Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Why don’t we do that too?

China makes me awe struck, and it makes me laugh a lot too! It’ll be weird to go home where most things makes sense.

I only have one more full day in China, and then I come home to U.S. soil! I am so excited to get back to Massachusetts, see family and friends, and enjoy all of the American treats that I’ve missed.  Even so, there are many things that I will miss about being here (that I can’t buy in a market to bring home).  What I’ll miss most is the way that Chinese people think differently.  Most places around the world have been colonized by Europeans at some point in their history, like the United States.  China is one of the few places on the planet that avoided European influence until much more recently.  As a result, the Chinese do many things differently than we do in the United States.  Many of their methods are very innovative, and make me think, “Why don’t we do that too?” Here are my top ten favorite Chinese Innovations:

1. The Water Clock – The Chinese invented the water clock in ancient times, possibly even more than 6,000 years ago. It uses flowing water to measure time. As you can see in the video, when the water level rises to a certain point, it makes the man chime. The Chinese also used the sun and fire to measure time (you’ve probably seen a sundial and the incense clock is pictured in a previous post).

2. Bar Code Lockers – Why bother with a locker key? At the Wu-Mart Supermarket here, push a button to open a locker and a little bar code prints out. You can put your bags in there while you shop, and then use the bar code to open your locker after.

3. Misting Ads – On hot days, you can stand in front of advertisements and get misted with water.  It makes you much more likely to read the ad!

4. Sensing Escalators – Some escalators here slow down when not in use. What a great way to save energy!

5. Dumplings – They are delicious and shouldn’t we all eat more of them? You can put anything inside.  At one restaurant, I filmed the chefs making their masterpieces.  Maybe I can practice at home using this as a model:

6. Informative and Fun Subway Signs – In addition to showing cartoons and other TV on the subway, the signs on the subway cars give very helpful information, such as what stop you are currently at, and which side the door will open on.  In Boston, I am always having to guess which way the door will open.

7. Accessibility for the Blind — Here in China, blind people have it much easier.  The money is all different in size, so a blind person can feel the difference between a 100 yuan bill and a 5 yuan bill.  Also, there is braille on the end of the hand railings at each subway stop, so that they know which exit to use.

A new friend peeks at me from the middle bunk (it’s like a triple bunk bed!)

8. High Speed Trains — We rode the fast train from Beijing to Shanghai. It traveled over 300 km per hour and took 5 hours when the regular train took 14 hours. Even though it was a lot slower, the sleeper train was fun too, because we got to make friends with some cabin-mates. After we got off the overnight train, an attendant came around and flipped all the seats manually, so the train could go the other direction. Trains are a great way to travel, and I wish we had more of them in the U.S.!

9. Mega-Sized Restaurants — There are huge complex-type restaurants here with many floors.  The nice ones have hallways with private rooms for each table.  When you arrive, the host will show you to your room, like in a hotel, and that room is yours for the evening. There are almost always enormous “lazy susans” for sharing food.

10. Peking Duck — Beijing’s old name was Peking, and duck is very popular here. I heard about a restaurant where you get a number code for your duck when you eat there. Afterwards, you can look up your duck online and read about its life — where it lived, how old it was when it died, and more. I think this is a great idea, so that people appreciate their food more! Even if you don’t go to this fancy place, you still appreciate the whole duck. They serve it all, even the head, and then after you eat the meat, the chef makes a soup out of the carcass. It’s delicious!


If you could bring one of these innovations back to the United States, which one would you bring?

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11 thoughts on “Why don’t we do that too?

  1. Sara, welcome back to the US! We and Tristan will be glad to see you at school, but I will miss your posts from China. It is wonderful to read all about this fascinating place. Thank you so much for sharing! Leslie

    • Thanks for following! I’m not quite back yet; I still have another day and then a LONG journey. But the end is in sight. I’m looking forward to coming back to school and being home, but I’ve learned a lot here.

  2. Doliver Family on said:

    欢迎 欢迎 huan ying huan ying

    Welcome Home! Mrs. Krakauer

    We loved reading your posts throughout the summer. My mom was in China two years ago for 16 days and she loved it. She was very surprised and impressed with the culture and people. One of her friends married a Brazilian embassador to China and while they lived there, my mom went to visit. She really wants to go back and made some life long friendships.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation!

    Dayse Doliver + Family

  3. Anna S. on said:

    Sorry for commenting so late, I was out yesterday and only had time for a few short comments. Yesterday, my family and I went to the New England Aquarium, and I got to touch some real cownose rays and other rays! There was even a small shark!

    You’re coming back Ms. Krakauer!! Welcome back!!
    I agree with Leslie, I’ll miss your posts about China, but I’m glad you’re coming back!!

    I think you’re right, Ms. Krakauer, why don’t we do it too?
    The Water Clock is really cool! When the little person clangs the cymbals, is it every minute? Is it every second?
    I never knew about the bar code locker though! It’s really convenient!
    The the Misting Ads are really cool! I never knew about them! It’s a great way to get people to look at the ads, but how do they get people to look at them in the winter? In the fall? In the spring?
    The Sensing Escalators are great! Maybe we can make lots of things slow down when not in use!
    Dumplings are a delicious part of Chinese culture, my mom makes them at home sometimes! Here’s a tip for you, Ms. Krakauer: After putting in the filling, use water to stick it together, at least that’s what my mom does.
    I’ve seen those subway signs on subways when I was in Beijing. And yes, they’re really convenient! Maybe that’s one of the reasons why subways are so crowded! Was watching the Olympics a great way to pass time?
    You’re right! Blind people DO have it easier in China! The differently sized money is a really creative way to blind people. Do they have Braille in other places too? Is it also easier for deaf people in China too?
    That train has got to be fast! I remember there was a super fast train in France or London. I wonder which one is faster … which do YOU think is faster, Ms. Krakauer? And speaking of London, are you going to watch the Ending Ceremony? I think the triple bunk bed is really cool! Same with the swiveling seats!
    The picture of the Mega-Sized Restaurant looks really cool! I’ve been to a restaurant with some private rooms for each table with my relatives, it was pretty neat. Say, what are “lazy susans?”
    I remember seeing that white stone duck! I’ve seen small white stone ducks too. But I had no idea about the code for your duck. That’d be pretty cool to find out about your duck!
    Hmm … I think that if I were to bring ONLY 1 of these innovations to the United States, I’d bring the Accessibility for the Blind. We should at least help the blind people!

    Best Wishes!!
    😉 ~ Anna

  4. Anna S. on said:

    I know my last comment was really long, so please, take your time to responding to it!

  5. Edith C 8th grade on said:

    the one about the duck I like. I always wonder whether the food I eat had a good life 😀

  6. Anna S. on said:

    😀

  7. Hailey 6th Grade HomeBase:Bell Hailey and Mike chat on said:

    It looks like I have to duck. No, duck meat try it, it’s great!

    Ms. Krakauer, did you try it? I was just wondering. Is it great? Sorry getting OF tasc Thanks Bye.

  8. Pingback: What is Culture? | Innovation on Earth

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