Archives for May, 2010
After veering slightly off course, the Plastiki reached land on the island of Upolu in Western Samoa. David de Rothschild and Plastiki’s crew will chill out, shower, and sleep in beds in the port city of Apia before continuing their journey to Sydney, Australia.
Be sure to check out the Plastiki updates and learn about the boat, which is made of reused plastics and aluminum.
Read the Wayward and Windward blog post to find out what the locals use plastic bottles for!
Find out about Adventure Ecology.
The Mother-Daughter Book Club
By Heather Vogel Frederick
Four sixth-grade girls and their mothers join a book club and read Little Women together. Although Megan, Cassidy, Emma, and Jess are reluctant at first, they form an unexpected friendship as they make their way though Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel and middle school together.
Check your local library or bookstore for a copy, or ask your mom or dad to help you order it online.
BOOK NAME: Bunnicula
AUTHOR: Deborah and James Howe
I’m back with a book called Bunnicula. This is a series of books, so if you read this one, I think you’ll like the others.
It’s about this family that goes to the movie Dracula and they find this bunny in the movie theater. They take it home and they name it Bunnicula.
This story is mainly about this cat named Chester and a dog named Harold. Chester likes to read and Harold is pretty much just a dog – he likes to sleep.
Some strange stuff starts happening. At the house where Bunnicula lives, all of the vegetables start turning white. But nothing else…just the vegetables! Chester starts being suspicious (Harold…not so much). Chester reads a vampire book and Bunnicula matches every single thing about a vampire. Harold and Chester come up with a plan…
I’m not going to tell you the rest…because I want you to read it. This time, I’m going to do something different. If you’ve read the book, tell me who’s your favorite character and why. My favorite character is Harold the dog because he does all these flopsy things…he sneaks into the pantry and steals a chocolate cupcake (his favorite).
If you haven’t read the book, tell me if you think you’ll read it.
See you next time!
The top ten 2010 National Geographic Bee finalists faced off this morning at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The winner is Aadith Moorthy, an eighth-grader from Florida. Watch Alex Trebek of Jeopardy! ask Aadith the final question!
Aadith will receive a $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime National Geographic Society membership, and a trip to the Galápagos Islands with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
Want more questions? Take the GeoBee Challenge.
(AD) Download the GeoBee iPhone app and find out if you have what it takes to be the next National Geographic Bee champion!
BOOK NAME: Catherine, Called Birdy
AUTHOR: Karen Cushman
Catherine’s father is a pig who is determined to marry her away to any rich man. No matter how hard he tries, her father can not find a man who Catherine can’t scare off. With ash covered teeth, crossed eyes, and a sharp tongue, Catherine frightens off many men who ask for her hand in marriage. Can her burning hatred for her father and high spirit help Catherine win the battle against her own father’s greed for money?
It was short, but I liked it. I think the character Catherine would be my favorite. She’s kind of rough, but not tomboy-ish. If I was put in her position, being forced to marry, I’d act the way she does. Her family is very much like a common family back in the medieval times. I disliked her father very much. He seems like an ugly step father in a fairy tale, being bitter, prideful, greedy, but very much real.
The author did a great job getting her facts right in this book. I compared the way they did things in this book to some of my history books. Everything written in this book is in line with history. This book was the author’s first novel she ever wrote. I was surprised at how interesting it was and everyday I looked forward to reading it. I really enjoyed that the book was written in the form of a diary. There was minor cursing and I was surprised at this, just twice if not that. I recommend it to just about anyone, especially someone who wants a breath-taking quick read.
Jordan Romero, a 13-year-old from Big Bear Lake, California, has become the youngest person to scale Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. He reached the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit with a team that included his father, his father’s girlfriend, and three Sherpa guides.
Jordan said he hoped his achievement would encourage young people worldwide to identify their own big dreams and pursue them.
