October 7, 2014

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 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Earth, Seasons   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 30, 2014

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 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 26, 2014

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!

Seymour

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 24, 2014

 

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.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Engineering   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 23, 2014

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?

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(11) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 22, 2014

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, space books, space, Space Travel, Mars   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 11, 2014

I posted yesterday about the excellent comments posted by two first grade classes about one of my Writing Wednesday exercises, called Pandas.

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.

Love, 

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.

Sincerely Jacklyn 

 

Thank you, Catie and Jacklyn, for your wonderful notes. You made my day!

Seymour 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 10, 2014

It’s Writing Wednesday, and we’ve had some really good comments posted by first grade classes at an elementary school in Bryant, Arkansas.

They have been reading a story about PANDAS that I posted last year. I asked readers to compare two different books about giant pandas—- an illustrated book by Susan Bonners, and a photo essay book by Caroline Arnold. Here is a link to click if you would like to read about pandas, and perhaps you will share your ideas, too.

Thank you for writing, Bryant students! Everyone can check out their ideas by clicking on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of the pandas blog post.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 4, 2014

I love watching American Goldfinches at out bird feeder during the spring and summer months. They’re smaller than sparrows and their colors range from bright gold to pale yellow depending upon the season and whether they’re male, female or young birds. They are usually in groups of anywhere to a few to more than a dozen. This is a photo of a juvenile goldfinch at our feeder (notice the spiky pinfeathers).

I think what I love best is the way they fly and sing as they fly. They swoop down from nearby trees to the feeder in a kind of rising and falling flight, singing as they fly. Their song sounds like a series of "per-chick-a-rees" that rises and falls along with their flying. In other words, they sing the way they fly. Amazing!

We use thistle in our bird feeder to attract them and they seem to love feeding on that seed. They feed all summer long at the feeder and also on the seeds that fall on the ground below the feeder. They are migratory birds and fly south in the fall and north in the spring. And I know that I for one will miss them when they depart for warmer climates in the fall. 

 

 



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

September 3, 2014

It’s a new school year, and today is Wednesday…..so it’s time for a new WRITING WEDNESDAY!

 

Today, we’re going to look at a Seymour Simon book that is an old favorite.

It’s called PROFESSOR IQ EXPLORES THE SENSES.

As you read the pages below, about our sense of sight, think about all the different ways that Seymour Simon and illustrator Dennis Kendrick provide information to the reader.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Now that you’ve read these pages, think about the organization of this text. How does it support your learning? For example, are their captions, diagrams or illustrations that help your understanding? Does the design of the pages make a difference? How this book is different from other informational text you have read?

If you need to, go back and read again, and then write several sentences about which features of this particular informational text you think are most helpful to understanding more about your sense of sight.

When you have finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog post to paste in your writing for others to see.

As Professor IQ would say, "Every day is a good day to explore!"


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.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Human Body   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

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