5 Times Kids Corrected Museums

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iStock

Museums are bastions of knowledge, but they're occasionally no match for an eagle-eyed youngster. Here are five times that kids and teenagers have spotted—and corrected—mistakes in exhibitions, or noticed something amiss.

1. THE KID WHO SPOTTED THE LONDON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM'S DINO MIX-UP.

While partaking in the London Natural History Museum’s “Dino Snores for Kids”—an overnight sleepover for young museum buffs—in July 2017, 10-year-old Charlie Edwards noticed that one of the signs in the museum’s “Dinosaur Trail” fossil-spotting activity wasn’t quite right. It was supposed to show an Oviraptor—a beaked, carnivorous dinosaur—but Edwards knew that the image on the sign actually depicted a Protoceratops, a sheep-sized herbivore.

Edwards told his parents, who were skeptical, but contacted the museum anyway on their son's behalf. Several weeks later, the family received a letter from the Natural History Museum confirming the boy’s hunch. (According to a statement issued by the Natural History Museum, the exhibition had been "refurbished several times" and "an error [had] been made.") Thanks to Edwards, officials are now planning to correct the sign.

“I am really, really proud of him,” Charlie’s mother, Jade, said. “Charlie has Asperger syndrome and tends to find a subject he loves and tries to learn so much about it, so it’s really nice that he’s been able to show what he’s learned and that knowledge base.”

2. THE KID WHO HELPED FIX A MISTAKE IN THE SMITHSONIAN'S "TOWER OF TIME" EXHIBIT.

In 2008, 11-year-old Kenton Stufflebeam and his family traveled from Michigan to Washington, D.C. to visit the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. There, Stufflebeam noticed that a notation in the museum’s "Tower of Time" display incorrectly listed the Precambrian—the first super eon of Earth's history—as an era. His fifth grade teacher had once made the same mistake before correcting himself, and "I knew Mr. Chapman wouldn't tell all these students” incorrect facts, Stufflebeam later told the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Stufflebeam reported the error by filling out a comment form at the museum’s information desk. A few months later, the Smithsonian contacted Stufflebeam to tell him that he was “spot on": "The Precambrian is a dimensionless unit of time, which embraces all the time between the origin of Earth and the beginning of the Cambrian Period of geologic time," their missive acknowledged. As for the error itself, museum officials planned to rectify the mistake—which had been spotted years earlier by annoyed staff experts—by simply painting over the word “era.”

In early 2017, Stufflebeam—now 19 years old—made headlines again, this time when he found himself in the middle of a bidding war for his graphic design services. ESPN wrote about Kenton's grammar school brush with fame via the Smithsonian, noting how it portended "his eye for detail."

3. THE TEEN WHO NOTICED AN HISTORICAL INACCURACY IN A RECREATION OF AL CAPONE'S PRISON CELL.

While touring Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in 2016, 13-year-old Joey Warchal observed that a large cabinet radio inside the museum’s recreation of Al Capone’s jail cell—which the famous gangster inhabited from 1929 to 1930—wasn’t historically accurate. Warchal, who collects antique radio and record players, correctly identified the music player as a Philco A-361, which was manufactured in 1942.

The helpful teen emailed the institution's vice president, Sean Kelley, and volunteered to track down a period-appropriate radio. Kelley took the precocious antiques buff up on his offer, and gave him a $400 budget to find a replacement. Officials at Eastern State Penitentiary also threw a party for Warchal to thank him for his hard work.

4. THE TEEN WHO NOTICED THE MET'S FLAWED MAP OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE.

Thirteen-year-old history buff Benjamin Lerman Coady was touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City during his summer break in 2011 when he noticed that a permanent exhibit about the Byzantine Empire—a subject Coady had recently studied in school—contained a flawed map. The 6th century map was supposed to show the empire at its peak, but Coady noticed that Spain and parts of Africa weren’t present.

A museum docent instructed him fill out a form, and in September, Coady received a letter from the Met’s senior vice president for external affairs, informing him that his observation would be reviewed by the museum's medieval art department. Sure enough, the teen was correct: In January 2012, Byzantine art curator Helen Evans reached out to Coady, acknowledged the mistake, and invited him back to the Met for a private tour. She also asked him to draw his own version of what he thought the museum’s Byzantine Empire map should look like, and said that museum officials were taking steps to fix their portrayal.

