December 12, 2013

He’s done it again. Seymour Simon has won yet another "Outstanding Science Trade Book K-12" selection by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). This makes more than 80 of his books that have received this important designation, which is even more special this year because for the first time the books were judged on their relevance to the newly published Next Generation Science Standards.

The judges wrote of EXTREME OCEANS: Captivating photographs support treatment of an intriguing topic, including ocean science technology.

Our readers love the book, too. In case you missed it, click here to read a review written by 7-year-old Hagan when the book came out earlier this year.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Awards, NSTA   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

December 11, 2013

Writing Wednesday is all about Pandas this week!

Below, you will find excerpts from two different books, both titled Panda. In each of these excerpts, the author is writing about the first days of life for a newborn panda cub.

The first, by Susan Bonners, is an illustrated story. The second, by Caroline Arnold, uses photographs as illustrations.

But those aren’t the only differences between these two books. As you read these passages from the two different books, we want you to think about the differences in the styles of the two authors, and write a paragraph about how they are different.

Things you might think about as you are reading: Why would you choose one Panda book over the other? Would you use these books for different purposes (and what purposes)? Why do you think each author chose her style of presentation? What reaction were the authors trying to get from their readers?

When you have finished writing about the differences between these two pieces of writing, click on the "Comments" button at the bottom of this post to share your writing with others. 


Note for Educators: Both of these books are part of the streaming digital 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

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

December 10, 2013

I decided to share photos of my marine reef (salt water) aquarium today because I realized that some of you enjoyed seeing the photo of my freshwater aquarium last week. Many of you responded via Twitter (@seymoursimon), and I liked hearing from teachers who keep aquariums in their classrooms, just as I used to.

I love keeping aquariums and I particularly enjoy having a reef aquarium because of all the fascinating invertebrates that live there.

Here is what is living in my reef aquarium - the black one is called a 3-spot damselfish, there is a pair of clownfish who are together all the time, a yellowtail blue damsel and of course, many living rocks. There is also a fire shrimp (bright red with white antennae - very beautiful) and a porcelain crab, but they both hide under the rock most of the time. I only see them when I feed them and they come out to grab some food.

The black fish is the 3-spot damsel, and it’s getting awfully big. I may end up taking it back to the aquarium store—they will put it into a larger tank where it has plenty of room to grow and can enjoy a life swimming with bigger fish. Although I’d hate to give it up, it gives me a great opportunity to think about which new, beautiful tropical fish to add to this environment. 

I haven’t kept a marine reef aquarium in quite a few years, and when I started reading about what equipment to buy and how to set this one up, I realized that technology really is changing the way we do everything around us. In 1976 I wrote a book for Viking called TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS: HOW TO SET THEM UP AND KEEP THEM GOING. Everything (and I mean everything) about the process of setting up a reef aquarium has changed.

It is comforting to know that the inhabitants - that is the fish and invertebrates themselves - are still the same.  


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Simon, Fish, Aquarium   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

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?!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Simon, Pets   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

December 4, 2013

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!"

Your assignment:

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.

Happy Writing!


Photos: Erin Whittaker, National Park Service 

Note for Educators: Did you know that we have more than 50 Writing Wednesday topics archived on 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!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Cool Photo, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

December 3, 2013

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

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

November 19, 2013

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.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Earthquakes, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

November 5, 2013



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? 









Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

October 23, 2013

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.

Happy Writing!


Image: An artist’s rendering of PSO J318.5-22 by V. Ch. Quetz / MPIA

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Common Core, Writing Wednesday, Astronomy, Exploration   •  Permalink (link to this article)   •  Share:

October 22, 2013

Do you ever watch the great wildlife documentaries on Discovery Channel and wonder how they get their amazing footage of animals living in the wild? I know I do.

There is a new Discovery documentary called PENGUINS: WADDLE ALL THE WAY coming up on November 23 here in the U.S. And to get the footage of the penguins, Discovery used robotic "penguins," fitted with cameras, who lived among the real birds! More than 50 of these remote control cameras lived with penguins - some disguised as adults, some as chicks, and some even camouflaged as eggs.

Producer John Downer, who developed the "penguin-cams," says that the robot cameras can "swim, toboggan, waddle, jump and even lay fake eggs. In fact, they appear so lifelike that some of the penguins try to befriend them."

And for all these reasons, the penguin-cam is our Cool Photo of the Week! 


Photo: John Downer / Discovery Channel 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

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