Label: Environment

July 7, 2010


We have a new post today from our 10-year-old environmental reporter, Alana G, who took advantage of the July 4th holiday celebration to bring her message to her community. What an inspiration she is!

—- Seymour

Hello fellow Shipmates,

            I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July holiday. I definitely did. My friends and I from my "KIDS TODAY FOR A BETTER TOMORROW" group attended an old fashioned 4th of July picnic in the Southern California city that we live in. There was all kinds of really cool stuff for us to do there. We got to play all day long, but the coolest thing we did was to create an environmental theme for the decorated wagon parade.

           My friends and I had a great time decorating our little wagon on Saturday.  We were very proud of our finished wagon. We tried to use as many recycled materials as possible, even the wagon we bought had been made from recycled materials. Anything that we used that was not made from recycled materials will not be wasted. We are going to do the next best thing….Re-use! And we are saving the decorations so we can use them next year. grin Anytime that you recycle or reuse products you help to reduce your carbon footprint, which is an awesome thing to do.

            My friends even decorated their scooters and bicycles to follow alongside our wagon. We received many very nice compliments and smiles as we walked by and even got a thumbs up. That made my day.  grin While we were there we ran into our city councilwoman, Gwenn Norton-Perry, who was so happy about all of the wonderful things we have been doing to help save our planet (that’s her in the photo on the right). She was amazed by how much our group has already accomplished in such a short amount of time. As she congratulated us on a job well done…I felt my cheeks turn red. Well…I guess it was more like a rosy pink. LOL. My friends were so excited and very proud to have met a city councilperson. We kept walking around with our wagon and passed out flyers for KT4BT. We have even teamed up with a local Cub Scout troop that has asked if they join us on our next...

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Posted by: Alana G

Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 24, 2010

Richard Pough, founder of the Nature Conservancy, died on this day i 2003.  Pough’s efforts as a nature conservationist led to the establishment of numerous wildlife sanctuaries across the country. He also wrote the Audubon Bird Guide, and led the fight to ban the sale of the feathers of endangered birds (whose feathers were prized in those days as ornaments for women’s hats).

 Pough was one of the first people to raise the alarm about a pesticide that was threatening the wildlife in a way never seen before. According to a 1945 article in the New York Times, Pough reported on tests by the Audubon Society and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service showing that forests in Pennsylvania had lost their birds after being sprayed with DDT. ‘‘If DDT should ever be used widely and without carewould have a country without freshwater fish, serpents, frogs and most of the birds we have now.’’ Rachel Carson’s more widely recognized book on this same subject, ‘‘Silent Spring,’’ was not published until 1962.

 Pough began his conservation career in 1932 when he heard about a hunting spot called Hawk Mountain near where he lived in Philadelphia. He went to investigate, and was horrified to find hundreds of dead hawks. He eventually stopped the hunting when he persuaded a wealthy New Yorker to buy 1400 acres of the land on the mountain, establishing the country’s first sanctuary for birds of prey. If you have ever seen one of these glorious raptors soaring in the wind drafts and thermals over a verdant valley, you will know why he was moved to action.

 Richard Pough is also very close to my heart because later in his career he became the Chairman of Conservation and General Ecology for the American Museum of Natural History. While in that position he oversaw creation of the Hall of North American Forests, which includes a realistic diorama of Stissing Mountain, in the Hudson Highlands in Upstate New York. As a little boy growing up in the city I used to sit in front of this diorama and imagine living in a place with a big lake, soaring hawks, supple white birches, and leaping bass. Many years later, I am fortunate to own a house not 20 minutes from that very spot. I have always strived to be an active conservationist and environmentalist, and I was inspired by the work of people like Richard Pough. 



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Conservation, Environment   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 23, 2010

What a day! I had an amazing time on the farm today and man am I tired. Today we studied all about Botany, which is the science of plants. We even got to dissect a flower today so that we can study its inside parts. You’re probably thinking "Dissect a plant?? Why, if there is nothing to see?" Some of you are thinking that it’s weird but a plant actually has many interesting parts inside that form the plant’s structure. Do you know why plants turn green? If not, I’ll tell you. Plants turn green because they are filled with Chlorophyll which makes them green.[1] Cool huh? We also got to harvest vegetables from the farm’s garden. We picked a ton of green beans for a B.B.Q. dinner that they are having for us tomorrow. Yummy!!! I am getting hungry just thinking about it. We also got to plant Black-Eyed Peas, not to be confused with the group. LOL…although we did sing a few of their tunes as we worked. : ) It was fun getting dirty.



Well, tomorrow is the big day and I am sad to say our last day of the Science of Farming Camp. We get to dissect the cow eyeball and the sheep heart that I was telling you about yesterday ...Yukkk!! But I am sure it will be a lot of fun. Like I said, I will fill you in more when I write my report for you. Yep, I am writing a report just for you grin so I can share all the wonderful stories and information I have learnt at camp with you. If you want to hear more about it, please make sure to check back in and read my blog. smile Oh and one more thing…don’t believe the hype…Farming IS COOL!!! Thanks for reading my blog, Fellow Shipmates!

