Label: Earth Science Books

November 16, 2011

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a wonderful shot of a "volcano cake," which a parent made when I visited a school several years ago. Isn’t it wonderful?!

The photograph reminds me that I recently received a letter about volcanoes from Andrea G., a fifth grade student at Witch Hazel Elementary School in Oregon. "I love how you wrote the Volcano story.  I love how you added all those different kinds of volcanoes.  I wish you will come to my house and write a story, have an adventure, or go to a restaurant.  It’s very cool that you wrote two hundred books in thirty years.  Do you know a lot about the moon?  How do you know a lot about volcanoes? Thank you for your time."

One of the things that I love about Andrea’s letter is that she called the book my "Volcano story." 

That is exactly how I think about writing my books. Even though they are about real (nonfiction) subjects, I always try to write a story that is fun and exciting to read. It makes me very happy that Andrea sees it that way.

Over the years, both while teaching Science and writing my books, I have indeed come to know a lot about both the moon and about volcanoes. Of course, I studied science in school, both at New York’s Bronx High School of Science and continuing on into college. But it takes more than that. Being interested in science means that you are always learning. There are new discoveries being made all the time, and scientists are constantly testing theories to keep increasing our knowledge and understanding of our planet and the universe in which we live.

So, when I write a book, I have to do research and find out as much as I can, just as you would if you were writing a report for school. For VOLCANOES, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Hawaii, where I talked to vulcanologists (scientists who specialize in volcanoes), as well as observing and photographing active volcanoes. 

In fact, the subject is so interesting to me that I’ve written TWO different books about volcanoes! I think they are one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful sights in our natural world, don’t you?

                         

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Volcanoes, Becoming a writer, School Visits, Cool Photo, Kids Write, Earth Science Books, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 14, 2011

I was so pleased to receive a letter recently from Cam P, who just started second grade in New Jersey. Cam’s favorite book is one of mine - TORNADOES. So, he decided to write his own book on the subject, called TWISTERS. Nice job, Cam, and thank you for your letter!

What Cam did - writing a book inspired by one of his favorite authors - is something that writers often do. One of my favorite authors is named Rachel Carson, and when I read her book THE SEA AROUND US, I realized for the first time that I could be a writer.

So, Cam (and other students who love to read and write about nature) - keep writing! You, too, might turn out to be a published author one day.


 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, Kids Write, Earth Science Books, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 7, 2011

Wildfires are forces of nature like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. But unlike most other natural disasters, wildfires can sometimes be prevented or at least controlled more easily. Strangely, fire fighters sometime start fires instead of putting them out. Using a fire starter called a drip torch, fire fighters set small blazes on purpose. These small fires help to control fires already burning or prevent large wildfires from starting by burning away undergrowth and dead wood in the path of a raging fire.

For many years, fire fighters put out natural fires as quickly as possible. But the more that fuel on a forest floor or a dry grassland builds up, the worse a wildfire is going to be. Lack of rain and intense days of high temperatures also contribute to wildfires. That’s what is happening in parts of Texas and California right now. It will take lower temperatures and plentiful rains to finally control these huge blazes.

In the future though, preventative fires need to be put to use before a wildfire even starts. Most scientists say that wildfires are part of nature. The only question is when they will happen and how we deal with them. In areas with people and houses, wildfires have to be brought under control as quickly as possible. But in wilderness areas, wildfires are different. Allowing small fires to burn naturally may be one way to prevent tragedies where human lives are lost and houses burned out. Some states such as Florida burn many acres of grassland in the everglades each year to prevent out-of-control future wildfires. 

Photograph from Seymour Simon’s book WILDFIRES.

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earth Science Books, Wildfires   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 17, 2011

The theme for Earth Day 2011 is "A Billion Acts of Green." People from all over our planet are making promises to change their habits or try new activities that will help to "green" our planet by limiting the amount of energy they use, decreasing the amount of waste they produce, and protecting and creating habitats for other living creatures.

I would like the readers of my Seymour Science blog to tell me what they are doing to reduce their impact on Earth’s resources. A big group of you contributed to Friday’s story, telling us what you are doing to reduce your carbon footprints. Your commitment to our planet Earth and your promises are inspiring!

