Archives for March, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013 marked the seventh year that people around the world participated in Earth Hour. From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., businesses, individuals and governments around the globe turned off the lights, computers, and TVs.
Hundreds of millions of people in 7,001 cities in 153 countries across the continents participated this year! With people on all 7 continents pledging to do their part and create a sustainable future, we can reduce the energy footprint on Earth.
Did you and your family participate in this year’s Earth Hour?
Simon’s cat is a rather complicated book. It’s about… a man named Simon and his cat. Hey! I guess it’s not so complicated after all!
The book tells the story of Simon, a young man with a big cat, who finds a kitten in a box in his backyard. Feeling pity for the kitten, Simon brings it into his home. But without his knowledge, the kitten gets into quite some trouble. It begins to fight with Simon’s other cat, and destroys everything in the home! Yet Simon always comes at the wrong times- when it looks like his cat is the culprit. This sparks a lot of arguments and competitions between Simon’s cat and the kitten.
The kitten is constantly playing tricks on Simon’s cat and getting itself into dangerous situations, such as playing with the hedgehogs or releasing the rabbits. It also ruins the cat’s litter box, and rips Simon’s pants and shoes! The fights are endless! It seems like the cat and the kitten will never be friends! But towards the end of the book, the cat and the kitten learn to get along. They begin to get used to each other, and they even become friends.
I enjoyed this book. It really gives you an image of what the story is trying to tell! I would recommend it to anyone, even young children. Through silly pranks and stupendous surprises, the story of Simon’s cat and the kitten is truly a great one. And the greatest surprise yet? The entire book is in pictures!
Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, recently traveled to South Padre Island in Texas. During his stay, he visited Sea Turtle Inc, an organization that helps injured sea turtles recover before releasing them back into the wild.
Andrew met a turtle named Allison at the facility. Allison is a green sea turtle that has lost three out of her four flippers, probably to a shark. Allison has been given a prosthetic fin to help her swim.
Today is Holi, the Hindu ”Festival of Colors.” To celebrate the arrival of spring, people light bonfires and throw colorful powder and water at each other. During the festival, it’s not uncommon to see people with all kinds of colors covering their face, hair, and clothing! Most people who observe Holi live in India and Nepal, but Hindus all over the world join in the celebration.
Helping the planet is a big part of what our world trip is all about and that’s exactly what we did this past week.
We helped get a hydroponics farm started. This farm will be a model for the local villagers so they can start their very own self sustaining farm. Hydroponics is a type of farming that uses a third of the water needed in an average farm and it is covered by a tarp so the elephants and rhinos don’t smoosh it.
The farm is set right next to a beautiful flood plain (the sunsets are epic) and the property is home to trees that have lived for thousands of years. Speaking of trees, one of my projects while we were there was planting trees that will one day be just as amazing as the others. There was one great granddaddy called a baobab on the property. It was so big; when I saw it my mouth dropped open.
All of the villages throughout Botswana have their own chief who controls a certain amount of land. We had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with the chief of Katchikow, we called it “Catch a Cow.” In the meeting we discussed starting a hydroponics farm in his area. He seemed to be all for it and said that it was god’s plan that the project we were helping with had come to his area.
Another problem the village people face is the destruction caused by wild animals such as the elephant. Elephants will walk through and destroy their crops, trees and huts in just one night. The cheap and easy solution is to soak rope in chili water and put it up around their fence and it will keep the elephants and other wild critters away.
It is crazy to think that the garden is their life, where as for us it is really something we do for fun. We take for granted that we have other options if our fruits and vegetables don’t grow. It will definitely be something that I will think about a lot more when we go home.
The difference we made by just sharing some new simple farming methods is astonishing. Our hope is by teaching these new methods they will double their crops and their income.
It was a fantastic week and it always feels good when you know you are making a difference in the world. I hope to continue to “make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race…”
Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a heart-breaking memoir about his tragic times in the Nazi concentration camps.
Elie Wiesel is a 13 year old Jewish boy growing up in the village of Sighet located in Hungary. It is 1943 in the midst of the Holocaust, yet the Jewish families in Sighet believe that there is nothing to fear about Hitler and that the situation is not as bad as it sounds. But, one ordinary day in 1944, the Germans appear in Sighet and Elie knows that his life will change forever. Once at the concentration camp of Birkenau, Elie is separated from his mother and sisters, and his only family member with him is his father. Together, the two endure laborious work and starvation thrown upon them by the brutal Gestapo. Their only wish is that they do not get separated and to avoid selection. Through many tiring marches to different concentration camps, will Elie and his father manage to stay together?