5. THE TEEN WHO DETECTED SOMETHING AMISS AT BOSTON'S MUSEUM OF SCIENCE.

In 2015, 15-year-old Virginian Joseph Rosenfeld was visiting Boston’s Museum of Science when he noticed what appeared to be a mistake in its “Mathematica: A World of Numbers … and Beyond" exhibit: In an equation for the Golden Ratio, Rosenfeld noticed that there were minus signs in place of what should have been plus signs.

Rosenfeld left a message at the museum’s front desk, and family members provided the institution with his contact information. Initially, Alana Parkes, the Museum of Science’s exhibit content developer, believed the exhibition had made a mistake. She sent Joseph a letter that read, “You are right that the formula for the Golden Ratio is incorrect. We will be changing the – sign to a + sign on the three places it appears if we can manage to do it without damaging the original.”

But at the end of the day, the Museum of Science's "Mathematica" display ended up being technically correct, as the exhibit had displayed the equation for the golden ratio's reciprocal, also called the golden ratio conjugate.

“I’d call it uncommon, not the way most people think of the golden ratio nowadays,” Eve Torrence, a math professor at Randolph-Macon College, told The Washington Post. "It’s not what most people think of, but it’s not incorrect."

Even though the problem wasn't technically wrong, Rosenfeld was still "to be commended for questioning authority," Torrence concluded.

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

18 Cool Facts About Beavis and Butt-head

MTV
MTV

On March 8, 1993, Beavis and Butt-head made its debut on MTV—to the delight of young viewers, and the annoyance of their parents. While some people considered it the end of the civilized world, TIME Magazine critic Kurt Andersen lauded its irreverence, writing that it “may be the bravest show ever run on national television.”

From its original 200-episode run to the books (yes, plural), movie, and soundtrack it inspired—plus its brief return in 2011—Beavis and Butt-head has not lost any of its original charm. With the recent announcement that the series is coming back for two new seasons on Comedy Central, here are some things you might not have known about Mike Judge's animated headbangers.

1. Beavis and Butt-head got their start on Liquid Television.

Mike Judge went from teaching himself animation and playing bass for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets to having one of his cartoons played on MTV’s animation showcase program Liquid Television in one year’s time. Cartoon short Milton, the origin of the character from his live-action cult classic Office Space, appeared in a 1991 episode. In 1992, Beavis and Butt-head made their loud, violent first impression in his short Frog Baseball. MTV then paid Judge for the rights to the two characters and ordered 65 four-minute cartoons.

2. MTV pulled Beavis and Butt-head from the air shortly after it premiered.

Shortly after greenlighting Beavis and Butt-head, MTV had to halt production. Not because of any controversy, but because Judge and his animation staff couldn’t keep up with the demand for new material, forcing MTV to stop airing the show entirely two weeks after it premiered. It made its return more than six weeks later on May 17th with “Scientific Stuff” and “Good Credit.”

3. Mike Judge improvised most of the dialogue during the music videos.


Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Judge voiced virtually all of the characters on the show and was one of just a handful of people who made up the writing staff. He opted to add to his workload by winging it when it came to Beavis and Butt-head's taste-making opinions on music. Time was saved on the animation for the music video commentaries by having an editor take footage from earlier episodes and sync it up with new mouth positions.

4. Beavis and Butt-head were named after kids that lived in Mike Judge's neighborhood.

Bobby Beavis was “kind of an athletic kid” that lived three blocks from Judge while he was in college, and not similar to the character with the Metallica shirt christened with his surname. There was also a 12-year-old who called himself “Iron Butt” (because he claimed to never get injured from a kick to the posterior) who had a friend called “Butt-head.”

5. All references to fire were permanently removed from Beavis and Butt-head after the show was blamed for a child's death.

