Record Tornado Hits Oklahoma
This is our summer edition of the Kids Science Newsletter. It will resume again in September. 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 flies have such big eyes?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)
Science Current Events
- Record Tornado Hits Oklahoma
- A record tornado struck Oklahoma on May 31. The maximum wind speeds of the twister reached 295 mph. The twister was 2.6 mile wide and is the widest tornado ever recorded in the United States. The tornado struck during rush hour traffic catching many people in their cars which is the most dangerous place to be during a tornado. The enhanced Fujita scale listed the tornado as an EF5 which is the most powerful on its scale. Three veteran storm chasers caught in the traffic jam died when their car was destroyed by the storm. Many other people tried to flee the storm in their cars adding to the rush hour traffic. Some of them were sucked out of their cars or were tossed off the roadway during the storm.
- Jellyfish Population Boom
- The jellyfish population worldwide is booming because so many sardines and herring are caught by fishing fleets. The jellyfish have increased dramatically in the Sea of Japan and the Mediterranean Sea causing major problems. There are so many of jellyfish they have clogged fishing nets and caused swimmers to stay out of the water and on the beaches. Scientists studying the problem believe overfishing of the sardines an herring that compete for the same food sources have led to the increase in jellyfish.
- Mexico's Popocatepetl Erupting
- the Aztec's name for the high stratovolcano near Mexico City is "Smoking Mountain." The city is located 35 miles northwest of the volcano. May 23, 2013 Lava bombs were blown more than a half-mile from the crater during the eruption. Previous eruptions have caused more than 75,000 people to evacuate their homes during previous eruptions. The mountain has had 15 major eruptions since the Spanish landed in 1519 and is the most active in Mexico.
- Gray Whale South of the Border
- The gray whale has been extinct since the 18th century in the Atlantic Ocean. They have been living since that time mainly in the North Pacific. The whaling industry ended most of their hunts in the 20th Century and the whale population has been rebounding. A gray whale was sighted off the coast of Namibia in early May. Gray whales grow more than 45 feet in length and have been known to cover more than 18,000 miles between their summer feeding ground in the Arctic to their winter breeding ground off the coast of Mexico.
- Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door. Cats love to hit at swinging objects. 40% of cats are ambidextrous while the rest of the cats are either right- pawed or left-pawed.
- The phrase "It's too cold to snow" is true. The atmosphere must contain moisture to generate snow. Very cold air contains very little moisture. Once the temperature of ground level drops below -10 degrees Fahrenheit snowfall becomes unlikely in most places.
- Not only do cats like catnip but lions and tigers love the smell also.
- There have been many reports of showers of fish and frogs. On June 16, 1939, a shower of tiny frogs fell at Trowbridge in England. Strong winds had sucked the frogs up from ponds and streams nearby and they then fell with the rain.
Simple Science Activity
Obsidian & Pumice
This science activity looks at the difference between pumice and obsidian. These rocks both form from rhyolite, a highly explosive igneous rock associated with super volcanoes.
- Four eggs
- Measuring cup
- Whisk or electric mixer
- Two bowls
Science behind the experiment
- Separate the yolk from the whites of two eggs. Save the egg yolks for a cooking project
- Measure the volume of the egg whites and place them in a larger bowl.
- Separate the yolk from the whites of the last two eggs.
- Measure the volume of these egg whites.
- The egg whites in the first bowl represent "magma" that contains a low percentage of gas.
- The egg whites in the second bowl represent "magma" that contains a high percentage of gas.
- Whip the egg whites in the second bowl until the whites will hold a peak when the beaters are lifted out.
- These egg whites represent frothy magma containing "frozen" gas bubble that form throughout the pumice.
- Determine the increase in volume between the first and second bowl to see how much the magma can increase in size when there is a large amount of gases in the magma.
Pumice and obsidian are created from rhyolite. Rhyolite has 70% of more quartz that causes the rock to be "sticky" and explosive. Pumice forms when rhyolite contains a lot of gases that expand when it reaches the Earth's surface. Pumice is a glassy rock filled with "frozen" gas bubble holes and will float. Obsidian made of rhyolite flows out of the ground but is so dry it does not crystallize and forms a glassy igneous rock.
Answer to the question of the month
Why do flies have such big eyes?
Flies have such big eyes so they can see better. Their eyes are covered with small lenses that are fixed and do not move like out eyes. The fixed lenses of the flies cannot be adjusted for distance so they don't see too well. Their large eyes do allow them to see at a 360-degree angle so they can see any thing coming at them from all directions.
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