Archives for March, 2011
Twelve creative students were named the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge yesterday by the United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra in Washington, D.C. The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) challenge competition was open to students in grades 5 to 8, with a separate category available for adult developers. Kids who entered the contest submitted original video game designs that were based on STEM concepts. The Youth Prize winners were chosen from more than 500 entries.
The youth winners will receive an AMD-based laptop computer and educational software. In addition, a prize of $2,000 will be given to their school (or a non-profit organization of their choice).
Scientists are working on an eco-friendly substance that will help keep oil from sticking to birds during future oil spills. The substance, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and is currently being tested, will act like a laundry detergent; breaking the oil down and keeping it from sticking to birds’ feathers.
Planet Earth has gotten windier over the last 20 years, according to a new study. Scientists looked at satellite wind measurements going back to 1985 and learned that winds have increased by about 5 percent. Very strong winds caused by storms have increased by 10 percent during the same time period. Study leader Ian Young says that it is not yet clear if our windier world is a result of global warming, or if it is a result of a cyclical pattern.
Photograph by Norbert Rosing, National Geographic
BOOK NAME: Schoolboy Johnson
AUTHOR: John R. Tunis
“Strike three, batter out!” The Dodgers are second in their league and striving for the pennant. They have many wise veteran players. In the middle of the season, a new rookie nicknamed Schoolboy Johnson joins the team. He has a sizzling fast ball and, unlike most pitchers, loves to bat. This new rookie has a terrible temper. Veteran players such as Speedy Mason and Roy Tucker know that the Schoolboy will never reach his true pitching potential unless he controls his temper, and they try their best to help him control his anger. It seems like a hopeless cause. Schoolboy Johnson throws fits over a missed catch or a tough batter. He is also undisciplined and demonstrates a lack of focus in pitching. Can Schoolboy Johnson ever control his temper, win the pennant, and a girl’s heart?
This book was very interesting, even though I’m not a big baseball fan. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, and there were many valuable life lessons in this book. Managing your emotions, respecting your elders, and being a team player were all lessons that Schoolboy Johnson had to learn. I liked how this book told the story from several characters’ points of view. It really gave me insight into what each person was thinking. For example, Schoolboy Johnson talks about the veteran players and that he thinks they are “too old for their own good”. Roy Tucker, a veteran player, states that he thinks Schoolboy Johnson is too hot headed. The descriptions of the baseball games were so detailed that I felt I was actually on the field with the players. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a sports novel with a good moral lesson.
From April 16 to 24, 2011, the U.S. National Park Service will offer free admission to its 394 park sites. Grab your camera and explore a park (or two). Upload your pictures to NG Kids My Shot with the tag “Park Week.” Your photo might be featured in a gallery of the best park images.
In the meantime, click through U.S. National Parks pictures and get inspired to capture images of your own.
Also, check out the Most Visited Parks photos.
Photograph by David Yegerlehner, My Shot
BOOK NAME: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Kelly
Do you like to explore in your own backyard? Well, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a book about this hobby. This science fiction novel, written by Jacqueline Kelly, encourages you to pursue your interest.
Calpurnia is an eleven year old adventurous girl who lives in Austin, Texas in 1899. Rather than doing household chores, Calpurnia loves to explore the woods. She goes to her lonely, grumpy scientist grandfather to get the book, The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin to learn more about nature. Thus begins Calpurnia’s relationship with her grandfather. Grandfather and Calpurnia discuss about many scientists and their accomplishments. They go to the river and observe animals like baby foxes, squirrels, and bears. They watch a moth’s life cycle and make liquor out of pecans. Together, they realize how a gold grasshopper is the same species as a green grasshopper; they just have different colors because one gets less water than the other one. Grandfather and Calpurnia even discover a new species of plants called Vetch. Calpurnia has a keen interest in science and is a young naturalist!
I loved reading this book and would recommend it to others. It received a Newbery Honor which it truly deserves. It is hard to believe that in 1899 it was difficult for a woman to become a scientist. Incorporated into the story are many tips for a young naturalist. It is interesting how each chapter begins with a Charles Darwin’s theory that relates to the event in the chapter.
