February 21, 2014

Earlier this week I posted a photograph of a blade of grass as seen under an electron microscope. The structure of the cells looks like smiley faces. This prompted a number of my readers to wonder how this could be. Or as Josephine from Shanghai put it:


I wanted to ask you that why are there smiley faces on the blade of grass and how?


It’s simple, Josephine. I told a joke to the blade of grass just before it went under the microscope.


They really aren’t smiley faces, of course. This is just how a the cellular structure of a blade of grass looks under a microscope. But when we humans see it, based on our own experiences and what we know, we see a smiley face. 


I wrote a book called OUT OF SIGHT that is all about amazing things that are too small to be seen by the human eye. The photographs are quite extraordinary and you can see them because the eBook is a free sample book on StarWalk Kids Media - that’s the website for my eBook company. You can try out the book and see lots of these kinds of fascinating microscopic photographs at this link:  Out of Sight. I think you’ll be amazed by what you see!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 20, 2014

I had multiple comments from Shanghai students today asking me about rising sea levels. It appears that you have been assigned a report on this topic and are asking me to explain it for you. Unfortunately, I can’t do your homework for you, and if every student wrote to me every night about a topic they needed to learn about, I would spend all my time answering their questions and would not have any time to write books! However, you can use my website to help with your research on future assignments. One way is to look at the yellow bar called "Labels" (on the left hand side of every blog page). If you click on any of those topics, it will take you to a list of previous articles that I have written about the topic. You can also type a key word (for example: "sea level") in the Search box which is at the top of every page on my website, and you may find useful articles that way.

Since you are all asking about a topic that many students wonder about, I am going to make an exception to my rule and write about this important topic today. As the temperature of the Earth warms and the polar ice melts, our sea level is rising worldwide. Over the past 20 years our oceans have been rising by about 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, which is about twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years. 

The reason this is increasing so much more quickly is that for the past 100 years our use of fossil fuels and other human activities have released enormous amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. These emissions have caused the Earth’s surface temperature to rise, and the oceans absorb about 80 percent of this additional heat. 

This is causing previously unknown levels of flooding in coastal cities. From the many monsoons which flood Chittagong in Bangladesh, to the effects of cyclone Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, to the millions of people affected by flooding from Hurricane Sandy in New York City, people in coastal cities and villages worldwide are experiencing the real effect of global warming on rising sea levels.

I have written quite a bit about global warming on this blog. Check the label "global warming" to learn more about this important topic.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 20, 2014

I want to welcome the fourth graders from the Shanghai American School in China. I am so pleased that so many of you are reading and commenting on my blog!

I love it that your comments are full of questions, because that is how a scientist learns. We explore by asking questions, finding answers (or not), revising the question based on what we learned, and continuing to ask new questions. What we know about the world around us is always evolving and changing. That’s what I love best about science.

I would enjoy it very much if you would write to me about what you are studying in science this year and what you like the most about it. 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 20, 2014

Do you use our Writing Wednesday story starters with your class? Have heard about it and would like to try? Or wish it was on a different topic so it fit the day’s lesson plan?

You should know that we have a large archive - 60 and counting - of Writing Wednesday prompts. And I try to make them evergreen, so that no matter when they were first posted, they are still usable by teachers and classes interested in the topic. A good Writing Wednesday often starts with an image like this one, which captures students’ interest and stimulates engaged writing. We welcome your comments on how we could make this feature an even more useful tool for your classroom.

All of the children’s writing is reviewed for safety and privacy reasons before it is posted. And we accept comments on any of the Writing Wednesday exercises, even older ones.

Click here to check out the archive, and bookmark it for future reference.  

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 18, 2014

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week was shared by @MicroscopePics on Twitter. This is a normal blade of grass as seen under an electron microscope. It looks like a big smile, and I can definitely smile at the thought that spring is coming and we will see grass soon!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 17, 2014

After much consideration, we have chosen five classes that I will Skype with on World Read Aloud Day. They span a wonderful range of ages and geographic locations - I am looking forward to reading aloud to each of these groups.

