July 24, 2021

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What Is Your Favorite Fact You Learned in 2020?

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1, 2021.

What tidbit of information have you learned this past year that most stands out? An oddity from science or music class? A curiosity from the news, your social media feed or your personal experience? A surprising statistic from the world of sports or an intriguing story from history?

Each day, New York Times editors collect the most interesting, striking or delightful facts to appear in articles throughout the paper. In “74 of Our Favorite Facts for 2020,” The Times Insider Staff compiles its most fascinating and revealing facts from the past year.

Here is a sampling:

2. Fishing remains the United States’ second most dangerous profession, after logging. Overtaken by Frigid Seas, Hours From Help, There Was Little Chance of Survival

12. For decades after the birth of modern photography in 1839, one of the most common uses of the technology was a professionally shot photograph of a dead family member. The iPhone at the Deathbed

19. The summit of Mount Everest is about the size of two Ping-Pong tables. After Deadly Jam on Everest, Nepal Delays New Safety Rule

27. Before the Industrial Revolution, the principal sources of noise were thunder, church bells and cannon fire. Loud, Louder, Loudest: How Classical Music Started to Roar

37. There may be trillions of species of virus in the world. Of them, a few hundred thousand kinds are known, and fewer than 7,000 have names. Monster or Machine? A Profile of the Coronavirus at 6 Months

47. We breathe roughly 25,000 times a day. Breathe Better With These Nine Exercises

57. In the United States, prison life sentences have quadrupled since the 1980s. Making Art When ‘Lockdown’ Means Prison

61. By one estimate, the K-pop group BTS adds more than $3.5 billion annually to South Korea’s economy. BTS’s Loyal Army of Fans Is the Secret Weapon Behind a $4 Billion Valuation

65. Often, the screams we hear in movies and TV are created by doubles and voice actors. One stock scream is so well-used it’s got a name, the Wilhelm. It’s in hundreds of films. They Scream! We Scream!

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • What is one new thing you learned in 2020? Are there any specific facts, oddities and curiosities you can recall, whether from your classes, conversations with friends, time spent online, reading or watching TV, or anywhere else?

  • How has this newfound knowledge affected how you think about yourself and the world? How might it be useful to you in the future?

  • Which of the 74 facts compiled in the article most struck a chord with you and why? How might you be able to use it in your own life? Are there any other facts that you have read in The Times this year that you think should be added to this list?

  • Are you a person who loves trivia — memorizing names, dates and state capitals? Or are you disinterested in discrete information, instead moved by stories, feelings and emotions? When has this kind of information come in handy for you, if ever?

  • What subjects do you want to know more about this year? What learning goals do you have? How will your life be different or better if you are able to meet them?


About Student Opinion

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Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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