The time is here again — turn off your lights tomorrow Saturday, March 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 local
time and participate in a global observance called Earth Hour.
Individuals, businesses, and organizations across the world will be
participating. Earth Hour is a
demonstration of how much we can do to cut back power use and prevent
climate change if we all work together.
Do you plan to participate?
Read more on Earth Hour 2011 on National Geographic News.
Visit Earth Hour’s official page.
Phenomenal Friday fact!
It’s possible to produce electricity from elephant dung.
Photograph by Naeem Shariff,My Shot
Scientists have recently discovered an odd new saber-toothed creature. As described in an upcoming study, the prehistoric Tiarajudens eccentricus was about the size of a large dog, and lived before the dinosaurs. One odd thing about this creature is that even though it had fearsome canine teeth, it was a herbivore (a plant-eater). “You would usually expect saber teeth in a carnivore,” said paleontologist Jörg Fröbisch, of the Humboldt University of Berlin. “The best known animals are obviously saber-toothed cats or tigers, but there are also some [extinct] forms known among the marsupials, relatives of kangaroos and wombats.” (Fröbisch was not involved in the study, which will be published tomorrow in the journal Science.)
Study leaders suggest that Tiarajudens eccentricus may have used its fearsome-looking teeth to scare rivals or predators.
BOOK NAME: All the Lovely Bad Ones
AUTHOR: Mary Downing Hahn
Have you ever taken a trip and stayed at a place that was kind of creepy? Well guess what, the Fox Hill Inn is that kind of place! You know the type of place I’m talking about; the one with a run down look, creaky doors, windows that can’t open, big chandeliers, and strange noises. Nothing says “welcome home” like a mysterious figure in the courtyard!
The welcoming group is actually a team of paranormal investigators trying to find the source of all this strangeness. I guess it’s just dumb luck that Corey and Travis get to join them by spending their summer at this inn run by their grandma. They are there because their parents are gone for the summer. Corey and Travis started the summer at camp, but got kicked out for playing hooky and starting food fights. They weren’t that close with their grandma and she didn’t seem like your typical cookie-baking type. She was friendly enough though, and allowed them to explore the inn.
The brother and sister are pranksters and like to scare the guests by doing things such as banging on windows and doors. But things get really interesting when suddenly it’s not them making the strange noises. Apparently they’ve managed to arouse some unwanted guests, the resident ghosts! As you can imagine, their summer vacation goes down hill from there. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it turns out that Corey and Travis are pretty good at solving mysteries. So give it a read–if you dare!
Beginning on April 4, kids will be able to participate in an 8-week online-offline mystery game called VANISHED. The game, developed and curated by MIT’s Education Arcade and the Smithsonian Institution, includes puzzles, real-world museum challenges, and sample collecting. Players will race to solve an environmental disaster mystery by using real scientific techniques. Do you think you have what it takes to play the game and solve the mystery?
The game is open to players across the United States, and registration begins this week. Visit http://vanished.mit.edu if you’d like to join in!
Want to find out if a museum near you is participating? Check out the list of affiliate museums on the Smithsonian Affiliations blog.
The United Nations established March 22nd as World Water Day. You can make a big difference when it comes to protecting the planet by doing small things. On this World Water Day, drink from a reusable bottle. All those single-serving bottles take water to produce.
Get more conservation tips when you read 25 Ways You Can Be a Water Hero.
Photograph by pabloholyturtle, NG Kids My Shot
BOOK NAME: Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25
Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye
I recently read a book of sorts called Time You Let Me In, which is actually a compilation of poems written by 25 poets who are under 25. The poetry is almost all free verse, and is not rhythmic in the sense that many pieces of poetry are. It is jagged and raw, but it is more touching and emotionally stirring than any poetry I have read before. It is about important occurrences in the lives of the poets who contributed. The language used is somewhat mature, however, and for that reason I would recommend it to children who are at least 13. Although I usually don’t particularly like swearing, I felt that the language used in some of the poems gave more depth and meaning to the writing than it would have had had the language been left out or replaced. The poetry is raw in many ways, but it gives true, heartfelt accounts of events that happened as well as providing rare snapshots into people’s lives.
