Archives for July, 2011
Another Phenomenal Friday Fact
Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, eating away at thousands of square miles of irreplaceable forest lands every year.
Learn more about Rain Forest Deforestation and Habit Destruction.
The Russian team won the 10th National Geographic World Championship at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California yesterday. Russia has entered the competition every year. The Canadian team came in second place (Canada came in first last year), and Chinese Taipei came in third. The teams were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals.
The World Championship is held every two years.
BOOK NAME: The Time-Traveling Fashionista
AUTHOR: Bianca Turetsky
What if a beautiful vintage dress could take you back in time?
Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns, and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the mail, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.
Suddenly on board a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamour of this opulent age and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence.
Some tiny snails in Japan can survive a trip through a bird’s digestive tract. When graduate student Shinchiro Wada and his colleagues at Tohoku University fed the Tornatellides boeningi snails to captive white-eye birds and brown-eared bulbuls birds, they noticed that about 15% of the snails passed through the birds and were pooped out alive! How do the snails survive? Wada isn’t sure. The snails are very small, which may help keep their shells from cracking. Wada says that the snails have the ability to seal off their shells with a mucus film, which may help keep the birds’ digestive fluids out.
Photograph courtesy Shinichiro Wada
BOOK NAME: Atlas’ Revenge: Another Mad Myth Mystery
AUTHOR: Robyn DiTocco
Imagine if you had to fight ferocious monsters and battle evildoers while attempting to save the world all at the same time! For PJ Allen, that is exactly what he has to do. This task becomes daunting at times. PJ appears to be a typical college student in California. If you didn’t include his recent adventure involving the Olympian Gods, Titans, and Medusa, his life mainly revolves around college life. Out of the blue, PJ is called upon by the messenger god, Hermes, requesting that PJ aid the Olympians again! He told PJ that Atlas, the Titan who holds up the heavens, is missing. Hercules is holding up the sky in Titan’s place, but cannot bear its weight much longer. The messenger also reveals that Hercules’ Twelve Labors need to be accomplished in order to save innocent people from deadly beasts. PJ must complete these tasks in Hercules’ place. In addition, he must find where Atlas is hiding and restore him to his rightful place before Hercules falls. PJ must also choose between his ex-girlfriend and his new girlfriend. Little does PJ know that one the girls is the mastermind behind the disappearance of Atlas.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It had just the right amount of suspense and humor. For example, PJ must battle powerful foes, but still manages to find humor in the situation. The plot was both exciting and entertaining. I also like the fact that you can learn a little about Greek mythology, such as the names of the Greek gods, monsters, and other beings from the book. This story nicely blended fact and fiction. Many of PJ’s close friends actually turned out to be mythical beings. I encourage you to read the book and uncover the answers.
Another Phenomenal Friday Fact!
BOOK NAME: Red Scarf Girl
AUTHOR: Ji-li Jiang
“The world had turned upside down” (36). Ji-li Jiang writes about her experiences during the Cultural Revolution in China in the memoir, Red Scarf Girl. This book shows that in times of unrest you should not be carried away by false promises.
Ji-li Jiang, a thirteen year old girl, lives with her family in China. Chairman Mao Zedong, the leader of Communist China, has begun the Cultural Revolution and is enforcing strict laws that no one should follow the four olds. Ji-li is smart and always succeeds in school. But now, being smart is a four old. Ji-li is a common target of the school’s Red Guards because she is from a landlord family and that is a crime. In the midst of the Cultural Revolution, Ji-li’s family is falling apart. But, Ji-li also wants to help her country. Read the book to find out which side she will take – her family or Chairman Mao.
I would definitely suggest others to read this heartfelt book. Since the author narrates her story, you get a firsthand source of the pain and torture of China’s Cultural Revolution. It was spine chilling to see how landlord families were made to climb up chimneys and sweep the streets. At the end of the book, all the suspense is revealed as Ji-li talks about how her life has changed after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Red Scarf Girl taught me a lot about China’s history.