The tragedy and history in Night is suitable for middle school and high school kids. Elie Wiesel brings out the inhumanity he faced in the camps, making this book a good primary source on the Holocaust. Elie Wiesel even uses lots of similes, metaphors, and foreshadowing to portray the situation. When he says, “We can’t let them kill us like that, like cattle in the slaughterhouse,” (31), I was shocked at how the mass murders occurred in the crematorium and learned that the prisoners were surrounded by death everywhere. This book truly passes the word that history must not repeat itself–genocides like the Holocaust should never happen again.
James Cameron, the movie director and National Geographic explorer-in-residence who made the world’s deepest solo dive last year, donated his DEEPSEA CHALLENGER sub and formed a partnership with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or WHOI. The scientists at WHOI will work with Cameron to use the sub’s technologies on other research platforms and expeditions.
You may have heard that roosters crow when the sun comes up, but scientists at Nagoya University in Japan have discovered that roosters don’t even need to see the sun to know when to crow! Their internal clocks let them know when the new day is beginning. The scientists first exposed the roosters to two weeks of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dim light. The roosters would begin crowing two hours before the light conditions began. In a second experiment, the roosters were kept under dim light for 24 hours a day for two weeks. The roosters began crowing at around the same time every day when they thought it was dawn.
Kristen Navara, a hormone specialist in poultry at the University of Georgia in Athens, had noticed that sunlight didn’t appear before the roosters began crowing. “We have definitely noticed in our own roosters that they begin to crow before dawn and have wondered why that was, but just never thought to test whether it was a circadian rhythm driven by an internal clock rather than an external cue.”
BOOK NAME: A Thunderous Whisper
AUTHOR: Christina Diaz Gonzales
Ani was never important. She was always a quiet, insignificant little girl. Her mother, a short-tempered sardine seller, called her neska. At first, Ani thought this was an affectionate nickname. Yet then she found out it just meant girl. People often made fun of her for being the daughter of the sardinera (sardine seller). Growing up during Spain’s Civil War, Ani didn’t have an easy life. Her father was away, bravely fighting for Guernica, the city Ani lived in.
After years having no friends, Mathias moves into town. He is a young, free-spirited boy, who has a limping problem and walks with a makila, a walking stick. Could Mathias be her first friend? Ani is curious to know what the story behind his family is. After all, who would move to Guernica during this dangerous time? After a movie theatre mishap, Mathias discovers that his father is a spy! Suddenly, a world of promise is before him and Ani. They have the chance to help Mathias’s father and his spy group on their missions. Through many lies and confusing envelopes, the two friends succeed in their missions.
Yet on one terrible day, Guernica is bombed. The village is destroyed, and many are killed. Ani and Mathias manage to survive, but they lose everything. Their world is turned upside down. Left as orphans, they cannot get over the pain of losing their parents and all of their loved ones. Padre Inaki, the kind priest of the village’s church, takes Ani and Mathias into his home. They help his wife take care of all of the injured survivors. But wait- there is hope! Ani reunites with her father, but she must break the news to him that his wife has been killed. And her father cannot stay for long. He must return to continue fighting.
Through helping those in need, Ani and Mathias realize that they can make a difference, far beyond their own village.
I really enjoyed this book. I have to admit- I almost cried during certain parts of it. There are some chapters that may be intense for young children, and I would therefore recommend it to anyone ages 12 and up. Ani and Mathias’s courage is simply inspiring.
Just looking at our Land Cruiser made me excited, it was the perfect open air safari truck and how we would be traveling through Botswana’s best game parks for the next week. Our guide William was a wealth of knowledge with everything from birds and antelope to the traditional food (which he ate an extraordinarily large amount of)!
Our first sighting was a herd of elephant just steps away. We thought we were hearing lions off in the distance but William told us that it was just the sound of the elephant’s stomachs digesting their food.
Speaking of digestion you should know that while all of this was happening I was curled up in a ball with a case of African belly. But it was my fault for trying all these new yummy African foods.
Even though I felt awful we still had an epic game drive. We saw loads of impala, warthog, elephant, and monkeys with blue butts (they are called velvet monkeys, although I think they should just be called blue butts). As we were setting up camp a herd of elephant walked right by, it made my heart beat soooo fast! We spent all of our nights enjoying braii cooked meals and gazing at the stars.
That night while we slept hippos danced two feet from our heads, lions walked through our camp and monkeys got into our trash. It’s a good thing that I am a sound sleeper.
We saw hundreds of elephants throughout our next day and they always brought a smile to my face.
We then experienced a giraffe fight. There were two males fighting over a female and they would swoop down with their heads and bang the other guy in the belly. It seemed like this was all happening in slow motion and made it very funny to watch. I wasn’t sure who was winning but I knew the next day they were going to have some serious stomach aches (just like me.)
