Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by ava. ava Wonders, “Who created the umbrella?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, ava!

Picture it: you’re walking through the park on a fine autumn day. Leaves are falling. The birds are singing. A crisp breeze is blowing. But then, everything goes quiet. Where did the birds go? Then you hear it. The first clap of thunder. Soon, the clouds release a downpour.

It’s a good thing you brought an umbrella! You press the button, and you’re under its canopy. You make your way home, much drier thanks to your umbrella. 

Who can you thank for this WONDERful contraption? Who invented the tool that keeps you (almost) dry in a storm? You may be disappointed to learn that no one knows who made the first umbrella. But we do know that umbrellas were used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India.

The first umbrellas didn’t shield people from rain, though. Instead, ancient people used them to block the sun. Most often, it was wealthy and powerful people who got to sit in the umbrella’s shade. The umbrella later spread to ancient Greece and Rome. 

People first started using umbrellas to block rain in the first century CE. Roman women would put oil on their umbrellas. This caused water to roll off of them. Soon after, many more people began using the umbrella during rain and sun alike.

Much later, European women used the parasol for shade. Most European men didn’t carry umbrellas until the late 1700s. That’s when two Englishmen named Jonas Hanway and John MacDonald started carrying umbrellas in case of rain. The practice soon caught on. Today, you won’t find many people walking without an umbrella in the rainy UK.

Like most technology, umbrellas have changed over the years. Today, advanced umbrellas do all kinds of tasks. How would you like an umbrella that can tell you if it’s going to rain? What about one that plays your favorite music? Would you like to browse YouTube on the underside of your umbrella? Thanks to umbrella technology, these are all possible.

Do you want an umbrella that can help you fly? That isn’t an option yet, but you can see the dream in action in “Mary Poppins.” In fact, umbrellas show up in many books and movies. 

The umbrella is a central prop in “Singing in the Rain.” Of course, where would the villainous Penguin be without his umbrella in “Batman Returns”? Harry Potter fans know just how important Hagrid’s umbrella is. And who could forget the special spy umbrella in “Kingsman”?

That last example has some truth behind it! Invented in the 19th Century, the umbrella gun was used by both spies and assassins. In fact, an umbrella gun was used in the assassination of writer Georgi Markov in 1978. They were also a favorite of officers of the Soviet Union’s KGB. An umbrella is not always what it seems! 

Most umbrellas used today aren’t weapons. Instead, they’re your best bet for walking through a rainstorm without getting wet. Rain jackets are nice. Rain boots help, too. But there’s no tool that keeps you dry like an umbrella!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, NGSS.ETS1.A, NGSS.ETS1.B, C3.D2.Geo.3, C3.D2.Geo.4,

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