December 7, 2013
Every so often, you have to do a big clean up in a freshwater aquarium. There’s too much algae, plants have grown out of control, and it’s just generally overcrowded.
That’s how I was feeling this week, so I pulled everything out, washed it all (no soap! it kills the fish!), trimmed back the plants and squeegeed all the glass. The fish were not happy - I think they were a little freaked out with all their hiding places removed.
But eventually I got everything back in shape and put it back together. Doesn’t it look great?!
December 4, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Fog!
We would like to begin today’s Writing Wednesday by welcoming Mr. Gredder’s
5th Graders from Land O’ Pines Elementary School. We’re looking forward to hearing from you all!
Are you ready to write about FOG?
Science News Story:
Park rangers and tourists alike at the Grand Canyon were treated to a rare sight over Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone rushed to see as word spread that the massive canyon, the longest in the world, was full of fog.
Normally air gets colder with altitude. In other words, the temperature drops as you go up in the atmosphere. Occasionally, an "inversion" happens. An inversion means that the cold air stays close to the ground and the moisture condenses into droplets of fog. That is what happened at the Grand Canyon last weekend, filling the huge gorge with a mighty river of fog.
"Much better than Black Friday!" National Park Service Ranger Erin Whittaker posted on the Grand Canyon’s Facebook page. "Rangers wait for years to see it. Word spread like wildfire and most ran to the rim to photograph it. What a fantastic treat for all!"
Explain this unusual weather event in your own words. Use details from both the photographs and the news story in your description of this Thanksgiving treat.
Photos: Erin Whittaker, National Park Service
Note for Educators: Did you know that we have more than 50 Writing Wednesday topics archived on SeymourSimon.com? We strive to make these posts evergreen so that you can use them whenever the topic suits your lesson plan. Check out the Writing Wednesday Archive today!
December 3, 2013
Cool Photo: Baby Moose Rescue!
A Pennsylvania doctor on a Montana fishing trip caught something very surprising - a 25-pound baby moose!
Dr. Karen Sciascia and her guide were fishing in Montana’s Big Hole River when they spotted a moose trying to cross the rushing water. "We were watching this adult female struggling back and forth, and we didn’t see a baby until we got close," said Dr. Sciascia.
The current was so fast that even the large adult moose struggled, and when her calf entered the water it was swept downstream.
Sciascia and guide Seth McLean followed downriver, finally spotting the tiny moose’s nose just above the water. "We got up alongside it, and I scooped it up from the river under its front legs," Sciascia said. "It was [still] breathing, and I could feel its heart beating real fast."
McLean rowed the raft upstream and they dropped off the calf at the other side of the river. The mother had disappeared into the woods but returned to the river after hearing the crying of her young calf. "It was cool to be in the right place at the right time," Sciascia said.
Thanks to the Missoulian for the information in this story.
Photo: Four Rivers Fishing Company
November 19, 2013
Cool Photo: Feel the Power!
Look at these train tracks. Can you think of what could have made them bend like that?
If you guessed an earthquake, you would be right. This is what was left after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake happened near Christchurch, New Zealand on September 4, 2010. I love this image because it helps us understand just how strong an earthquake is. While that measurement 7.1 may not mean much to us, seeing how the force of that earthquake can bend these solid steel rails really helps us to understand how much energy is released in an earthquake.
Imagine if you had been standing on this ground. It would be moving so forcefully under your feet that you would not be able to remain standing. You would be knocked off your feet by the powerful force of an earthquake like this one.
Read more in Seymour Simon’s book EARTHQUAKES.
Or, if your school subscribes to theStarWalk Kids Media eBook collection, you can read and listen to Seymour Simon’s DANGER! EARTHQUAKES.
November 5, 2013
Cool Photo: Giraffe Hug
Did you ever have a day when you just feel like you need a hug? This mother and baby giraffe are obviously having that kind of a day, and that is our Cool Photo of the Week.
Photographer Marsha Williams tells us that this baby was a newborn. Can you imagine being up and walking when you were less than one day old?
November 1, 2013
Baby Bat Rescue
Are you as fascinated by bats as I am? I love to watch them come out just after the sun sets and begin to feed on insects on summer nights. I have not seen as many in recent years because we have a fungus called "white nose syndrome" endangering the Brown Bat here in North America. Scientists are still trying to find a way to protect our native bats.
A different species, a large fruit bat known as the Spectacled Flying Fox, is facing its own challenges in Queensland, Australia.
It turns out that the problem for these bats is ticks, which dig into the bats’ skin and inject a paralyzing poison. Once their feet are paralyzed, they can no longer hang upside down from tree branches to sleep, and they die.
