This Kids Science Newsletter includes a question of the month, current science events, science trivia and a simple science experiment. This is our back to school issue and covers news that happened this summer.
Question of the Month
What is smog?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)
Science Current Events
- Happy Feet Recovers
- Happy Feet, an Emperor Penquin, is hopefully returning home. He boarded a research ship to head for home after losing his way and traveling 2000 miles to New Zealand. The penquin stranded on a beach ate sand as he searched for water. Veterinarians cared for the Penquin after he almost died in June. He is being shipped in a special cage on a research vessel close to his home where he can mingle with other young Emperor Penquins. He has a GPS collar attached so he can be monitored in the South Ocean.
- The Final Voyage of Space Shuttle Atlantis
- The Space Shuttle Atlantis final voyage on July 21, 2011 ended its career. The space shuttle was the last US space shuttle to travel to the International Space Station on its final voyage. It traveled 33 times into space. NASA has many more space missions planned. In the future space travel will be with partner countries. September 21, 2011 three men will travel to the International Space Station: an American, a Russian and a Japanese astronaut.
- Hurricane Irene
- Hurricane Irene traveled more than 1100 miles along the East Coast before it dissipated in Canada. The slow moving storm was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck North Carolina. As it moved northward the slow moving storm dumped many inches of rain on the East Coast causing massive flooding. At the time this newsletter was written more than 44 people have died as a result of the hurricane. Flooding continues in many areas and people are still being rescued as streams rise and spread across the
Science Trivia on Weather
- Some early people believed that evil spirits lived in the clouds. They would shoot arrows into the clouds to protect their crops and frighten the evil spirits away from where they lived.
- The Kabi people who live in Australia believe that rainbows are caused when Dhakhan, a god that is half fish and half snake, moves from one deep water hole into another.
- Many Pakistan houses have windcatchers on their roofs. The wind catchers have slanted roofs that are open on two sides. The windcatchers trap the wind and direct it down into the house. They are simple and effective natural air-conditioning structures.
- Igloos built by Eskimos were built of blocks of ice. They built their house in a circle with a small tunnel-like opening to get in. At the top of their snow homes was an airhole. The snow is a great insulator and the inside of their homes were warm even when the outside a blizzard might be raging.
- The tallest sand-dunes are located in the Sahara Desert. Some of the sand-dunes are over 1410 feet (430 meters) high. These sand-dunes are taller that the Empire State Building in New York.
- People living near the ocean do not extreme temperature differences because sea temperatures do not change much during the year. The temperature of coastal areas are warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer compared with areas further inland.
- Quito, Equador is known as the 'Land of Eternal Spring' because of its pleasant climate. The temperature never falls below 46 degrees Fahrenheit and never reaches 72 degrees during the day. Every month the town receives about 4 inches of rain.
- Rain shadows are causes by high mountains. As the air rises on one side of a mountain it becomes cooler and condenses forming rain. After reaching the summit the clouds move downward and the rainfall decreases because the clouds have lost a lot of their moisture. This lack of rain on the leeward side of mountains is called a rain shadow.
Simple Science Experiment
In this activity you will find a place where plants and animals thrive. Using a hula hoop or some other circle you will study the different plans and animals living in the small circle of life.
- Hula hoop, rope or hose
- Small area of land
- Colored pencils or pens
- Take a walk around you house looking for a microclimate.
- The microclimate in this picture is located in a wooded area with a lot of oaks. The decaying trunk of an old oak provides the microclimate for many insects.
- Place your hula hoop, rope or hose down on the ground.
- Begin looking at the different plants that are located in your eco-circle.
- Next, look at different animals that might be living in the circle.
- Do you see ants or bugs living within the circle.
- Write down the different plants living the circle.
- You can also just draw the different types of plants living in the circle.
- Do the same with the animals living within your circle of life.
- Try this activity at different times of the year to see how the area changes.
Science behind the experiment
Microclimates can be as small as the eco-circle in this activity. Microclimates may be larger such as the south slope of a mountain in a river valley. Small areas beneath trees or a place that is always sunny in a forest might be a microclimate. Often plants and animals thrive in these areas but cannot live in nearby areas which have a different climate.
Answer to the question of the month
What is smog?
Smog is air polution that is caused when gases from automobiles and factories react in strong sunlight. It forms a heavy brown colored layer containing ozone which is harmful to humans, animals and plants.
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