October 8, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Animals Affected by Climate Change
There was a disturbing story in the news last week, when a satellite survey discovered that 35,000 walruses had hauled themselves up on a beach in Alaska.
In this aerial photo taken on Sept. 27, 2014, provided by NOAA, some 35,000 walruses gather on the shore near Point Lay, Alaska. (AP Photo/NOAA, Corey Accardo)
Chadwick Jay, a research ecologist and leader of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific walrus research program, said: "The area’s summer sea ice vanished by mid-September, leaving the walruses with nowhere in the Chukchi Sea to rest between their dives to the seafloor for food." These animals usually rest on ice floating in the ocean, but if there is no ice available, they head for land. This huge gathering, larger than any seen before, is most likely due to the loss of sea ice in the summer due to the warming climate.
Since today is Writing Wednesday, we’ve decided to re-run a previous story about the effect of global warming on another Arctic animal, the polar bear.
This week, we are asking you to read an excerpt from Seymour Simon’s book GLOBAL WARMING, research your own facts and explain in your own words the point that he is making.
From GLOBAL WARMING, by Seymour Simon:
Global warming has changed the feeding patterns and behaviors of polar bears, walruses, seals and whales. It may even impact their surval.
Polar bears live only in the Arctic. They are completely dependent on the sea ice for all their life needs. In the winter, females give birth to cubs. The mother polar bear eats little or no food during the winter.
As spring approaches, the bear family makes a run onto the sea ice to feed on seals, their main source of food. If the ice melts, their food supply will be cut off and this will impact their survival.
Your assignment: Can you find facts to support what Seymour Simon is saying on this page? Use other books in your library, articles about global warming from Seymour’s blog, or other Internet sources to learn about the melting of the Arctic ice. Write a few paragraphs that use your own words and information that you have found to either argue for or against the idea that the survival of polar bears is threatened by the melting of the Arctic ice.
When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing!
Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Writing Anchor Standard #1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
October 8, 2014
Halloween is in the Air!
Look at this great photograph that I just received from Tamie Williams, the School librarian at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Neosho, Missouri. Those are two of my books, and one by my friend and fellow StarWalk Kids author Caroline Arnold.
Thanks for including me in your Halloween decorations, guys!
October 7, 2014
Autumn Leaves from Space!
Those of us who live in the Northeastern U.S. are very lucky in the Autumn, because the mix of deciduous trees in our forests and countryside make for a magnificent show as the leaves turn in August.
The change is so distinct that it can even be seen from space! This is our Cool Photo of the Week, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite, which is orbiting about 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth. You can see the Great Lakes in this photo, along with the changing autumn leaves.
Have you ever wondered why the leaves turn colors in the fall? Leaves stop producing chlorophyll when the days get shorter and the temperatures are colder. Chloropyll, which enables plants to turn sunlight into energy, has a green tint. So, when the chlorophyll is gone, the other colors in the leaves become visible. That’s why we see what is know as "fall colors."
Photos: Mary Terriberry/Shutterstock, NASA
October 1, 2014
The Cutest Animal: Writing Wednesday
Seymour heard from many of you on Twitter (@SeymourSimon) yesterday about the adorable photograph of the Western Pygmy Possum that he posted on his blog.
So today, for Writing Wednesday, let’s do some descriptive writing. Look at this photograph and think about everything that you see. Use all your senses. What does this little critter’s fur feel like? Can you feel its little heart beating when you hold it? How does it move? How does it look at you?
Of course, since you can’t actually see or touch a real Western Pygmy Possum, you will have to imagine all these things, and that’s ok! You also might want to do some additional research on your own, either in your library or on the Internet, and learn more about this animal. Or you could read yesterday’s blog post to learn more.
When you’ve studied the photograph thoroughly, and done whatever reseach you want to do, write a paragraph or two describing this animal with as much detail as you can. Help your reader imagine what it would be like to encounter a pigmy possum in a field.
If you would like to post your writing for other students to read, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post, copy and paste in your work.
September 30, 2014
Cool….no…..ADORABLE Photo of the Week!
Meet the Western Pygmy Possum, the subject of our Cool Photo of the Week. This tiny marsupial lives in the dry countryside in various parts of Australia. Its body is just 3 inches (7.7 cm) long and its tail is as long as its body. Like most marsupials (kangaroos, for example), the females in this species carry their young in a pouch until they are ready to live on their own.
This photograph makes me want to say: Can I have one, please?!
Photo: Amanda McLean
September 26, 2014
Finishing my Week in Blue Springs, Missouri
I’ve had a great time in the Blue Springs, Missouri elementary schools this week. I’d like to share just a couple of notes that have come in from students.
