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
What is solar heating?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)
Science Current Events
- Voyager 1 Heading for the Stars
- Voyager 1 left the Earth 35 years ago and it is heading for distant stars. Today it is 11 billion miles from the Earth. It is reaching the outer limits where charged particles from the solar wind affect our solar system. When it reaches this point it will be in an area between stars. Today it takes 17 hours for a radio signal from Voyager to travel to the Earth.
Before reaching for the stars the Voyager's mission was to send back pictures of Jupiter's big red spot and Saturn's rings. Many discoveries were made about the two planets. The pictures showed erupting volcanoes on Io, a moon of Jupiter and hints of an ocean on Europa. Pictures also found hints of a methane rain on Titan, a moon of Saturn.
- Twitter Alerts About Quake
- A magnitude 7.6 earthquake occurred near the coast of the Philippines last month. Tweets about the earthquake were detected by scientists one minute and seven seconds after the earthquake. Twitter information is important in remote sites of the world where there are not as many seismographs are located to detect earthquakes. The Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies coordinated using their efforts using these sites. People searching for loved ones after a disaster often go on these sites looking for people who are missing.
- Wind Energy
- If we could harness the wind here on Earth it would supply all the power needed on Earth for electricity for years to come. The researchers at Stanford found that if the turbines were spread out and not in clusters in a few regions the harnessing of the wind would have little or no effect on the climate. The researchers looked at models where wind energy would be generated by turbines on the ground and aloft. They could generate 100 times the current global energy needs on Earth today.
- Scrub Jay Funerals
- People have observed for many years that some animals react to the death of other related animals. Biologists conducted research into the effect on scrub jays when a dead one was placed on the ground. The jays that saw the dead bird went to a nearby tree and started loud screeching noises to attract other jays. Scrub jays that heard the noise came to the area and sat in the nearby trees around the body of the jay. They joined in making loud screeching noises for up to 30 minutes.
- The sky over Turkey rained down food in August 1890. A type of edible lichen fell with the rain which the local people collected and made into bread.
- There is scientifically no difference between hair and fur. We commonly refer to hair as fur if it is dense and plush.
- Paper currency was first introduced into the Americas in 1690 by the Massachuetts Bay Colony. The first paper notes were printed in denominations of 1 cents, 5 cents, 25 cents and 50 cents. The first government issued paper currency in 1862 was to finance the Civil War. It was also to make up for the shortage of coins because people hoarded gold and silver coins to achieve a sense of financial security.
- Some of the largest man-made islands are shaped like a palm tree. They are called Palm Islands and are located in Dubai on the Persian Gulf.
Simple Science Activity
Tsunami waves can travel from distant areas to come ashore on islands without any warning. In this activity you will be creating tsunami waves in a container to see how they can affect the shoreline on islands.
- Large rectangular pan
- Plastic lid from cottage cheese container
- Other items that might be found near the coast
- String about 10 inches long
- Place the pan at an angle so that the bottom is sloping upward on the side that will be your beach.
- Place sand in the pan that will represent the beach on an island.
- Place miniature houses, trees, etc. by the seashore.
- Cut the rim off the lid of the cottage cheese container so that it will lie flat on the ocean floor.
- Make a hole in the lid and tie the string through the hole.
- Place the lid on the bottom of the pan opposite the beach.
- Add water slowly until it reaches the edge of the beach.
- Carefully give a jerk on your string lifting the lid upward.
- Observe what happens to the beach when the wave strikes the shore.
- Repeat the two steps above observing what happens when several waves strike the shore after an earthquake.
Science behind the experiment
The word tsunami means harbor waves in Japanese. Tsunami waves in the open ocean are almost undetectable. All of the energy of the waves compresses as the waves reach landfall creating giant waves that are sometimes over 90 feet high. Several waves can be generated during a large earthquake. The time between waves can be 30 minutes or more.
Answer to the question of the month
What is solar heating?
The Sun's creates a tremendous amount of heat in its core. As the heat radiates out into space it reaches Earth the rays heat the Earth. It's difficult to store this heat and use it later. Many homes capture the sunlight uses special plates installed on their roofs to absorb the heat from the Sun during the daytime. The heat is stored in water, rocks and batteries to be used later. A heating system circulates the heat throughout the house.
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Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this Just For Kids Science Newsletter and tell me what you think!