We started encouraging our son to write letters to companies when he was really young. It all started when he was 3 ½ and pointed out his sticker book was wrong. He had received a sticker book filled with cars and various traffic signals. Immediately upon flipping through the pages he insisted it was wrong. I looked and said it says “STOP” like it is suppose to, and asked him what is wrong. He informed me that its a hexagon and not an octagon like it was supposed to be. I looked again and sure enough he was correct. So I flipped through the book, and the boy was totally correct every single stop sign in the book was made of hexagons instead of octagons. I immediately went to the website listed on the sticker book and found the contact us section. We emailed the company what our son told us. We got a reply the next morning requesting our address to send our son different books and appreciating his observation. We have no idea if the company fixed the books are not. Our son enjoyed the fact that he got a response and received new sticker books. He just wanted to be heard.
The next time was when he was 4 and wrote a fan message to Bill Nye. Although he did not get a response this time, he had fun dictating to me an email to Bill Nye about his love of the Safety Smart series. From that series he learned about UL (underwriters laboratories). We wrote to them too as well as sent a digital story he made for a competition at his school . He told them he made the video because he wants to work for UL and wants to tour their facilities to see all the things they destroy. UL loved it. They emailed us several times, gave us contact information for touring various facilities across the US, and sent him a package of goodies.
The next year he made a different video on circuits and was inspired to write to System Sensor (maker of fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors). For System Sensor he dictated what he wanted in various places on their online contact form. He was asking for manuals as well as about local stores that might sell the particular model he was interested in. System Sensor actually called us. They were floored that a 6 year old wanted to contact them. They gave us contact information for a local fire suppression installation company and they gave him complete access to their webinars. We still get emails from them when new webinars are released.
As an 8 year old he actually hand wrote a 2 page letter to Dyson. Here is what he wrote: “To Dyson, CEO Mac Conze, I really enjoy watching your You Tube videos. We copied your vacuum tests with our Eureka vacuum. I have built a Lego vacuum that spits out paper chunks. I have watched James Dyson Foundation videos. I would love one of your cordless vacuums for tests I have. I want to examine your vacuum motor. I want to be a reviewer of your cordless vacuum. What do you do with your failed test models? Does the filter in your vacuum clog rapidly? Do you give broken parts to kids? Do you give factory tours to kids? Do you have a design center I can visit? I am OK with traveling to the UK to see your factory. I really want one of your cordless vacuums. Someday I will design a leaf vacuum. Thank you,” Of course we posted a picture of this letter before it was mailed earlier this month. He is still waiting to get a response from Dyson. He did include his email address in hopes he would hear back from them faster. I personally loved his comment about being okay to travel to the UK! He has plans to write to Hayward, a pool pump manufacturer, and First Alert, a carbon monoxide detector manufacturer next.
The point of all of these examples is that we should all encourage our kids regardless of their age to write to companies. It is a great learning experience for them. In the case of our son, sometimes he is writing because he wants specific information or is hoping to get a tour. In other cases it is because he found something wrong or has a different design idea. I also think its important for companies to hear from children since they are consumers in this global economy and they will be future innovators.