Space shuttle Atlantis landed this morning, ending its mission and bringing the 30-year-old shuttle program to a close. The retired space shuttles Enterprise, Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis will be displayed in museums around the United States.
Photograph by Joe Skipper, Reuters
BOOK NAME: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
AUTHOR: Kate DiCamillo
Meet Edward Tulane. He is a china rabbit with the fanciest clothes and features you have ever seen on a rabbit. And he is dearly loved and pampered by his owner, Abilene. Unfortunately, Edward’s heart is closed and he thinks of Abilene and her family as dull. However, his life changes dramatically when Edward is lost and is found by another person; in fact, several people. Each person who finds Edward gives him a new name and shares his or her story in which Edward now plays a role. As Edward’s heart is broken and “repaired”, it gets stronger. But it is enough for Edward to learn to love back?
Susanna, Malone, Clyde, and Jangles are just some of the names given to Edward throughout his journey. Each new name and story will either make you feel sympathy or great joy. Since Edward can think but cannot move or speak, his character needs to be tough at times to absorb everything that is taking place around him. My favorite part is when all hope is lost, he still believes somebody will come for him. They say if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you then it is yours. You will definitely find yourself cheering for Edward to end up where he truly belongs.
This book is one of my favorites of all time and with the beautiful illustrations it becomes amazingly vivid. Some people don’t like sob stories, but please just bear through the tears because this is indeed a wonderful adventure!
The winners of the 2011 Google Science Fair have been chosen! Shree Bose, Lauren Hodge, and Naomi Shah (all from the USA) got first place for their respective age groups. The grand prize went to to Shree for her project on improving ovarian cancer treatment. National Geographic was a partner in the event.
BOOK NAME: Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja
AUTHOR: Simon Higgins
It’s the dawn of a new age of peace in medieval Japan, and a power-hungry warlord is plotting to plunge the nation into a deadly civil war. Enter Moonshadow, the newest agent for the Grey Light Order, a secret brotherhood of ninja spy warriors. For his first mission, Moonshadow is sent on a dangerous journey to save his country from violent chaos. Can Moonshadow defeat the evil warlord, rogue samurai, professional killers, and another ninja spy? Or will his first mission also be his last?
Today was our last day in the Cayman Islands. We visited the Pedro St. James Castle this morning, where we learned a lot about the history of Grand Cayman. The weather was beautiful, as it has been all week. We had a delicious lunch at the Lighthouse Restaurant and then had free time until our farewell dinner on the beach. There were drummers and story-tellers, and great food. Our hosts built a big bonfire and we had fun making s’mores!
Last week kids posted names that they wanted Andrew Evans to name the dog he befriended on his travels to Ontario, Canada. We created a poll of the five names that were posted by Monday, July 11: Fluffy, Puffy, Cotton, Chatham, and Snowbird.
The name that received the most votes is Chatham, a name that was posted by
Thanks for voting! To find out where Andrew will go next check out his blog, Digital Nomad.
What breed of dog do you think he will meet there?
Jonathan: We had a very early start this morning because we were off on another adventure to a new island. We took a Cayman Airways plane to Cayman Brac, a sister island to Grand Cayman. Fifteen minutes and 90 miles later we landed in Cayman Brac. “Brac” is Gaelic for bluff and the island got its name because of the 140-foot bluff standing on the island’s coast.
Our first stop was to the Cayman Brac Museum. The museum holds many unique artifacts that shows the history, culture, and heritage of the island that date all the way back to the early 1900s. One of the artifacts we saw was a mattress made by stuffing it with dried plantain and banana leaves. Another thing we learned about in the museum was the history of caymanite. Caymanite is a semiprecious stone, which is layered in different shades of brown, and is only found on Cayman Brac. It was discovered by a tourist visiting Cayman Brac from Alabama in 1978.
After the museum, we headed to the Brac’s caves. My favorite cave we saw was called Peter’s Cave. Peter’s Cave is located inside of the bluff so we had to drive all the way to the top. The cave was made out of limestone and was used by the first settlers of the island to provide shelter from the hurricanes.
