Exploring our world: Why do we have eyebrows?

Why do we have eyebrows?

A girl's eye and eyebrow.
Photo via Good Free Photos, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hang out around kids enough and you will likely be confronted with questions. Probably many questions. Some easy, some hard, and some just a little perplexing and head scratching. Take for instance this question: Why do people have eyebrows? Do all mammals have eyebrows? Do you other animals have eyebrows?

The Michigan State University Extension science team’s goal is to increase science literacy across Michigan. One way we support an increased interest in science is to provides ideas for engaging youth in exploring their world.

As parents, teachers or volunteers working with youth, we all have a desire to provide answers. According to MSU Extension, when children pose a question, we typically have an answer. Even if we reach and embellish a bit, adults can often come up with an answer, or at least our best guess. In this technology age, some of us are just as likely to reach to Google for an answer. While that may not make us ever knowledgeable, it does show we are resourceful. However, allow me a moment to suggest that providing an answer isn’t always the best answer or even what the curious child needs at that moment. Of course, everybody wants to know the answers to their questions and children are certainly not excluded. However, the means in which an answer is found can make all the difference.

Curiosity and a sense of wonder and inquiry are what prompt questions like, why do we have eyebrows. It is that inquiring mind and curiosity that helps artists, scientists, musicians, architects, engineers and inventors alike become good at what they do. Answering a question absolutely may provide an answer, but it does not reward, cultivate, or sustain the curiosity of a child’s inquiring mind.

Adults can better help youth increase their science literacy by encouraging them to ask questions and discover answers. To this end, perhaps a better response is to simply answer a question, with a question.

  • Ask children, what do you think our eyebrows do?
  • I’ve noticed that some athletes (some with less hair) wear sweat bands. Have you noticed that?
  • Do you think that can help us figure out why people have eyebrows?
  • Do you think eyebrows may help keep rain and sweat out of our eyes, do you think your eyebrows have kept rain or sweat out of your eyes?

If you want to know more about what our eyebrows are for, you can check out what Greg Foot with the British Broadcasting Corporation has to say in this fun video. Remember, if you are confronted with a head scratching question, stay calm and instead of reaching immediately to Google, take a little time to help cultivate an inquiring mind by answering a question with a question and encouraging children to ask questions and discover answers.

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