changing some of their formula in the process. After NASA agreed, Pepsi responded by saying it felt left out. NASA then announced that any soft drink manufacturer could participate if they created a viable container. In 1985, four cans of Pepsi and four cans of Coke were on board the Challenger; the day shifters drank Coke, and the night owls consumed the Pepsi. Neither of the sodas were to their liking.

10. Pizza

Pizza Hut wasn’t satisfied with simply being the first company to advertise on a rocket in the year 2000, so one year later it paid the Russian space agency about $1 million to become the first company to deliver a pizza to someone in space. The pizza delivered to cosmonaut Yuri Usachov included a crispy crust, pizza sauce, cheese, and salami (because pepperoni grows moldy over a certain period of time). Extra salt and spices were also added to compensate for the deadening of taste buds from space travel, and it was delivered in a vacuum seal. Usachov gave the pizza a thumbs up.

11. A cheese wheel

A canister containing space cheese
Some truly out-of-this-world cheese.
Chris Thompson/SpaceX, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 2010, SpaceX placed a wheel of Le Brouere cheese on an uncrewed spaceship to honor the classic Monty Python’s Flying Circus cheese shop sketch. To add to the pop culture celebration, SpaceX sealed the cheese wheel in a metal cylinder bearing the image of the film poster from the 1984 Val Kilmer movie Top Secret!. It was claimed to the first cheese to travel to orbit on a commercial spacecraft.

12. A corned beef sandwich

Astronaut John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board the Gemini 3 in 1965. The following exchange was recorded:

Gus Grissom: What is it?
Young: Corn beef sandwich
Grissom: Where did that come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?

The entire incident lasted 30 seconds, with the sandwich only being consumed for 10 of those seconds, before being put back away inside Young’s flight suit.

While legend has it that Yuri Gagarin was accompanied by a homemade salami sandwich in 1961, the Russians had a specialized vacuum kit so they could clean up after eating to prevent any clogging of shuttle equipment. The Americans were just supposed to consume food from tubes, so Young was putting himself somewhat at risk for the five-hour mission. The astronaut got a stern talking to; he later landed on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission.

13. Guns

Unlike astronauts, Soviet cosmonauts went into space locked and loaded, carrying a triple barrel TP-82 capable of 40 gauge shotgun rounds. The heavy duty weapon was deemed necessary after 1965, when cosmonauts landed on Earth and became stranded in the Ural Mountains. The isolated cosmonauts feared the local wolves and bears would attack them. In 2006, the TP-82s were replaced with a standard semi-automatic.

14. Buzz Lightyear

A Buzz Lightyear toy spent 467 days in space, orbiting the Earth on the ISS before having a ticker-tape parade in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom thrown in his honor. The toy’s namesake, Buzz Aldrin, was a special guest.

15. Amelia Earhart’s watch

Amelia Earhart was the first president of an international organization of licensed women pilots called The Ninety-Nines. One member of that group is astronaut Shannon Walker, who in October 2009 was presented with a watch, owned by current group director Joan Kerwin, that Earhart wore during her two trans-Atlantic flights to bring onboard the ISS. Earhart, of course, was the first female trans-Atlantic passenger in 1928, and flew from Newfoundland to Northern Ireland solo on May 20, 1932. She gave her watch to H. Gordon Selfridge Jr., who passed it along to Ninety-Nines charter member Fay Gillis Wells. Kerwin acquired the watch at an auction.

16. A treadmill named after Stephen Colbert

An astronaut using the COLBERT treadmill
European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers using the COLBERT.

Stephen Colbert, as he is wont to do, managed to crash an online contest. He garnered enough write-in votes and technically won the right to name a room at the space station after himself. Though NASA reserved their right to ignore write-in votes, the agency compromised by naming their second-ever model of treadmills after him, dubbing it the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT. The treadmill’s manufacturer nickel-plated the parts, and unlike a standard treadmill, there are elastic straps that fit around a runner’s shoulders and waist to keep them from careening across the space station. The announcement was made by astronaut Sunita Williams on an episode of The Colbert Report; Williams ran a marathon on the previous treadmill while living at the space station in 2007, jogging in place with the concurrent Boston Marathon.

17. An issue of Playboy Magazine

Some members of the backup crew of Apollo 12 included some Playboy spreads on the crew’s checklists, which were attached to Pete Conrad and Alan L. Bean’s wrists as they explored the lunar landscape. Astronaut Richard Gordon, who stayed in orbit around the Moon during the mission, also found a topless DeDe Lind calendar hidden in a locker, which was labeled “Map of a Heavenly Body.”