Now, I’d like to hear from the rest of you. Click on "Comments," at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are going to do, not only in honor of Earth Day, but ongoing.  We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to recognize your efforts and inspire other readers to do the same.

Do you need some help to get you started? Some ideas about what you can do to help our environment? Some of my earlier articles, like this story on Global Warming, or another one called "Earth by the Numbers" both have lots of simple ideas for things you can do to make your environment a greener place. 

As I write this on Sunday morning, more than 96 MILLION PEOPLE have clicked on the Earth Day website to enter their promises as part of the "Billion Acts of Green." One of the great things about being green is that kids can really make a difference, just as much as adults can. Let’s talk about what we are going to do, and share our own green actions with each other. After all, we only have one planet home.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Teachers and Librarians, Conservation, Earth Science Books, Earth Day 2011   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 24, 2010

Today we thought we’d share some of the feedback from the In-School testing which is underway on the prototype Teacher Guide for Seymour’s EARTHQUAKES book. This testing is happening in conjunction with the creation of thirty Teacher Guides to be used with his books. They will be available online for free teacher downloads by the time schools resume in the autumn of 2010.

For those interested in the anecdotal highlights of the in-school testing, here is feedback from fellow science writer Jordan Brown, who is collaborating with us on both the writing and testing.

 Highlights of the 3rd grade class testing:

 

* Kids enjoyed having "Why I Wrote this Book" from Seymour Simon read aloud. One of the teachers shared her story about experiencing an earthquake in Seattle.

* As you might expect, any opportunity for children to share personal stories captured group interest. One boy told about visiting California recently and experiencing his first earthquake.

* The 3rd graders really liked the "Make a Quake" website. We did this online activity several times, changing the variables to see how damaged the building became.

* Many kids were very surprised to learn how frequent earthquakes are.

* They also enjoyed when I passed around the hard-boiled egg with the cracked shell still on (like cracked plates around Earth). Spontaneously, I had all kids press their palms together forcefully, then have one of the hands push upward, so they could imitate the motion of faults sliding passed each other.

* For the building activity, I made the challenge a bit tougher for the third graders. I told students to build a building as tall as they could—but also try to stabilize it. Otherwise, I feared they would just make long, flat structures. All but one of the buildings they made held up when, as a group, we tested them out by shaking a plastic plate beneath each model.

From the Kindergarten Testing:

* Kids loved looking at the dramatic photos when I flipped through the book—but some of the kindergartners got a little scared. I made a point of reassuring them that the chances of a big, dangerous earthquake in our area was very rare.

* Class was fascinated by the map on page 12 (in which every small red dot represents where an EQ has occurred).

* When talking about why scientists can’t predict precisely when an EQ will occur—one child made the comparison to a balloon being blown up. If you keep blowing, eventually it will pop—but you don’t know exactly when.

* Building activity was a big hit - The teacher commented that she really loved watching the groups of children having to work together to figure out a possible solution. When some of the groups had trouble coming up with a self-standing building (I only provided a small number of materials, so they had to think creatively), they got inspiration and ideas by looking at each other’s work.

If you are interested in giving us feedback on this prototype, we would LOVE to hear from you. You can download a free copy of the Teacher Guide for Seymour Simon’s EARTHQUAKES by clicking on this link.

   

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Teacher Guides, Earthquakes, School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 11, 2010

Tornado season can be a scary time for kids who live in affected areas. The last 24 hours have been deadly in Oklahoma, and thousands of people in Kansa and Oklahoma are still without power.

I wrote an extensive post recently about tornadoes, which you can still access online. And,  since giving kids a sense of what they can do to stay safe helps them to feel less frightened, I’d like to reiterate the key things for kids to know if they live in the southern plains, or in a place where tornadoes might strike.

** Pay attention to early warning sirens and alerts on radio and television, so that you can take shelter before a tornado strikes.

** Cars and mobile homes are NOT safe during a tornado. Go to the basement of a solidly built house.

** If you are in an apartment or home without a basement, getting into a bathtub and covering yourself with a couch cushion protects you on all sides.

** If you are out walking or biking, life flat in a ditch if there is no rain. If there is rain, there may be a danger of flash flooding, so stay out of the ditch, get away from trees and power lines, crouch down and make yourself as small as possible - be a "human basketball"!

