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Kids Science Newsletter #43, Summer Edition
June 17, 2014

Summer Edition


This Kids Science Newsletter includes news about the eruption of Mt. Etna on Sunday, nesting storks returning after 600 years to England, and building an ice wall to contain water from the Fukushima nuclear plant. The newsletter also contains a science activity creating a popcorn cinder cone, other science news and trivia.

Question of the Month
What's the difference between a moth and a butterfly?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)

Science Current Events

Mt. Etna's Eruption began this year on June 17th
Mt. Etna is Europe's most active volcano and one of the most active worldwide. It began eruption on Sunday for the first time this year. Flights were delayed or disrupted due to the eruption for people trying to reach Sicily. The volcano has been erupting since ancient times. It was used as a beacon by sailors sailing in the Mediterranean. Homer mentioned the volcano in the Odyssey that he wrote in approximately 850 BC. Today the slopes of the volcano have been designated a national park with mountain refuges and hiking trails for people wishing to get up close to the eruptions.
Ice Wall Proposed at Fukushima Nuclear Plant
Fukushima nuclear power plant is pouring approximately 300 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean each day. In order to halt more ground water from flowing into the plant the Japanese are proposing creating a network of pipes that will freeze the ground to a depth of 100 feet and will be a mile long. They hope to divert the groundwater around the plant and stop the flow of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
Estonians Help Frogs Migrate
Frogs in Estonia travel from one area to another where there are busy highways during their mating season. The frogs are often crushed by passing cars. Volunteers for a nature group collected over 15,670 frogs and placed them in buckets. They carried the frogs safely over to the other side of busy highways where female frogs typically lay their eggs during the mating season.
Nesting Storks Return After 600 Years
Two storks are nesting in eastern England. They are thought to be the first pair to nest in England since 1416. The last pair were observed at the St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. The storks were observed engaged in mating rituals in the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens. Conservation efforts in Europe have increased the number of storks in Europe in recent years. These birds are believed to have crossed the North Sea to nest at the gardens.

Science Trivia

  • The Vikings were the first seamen able to navigate out of sight of land. They used the stars and a primitive type of compass to find their way across the open ocean. The Vikings' wooden ships, called longships, are masterpieces of boat building. They are light and flat bottomed enough to sail up shallow rivers, yet seaworthy in the open oceans.
  • In 1888, an estimated 300,000 mummified cats were found at Beni Hassan, Egypt. They were sold for $18.43 per ton. The mummified cats were shipped to England to be ground up and used for fertilizer.
  • The world's termites outweigh all the people living on Earth today.
  • All the Earth's heat and light comes from the Sun. More heat and light reaches the Earth from the Sun in one minute than the whole world can produce in a year. Sunlight travels at about 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km). It reaches the Earth in about 8.5 minutes

Simple Science Activity
Popcorn Volcano


Basalt is a fluid lava when it is molten. Molten basalt with a high percentage of gases erupts from the summit of a cinder cone forming small steep-sided volcanoes. In this activity you will be creating a cinder cone from popcorn.


  • Popcorn
  • Skillet with a lid or a popcorn popper
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Bowl
  • Tinfoil


  1. Two people should work together on this project.
  2. This activity should be completed under the supervision of an adult.
  3. Pour some cooking oil in the bottom of a skillet.
  4. Pour 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels into the skillet with the cooking oil.
  5. Move the skillet back and forth as the oil and popcorn kernels heat up.
  6. Place the lid on the skillet so the popcorn as it pops will not fly out of the skillet.
  7. After all the popcorn has popped place the popcorn in a bowl.
  8. Wash your hands and begin dropping the popcorn onto a square of tinfoil.
  9. Always drop the popcorn in the center of the tinfoil in the same place.
  10. After you have dropped all the popcorn onto the tinfoil it should have formed a steep-sided mound of popcorn similar to a cinder cone.

Science behind the experiment
Cinder cones are usually short lived small volcanoes that form when basalt erupts on land. The summit of the volcanoes contain a crater that the molten rock shoots out of during an eruption. Paricutin is a famous cinder cone that formed in a farmer's cornfield in Mexico. The volcano began erupting in 1943 and went extinct in 1952. It is the first time scientists had been able to study the complete life cycle of a volcano.

Answer to the question of the month
What's the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Moths fly mostly at dark and butterflies during the day. Butterflies have long, knob-tipped antennae and moths have one. Butterflies are slim and moths are chunky. Both have scales on their wings so they are both in the same group Lepidoptera.

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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!

Sincerely yours,
Myrna Martin

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