Because of its sturdiness and high elevation, Peter’s Cave is the perfect place to hide out during a bad storm. Inside the cave, we had to really duck down so we wouldn’t hit our heads on the low ceiling. It was very dark and cramped in the cave so we needed to watch out where we were going so we wouldn’t crash into any stalagmites or stalactites that were scattered all over. I can’t imagine having to stay in there to ride out a storm because of how humid and tight it was, but obviously people still do because we found a lounge chair, mattress, and jugs of water in the cave. It was interesting to explore Peter’s cave but I was happy to see the sunshine and amazing view of the Cayman Brac when we exited.
Zane: Today, The HOEC team returned to the Cayman Turtle farm. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we boarded the buses and were off. After a short but scenic drive, we arrived at our destination. The entrance was bright and colorful. Before we entered, a few of us noticed a small green iguana in front of the door. After we had taken many pictures, the lizard darted away.
Inside the laboratory, we met up with Dr. Walter Mustin, Ph.D., one of the turtle researchers who works at the turtle farm. He gave us a presentation about the turtles, and showed us many interesting things, such as a small, five-day-old green sea turtle, and some leathery turtle eggs. He also explained a rather fascinating theory that he formulated to explain the health of the turtles when they hatched in relation to the amount of sand that was on top of them.
After this, we all moved back outside, where we witnessed a turtle feeding session in a large tank. We were ushered along by our tour guides, and eventually arrived at an aviary, which happened to be the largest open air aviary in the Caribbean. In small groups, we entered the structure through a system of doors that were designed to to keep the birds inside from escaping.
BOOK NAME: Adam Canfield: The Last Reporter
AUTHOR: Michael Winerip
This book is one in a series about a student newspaper called the Slash and its coeditor, Adam Canfield. The newspaper used to be paid for by Harris Elementary/Middle School, where Adam goes to school. But the school stopped paying for it when the paper wrote a story that offended a big company called The Bolands and the company took the paper to court and forced the school to stop paying for it. Now the paper is paid for by the school’s students, mainly Adam and his coeditor and girlfriend, Jennifer.
What I really like about this book is that there are countless problems solved and stories written by the newspaper’s staff. There’s issues with finding the money to keep the newspaper running. There’s the Ameche brothers who are good at making money for the paper by selling ads but they don’t understand anything about newspapers so they get into trouble by offering to sell stories to businesses. There’s problems with the state test scores. There’s a school election where a candidate promises to give 100 free iTunes songs to every person who votes for him. Adam’s bike also gets stolen and then he has troubles with his girlfriend. There’s a lot going on in this book.
I like this book because there’s more going on in it than any other book that I’ve read. It is hard to stop reading.
Thanks to everyone who is following the blog and leaving comments and questions! luckstomper: The largest animal we saw on the Mastic Trail were parrots. When we were visiting the Iguana Sanctuary, we observed the iguanas and took photos, but we didn’t touch them. zanes brother: Our hotel is right on the beach and has an awesome pool that we LOVE. There’s a coral reef right off shore, and we all love our rooms!
Maddie: MaddiesDad: I saw fish and corals from above the submarine. I can’t remember what kinds of fish I saw and not much about how they looked. My favorite activity so far was when we went snorkeling. I saw so much cool fish.
Aunt Gigi: The most amazing sight so far was the sea turtles at the turtle farm. I saw babies too. I’m going back tomorrow when we are going to hold the turtles. The activities I’m most looking forward to are the turtle farm and when we are going to a different island. The submarine ride already passed but that was one of the activities I was excited about. I also really liked the blue iguanas.
My favorite part of the day was Stingray City. I loved the smooth, soft texture of the stingrays. Someone told me they were slimy at an aquarium I went to, so I was nervous to touch one until today. They weren’t slimy at all.
We recently told you about Andrew Evans and his travels. He loves dogs and always bonds with one dog everywhere he goes. He asked kids to name the local dog that he befriended on his trip to Canada, and several kids came up with some names: Puffy, Cotton, Chatham, Fluffy, and Snowbird.
