Kids Science Newsletter - Issue #2
What is Tornado Alley and how did it get its name?


This Just For Kids Science Newsletter includes a question of the month, current science events, science trivia and a simple science experiment.

Question of the Month
Do you know how tornado alley got its name and why?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)

Science Current Events

Shake Rattle and Roll
A 7.2 magntitude earthquake hit the US-Mexico border on Sunday, April 4, 2010. The earthquake was felt by an extimated 20 million people who live in the area. People living as far away as Santa Barbara, California and Las Vegas, Nevada felt the earthquake. This is the third earthquake to hit the Americas this year. The first major earthquake was in Haiti which was smaller but did much more damage because the buildings in the country were not built to with stand earthquakes. Fifty years after a 9.5 earthquake in 1960 struck Chile another powerful 8.8 struck the area. Both of these quakes produced tsunami waves that traveled to the Hawaiian Islands. The 1960 tsunami struck Hilo, Hawaii. After the first wave struck people thought it was safe to return to their homes and a much larger wave came ashore and killed 61 people. The tsunami that came ashore this time in Hilo was much smaller and people were able to watch for the waves as they came ashore safely away from the danger zone.
Three More Space Shuttle Launchings
On April 5th the space shuttle Discovery blasted off for the International Space Station. The space shuttle carried seven astronauts and lots of supplies for the space station. There are only three more space shuttle missions scheduled. The space ships are getting older and NASA plans to retire the fleet. Future flights into space will be carried out by other members of the international community that helped build the International Space Station
Tiny Toads Without A Home
Tiny toads living in the spray of a waterfall in Tanzania are now living in two zoos in America. The bright-golden spray toads lived only in the spray of the waterfall on the Kihansi River. When a dam was built upstream the waterfall was reduced by 90% leaving the frogs without a home. Today they live in the Bronx and Toledo, Ohio zoos. Scientists are hoping to return these tiny animals to their home some day or some other safe place in the future. The Bronx Zoo opened a small display of the toads last month in their reptile house.

Science Trivia

  • The biggest babies in the world are whales. The blue whale is the largest and their babies are between 20 and 26 feet at birth. They weigh more than 6000 pounds! Year old baby whales grow so fast they weigh up to 26 tons.
  • Chewing gum was first used by the Aztec Indians of Mexico to clean their teeth. The gum comes from the sapodilla tree and is called chicle (CHEE-clay). Thomas Adams in 1872 was looking for a substitute for rubber. While experimenting with chicle he mixed the rubbery substance with some sugar and flavoring and popped it into his mouth. After chewing the substance for a while he came up with the idea to market it as gum. So the next time you chew some gum mentally thank Thomas Adams for creating it.
  • During hot summer months hail can fall during summer thunderstorms. The hail starts as small rain droplets that freeze in the cold air. The frozen rain droplets dropping toward the earth are coated with a fresh coat of water and pushed upward where the water freezes forming hail. The hail rises and falls during large thunderstorms creating bigger and bigger pieces of frozen water pellets. The largest recorded hailstone fell on June 22, 2003 in Aurora, Nebraska. The hailstone measured 18.75 inches and probably weighed over a pound.

Simple Science Activity

Trees come in many shapes and sizes and the bark of different trees feel very different to the touch. In this experiment you will create a collection of tree bark rubbings.


  • Trees
  • Paper
  • Ball point pen
  • Crayons


  1. Look for trees that have both smooth and rough bark.
  2. Take the paper wrapping off a crayon.
  3. Lay a white piece of paper on the side of a tree.
  4. Place your crayon on its side and rub back and forth over the paper creating a copy of the bark on the tree.
  5. Write the name, date and place where your tree bark rubbing was created.
  6. Repeat these steps for several more trees.
  7. Make a booklet with your tree bark rubbings or display them on a wall.

Science behind the experiment
The outer surface of a tree is the bark. Some trees have smooth bark and others are very rough. The bark forms a protective shield on the outside of the tree to keep it safe from insects, animals and the weather.

Answer to the question of the month
Tornado Alley is a flat stretch of land from West Texas to North Dakota. The region is ideal for twisters. Dry polar air from Canada moves down to meet moist warm tropical air from Mexico. The spring time is the best for tornadoes. Data gathered about tornadoes between 1950 and 1999 found the deadliest month is April with an average of 26 tornado related deaths. The largest average number of tornadoes is 176 during the month of May.Tornadoes can occur almost anywhere on Earth. The U.S. has the highest frequency with approximately 1,200 tornadoes each year and most of them occur in tornado alley.

Easy Science Experiments
More fun and easy experiments for you to try.
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