The first is Mrs. Brittin’s 4th grade class at Warren E. Sooy Jr. Elementary School in Hammonton, New Jersey. Her class (@Brittin404) already interacts with me on Twitter, and I am looking forward to seeing them in person!

Learning Coach Amy Duncan (@teacheraduncan) tells us that when she asked the 5th graders at her school, Emma Murphy Elementary in Metamora, Michigan, what author they would like to meet on World Read Aloud Day, they shouted "Seymour Simon!" Ms. Duncan added that she "thinks it would make a difference for these students to have a real and writerly conversation with the first expert that came to their minds." How could I say no to that?!

Mrs. Lambert’s 3rd grade class at Harvard Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington are learning about blogging this year, and their first blog comments were posted on my website, SeymourSimon.com. These students read my blog regularly and sign all their comments "May the blog be with you." I love it that this request came from multiple students in the class, each writing about subjects that they were interested in.

Kristin Moffitt is the Literacy Coach at the American International School of Zagreb in the Republic of Croatia, and she asked her students to use their persuasive writing skills to invite me to Skype with them on World Read Aloud Day. She included a PDF with many letters from her students. They did indeed make some very good persuasive arguments, and they included terrific artwork, as well! (the student’s last name has been removed to protect her privacy).

And finally, Mrs. Hundt (@maryfranny), the Library Media Specialist at West Salem Elementary School in West Salem, Wisconsin, asked me to participate because most of the connections they have for the day are fiction, and she really wants to include more nonfiction, as she sees many students who gravitate toward it. She came to the right place, and I look forward to meeting the West Salem Elementary students.

Thank you to everyone who applied to have me Skype with their class on World Read Aloud Day. I wish it were possible to share the day with each and every one of you!

- Seymour

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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February 4, 2014

This is a Cocoa Frog (Hypsiboas sp.), a newly discovered species that lives in the rainforest in Surinam. It was discovered in 2013 along with nearly 20,000 other new species around the world. Biologists and other scientists estimate that there are about 8 million species still unidentified, and that doesn’t include the huge number of microbes - microscopic living things like bacteria - that we have not discovered or named yet.

It almost looks good enough to eat….but I wouldn’t try it! 


Photo: Stuart V Nielsen


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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January 31, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year to all my readers who celebrate! If you love horses, this is your year!

 Teachers and librarians, did you know that there is a free, downloadable Teacher Guide for my book HORSES on this website? Click here to download!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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January 20, 2014

Every year on the first Wednesday in March readers everywhere celebrate World Read Aloud Day. It is an important day when we all focus on the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.

I would like to share March 5th, World Read Aloud Day, with as many children as I can, and in as many locations as possible. I’m planning to do a free, 15-minute Read Aloud/Skype session with each of four different school groups or classes. If you are interested in having your students participate, please write to me at seymour@seymoursimon.com. Tell me how you are celebrating the day in your school, and why I should Skype with your class.

We’ll pick four schools from your submissions, and choose a section from one of my books to read aloud together.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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January 17, 2014

Congratulations to everyone who entered the My Awesome Science Word contest. There were many good entries—-it was fun to read about what word each of you selected, and why you thought it was interesting. 

As promised, there are two randomly selected winners - one individual student and one K-2 class. Each one of the winners will receive an autographed copy of my SCIENCE DICTIONARY. Check with Mrs. Abad to pick up your prizes next week. 

Here are the winners and what they wrote.

 Mrs. Shambo’s 1st grade class submitted this entry:

Our awesome science word is heart.

Our definition:  The heart pumps blood. The heart is the size of a fist.  

Why it is awesome:  The heart is awesome because it’s part of your body.  It pumps your blood and keeps you alive. 

Using it in a sentence:  The heart is a part of your body that keeps you alive. 

Here’s the winning entry from Paige M. in Mrs. Bobear’s 5th grade class:

My awesome science word is paleontology.

The definition of my word is a scientific study of fossils from dinosaurs when they were alive and the people that study them are called paleontologists.

I think this word is awesome because you can see the where their eyes were and also if you find all of the fossils, you can see the size of that dinosaur.

I want to do paleontology when I am older.

Congratulations to everyone who entered. I loved reading all your writing!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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