One thing I talk about when I visit schools is that I wrote and illustrated my first book, Space Monsters, when I was in second grade. That prompted this note from a Kindergarten class:
Dear Mr. Simon-Thank you for visiting our school yesterday and for sharing so much about being an author and a scientist. We are also writing our first books in our kindergarten class, just like you did when you were little. We can’t wait to check out your books and eBooks.We think you are cool!
Mrs. Jennings’ Kindergarten Class
I also talk with students about the fact that since we are citizens of the Universe, we need to know how to write our entire address. That prompted this note, from two students named Ryleigh and Khloie who are using our StarWalk Kids eBook collection:
Hey, we love your books and pictures. Ryleigh’s favorite book: funny space monster riddles and jokes. Khloie’s favorite book is: earth quake !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE LOVE YOU
Location: USA Earth
Thanks, Blue Springs students. I have enjoyed my week with you, too!
If I haven’t been to your school yet, don’t worry. I will be back the week of October 13!
September 24, 2014
Writing Wednesday: Skyscrapers!
We’re thinking about Seymour Simon’s SKYSCRAPERS for today’s Writing Wednesday!
Read the two pages from this book below, and as you read, think about the purpose of this text. What does Seymour Simon want to teach you? How does his choice of words and photographs help you to understand what he is writing about?
Once you are finished reading and thinking about what you have read, write a paragraph giving your opinion about this text, using information from what you read to support your thinking.
When you are done, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post and paste in your writing for others to read.
And if you are interested in learning more about skyscrapers, you can read the entire book in the StarWalk Kids eBook collection. It’s read out loud, too!
Note for Educators: Seymour Simon’s book is part of the affordable, streaming, narrated eBook collection from StarWalk Kids Media. Click here if you would like to learn more about subscribing to this high quality, affordable collection of Common Core mentor texts.
September 23, 2014
Electro-Sculptures! Cool Photos of the Week
Here’s a new word - PYLON. A pylon is the name for those huge towers that support the wires that carry electricity to our towns and cities. They are generally considered to be pretty ugly…a necessary, but unattractive feature of modern life.
In Europe, they have been holding competitions, asking architects to rethink the homely pylon. Is there a way to make this necessary utility more attractive? To think about it more like a sculpture, or a piece of art? The answer is a definitive Yes!
A British company came up with this design, which they call the Flower Tower.
And in Russia, a company submitted this design for the Sochi Olympics. Isn’t it magnificent?
September 22, 2014
Learning about Mars
Our newest Mars explorer, NASA’s Maven satellite, has successfully arrived at the red planet and begun its orbit!
It takes a very long time to travel from Earth to Mars, even at the speed that a rocket travels. We launched this satellite 10 months ago, and it has been hurtling toward Mars ever since. This weekend the satellite fired its thrusters——basically jamming on the brakes——so that it would be captured by the planet’s gravity and settle into orbit around Mars.
It all went flawlessly, and now the satellite will study Mars’ high atmosphere, collecting more data as we try to piece together the story of the history of the Martian environment—- what is there today, and how it has changed over time.
This story has captivated scientists for centuries, and I continue to be fascinated as we learn more and more about my favorite planet (other than Earth, of course!).....which reminds me of a funny story.
My eBook PLANET MARS has been updated twice since 2010 because we are learning so much from the rovers that are studying its surface. The second update happened while our sound producer was in the studio, recording the narration for the book. My phone rang, and Dan, the producer, said: "The Curiosity Rover landed yesterday, and I’m just about to record your book. Don’t you want to add a page about Curiosity?" Of course I did. So I quickly did some research, wrote a page and found a photograph to illustrate it, and the new audio was recorded that same day. Now, THAT is what I call up-to-date!
These days I am working on a new book about Mars, which will be the third installment in my Shipmate’s Guide to Our Solar System series. It won’t be done til sometime next year, but I can give you a preview of the cover:
September 11, 2014
Love these Student Notes!
Last night, several of those students posted notes when they got home. Boy, did these make me smile! Here’s what Catie wrote:I loved reading your books today in my class so much that I made my Mom read them with me when I got home from school. My sister wants to be awriter when she grows up. I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up yet. Thanks for writing such awesome books for us to read. I hope when I get older I can write stories just like you.
Catie in Mrs. Akers/Ballisteri’s 1st grade class
A second student wrote:
Hi my name is Jacklyn. I really really like your panda books. Book 2 gave more info.
Thank you, Catie and Jacklyn, for your wonderful notes. You made my day!