Each of our games drives had been so incredible that we couldn’t imagine things getting better, but they did… guess what we saw? Ya… you are right it, was a male lion walking down the road… wait no he wasn’t walking he was strutting his stuff just as if he were a runway model. He had all kinds of scars all over his face so we realized he wasn’t the kind of cat you wanted to cuddle up with.
Then something even more amazing happened we came across a leopard and her fully grown cub lounging on a dead tree. They didn’t have a care in the world all that mattered to them was their nap. After we watched them lounge for a while it started to rain cats and dogs… no not latterly but if you keep listening we saw more of each!
Next a lion spotting even more amazing than the first. He was in the high grass and you could tell the thunder and lightning really freaked him out. Whenever it would boom his eyes got really big and he would yawn giving us a great view of those massive canines. Right then William got close enough that in one little bound he could be on my lap but luckily that didn’t happen! Phew!!!!
Now you want to hear about the dogs? Okay, I will tell you. On our way back to a swamp of a camp I spotted something frightening two wild dogs trying to get a yummy impala dinner. We were really lucky to see these wild guys because William told us there are only 4,000 in all of Africa.
To end our epic day we saw a black mamba getting a drink from a puddle. Just so you know black mambas are very poisons and my mom doesn’t like snakes so it absolutely freaked her out.
On our final day in Chobe National Park we completed our sightings of the big five with a cape buffalo off in the distance. I heard they can be very ornery for no reason at all so I was fine by me that they were far away. Their horns look like someone used a lot of gel in their hair to make a silly hairdo.
Sadly all of the excitement in these incredible parks was coming to an end, but there are still loads of adventures to come. Talk to you next week!
Tomorrow is March 14, or 3/14. That means it’s time to celebrate Pi Day! Pi, represented with the Greek letter π, is a mathematical term for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is used in geometry, physics, and engineering. Although Pi is actually an infinite decimal, the first three digits of the number are 3.14, which is why we celebrate Pi on March 14.
Are you planning to celebrate Pi Day? You could eat a slice of pie! Get more ideas for Pi Day activities on the Exploratorium website.
BOOK NAME: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
AUTHOR: Brian Selznick
Have you ever read a book that was a piece of art and a great story at the same time? If not, then you’ll find that The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a great book to try. In fact, it’s such a great book that they made it into a great move too and it has since won several Academy Awards. It is also impressive to say that you read a five hundred page book in one day, as long as you don’t mention that the majority of the book is pictures. However, you’ll find that this novel is like a picture book times a thousand with stunning illustrations, realistic characters, a nostalgic setting, and a mysterious adventure that will keep your eyes glued on the pages.
Hugo Cabret is a boy that lives in a magnificent train station in Paris. This boy’s father used to clean the clocks and make sure they stayed working. Hugo learned everything he knows from his father. He learned something new every day until the day his father died. Not wanting to go to an orphanage, he takes his father’s place so no one would notice his dad was gone. The only thing Hugo’s father left behind (besides his knowledge) was an automaton. An automaton is a complex humanoid “robot”. Hugo suspects his father left a secret message and when he gets it working he will understand.
On his own with no one to support him, Hugo goes through many tribulations, including to resorting to stealing. He steals food from the café, and steals small toys for parts for his automaton. The man who owns these toys catches him stealing and they come to find that they are not complete strangers.
This is a book that I think everyone should read, especially if you want to see the movie. This inspiring book is sure to be an instant classic.
While most six-to-nine-year-old boys spend most of their days studying and playing, Richard Turere of Kenya tried to protect his father’s cows from lions. Richard found the lions “very annoying, because they were killing my father’s cows.” He started thinking up ways to scare away the lions. He tried everything from fires (which only seemed to help the lions) to scarecrows. Yet, the lions would find a way around because they “are very clever,” he says. However, he noticed the most effective way was when he would walk around with a flashlight.
After taking apart his mother’s new radio, he rigged a few simple wires and light bulbs together to create a machine that would flash a series of lights, tricking the lions into thinking someone was walking around with a flashlight. It worked, and soon there were seven other homes in Richard’s community using his “lion lights.”
We all know that there are some people who are vegetarians, but did you know there are plants that eat meat? These plants eat unsuspecting insects that land on them. Like any good hunter these plants tend to lay traps to lure their dinners. They do this through appealing smells, bright colors, and yummy nectars. However, it has been discovered that some plants also glow under ultraviolet light! This blue glow is invisible to the human eye, but insects can see it and are attracted to it.
The plants have special cells that help them produce their glow. Scientists note that carnivorous plants tend to grow in poor soil, so they trap insects to get more nutrients.