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#53 Ring of Fire Kids Science Newsletter
February 15, 2016

2016 Super Snowstorm Jonas


Our Kids Science Newsletter this month includes a question of the month, current science events, science trivia and a simple science experiment. This month’s current events include information the super snowstorm Jonah, great earthquakes in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Question of the Month
How is natural rubber made?
(answer follows the simple science experiment)

Science Current Events

2016 Super Snowstorm Jonas
The super snowstorm Jonas is over, but for the people who lived through it will be able to say they lived through a billion dollar snowstorm. This is the first snowstorm ever recorded that brought over two feet of snow to both Baltimore and New York City. Snow fell on areas from the Gulf Coast to New England. One meteorologist predicted the storm was in the top 10 storms every recorded. A full moon and a storm surge brought the water level at Lewes, Delaware to 9.27 feet. This is the highest ever recorded there. It is estimated that the cost of this storm will be a multi-billion dollar event.
Alaskan Earthquakes
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rattled southeast Alaska on Sunday morning. About two hours later a magnitude 4.3 aftershock struck the same area. The earthquakes were centered 53 miles from Anchor Point on the Kenai Peninsula and the Cook Inlet. The earthquake was centered about 160 miles southwest of Anchorage where little damage occurred. The 2nd largest earthquake of the 20th Century was located 75 miles northwest of Anchorage. This earthquake did considerable damage to the town and generated tsunami waves that struck Crescent City, California where 12 people died
Oceans Keep Planet Cooler
The oceans that cover approximately 70% of our planet has absorbed more than 90% of the heat caused by the burning of fossil fuels since 1970. Scientists estimate more than half the heat stored in the oceans since the beginning of the industrial revolution has accumulated since 1997. Ships logs going back to the 18th Century were used to study the ocean’s warmth. The oceans are so vast that this increase in heat in the oceans has raised the temperatures only a few tenths of a degree.

Science Trivia

  • Two back-to-back snowstorms in 2010 were named Snowmageddon and Snowpocalyspse. Social media suggested the names of the two snowstorms to meteorologists.
  • A subduction zone earthquake 316 years ago that was at least a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the coast of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It was a subduction zone earthquake generated by the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate beneath the North American Plate. The average time between great earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone is 250 years. Residents along the Pacific Northwest are being warned to prepare for a future great earthquake.
  • A jellyfish has no brain, no eyes, no ears, no bones, no heart and comprises 95% water. Box jellyfish have a cube-shaped medusa and are among the most venomous creatures on the Earth. Their stings are extremely painful and often fatal to humans.
  • Cats step with both left legs, then both right legs when they walk or run. The only other animals to do this are the giraffe and the camel.
  • Lightning takes the quickest path to the ground. Tall trees and buildings are at the greatest risk. Few people are stuck by lightning, but it is dangerous to stand near a tree in the storm. It is safe in a car because lightning goes around the outside, through the tires into the ground.
  • Spiders are small scurrying creatures which have eight legs and only two body parts. Spiders belong to a group of 70,000 known creatures called arachnids. Other arachnids in the group are scorpions, mites and ticks. Spiders have clear blood.

Simple Science Activity
Coloring Obsidian


Obsidian forms when rhyolite lava flows out of a volcano during an eruption to form a solid rock without crystals. The rhyolite lava is light-colored and obsidian gets its color from minute amounts of minerals in the rock when it cools. In this activity you will be coloring water using food coloring. After coloring several small glasses of rock you will freeze the water forming a solid ice cube of colored water similar to obsidian. Obsidian comes in at least 29 different colors.


  • Five clear plastic glasses
  • Food coloring, red, blue, green, yellow
  • Blank ink
  • Spoon


  1. Pour water into each of the clear plastic cups until they are half full.
  2. Set one glass aside with clear water.
  3. Add 1 drop of red food coloring to the first glass.
  4. Stir the color around in the water until it has an even red color.
  5. Think about how much water is clear and how little red food coloring it took to turn the water red.
  6. Repeat this activity with the each of the other colors.
  7. Compare the darkness of each colored glass of water
  8. Add 1 drop of black ink to the fifth plastic cup.
  9. Compare the five glasses water by holding your finger behind each glass.
  10. Decide which glass it is easiest to see through on the left.
  11. Continue testing the glasses of water until the easiest is on the left and the darkest is on the far right.
  12. Freeze the glasses of water and see if it makes any different when you look through the glass at your finger.
  13. Write down four sentences that explain what you learned while doing this experiment.

Science behind the experiment
Rhyolite lava contains primarily light-colored quartz and feldspar minerals. When minute amount of magnetite crystals are in the molten lava when it cools the obsidian is a dark black color. Minute amounts of hematite give obsidian a rich mahogany brown color. Often you can find the two minerals in the same obsidian rock. There will be swirls of mahogany brown flowing through a black obsidian rock.

Answer to the question of the month
How is natural rubber made?

Natural rubber comes from rubber trees. Rubber trees are found mainly in tropical climates. Cuts are made in the trees to obtain the sap from the tree. The process that turns the rubber tree sap into latex first removes the water from the sap and then chemicals are added. The latex is then rolled into rubber sheets. Rubber is one of the world's most useful products. All tires were originally made of rubber. Raincoats made of rubber repel water and keep us dry.

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Have a nice day,
Myrna Martin

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