“I’m doing this to inspire other kids, hopefully across the world, to get outdoors and to set goals in life. I’m doing this to set an example for them,” he said.
After reaching the peak, the eighth-grader called his mom and exclaimed, “It’s your son calling from the top of the world!”
Photo courtesy Romero Family
In April, planes flying over the ancient Maya city of Caracol used laser technology to look beneath the rainforest and see the remains of the city. The equipment, called Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), bounces lasers off the ground to construct 3-D maps.
The new map shows that the ancient city was much larger than previously thought. It had been impossible to see the majority of the site because of the dense rainforest covering it.
Read more about Caracol and LiDAR on National Geographic News.
Image courtesy University of Central Florida Caracol Archaeological Project
BOOK NAME: Anacaona
AUTHOR: Edwidge Danticat
The Royal Diaries is a series about different kinds of royalty from all around the world and different periods of time. In keeping with its theme, it is written in the style of a diary. The series is written by a variety of authors who are subject matter experts. So, they write about time periods they know best. What’s also interesting about this series is that at the end of each book there are pictures and drawings of that particular time period.
This part of the series is based on a real story about a girl who is a “supreme chief” in waiting. The girl’s name is Anacaona, which means “golden flower” in the Taino language and she lives in Haiti in the late 1400s. Can you guess the famous person mentioned at the end of this story? If you guessed Christopher Columbus, you’re right! But this time he’s not a hero explorer looking for new lands, he’s an enemy of the native people and is greedily searching for gold.
In the book, Anacaona has to make a big decision–stay in her land and rule her people, or go to a new land so she may marry the man she loves. But that’s not all there is to the story. In fact, you’ll never look at Christopher Columbus the same way again. This book is both educational and an exciting read with extraordinary details and historical settings. You’ll learn something and be entertained along the way. Enjoy!
On May 18, 1980, the Mount St. Helens volcano in Washington State erupted. The eruption (which was heard hundreds of miles away) blew off the top of the mountain, destroyed miles of forest, and killed 57 people.
In the 30 years since the eruption, scientists have been able to study how an ecosystem recovers from a volcanic eruption. What was once a desolate, gray blast zone in 1980 is now home to many plants and animals. Although it has not had an eruption of the same size since 1980, Mount St. Helens is one of the most active volcanoes in the United States and could erupt again.
Read more about the potential danger from Mount St. Helens on National Geographic News.
See a gallery of images of Mount St. Helens on National Geographic.
Think you know volcanoes? Quiz Your Noodle and prove it!
Photograph by Peter Lipman, USGS and Gene Iwatsubo, USGS
BOOK NAME: Versus: Warriors
CONCEPT: Hannah Wilson
ILLUSTRATOR: Steve Stone
This is definitely not a regular book. It’s about Warriors…not present-day warriors, but warriors from back in time. For example, one of the warriors is the Knight, who had heavy armor, a long sword and a helmet with a facemask. Knights fought from 800 A.D. to about 1500 A.D.
The book is not a story, but it’s about 10 different kinds of favorite warriors. The warriors are Viking, Samurai, Zulu, Gladiatrix (a female Gladiator), Mongolian, Ninja, Gladiator, Aztec, Knight, and Spartan. In the book they pick two different warriors and they have a battle. They talk about the warriors and then you have to pick which you think would win. One of the pages tells about the different warriors so you can make a choice. The next page tells you who would win and why, and then another page tells you more about the winning warrior and then the losing warrior.
My favorite battle was the Mongolian versus the Spartan. I like the Mongolian and the Spartan and it was one of the closest battles. I’m not going to tell you who wins though.
At the end, there’s one overall winner. And the winner is…
You have to get the book to see who’s the Ultimate Warrior.
A new study predicts that one out of every five lizard species will be extinct by 2080 if global warming continues. When it gets too hot to be in the sun, lizards must hide in the shade and rest, because they are cold-blooded animals and can’t adjust their body temperature. If the Earth’s temperature gets warmer, lizards will spend more time hiding in the shade and less time hunting or laying eggs. Warmer temperatures may mean that lizards starve to death.
