Category archives for Uncategorized
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.
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.
The hippo and crocodile infested waters were just outside our front door at the Old Bridge Lodge. It was a little unnerving knowing they could just crawl into bed with us, but we decided to stay a few nights anyway. Although the water is full of all kinds of creepy creatures the riverfront is gorgeous.
On our first day in Maun we visited the local village and an empowerment program where woman and men from that and many other villages nearby sell their handicrafts.
We had the opportunity to learn how the beautiful Botswana baskets are made and let me tell you it was not easy. I spent three hours on mine and the inside was just a little bigger than a quarter. It made me realize the amount of time, energy and focus that goes into these baskets that they sell for little or no profit.
After spending a few days in civilization we realized we were ready for the wilderness again and a different kind of safari. This time we were going into the wild by way of boat along the Okavango Delta.
The wind blowing our hair, the water glistening and our first HIPPO!
There he was three feet from our boat and ready to tip us at any minute. Our guide Phaladi steps on the gas and rides right over this massive creature and into the next channel before we become his lunch.
Our next spotting was a baby crocodile lurking in the murky waters just inches away. He was so close I thought he would crawl into our boat but fortunately Phaladi assured us that would not happen. Phew!
Our next morning we took scary to a new level and walked out of our tent and into the animal filled savannah with nothing but Phaladi to protect us. My heart felt like it might just jump out of my chest. Within minutes we saw dozens of different antelope and my dad kept saying, “Where there are prey there are predators”, but to be honest I had no interest in seeing any predators especially lions. AHHHHH!
We finished our walk a few hours later in one piece without seeing any predators and got back into the canals of the Delta. The reeds in the water form a massive maze. Fortunately Phaladi grew up here and knew where to go because I would have been totally lost in about two seconds.
Everest was excited to go fishing and we were excited to have grilled fish for dinner so Phaladi took us to an island where we cast out our lines and put our feet in the sand (hoping they didn’t get bitten off by a croc). After an hour of trying we came to the conclusion that the crocs ate all the fish and didn’t leave any for us.
As the sun was setting we road back to camp and saw six more hippos, all just as frightening as the first especially because we had heard more stories about boats being tipped by hippos. We arrived back to camp and listened to the low moans of a lion off in the distance and enjoyed our fishless dinner under the stars.
Our final day in the peaceful Okavango Delta was spent speeding down the reed canals and keeping a lookout for hippos and their bubbles.
We had an amazing time and didn’t want our Okavango adventure to end but there are sooooo many more great things to come!
On Friday, February 15, a meteor broke into fragments before hitting the ground near Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating a sonic boom that shattered windows and injured as many as a thousand people. No more meteorites are expected to fall in the region in the near future.
How much do you know about comets and meteors? Quiz Your Noodle and find out!
Water is a very important resource for life. Every day we use it for drinking, washing, farming and cooking. But it’s not an unlimited resource, so we need to find ways to use it more wisely.
The Colorado River is one source of water that is disappearing. It stretches 1,450 miles (2,333 kilometers), but can barely even reach the sea anymore. The water is split up among seven states in the U.S. and Mexico. Around 30 million people use this source of water for drinking and irrigation. This means that there is little water left over to support the ecosystem that lives along the river’s path.
It may be hard to believe, but we all use the water from the Colorado River. It isn’t just farmers who use it for irrigation or big cities like Las Vegas. Many of us consume items produced in the region, such as hamburgers and cornmeal.
Did you know that the average American uses twice as much water as the global average? That’s about 2,000 gallons per person every day!
To make a difference, adults are pledging to change what they do on a daily basis, by eating less meat or carpooling. For every pledge that an adult makes, Change the Course will help put back 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River. Ask your parents if they want to learn more about Change the Course.
And yes, please do turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Every drop counts.
What will you do to change the course?
The votes are in! Thanks to everyone who entered the contest and voted for the finalists. All of the reviews were great.
And now for the big reveal!
The three bloggers who received the MOST votes for their reviews are:
Bianca, 13, Delirium by Lauren Oliver
David, 12, Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
Luke, 12, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Congratulations to our winners! Keep reading DogEared to officially “meet” our three new bloggers when we reveal their avatars and read some of their reviews in 2013!
Let our African animal adventure begin!