Then please vote in the poll and choose the name that would best fit this dog!
Thanks to everyone who has left comments for us! Skimp27, the food is pretty much the same as the food we eat at home, but there’s a lot more seafood. The hotel is really nice. We love that we can walk right from the pool to the ocean, and it’s very close to cool sites. The drives to the activities are pretty short.
Emmie: This morning we departed our hotel after breakfast and drove to the Mastic Trail. It was a longer bus ride then the ones before, but the scenery was amazing! There were really pretty trees with gorgeous orange flowers, cows, and even a sign with “Goats for sale” written on it! We got to the trailhead, where we were met by our guides. We split into four groups–two each of parents and kids. Our tour guide was very interesting, talking about birds, plants, and the island’s history. A few minutes into the hike, our tour guide stopped and pointed out what looked like an ordinary fern. Then we looked closer. A tiny little snake lay curled up on the fern! It was amazingly camouflaged, looking exactly like the fern it sat on. Our guide explained that this was a ground boa-a very rare species of boa constrictor. It was so small, we could hardly believe that it was a boa! As we continued, he pointed out several species of toxic plants, including one that had fruit that could kill a horse. Needless to say, we gave those plants a wide berth. The trail became very rocky, so we had to look at the ground to make sure we didn’t trip. There were some tiny flowers that I doubt I would have noticed otherwise. They were lovely, and we got some great pictures.
A little further down the trail, we heard woodpeckers. The guide located the nest and told us that woodpeckers had been almost wiped out by Hurricane Ivan. I borrowed Kobie’s binoculars and saw a woodpecker feeding a baby chick. The woodpecker had a striped head and was amazing to view up close. However, since it was up a tree that was off the trail, it was very hard to photograph. Also hard to photograph were the swallowtail butterflies, which were very fast. I managed to capture one shot of a bright orange butterfly near Michael’s knee. After some more walking, the trail evened out. We came upon a mango tree, which had very small, yellow fruit. We took a few, which were very sweet and stringy. When we finished the two-mile hike (which took us two and a half hours because we kept stopping) we stepped gratefully into the air-conditioned busses and guzzled ice cold water.
Diego: Today I plunged 95 feet into the ocean in the Atlantis submarine. This is where I saw and documented the marine wildlife of a coral reef through the crystal clear water. As the submarine went by the coral reef I could see dozens of fish swim by. As I dove deeper I could see why they call this submarine a technology marvel. I say this because it sustains perfect life conditions for humans. As the submarine surfaced I wished I could stay but I knew that I had to board the ship and head back to shore. Then I realized that more exciting adventures will come later in the week.
We’ve arrived on Grand Cayman, but we are still waiting for four team members to get to the hotel. They were on later flights. Meanwhile, eleven of us want to share our first impressions of this beautiful island.
Photograph by Dan Westergren
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BOOK NAME: 13 Treasures
AUTHOR: Michelle Harrison
She can see fairies. But not the fairies we imagine. Evil fairies who cast spells on her, rousing her from her sleep and propelling her out of bed. At wit’s end with her daughter’s unusual behavior, Tanya’s mother sends her to Elvesden Manor, her grandmother’s secluded countryside estate. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods surrounding the mansion, an as Tanya learns more about the mystery, she finds herself dangerously close to vanishing into the fairy realm forever.
Another Phenomenal Friday Fact!
Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year. Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun’s energy and make it useable.
Photograph by Photography Lover, NG Kids My Shot
Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off this morning, beginning the last mission of the shuttle program. The program began when space shuttle Columbia flew into space in 1981, and Atlantis flew its first mission in 1985. To mark the final flight, Atlantis crew members are planning to take a flag from the first 1981 shuttle mission to the International Space Station, where it will stay until the first commercial flight to the station. The astronauts will also be taking an iPhone, marking the first time the iPhone has traveled into space.
Photograph courtesy Kim Shiflett, NASA