Read more about the study on National Geographic News.
Watch a video of “flying” lizards on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph courtesy Ignacio de la Riva
BOOK NAME: Star in the Storm
AUTHOR: Joan Hiatt Harlow
If you like dogs and history, you’ll like Star in the Storm. The book takes place in Newfoundland, an island in Canada, around the time of World War II and the story is based on actual events.
It is about the dog, Sirius, which is named after one of the brightest stars at night. When other dogs chase a sheep into the ocean, Sirius swims out to save it, but it’s too late because the sheep drowns. When Sirius comes to shore with the dead sheep, people think he killed it and they make a rule that all dogs except for sheep dogs must leave the town. Maggie, the master of Sirius, keeps him hidden because she doesn’t want him to leave. Then there’s a big storm that causes a boat full of people to wreck into some rocks by the island. Maggie gets Sirius out of his hiding place and the dog helps save people’s lives. Since Sirius is a hero, the town decides he can stay and Maggie’s family is given a baby sheep so they can turn Sirius into a sheep dog.
The beginning of the book was a little confusing, but it made more sense as I read it.
BOOK NAME: The Book Thief
AUTHOR: Markus Zusak
Liesel Maminger is a thief. She has a habit of picking up books and taking them…for good. The Nazi book-burnings are where she is the most successful–she justifies that taking just one book won’t make a big difference. With the help of her accordion-playing foster Papa, Liesel learns to read. She feeds her soul with books and uses them to create a better world for herself and family.
I think the Jew that lives in Liesel’s basement, Max is my favorite character. The love he has for Liesel is just amazing. Max shows his fatherly love for Liesel by doing simple things, such as writing her a short letter, and she does the same in return. I like how Liesel’s foster mother’s personality unfolds; she acts bitter and mean, yet inside she is really kind and loving. One thing I don’t appreciate is how she curses at her daughter. The characters were all so different, but combined all of them made this book more than memorable.
This book was just flat-out amazing. It was well written and the author was incredibly descriptive! I’ve written a review on his other book, I Am The Messenger, and that one was just as superb. This author writes great books for young adults and teens.
Markus Zusak wrote this book from death’s point of view, so at times it was a bit complicated and confusing. Honestly, there were a few parts where I just read a whole page over again to understand it. I strongly suggest teens interested in reading this book to look up a sample page from the first chapter online before purchasing. I had to stop at times and let parts of the book sink in, but I also think that’s why I have truly loved it so much.
National Geographic’s Environment website has created a new Personal Energy Meter tool to help you and your family measure the amount of energy you use. Ask your mom or dad to help you figure out what your carbon footprint is based on where you live. The site also gives you tips on how you can reduce your energy use!
Check out the Great Energy Challenge and the Personal Energy Meter.
Get more tips on how you can Save Power.
What appears to be a flower bud is actually a bee nest. One species of bee called, Osmia tergestensis, made it by “gluing” flower petals together with mud. Once the container is complete, the bee fills it with nectar and pollen and lays a single egg inside.
After finishing the egg chamber, the bee buries it. As the chamber dries, it becomes very hard, which protects the egg inside. The baby bee hatches after spending ten months in the flowery egg chamber.
See more pictures and learn more about the bees on National Geographic News.
Why are honey bees disappearing? Investigate the honey bee mystery on National Geographic Kids
Photographs courtesy J.G. Rozen, AMNH
May 10 through May 16 is Children’s Book Week. Children’s Book Week was first observed in 1919. Why have a Children’s Book Week? To celebrate books and encourage a love of reading, of course!
What was your favorite book when you were younger? What’s your favorite book now?
Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas wanted to test their new invention, a remote-controlled buggy-mounted camera in Tanzania. The “Beetlecam,” outfitted with powerful motors, off-road tires, long-lasting batteries, and a digital SLR camera, can enter places where people can’t go. It takes pictures at set intervals or by remote control, but when the Burrard-Lucas brothers tried to take pictures of lions from a distance with the BeetleCam, a curious lioness made off with it!
The lions destroyed the camera, but its memory card was recovered in one piece, giving us a glimpse of the photographs the lion “photographer” took.
See more pictures and read more about the lion photographer on National Geographic News.
Play Crittercam: African Adventure and recover more footage of lions!
Photograph by Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas
A massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening the wildlife and may spread all the way to North Carolina. The oil slick began to spread soon after the April 20 explosion. Eleven people died and the oil continues to pour out of leaks about 5,000 feet (1524 meters) deep. Experts think as much as 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the water every day–that’s about 210,000 gallons (795,000 liters) of oil.
Animals like this dead Portuguese man-of-war (pictured) are beginning to be affected by the oil pollution.
Officials now plan to cover three leaks at the bottom of the ocean with a large box to contain the oil, which is now spreading closer to sensitive coastal marshes and wildlife breeding grounds along Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama.
Photograph by Alex Brandon, AP
BOOK NAME: Return to the Hundred Acre Wood
AUTHOR: David Benedictus
When you first hear the name Winnie-the-Pooh, you may think of a cute bear with a red shirt and a laugh that seems to float on air. But first, clear your mind for ten seconds and listen. This is the original Winnie-the-Pooh, not the Disney kind that you always see. This is a fun book and a light hearted read, especially if you are an optimist.
This book was written 80 years after the original and picks up right where the last story left off. There is quite a buzz in the Hundred Acre Wood as news of Christopher Robin’s return spreads quickly throughout the forest. Pooh can hardly contain his excitement and is once again ready to share his “hunny” with his best friend. Did you know that Christopher Robin is based on a real person? He is named after the son of the author of the original book series, A. A. Milne.
This book contains ten different stories all of which are quick, easy reads. They are delightful and satisfying despite their short length. In one of these stories, a new character is introduced. It is an otter named Lottie. Amazingly bold, you will remember her forever. She is a great addition to the usual cast of characters. In fact, all of the original characters are back in this book for new adventures together. Their whimsical and carefree way of life is a great escape. This is a children’s book collection that’s certainly worth revisiting.
We are disappointed to report that there will be no NG Kids Hands-On Explorer Challenge for 2010. But we hope to announce the 2011 destination and open the fifth HOEC competition later this year.
In March, you helped the National Zoo pick a name for their new giant Pacific octopus. The choices were Olympus, Octavius, Ceph, and Vancouver. And the winner is… Octavius! More than half of the people who voted chose this name. If you live near Washington D.C., you can visit Octavius at the National Zoo’s Inbertebrate Exhibit.
Read more about the ocean animals at the National Zoo on the Smithsonian Institution’s website.
Check out the News Bite on octopus “mobile homes.”
Photograph by Mehgan Murphy
BOOK NAME: Oceans
AUTHOR: Johnna Rizzo
Hey guys, sorry I haven’t written a blog lately. I’ve been busy visiting Mrs. Obama at the White House. But you’re gonna see a lot more books out of me. I’ve been reading a lot more books than ever. And exercising more than ever too!
I like this book because of the great photography and all of the fun facts that they put into the book. They have all types of animals: from jellyfish to stingrays to sharks.
For an example of some of the great photography, there’s a picture of a bunch of manta rays opening up their mouths getting ready to chomp on a snack of krill and plankton, and you can see right into their mouths and see their ribs.
They also have fun facts of all the types of the animals. For example, for the whales they tell you all about these different whales: the narwhal, minke, sperm, blue, right and bowhead. I never knew that the male narwhal had the long horns on their heads and their horn is actually a tooth!
People will like this book if you love nature and photography and beautiful fish and sea creatures. This book is great if you want to be a photographer someday.