I haven’t read a book that is entirely poetry in a while, and it was refreshing, especially since the verses were so unconventional and unlike anything I had ever read before. In short, I would recommend this to a definitively older group of readers who are ready for a deeply moving emotional rollercoaster of a book.
with Gabriel, Time for Kids, Helen, National Geographic Kids, Alexandria, Scholastic, Daniel, Ranger Rick in the
Children’s Garden of the White House on March 16, 2011.
Helen, from National Geographic Kids: Hi, I’m Helen, and I’m from
National Geographic, and I was wondering… What do you make with the
honey from the White House beehive?
Michelle Obama: Well, we use it in recipes. I put it in my tea.
Sometimes some of the pastry chefs bake with it. We’ve also given it as
gifts to other First Ladies around the world. Most recently, the
beekeeper worked with some folks and they made beer from the honey. So
we had the first ever White House brewed beer with honey, and we served
it at the Super Bowl Party. We’ve figured out a lot of things to do with
House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
First Lady Michelle Obama invited local school children to the White House Wednesday afternoon to plant vegetables in the White House Kitchen Garden. Students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C., their teachers, White House staff, and employees from the National Park Service helped Mrs. Obama plant seedlings and seeds in raised beds on the White House South Lawn.
Photographs by Helen O., National Geographic Kids
Read the whole post »
Phenomenal Friday fact!
People flush about 27,000 trees’ worth of toilet paper down
the drain every day.
The next time you’re shopping for house
products with your family, consider buying toilet paper made from post-consumer recycled content.
BOOK NAME: The Rivalry
AUTHOR: John Feinstein
Hey, I’m back. I’m writing about a mystery book. I liked this book because it also involves sports. It is a series of books; all have something to do with sports. It’s about two teenagers who are reporters for two different newspapers. Stevie and Susan Carol are their names.
They were both invited to the Army vs. Navy game, which is a big football rivalry. The game would take place in D.C. Each reporter would each be assigned a team to cover. Stevie went to West Point to check out Army and Susan Carol hade to go to Annapolis, Maryland to see the Naval Academy.
When the game day finally came the refs were not being fair and both coaches were REALLY mad. It turns out the same refs were at he previous game for both teams and weren’t being very fair in those either. Can Susan Carol and Stevie get to the bottom of this? I can’t tell you that. You are going to have to read the book to find out. I think that if you like mystery or sports or both then this is the book for you. I recommend this book for kids 10-13. It keeps you up all night because you just can’t put it down.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Until next time: Hasta la vista amigos.
Heavy metals such as lead and copper flow into waterways from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff and industrial wastes. These pollutants can be harmful to humans. But a new study shows that banana peels can remove metal contamination from river water.
During the study, Gustavo Castro, a researcher at the Biosciences Institute at Botucatu, Brazil and his team dried and ground banana peels, then combined them in flasks of contaminated water. They also built water filters out of peels and pushed water through them. In both tests, “the metal was removed from the water and remained bonded to the banana peels,” Castro said, adding that the banana peels outperformed the traditional more expensive methods of metal removal.
Other tests have shown that apple and sugar cane wastes, coconut fibers, and peanut shells, can also remove potential toxins from water.
Read more about the study on National Geographic News.
Photograph by Christina DiPaola, My Shot
Thousands of people are missing or dead after a powerful earthquake and tsunami shattered much of Japan last Friday. Now a nuclear disaster threatens the health of survivors.
If your family would like to help, here are some organizations your parents can contact to do something for the people of Japan. Donations can be small. Please visit the websites of the organizations listed to find out more about their relief efforts in Japan.
Japan Relief Donations
Animal Relief Efforts
Animal Refuge Kansai
The charity is appealing for help for the animals made homeless by the earthquake and tsunami. You may make a donation through PayPal.
