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Ring of Fire Kids Science Newsletter #46
December 22, 2014

Stranded Sea Turtles


Our Kids Science Newsletter this month includes news about turtles stranded on Cape Cod and a lava flow on Kilauea threatening a village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our kid's science activity this month includes instructions on how to build three different paper bridges.

Question of the Month
What do whale sharks eat?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)

Science Current Events

Turtles in the News
Warmer waters off the coast of Cape Cod this year in the North Atlantic allowed endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles to linger longer than normal before migrating southward to warmer waters. The cooling waters of the North Atlantic caused young ridley sea turtles to go into shock. Over 1,200 stranded baby sea turtles have been rescued. The wildlife rescue volunteers were overwhelmed by the large number of baby turtles needing help. Most of the rescued turtles were taken to the Wellfleet Audubon Society and the New England Aquarium for further treatment. Some of the turtles were driven or airlifted to other aquariums to be cared for until they can be released into the wild.

The giant tortoise of the Galapagos Islands have been brought back from the brink of extinction. There were only 15 giant tortoises alive in the 1960s. The recovery of the giant tortoise from the brink of extinction has been due to captive breeding programs and conservation efforts. There are over 1000 giant tortoise alive today.

Erupting Volcanoes
Kilauea continues to erupt and is slowly creeping through the town of Pahoa. It has destroyed a storage shed, a cattle-feeding shed, and a house before it halted for a while in October. The 2000 degree lava is once again on the move and is slowly making its way toward a market place in Pahoa. The lava has traveled 13 miles from the vent on the volcano where it began erupting on June 27, 2014. The slow moving lava allows residents to evacuate their homes with all their possessions if their home is in the path of the lava flow. An update said the lava might take eight days for it to reach the market place in Pahoa. A gas station in the town has closed down and all fuel was removed from the tanks. At the present time no new homes in the small town are being threatened but motorists are advised to be extra cautious in the area.

The strongest eruption of the Cape Verde volcano Pico do Fogo destroyed two towns, which are located off the coast of West Africa. The lava continues to flow out of the volcano's vent and the leading edge of the flow is heading toward the Monte Velho forest reserve which produces the island's famous Fogo coffee. The lava has also destroyed buildings dating back to the 1860s.

Science Trivia

  • In the late 1800s, the USA changed from a nation of farming pioneers and plantation owners to the world's biggest industrial powerhouse. American inventors and industrialists made products that changed the world. The typewriter in 1867, the telephone in 1876, the photograph is 1877, and the electric light in 1879 were all invented by American inventors.
  • Your body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
  • The tallest cloud is the giant cumulonimbus. It can reach a height of 11 miles (18 km), which is twice as high as Mount Everest. It can hold more than a half million tons of water.
  • To escape their prey, Puffer fish swallow water. When their bodies enlarge enough that a predator cannot swallow them they escape to live another day.

Simple Science Activity
Building Bridges


Building paper bridges is fun and easy to do. You will be creating three different bridges out of paper to see how much weight they can hold before they collapse.


  • Sheet of plain paper
  • Bridge supports (plastic buckets, books, etc.)
  • Small paper plate or cup
  • Pennies or washers


  1. Create two bridge supports that are the same height.
  2. You can use books, plastic buckets or blocks of wood.
  3. The first bridge you will build is very simple.
  4. Lay a piece of paper between the two bridge supports.
  5. Test to see how much weight the bridge will hold by placing a paper plate on the bridge and adding pennies, one at a time, to the paper plate
  6. If the bridge supports are close together slowly pull them apart testing the carrying load of the bridge.
  7. This was the first type of bridge built by people long ago. People would simply put a log across the stream that was too swift to cross on foot.
  8. The second bridge you are building is an arch bridge. Place the two bridge supports so they are 6 inches apart.
  9. Place your paper between the two bridge supports so it forms an arch. Test the carrying capacity of this bridge. This bridge design was first used by the Greeks during the Bronze Age.
  10. The third bridge you are building is like a "fan" or accordion.
  11. Fold the paper back and forth so it makes a "fan".
  12. Place your folded paper similar to the picture so the folded edges sit on the supports. Test the carrying load of this bridge.
  13. Compare the carrying capacity of each of the three bridges.
  14. You might make a simple bar graph for the bridges showing how much load each bridge will hold without collapsing.

Science behind the activity
In this physical science activity you can see that bridges which spread out the force or weight are stronger than those that do not.

  • The first bridge's weight was directed at the edge of the two bridge supports.
  • The arch bridge weight is supported by the abutments at either side of the arch.
  • The "fan" bridge's weight is shared by many support structures making it very strong. The larger and fewer number of folds of the fan the more weight it can support.

Answer to the question of the month
What do whale sharks eat?

Whale sharks are the world's biggest fish. They are gentle giants that eat tiny sea life. The whale shark uses its thousands of tiny teeth to eat small plants, shrimp and fish.

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Have a nice day,
Myrna Martin

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