The time of year when the ticks are most plentiful is also the time when most baby flying foxes are born, so rescuers realized a number of years ago that they needed to come up with a plan to save these orphaned baby bats.
Veterinarians in Queensland set up the Tolga Bat Hospital, and hundreds of orphaned baby fruit bats are being rescued each year and raised at the hospital until they can be released into the wild.
Isn’t is good to see these magnificent wild animals being cared for by humans?
Photo: Jurgen Freund / naturepl.com
October 31, 2013
Black Kitten for Halloween
I know that I have many cat lovers among the readers of my blog, so I’ve been saving this adorable photograph to share today!
If you and your friends are planning to trick or treat later, please remember these simple rules:
1. Wear bright costumes and put reflective tape on your costume or trick or treat bag, so that it is easy for drivers to see you if you are out at dusk or after dark.
2. Only trick or treat at houses that have their porch lights on, signalling that they are welcoming trick or treaters.
3. Never go into a stranger’s house - stay on the front porch.
4. Travel in a group - there is safety in numbers.
5. Don’t eat any candy or treats that are not wrapped and sealed.
6. Be a helper for younger children who might be scared of the dark or the scary costumes. Little kids might be feeling shy or nervous and you can help them make their way up to the door and let them know that you are kind, not scary, no matter what your big kid’s costume looks like!
That’s it - simple rules that make the evening fun for everyone. Happy Halloween to all my readers!
October 29, 2013
A Ghostly Writing Wednesday
Good morning and welcome to a special Halloween Writing Wednesday (which includes a ghostly Halloween treat at the end of this post)!
Today, we would like you to read a part of Seymour Simon’s book GHOSTS. As you read the page below, notice shades of meaning in the vocabulary. How does Seymour’s use of the adjectives "cold" and "damp" instead of just writing "castle" affect the mental image you create? As you read, look for other examples of vivid words that Seymour Simon uses, and tell us about how it enhances the selection. Write two or three sentences and tell us about which adjectives and word choices he makes to create a spooky feeling as he tells this story.
When you have finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" link below to post your writing for others to read.
Calvados Castle is a gloomy-looking castle in France. It was built hundreds of years ago in the Middle Ages. Cold and damp, the castle hardly looks like a place in which anybody would want to live. If you saw it, you might think it was a perfect place for a ghost. And you would be right. Calvados Castle is haunted.
The first record of ghostly happenings came in 1875. The family and the servants that lived in the castle were disturbed night after night by mysterious sounds. They decided to place threads across the open doors. They hoped that the threads would be broken so that they could learn where the intruders came in. The sounds continued, but the threads were never broken.
The owner began keeping a diary of the strange events. The diary tells that on the night of October 13, 1875, a teacher employed by the family was alone in his room.
Halloween Treat! Seymour Simon had this book recorded by a narrator who has a famous "haunted" voice (he used to be a narrator for The Twilight Zone television series). Click below if you would like to hear this selection read aloud. But we warn you, if you are someone who is easily scared, you might not want to press play!
Posted by: Liz Nealon
October 29, 2013
Cool Halloween Photo of the Week
This ghostly sight is known as the dB 141 Nebula. It is composed of the gassy remains of a supernova - the gigantic explosion that occurred when a huge star blew up. And since it kind of looks like a bunch of ghosts, it reminds me to wish all my readers a Happy, Out of This World, Halloween!
Photo: Credit: T.A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF
October 23, 2013
Writing Wednesday: Lonely Planet
Today’s Writing Wednesday is about a newly discovered planet far from our solar system, and it is different than any other we have ever seen. We want you to read this science news story and then come up with a better name for this new planet based on what you have learned from the story.
The Facts: Eighty light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered a planet that is six times bigger than Jupiter, floating all alone without a
sun to keep it warm. Scientists have seen free-floaters like this before, but we have never been sure whether they were planets or stars that had died. This time, we have enough information to be sure it is a planet similar to the "gas giants" in our solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These planets are very low in density and consist mostly of hydrogen and helium gases. If you tried to land a spacecraft on Jupiter, for example, it would keep sinking down through the gas, until it would be crushed by Jupiter’s gravity.
The new planet is named PSO J318.5-22, and it is near a group of young stars called the Beta Pictoris moving group, which formed about 12 million years ago. One of the stars in that group is circled by its own gas-giant planet that’s about eight times bigger than Jupiter.
"We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that that looks like this," team leader Michael Liu said. "It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do."
Your Assignment: I don’t think that PSO J318.5-22 is a very good name for a planet, do you? Write a paragraph telling your readers what you would name this planet, and why. Support your idea with information from the news story (above). When you are finished writing, you may post your writing for others to read by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post.
Image: An artist’s rendering of PSO J318.5-22 by V. Ch. Quetz / MPIA