Our Kids Science Newsletter is published each month. The newsletter includes a question of the month, current science events, science trivia and a simple science activity that is fun for kids of all ages.
Question of the Month
Why do snakes stick out their tongues?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)
Science Current Events
- Mars rover Curiosity and its solar day
- A day on Earth takes 24 hours for our planet to turn on its axis. This is a solar day. A solar day on Mars is 39 minutes and 35 seconds longer than it is here on Earth. After just 2 1/2 weeks noon on Earth becomes midnight on Mars. Scientists that are working on the mission went on "Mars time" after the rover landed on August 5th. David Oh is the lead flight director of the project. His family decided to live for 91 days on "Mars time" with him. The Los Angeles Times has an article about their experiences.
- Why Animals Shake After Getting Wet
- Dogs after getting wet shake their bodies to get rid of the water. Through high-speed photography researchers have found that each animal "tunes" to a specific frequency that most effectively removes water from their fur. Furry animals shake extremely fast because they must overcome the surface tension that holds water to their fur. They can shake fast enough to generate between 10 and 70 times the forces of gravity. They are forced to shut their eyelids when they shake to protect their eyes. Large dogs can shed 70% of the water on their fur in 4 seconds by shaking at about 4.3 times per second. Rats must shake at 27 times per second to dry themselves.
- Monarch Butterfly Homes Saved
- Monarch butterflies migrate to forests in Mexico which is their wintering grounds. The butterflies go through several generations as they travel to and from their summer homes in the northeastern United States and Canada. Some researchers believe that the descendents of the butterflies that flew north when they return to they winter in the same tree that their ancestor left the previous spring. During the last half of the century illegal logging in the area was destroying the forests where the butterflies spent the winter. A nature reserve in 2000 was set aside for the butterflies. This year, for the first time, there is no further sign of illegal logging. People in the area are being hired to show tourists the colorful butterflies that visit the area.
- Hottest and Coldest Places on Earth
- Hottest place last week was Al Qaysumah, Saudi Arabia at +118 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest place on Earth was Vostok, Antarctica where it was -109 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Planets are round because of their gravitational fields. A planet behaves like a fluid and over long periods of time it becomes round because of the gravitational pull from its center of gravity. The only way to get all the mass as close as possible to the planet's center of gravity is to form a sphere. Smaller asteroids do not become round because they do not have enough gravitational strength to create a sphere.
- You would need to fold a bill of any denomination about 8,000 times (first forward and then backwards before it will tear.
- Sea turtles live in almost all the ocean basins on Earth. Adelita, a loggerhead turtle was tracked from Japan where the turtles nest across the Pacific Ocean to Baja California, Mexico. They are found as far south as Chile and as far north as Alaska. Mature loggerhead turtles can weigh more than 1000 pounds.
- The most expensive tree house in the world is located in the United Kingdom. It cost 6.1 million dollars to build.
Simple Science Activity
Colors will blend together as disks are spun in circles to form new colors in this fascinating science activity. Try making the disks in this activity first, then make different one to see how the colors change.
- Index cards
- Colored felt pens
- Make a circle on the first index card with a glass.
- Cut the circle out and color it like one of the disks above.
- Repeat these two steps to make the additional disks.
- Place a toothpick through the center of the disk so it goes half way through.
- Place the toothpick inside the straw with the colored side of the disk facing upward.
- Flick the edge of the disk so it spins around very fast.
- Watch as the colors change.
- If the toothpick comes out of the straw use a smaller straw.
- Repeat the activity with the other two disks.
- Make several more disks using different colors and different designs.
Science behind the experiment
When you spin the disks around in a circle very fast your brain blends the colors together to make new colors. This is similar to how we see objects move when watching motion pictures. The individual pictures blend together to form movement when a person is walking across a street.
Answer to the question of the month
Why do snakes stick out their tongues?
A snake uses its tongue to help it identify its prey and surroundings. The snakes tongue picks up small particles that are floating in the air and carries it to 2 pits in the roof of a snakes mouth. The nerves in the snake's mouth are able to recognize smell and taste and then let the snake know if prey is located in its surroundings.
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