Etosha National Park or “Great White Place of Dry Water” is a world renowned game reserve; it is also where we spent our next epic week! Fun fact… Etosha covers an area of 22,912km.
Within minutes of entering the park we spotted an oryx catching some shade under a tree, from then on the excitement continued. At our first campsite there was a beautiful watering hole filled with all kinds of game; zebra, springbok, kudu, dik-dik, oryx, wildebeest and my favorites… a family of giraffe coming for dinner and a drink. There were four of them so they reminded me of our family. As the sky started to turn purple we watched a lone elephant come for a bath and a drink. Did you know that over 12,000 elephants now live in Namibia thanks to the help of animal conservationists?
Just as the sun was waking up the next morning we left for a sunrise drive.
Coming across the savannah were different kinds of antelope, zebra and then the most amazing of all, can you guess what it was? It was a lioness and her two fully grown cubs. They had just killed a zebra for breakfast and they were gorging themselves on his tender organs. You could hear them tearing his flesh to pieces with their razor sharp teeth. It wasn’t a pretty sight. They couldn’t have been any closer; if I stuck my hand out the window I could nearly touch them. They definitely are not vegetarians like me!
After a yummy breakfast and a successful hunt they were tuckered out so they said goodbye and were on their way. We couldn’t have started the day with anything more incredible.
The watering hole at our next peaceful amazing campsite was beautifully natural and also full of wildlife. Our best sighting was of four rhino coming for an evening splash. They are so prehistoric looking with their wrinkly skin and crusty horn. I had never seen a rhino before so it was extra special.
Our next radiant morning was unbelievable; we saw another elephant, a group of three giraffe just a few feet from our car and last and certainly most amazing a leopard pacing in the bush. That made four of the big five. What is the big five? The big five is denoted as the hardest animals to hunt on foot. We aren’t hunters but seeing those animals was pretty special. We had seen lion, leopard, elephant, and rhino all we need now is a cape buffalo.
Each of our evenings in Estosha was spent by the campfire cooking dinner, gazing at the brilliant sky and sharing stories about the animals and our adventures with my family. We were really lucky to have seen SO many beautiful animals.
Namibia is an extraordinary country full of natural beauty and wonder!
Scientists have recently discovered two new moons orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto, bringing the total up to five. SETI scientists are asking people to send in their name ideas for the newly-discovered moons. The names must come from Greek or Roman mythology and have something to do with Pluto/Hades and the underworld. The three moons that already have names are called Charon, Hydra, and Nix.
Lijah Hanley, a member of the 2009 Hands-On Explorer Challenge expedition to Peru, has won the grand prize in the National Geographic Student Expeditions Photo Contest! His love for photography began before he entered the 2009 contest, and he has continued to learn and grow as a photographer since the Peru expedition.
Lijah’s winning photo, called “No Boundaries,” can be seen above. “There is nothing more thrilling than taking the car out on the road and exploring new places. Unfortunately, being a new driver, my parents have set a lot of boundaries that limit how far I can go. I made it as far as the Columbia River Gorge, and it was a perfect crisp clear night for stargazing. So we removed the top of our car, sat on the roof, and gazed into the endless universe. Exploration is not bound by how far your car can take you, but by how far your imagination can take you into the stars,” Lijah says.
National Geographic Explorer, Enric Sala will spend the next month exploring the Desventuradas Islands off the coast of Chile. He will lead the Pristine Seas Project, which aims to find, survey and help protect the last wild places in the ocean.
Sala, a marine ecologist, is dedicated to finding ways to reduce human impacts on sea life. Between February 8th and March 7th, he will look for ways to preserve one of the last pristine environments left in South America.
During the trip, the team will use a submarine that has 360-degree vision and spherical glass drop cameras to film depth up to 4,000 meters (2.5 miles)!
How good are Adelie penguins at fishing? Amazingly good, according to new footage taken with cameras mounted to the backs of 14 penguins. The penguins never missed their prey on their recorded dives. The Japanese researchers who worked on the study found that the penguins could catch two krill per second, and could catch as many as 14 fish every 20 seconds.
BOOK NAME: Animal Farm
AUTHOR: George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell depicts true events through a group of animal’s fight for power.
