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Kids Science Newsletter #38, Super Typhoon Haiyan
December 01, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan


Our Kids Science Newsletter is published each month during the school year. This Kids Science Newsletter includes a question of the month, current science events, science trivia and a simple science activity that is fun for everyone.

Question of the Month

What are the La Brea Tar Pits?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)

Science Current Events

Super Typhoon Haiyan Hits Philippines
Super Typhoon Haiyan was the largest typhoon ever recorded. The USGS recorded 193 mph sustained winds and 235 wind gusts before the typhoon came ashore. It was so large that if it had struck the eastern seaboard of the United States it would have stretched from southern Florida all the way to the New England States. The Philippines are an archipelago located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country is struck, on average, about 24 times each year by a major storm. Storms in the western Pacific Ocean are called typhoons. They are the same type of storm that strikes the Atlantic Coast and are called hurricanes. Many thousands of lives were saved during the typhoon because people were evacuated from the low-lying areas and moved to higher ground before the typhoon struck. It will take years for the people on the islands that sustained the most damage to rebuild. At this time aide from around the world is being shipped to the people in the Philippines that have lost everything during the storm.
10,000 Walrus Move to Barrier Island
Walrus normally live on sea ice that floats in the Arctic Ocean. They breed on the floating ice and use it for a diving platform when they look for worms and clams on the shallow continental shelf below the sea ice. The melting ice that covers the North Pole has forced thousands of the walrus closer to shore because the remaining sea ice is over waters that are over 10,000 feet deep. The 10,000 walrus in this report live on a remote barrier island in northwestern Alaska which is about 700 miles northwest of Anchorage. Officials are trying to get everyone to leave the animals alone because several times since 2007 there have been deadly stampedes of the walrus when they have been disturbed.
40 Late Season Tornadoes in Midwest
A series of storms struck the Midwest on Sunday bringing damaging winds and widespread destruction. Two F4 tornadoes struck the towns of Washington and New Minden Illinois. On the Fujita Scale F4 tornadoes are just below F5 the severest tornadoes on the scale. The winds in Washington, Illinois were estimated to be 190 mph. The New Minden, Illinois tornado wind speeds reached 166 mph. Loss of life was very low considering the severity of the storms. Credit is given to the hurricane center in Oklahoma that sent out warnings to the people 15 to 18 minutes prior to the tornadoes touching down. People went down into shelters and basements after the warning saving untold numbers of lives. The storms that caused at least 16 tornadoes in Illinois and Indiana brought damaging winds to other states before heading out to sea. The thunderstorms and wind caused destruction in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York also.

Science Trivia

  • Typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes are all the same type of storm and the name depends on area where the storm occurs. Typhoons occur in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes develop in the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific Ocean. Cyclones occur in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • In previous years dust storms and tropical cyclones near Australia were called Willy Willies by Meteorologists in the United States. The term is an aboriginal word for dust storms. Today, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology defines the term to mean a dust devil that develops over dry land and spirals upward. The American Meteorological Society no longer uses the term Willy Willies for tropical cyclones near Australia.
  • In 1965, a high school student set the apparent wakefulness world record, 264 hours, for a science fair project. The students was "awake" but due to sleep deprivation he lost some of his physical and mental capabilities due to lack of sleep.
  • A baking company created a chocolate chip cookie that weighed as much as seven pickup trucks.
  • In 1185 an astronomer Johannes of Toledo, predicted that the following year a terrible wind would bring famine and destruction to Europe. People were so frightened that some built new homes underground. But nothing happened!
  • There are about 600 species of plants that are carnivorous. Most of these plants eat insects. Some plants have evolved to eat frogs, birds and even small monkeys.

Simple Science Activity
Straw Rocket


This flight activity is a simple fun activity for kids of all ages. The challenge is to build a straw rocket and to see how far it will fly with a single puff of air!


  • Plain sheet of paper (8 1/2 x 11 inches)
  • Construction paper
  • Pencil that is larger than the diameter of the straw.
  • Scissors
  • Straw
  • Tape
  • Ruler


  1. Cut a strip of paper 1 1/2 inches wide and 11 inches long.
  2. Wrap the paper around the pencil in a spiral.
  3. Tape around the paper spiral in the middle and both ends and take it off the pencil.
  4. Trim off both ends of the tube so they are even.
  5. Fold over one end of the tube and tape it down.
  6. Cut pieces of construction paper into small rectangles for the fins.
  7. Trim off one side at an angle similar to the picture.
  8. Tape the fins on the tube.
  9. Place the tube over a straw and blow.
  10. You might need to add a small paper clip at the front.
  11. Experiment with your rockets to find which fins work the best.

Science behind the experiment

In this activity the thrust of the rocket which propels it into space is the air blown through the straw. The fins act like rudders on the rocket to keep it traveling on a smooth path.

Answer to the question of the month
What are the La Brea Tar Pits?

Pools of sticky tar oozed up to the surface of the Earth where the La Brea Tar Pits are located. Animals coming to drink or feed in the area were trapped in the tar and died. Some of the animals found in the tar pits include saber-toothed tigers, mammoths, horses, camels and plant material. The tar pits are located in the middle of Los Angeles, California.

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Sincerely yours,
Myrna Martin

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