Label: Summer Vacation Science

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 3, 2010

This Saturday, June 5 is National Trails Day - which all of us who love to hike commemorate by visiting favorite trails and participating in educational exhibits, trail dedications, gear demonstrations, instructional workshops and trail work projects. Click here for the National Trails Day website, which has a searchable map so that you can find an event in your area. Celebrate the outdoors with a kid whom you love!


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Summer Vacation Science, Hiking, Mountains   •  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)

February 26, 2010

My new book, GLOBAL WARMING, is in the stores this week. Whenever I write about a new topic, I like to share project ideas and discussion starters that parents can use at home, or educators can use in the classroom.

Almost all scientists think that Earth’s climate is getting hotter. We call that Global Warming. Scientists agree that the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal cause greenhouse gases to escape into the air and that these gases are causing most of the warming. We call that the greenhouse effect. Another cause of global warming is deforestation  (cutting down trees). Trees take in carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases, from the air. The more deforestation, the greater the greenhouse effect, and the more global warming speeds up.

Here’s how you can demonstrate the greenhouse effect with children. Take two quart-sized plastic containers or glass jars. Put two cups of cold water in each jar and add two ice cubes to each container.  Put one of the containers inside a large plastic bag and seal the bag (the plastic bag acts like the atmosphere around Earth). Leave both jars in a sunny spot for one hour. Measure the temperature in each jar.

In sunshine, the air inside a greenhouse becomes warm because the greenhouse glass allows the sun’s light energy to get inside and then change to heat. The heat builds up in the greenhouse, in the same way that heat builds up inside Earth’s atmosphere. You just showed a small greenhouse effect. You can also see the greenhouse effect in an automobile parked in the sun. The sun’s light gets inside the car and the heat is trapped inside, like the plastic bag around the jar.

Most scientists say that the burning of fossil fuels is increasing the greenhouse effect and speeding up global warming. Since these fuels are burned for energy, and everyone uses energy, everyone can help stop global warming simply by using less energy. Think about the things you do each day that use energy. The lights in your house use electricity.  The TV and computer use electricity. The washing machine, dishwasher and dryer all use gas or electricity. Every time you ride in your car, it uses gasoline. We can’t stop doing all those things, but here are some things that we can do.

1. Wait until you have a lot of clothes or a lot of dishes before using the washing machine or dishwasher. Don’t use the washing machine for just a few pieces of clothing or a dishwasher for just a few dishes.

2. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and don’t leave the lights on all night long. Use energy efficient fluorescent bulbs instead of high-energy incandescent light bulbs.

3. Turn off appliances like the TV, computer and video games when you’re not using them.

4. In the summer, close the shades or blinds to prevent the sun from shining in. Dress lightly. Use a fan instead of an air conditioner. If you have to use an air conditioner set it for two or three degrees higher than usual.

5. In the winter, put on an extra sweater and dress warmly. Set the thermostat two or three degrees lower than usual.

6. Plant a tree. A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs. every year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings. If every family in the United States planted just one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion lbs annually. That’s almost 5% of the amount that human activity pumps into the atmosphere each year.

7. Bike or walk short distances instead of going for a ride in a car.

Whenever we talk with children about topics that can be disturbing, it’s important for them to feel that there are things that they can do to make the situation better. In the case of global warming, they really can!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

June 1, 2009

Doing an experiment with a child helps them learn about science. To learn new things, you have to build upon what you already know. In everyday interactions with children, there are many things you can try without lecturing or applying pressures to help them learn science. Of course,  you can’t experiment with a dolphin but here are a few ideas that will help you learn about how dolphins survive in the sea.

1.  How long can you hold your breath? Compare that to how long a dolphin can hold its breath underwater.

2. Do sounds travel underwater? Can you hear sounds when you are swimming? Have you ever played a game where you and a friend make sounds and "talk" underwater,  and try to understand each other?

3. Which freezes more quickly: freshwater or ocean water? Fill two plastic cups halfway, one with freshwater and the other with salty water. Put them in the freezer and check them every ten minutes to see which freezes first. How do the results help to explain why dolphins don’t live in freshwater lakes in places that get very cold in winter?

4. Dolphins dive deep under the water where the water pressure is very great. In the sea,  pressure increases with water depth. Here’s how you can demonstrate that pressure increases with depth. You will need a large, empty tin can, a hammer, a large nail, water, salt, a ruler and a basin or a sink.  Use the hammer and a nail to make three holes, one above the other and each two inches apart in the side of the can. Stand the can on the side of the basin or sink and fill with water. Measure the distance the water spurts out from each of the holes. Try it again with salty water.

a.  Which spurts out further? Why? Remember that the weight of the water is greater over the bottom hole than over the top hole. The heavier the water above, the greater is the water pressure below. At sea level, air pressure is a bit less than 15 pounds per square inch. At 300 feet, the water pressure is about 150 pounds per square inch.

b.  Could humans survive at that pressure without protection? Do research to find out how dolphins survive the pressure of deep waters.

Click on this for Dolphins FAQs 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Dolphins, Summer Vacation Science, Science Projects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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