Reassure children that they don’t have to worry too much in advance about tornadoes, but finding out when they are coming and knowing what to do is certain to help them if one strikes.   

 (Editor’s Note): For kids who want more information about storms, Seymour has also written a Level 2 SeeMore Reader called SUPER STORMS, which is also available in Spanish, titled TORMENTOS INCREíBLES.

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earth Science Books, Weather, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 10, 2010

Sunday, Mother’s Day, was very windy with gusts reaching 40 miles per hour. It was sunny and there were many cumulus clouds in the blue skies. But there weren’t the usual puffy cumulus clouds that look like cotton balls.

 

Instead they were cumulus fractus (or fractocumulus) clouds, sometimes also called "scud"  by pilots. Fractus clouds are clouds that are torn by high winds and look very much like cotton balls that have been torn apart by fingers.   They change constantly and often move rapidly across the sky.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Seymour Photographs, Earth Science Books, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 6, 2010

One of the techniques that I love seeing teachers use with their students is having them write every day in a journal, or in this case, a blog!

Teachers in the Avoca School District (serving portions of Glenview, Northfield, Wilmette, and Winnetka, Illinois) welcome readers this way when they come to the site:

Welcome to one of the student blogs at Avoca School District 37. Students will be posting in their school blog throughout the school year sharing their writing, as well other projects they create. We hope that you will visit the student blogs and make comments to the students about their work.

 

Payton describes himself this way in his "About Me":             

I’m ten years old going to be 11. My favorite subject is Math and Reading. My friends say that I’m cool and funny. I think I am amazing. This year I am hoping to learn everything there is to learn. 

 

Click here to read Payton’s review of DANGER! VOLCANOES.

             

 

As I tell both teachers and students when I visit schools, if you want to be a writer, the most important thing to do is WRITE! This program is a great way to encourage kids to express themselves, and get positive feedback on their writing skills.

 

   

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Volcanoes, Becoming a writer, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 29, 2010

The Boston Globe continues to post a huge number of pictures of the Icelandic volcano. Click here to have a look. What gorgeous sights.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Volcanoes, Earth Science Books, Eyjafjallajokull   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 23, 2010

Did you see the images on television last night of snowplows removing hail (not snow – HAIL!) from the highways in Colorado? And if you click here you’ll see video of a tornado that touched down in Texas last night.

There are strong thunderstorms predicted throughout this weekend in the Eastern two-thirds of the US, and Tornado Watches are in effect for communities that regularly experience these violent storms.

Why is all this happening at once? Well, it’s April, and that generally marks the beginning of the tornado season in the U.S.

A tornado’s funnel looks like a huge elephant’s trunk hanging down from a cloud. The funnel acts like a giant vacuum cleaner…whenever the “hose” touches the ground, it sucks things up into the air.

 Usually, tornadoes are local storms. A typical tornado is only 400 to 500 feet wide, has winds of less than 112 miles per hour, and last only a few minutes. But sometimes, monster tornadoes a mile wide with winds up to 500 miles per hour are born in very large thunderstorms – also called supercells – and they can cause tremendous destruction. Tornadoes have moved houses down a whole block, bounced 20-ton tractor-trailers up and down on the highway, even picked up a pond full of frogs and rained them down on a nearby town!

Photo Credit:  Howard Bluestein, Photo Researchers, Inc.
 

If you live near an area that is prone to tornadoes at this time of year, the most important things to remember are:

·      Pay attention to early warning sirens and alerts on radio and television, so that you can take shelter before a tornado strikes.

·      Cars and mobile homes are NOT safe during a tornado. Go to the basement of a solidly built house.

·      If you are in an apartment or home without a basement, getting into a bathtub and covering yourself with a couch cushion protects you on all sides.

·      If you are out walking or biking, life flat in a ditch if there is no rain. If there is rain, there may be a danger of flash flooding, so stay out of the ditch, get away from trees and power lines, crouch down and make yourself as small as possible - be a "human basketball"!

You don’t have to worry too much in advance about tornadoes, but finding out when they are coming and knowing what to do is certain to help you if one strikes.     

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Earth Science Books, Weather, Tornadoes   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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