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm shows apathy towards his farm animals. Soon, Old Major, a respected pig on the farm gathers all the animals on the farm and brings about the idea of rebellion. Even after Old Major dies, the rebellion continues and the animals overthrow Mr. Jones. Three pigs, Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer, expand on Old Major’s preachings and come up with the Seven Commandments of Animalism, stating that all animals are equal and that humans are enemies. At first, all the animals are proud to follow these Commandments. However, Napoleon and Snowball soon get into heated arguments and Napoleon expels Snowball from the farm. This is the beginning of Napoleon’s absolute power and torturous rule over the animals. Slowly, the Seven Commandments change and the pigs begin acting as humans, thus betraying Old Major’s principles.
Animal Farm is an amazing book for all ages. The animal story will touch the hearts of young kids. But, actually this book uses animals as an allegory to depict the Russian Revolution of 1917. All the characters in the book have actual human counterparts such as Napoleon who represents Joseph Stalin and Snowball who represents Leon Trotsky. I enjoyed comprehending the events to understand the Russian Revolution. For example, when Snowball is banished from Animal Farm by Napoleon, it symbolizes Trotsky’s exile from Russia by Stalin. To thoroughly enjoy this book, I suggest keeping a list of all the characters’ human counterparts.
National Geographic Kids magazine is on its way to claiming two Guinness World Records! 30,914 people helped take the title for most people running 100 meters in 24 hours, on October 26, 2012. NG Kids hopes to set the title for largest of collection of shoes to recycle.
This morning, NG Kids staff emptied over 50 gigantic boxes of shoes and laid them all out heel to toe at National Geographic Society’s headquarters, and then the official count by Guinness World Records began. Guinness World Records officials will be on hand to announce the number of shoes collected at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 5.
All of the used sneakers were collected from families and kids who wanted to help make a difference. However a few of those sneakers came from the likes of Taylor Swift, One Direction, Eli Manning, Danica Patrick, and Amanda Beard!
The athletic shoes will be sent to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program which recycles shoes into Nike Grind. This is a material used in athletic surfaces like basketball courts and running tracks. The record will not be known until the shoes have been delivered to Nike for recycling.
NG Kids has set five other Guinness World Records in the past including longest line of footprints, largest collection of plush toys, longest chain of shoes, most items of clothing collected for recycling, and most people doing jumping jacks in 24 hours. We can’t wait to add two more to the list!
Please be patient while we create certificates for those of you who had 100 participants or more in running events.
Voting for the 2012 “So You Wanna Be a DogEared Blogger” contest is being extended for another week. That’s right–you can cast your vote once a day until February 8!
Saturday, February 2, is Groundhog Day! According to legend, if a groundhog sees his shadow, we can expect six more weeks of wintery weather. If there’s no shadow, spring is on the way! The most famous groundhog is Pennsylvania’s Punxatawney Phil. There are other weather-predicting groundhogs too, such as Raleigh, North Carolina’s Sir Walter Wally (pictured above) and Washington, D.C.’s “National Groundhog” Potomac Phil.
What is your prediction? Will we have six more weeks of winter?
Do you want to help change the world? Google is encouraging young researchers, innovators, and inventors from around the world to share their projects in the third annual Google Science Fair. If you are between the ages of 13 and 18, all you need is an idea to get started!
If you are chosen as one of the 15 global finalists, you will get to go to Google’s headquarters in California to present your idea in front of a group of panelists including two National Geographic Explorers. Not only do you get a chance to share your great idea on how to change the world, you’ll also be competing to win the grand prize: a National Geographic Expedition to the Galapagos Islands!
Just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t help change the world. Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, was just 14 when he got his start. Albert Einstein was 16 and his fascination with magnets led to his famous E = mc2. Google’s Science Fair can help you develop your science or engineering ideas on how to better our world.
The Google Science Fair launches January 30, 2013 and will be accepting applications up through April 30, 2013. This is the largest online science fair in the world. What are you waiting for? Start submitting your great ideas today; it’s your turn to change the world!
The winners of the 2012 International Photo Contest for Kids winners have been announced! The grand prize winner is Isabella Barbaro, 11, from the United Kingdom. She has won a trip to Washington, D.C. and a tour of National Geographic headquarters.
Kids submitted more then 13,500 photos to this years contest from countries all over the world.