In October 1993, a 5-year-old boy set fire to his Ohio home, which killed his 2-year-old sister. Their mother claimed Beavis’s fire-making and blatant spoken love of arson were responsible. MTV’s quick response was to only air the show after 10:30 p.m. and to wipe all fire references from all of the previous episodes—only fans who taped the offending episodes on their VCRs have proof that the word was ever uttered. “Fire” was banned for the rest of the series’ original run, but it was allowed again in 2011.

6. A senator referred to Beavis and Butt-head as "Buffcoat and Beaver."

Soon after the fatal fire accident, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, spoke at a Senate hearing as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Hollings attempted to argue that TV broadcasters needed to be forced to clamp down on their offensive programming and used the most controversial show at the time as a specific example ... or at least he tried to.

7. Prison officials in Oklahoma banned Beavis and Butt-head.

There were also documented reports of South Dakota schools outlawing Beavis and Butt-head-related clothing.

8. Marlon Brando was a Beavis and Butt-head fan.

According to Mike Judge, Johnny Depp told him that Depp and Marlon Brando would imitate Beavis and Butt-head, with Depp as Beavis and Brando as Butt-head. This occurred when the two worked together during 1994’s Don Juan DeMarco.

9. Matt Groening was a fan of Beavis and Butt-head, too.

The creator of The Simpsons claimed that he liked the show because it took “the heat off Bart Simpson being responsible for the downfall of western civilization.”

10. David Letterman was the voice of the Mötley Crüe roadie who might be Butt-head's father in Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

David Letterman was credited as Earl Hofert, which is actually the name of Letterman's uncle. Letterman was a fan of the show and had the Highland teens on The Late Show in 1996 to promote their movie.

11. Beavis almost said something too clever once.

In 1993, Judge told The New York Times that one of the big challenges of the show was to keep the two in character and, therefore, dumb. An original line had Beavis telling his classmates that they had “Beavis envy” because he received a school pass. It was cut because it almost made the 14-year-old with the underbite too smart. In 2011, Judge admitted to “cheating” and probably making them smarter than they are during the music video commentaries.

12. Daria was created with Janeane Garofalo and Darlene Connor in mind.

The character of Daria was created after then-MTV president Judy McGrath expressed concern about the show’s lack of smart or female characters. Garofalo and Sara Gilbert’s Roseanne character were the models for Daria Morgendorffer. Morgendorffer was the maiden name of the show writer David Felton's mother, and was deemed perfect for the new character.

13. It's Butt-head's house that you're usually seeing.


MTV

While it isn’t officially canon, Judge responded to a reporter’s assumption that the two were always at Butt-head’s abode by saying he “always imagined” that to be the case.

14. Beavis and Butt-head were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone—three times.

Their first appearance in 1993 ended up being the best-selling issue of the magazine that year.

15. Beavis and Butt-head starred in their own live-action Thanksgiving special with Kurt Loder.

The night before their (first) series finale, “Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," MTV put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then later put them at a dinner table with the veteran MTV News broadcaster. The one-hour special only aired on television once.

16. Beavis and Butt-head ended due to creative burnout.

Toward the end of the show's original run, Judge was running on empty. "I actually wanted to stop a little sooner," Judge told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. "We've done over 200 episodes [since 1993]. After the second season, I thought, 'How are we gonna do this anymore?' I was completely burnt out. I got a second wind in season three, and again in season five. But I don't know, you do it as fast as you can, get it on the air as fast as you can, and there's never a break. I felt, like, why not retire before it gets too stale or whatever?"

17. Kanye West wanted to be on Beavis and Butt-head.

In contrast to the more innocent 1990s, Judge and his team had to get authorization from all of the parties involved in a music video to have it appear on Beavis and Butt-head when it returned in 2011. Kanye West wanted to have one of his videos featured on the show, but another credited songwriter on the undisclosed track declined immortality.

18. Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for today's generation.

In July 2020, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for two all-new seasons, this time to Comedy Central. Mike Judge will oversee the series yet again, but this time it will be geared toward a "whole new Gen Z world."

"We are thrilled to be working with Mike Judge and the great team at 3 Arts again as we double down on adult animation at Comedy Central," Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS' entertainment and youth group, said. "Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own."

This story has been updated for 2020.