Alana G

"Science Rules"

[1] Note from Seymour: Alana is right; chlorophyll does make plants look green. Not only does it make plants green, but chlorophyll is important for life on Earth, even for us non-green types, like you and me. Chlorophyll is a substance that plants use to make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight. That’s called photosynthesis. Plants use photosynthesis to make the food they need and animals eat plants (or eat other animals that eat plants). So that stuff that turns plants green is the same stuff upon which life on Earth depends.




Posted by: Alana G

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 22, 2010

Hey fellow Shipmates!

    We just got home from our first day on the farm. It was Day 1 of 3 for the Science of Farming camp and we were farm scientists today! I wish you could have been there. We got to learn about the physics of farming and about simple machines. It was really cool. I also got to milk a cow and play with the animals. Tomorrow we will learn about Organic & Sustainable farming. Yay!! We are sooo tired. My mom says she is way out of shape. LOL. Plus, tomorrow we are going to get really dirty. I can’t wait. Oh and guess what… on Wednesday we are going to dissect a cow eye and a sheep’s heart. Yukkk! I am only going to do it for the love of science.

     I will write a full report when we finish our farming camp. I just couldn’t wait to tell you all about our exciting first day. Thanks for reading my blog.


Alana G

"Science Rules"


Posted by: Alana G

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 21, 2010


I’d like to introduce Alana G, a fifth grade student and our special environmental reporter on the Seymour Science Blog this summer. She’ll be telling us about her environmental activities in her own community and also about her thoughts as we go through the summer of the Gulf Oil Spill. As I said before, “Welcome Aboard Alana. It’s great to have you as a shipmate on Planet Earth.”

—- Seymour


Hey fellow Shipmates,

I am so excited! This is going to be the best summer vacation ever thanks to Seymour’s words of inspiration. I never would have imagined that I would become Seymour Simon’s new Youth Environmental Reporter, but here I am. grin One of the luckiest 10 year old kids there has ever been. I get to work with and write for my favorite children’s author, Seymour Simon, while doing what I love the most. Helping to “Save the World!”  Yes, you heard me right…I am going to “Save the World,” well, at least I’ll be doing my part by trying to. grin I want to know that I have made a difference on our planet because this is OUR PLANET and OUR FUTURE. We share this planet with all of the other creatures that live here including the Earth itself, but for some reason humans continue to destroy this beautiful world. 

So this summer I will be setting out into my local community to do environmental research and reporting. That might sound boring, but it’s totally not!  I am going to have such wonderful adventures this summer. Oh, I forgot to mention the coolest part. I have started a group called “KIDS TODAY FOR A BETTER TOMORROW.” This group includes all my friends and a ton of other kids from Southern California. (That is where I am from) We are going to have a blast. Not only will I get to hang out with all my friends this summer, we are actually going to be doing something amazing…we will be out improving our community and saving the planet at the same time. Isn’t that so cool?

So you might be wondering how this all came about. Well, I was really sad about the Gulf oil spill. My mom and I had been watching the daily updates. It broke my heart to hear about what was happening. All those poor sea...

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Posted by: Alana G

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 14, 2010

We are very pleased to announce that we are going to have an Environmental Reporter on the Seymour Science blog this summer. Her name is Alana G, and she is a ten-year-old, soon-to-be fifth grader from Southern California. 

Readers of this blog are already familiar with Alana - I recently published her touching letter about her distress at the effect the Gulf Oil Spill is having on the region’s wildlife. In my response to her letter I urged her to become an environmental activist in her daily life by talking about it to your friends, reading about it in books and on the web, and remaining committed to the idea that it’s OUR planet and we need to protect it from being abused.

Powerful words to a born activist, which Alana clearly is. In the three days after  we wrote this letter and then asked her to consider reporting for my blog, Alana a) recruited a large group of kids from her school to form a group called KIDS TODAY FOR A BETTER TOMORROW, b) set up a Facebook page {with her mother's permission and guidance} to promote the activities of her group, and c) spontaneously went to her local city council meeting and spoke to them, asking for their support for her environmental group! She is not only a very good writer for a ten-year-old, she is clearly a powerful community organizer in the making.


In the next week or so we will have a first post from Alana, and she will tell you herself what she is planning to do over the summer. In the meantime, share her story with other young people in your own communities - maybe we can start a movement!

                                                                                            —- Seymour


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment, Oil Spills   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 5, 2010

The brown pelican has become the "poster bird" of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster in the Gulf.  29 oil-covered pelicans were airlifted from Queen Bess Island to a bird rehabilitation center in Fort Jackson on Thursday. This rookery was designed as a protected home where pelicans could live and breed, but it’s now surrounded by oil-soaked booms.