Japan Cat Network
How you can help.
World Society for the Protection of Animals
WSPA is sending their own team of veterinarians to Japan.
Photograph by Damir Sagolj, Reuters
BOOK NAME: Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker
AUTHOR: Marie Hammontree
ILLUSTRATOR: Fred Irvin
We all know Walt Disney as the super rich guy who created Disney World. I know that I used to think that he had the best life. But in this book, you read Walt’s life story. Turns out, his life wasn’t so perfect. His family was actually very poor.
Walt was young but worked like he was an adult. After all, it was the only way he could make some money. He worked at his father’s newspaper business, as a newsboy. But even that money Walt couldn’t keep. All the money he earned, his father took from him and kept it so that Walt wouldn’t spend it on foolish things. Walt Disney had three brothers and one sister.
His father wanted him to be the next owner of the jelly factory. But Walt didn’t want to do that in life. He wanted to be a cartoonist. His father thought that being any type of artist was stupid. He thought those were Walt’s childhood dreams, and that he would convince him not to do it when he was older. But Walt was growing up, and insisted on being a cartoonist.
I really liked this book because it changed my view of famous people. It made me notice that maybe some celebrities didn’t start out rich and famous. They had to work to get like that. This is a book for all ages.
A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake–the strongest in Japan in 140 years–struck 81 miles
(130 kilometers) off the coast of Sendai at 2:46 p.m. The number of casualties has not been confirmed.
Sendai, a city of about a million residents, was hit by tsunami
waves up to 33 feet (10 meters) high. Tsunami warnings were quickly
issued for many Pacific Coast regions, including Hawaii, the Philippines, and Mexico.
The earthquake and its aftershocks were felt as far away asTokyo, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the epicenter.
Learn more about Japan .
Photograph by Keichi Nakane, Yomiuri Shimbun/AP
Another phenomenal Friday fact!
By ditching the car and cycling to your friend’s house or
soccer practice instead, you’ll keep pollutants from being emitted into the
atmosphere – 3.6 pounds for every mile you ride.
Photograph by Guy Needham, My Shot
Awesome Animals is a fun book. It has lots and lots of posters and fun games to do.
When I was doing the games, some were hard, so every once in a while I’d have to look in the back of the book to find some of the answers. And I love how it has all of the animals pretty much. There’s these little animals mad libs which I really like too.
Other kinds of games are finding games…like finding different kinds of things that are hidden in a picture. There’s also the game where you have to find the differences in two pictures, which are ALMOST the same.
My favorite part of the book is the animals on the posters. The posters all fold out from the book and each has different information about each of the animals. There are 10 posters in all, including dolphins, pandas, jaguars, elephants, koala bears, sea turtles, frogs, lions and penguins. I just really love them.
I would recommend this book to maybe 5-10 years old. I loved and I just think you would too. Adios!
On February 24, 2011, space shuttle Discovery rocketed to space for its 39th and final mission. The shuttle traveled to the International Space Station, where it docked and installed a module containing supplies and spare parts for the station. The shuttle’s crew also installed additional space station equipment during spacewalks. Discovery landed a little before noon at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, March 9, completing its last trip.
As of the end of the mission, Discovery spent a total 365 days in space during all its missions–adding up to a whole year! The space shuttles were originally designed to take about 100 trips into space. Endeavour is scheduled to launch on April 19.
See more pictures from Discovery‘s final mission on National Geographic News.
See space shuttle pictures on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Joe Skipper, Reuters
National Geographic Society kicked off the American version of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI) “Sister School Program” at Steuart Weller Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia, during a school-wide assembly with BCI’s Luke Dollar. The Sister School Program connects American students with students in Tanzania to encourage protection of big cats, specifically lions.
The Big Cats Initiative, made up of conservationists led by National
Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, hope to
stop this decline and to restore the population.
Get more information on the Big Cats Initiative.
Let African leaders know how important lions are to you by writing a letter.
Read a Q&A with Luke Dollar.