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Breakin’ It Down – How Does All That Stuff Work?

by on August 14, 2013

Looking for clear explanations? Unbiased tell-alls? Fun information about everything? If not those lofty goals, how about a great time waster?! You can find it all at HowStuffWorks.com. HowStuffWorks is owned by Discovery Communications and was founded in 1998 by Professor Marshall Brain from North Carolina State University[1]. Their goal is to “demystify the world and do it in a simple, clear-cut way that anyone can understand.”1 And, boy, do they ever achieve their goal! They make learning entertaining. It is fun to learn about the top ten most poisonous plants or financial aid for college. I personally didn’t expect to ever learn about or understand Dungeons & Dragons, but HowStuffWorks made it possible!

Topics are organized logically for patrons who like to browse around: Adventure, Auto, Culture, Entertainment, Health, Home & Garden, Lifestyle, Money, Science or Tech. When I get questions about how something functions and can’t find a book that will explain it, HowStuffWorks comes to the rescue with detailed, well-researched and clear information.

Articles aren’t the only way that HowStuffWorks distributes information. They also have podcasts and videos. Ever wonder how a pinball machine is made? I hadn’t, but the process is extremely interesting, and you can watch it here. The podcasts are verbal reports on articles that the staff writers research and publish. Podcasts are factual, conversational and fun. Josh and Chuck host one popular podcast called Stuff You Should Know and have developed quite a following.

Quite a few ways exist for libraries to use the information on the website. Individual articles or HowStuffWorks.com can be featured on the library’s website. At Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) we’ve added it to our Recommended Websites section. The Games section has a variety of games to feature for all patrons. At PPLD we have a Bored? section on our teen page; featuring the HowStuffWorks games is a great way to lead teens to safe and fun games. HowStuffWorks also offers a free widget that can be embedded on your website. Using widgets to attract attention to useful sources is a great way to help patrons stumble upon fascinating information.

Another great part of the website to feature is the Quizzes section. Ever notice how magazines, especially teen magazines, have a ton of quizzes? Some of the best quizzes for teens are Test Your Real Knowledge on Fake People, May the Force Be With You: A Striking Star Wars Quiz or the Mad Science Quiz of Doom.

With all this information about so much stuff, you want to know more now, don’t you? Well, take a look at 10 Stars Who Died During the Filming of a Movie, 5 Ridiculously Heavy Towing Jobs, 10 Best Snacks for a Road Trip or 5 Future Car Technologies That Truly Have a Chance to find out How Stuff Works!

[1] “About HowStuffWorks.” HowStuffWorks.com. http://www.howstuffworks.com/about-hsw.htm (Accessed July 10, 2013)