The tragedy is that the brown pelican, once so common on the Louisiana coastline that they are on the Louisiana State flag, has been threatened once before. In fact, the long-billed birds nearly became extinct in the 1960s due to widespread use of pesticides like DDT. The ingestion of these pesticides caused the shells of pelican eggs to become paper thin, so brittle that the eggs cracked when the adult pelican sat on them. Fortunately, the use of these pesticides was banned nationwide in 1972, and a successful program to save the brown pelican from extinction was launched. The pelicans were reintroduced in three locations, including Queen Bess Island, off the Louisiana coast, and were living proof that a species brought to the edge of extinction could come back and thrive. Now their very survival is threatened once again.

 For readers who live in Louisiana and want to get involved in helping to save the wetlands and the wildlife, a good source to contact is the Barataria Terrebonne National Estatuary Program (BTNEP).  They are front line defenders of Louisiana’s precious wetlands from the potential impacts of the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and they are looking for volunteers.

 Photo Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: Environment, Oil Spills   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 5, 2010

The NOAA  (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association) website is a good source for tracking the spill with your students. The site is full of valuable information, particularly satellite photos of the scene.

Still, explaining vast numbers and distances to kids can be difficult. The bigger the numbers, the less they mean. That’s why I often use analogies (e.g. if Earth is the size of a basketball then the Sun would be the size of an entire basketball court) to explain outsized concepts to kids.

There is a great source online to help kids understand the size of the ever-expanding oil spill in the Gulf. If It Was My Home is a simple site that uses Google Maps to place the footprint of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill over a map of your own city or town. It is sobering, and definitely helped me to understand the magnitude of the slick.

Type in your own zip code and try it for yourself. It really brings the sickening sense of urgency to life.




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Environment, Oil Spills   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 2, 2010


If your family is vacationing this summer in California, take a side trip to see the Tehachapi Wind Farm, outside Bakersfield. While we all tend to think about renewable energies like solar power and wind power as technologies of the future, Tehachapi is online and producing over 800 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year.

Tehachapi is the second largest wind farm in the world, with nearly 5,000 wind turbines that generate enough electricity to meet the residential needs of 350,000 Californians every year.

A prime location for viewing the turbines is off of State Route 58 and from Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road. Or, if you want to wander further afield, Paul Gipe of has posted this self-guided tour to the entire Tehachapi Wind Farm.




I didn’t know about Tehachapi Pass until recently when I saw a photograph on the blog of a friend of mine. She has taken a five-month sabbatical from her media job in New York City to hike the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail - it’s a 2,656 mile (4,274km) walk from Mexico to Canada. If you’re an environmentalist, you’ll love this blog, called O-Ten. On Foot. The photos that she posts nearly every day capture the incredible resources that make up the Western United States - resources worthy of our protection.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Environment, Wind Power   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 1, 2010

A fourth-grader wrote asking what she can do about the Gulf oil spill.

My name is Alana and I am a 4th grade student. We are currently reading the story you wrote "Wildfires." I think it is a great story. It helped us understand the positive effects that controlled wildfires can have.Although I greatly enjoyed the story,  unfortunately that is not the main reason I am writing to you today. I just read your posting on the Gulf Oil Spill. My mom and I have been following the updates. It breaks my heart that this has happened. The sea turtles are one of my very favorite animals on the planet, but I love all marine life. I was even looking into becoming a Marine Biologist when I grow up. I love science and enjoy working with animals.  I can’t believe what is going to happen the Gulf’s ecosystem. I know that I am very far away and that I am only 9 years old (almost 10) smile but do you have any suggestions of what I can do to help the situation? It makes me so angry but also sad that this has happened and the only thing that will help me feel a little better is to know that I am doing whatever I can to help save the animals that are still left. Do you think that the sea turtles will survive this disaster? So many have already died. : (  I know you are very busy. Thank you for taking the time to read posting.

Alana G.
"Science Rules" 

Alana, thank you so much for writing and for caring so much about the sea turtles. Like you, I have always considered sea turtles to be one of my favorite animals on our planet. They travel long distances during their lives and return to the same place they were born, where the females lay their eggs for a new generation of turtles. It is so sad that the turtles are being killed by the terrible oil spill in the Gulf. The turtles are only one of the many animals that are being affected and no one seems to know how to put a quick stop to the oil pouring out into the sea. I wish I could tell you what to do to help the situation. More than that I wish I could tell you that someone knows what to do. It seems as if the oil spill will continue for weeks and months and I just hope that the company that caused the spill and the goverrnment can control it by the end of the summer. Perhaps the best thing you and everyone else can do is to try to make sure that it never happens again. There are many conservation groups, such as The Nature Conservancy and The Natural Resources Defense Council that are working to make oil drilling safer in a variety of ways.

The peoples of this country and of other countries all share the same planet. The more people who feel the way you and I do about this terrible situation, the more likely it is that the countries of the world will put rules in place to prevent it from ever happening again.Think environmentally all your life, no matter what you decide to do as an adult. Talk about it to your friends. Read about it in books and on the web. Remain committed to the idea that...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Oceans, Environment, Oil Spills, Sea Turtles   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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