Friday, July 5, 2019

Counting Bees ~ book reviews return in August

Archimedes is taking the Month of July off to count bees. Want to join me? Head over to the Great Sunflower Project to see how you can get involved. Or maybe you'd rather get involved with Bumble Bee Watch.

And if you still need ideas for things to do, check out the list of summer activities to the right.

Wednesday Explorer's Club and Friday Book reviews will return in early August! So go, pack sandwiches, head outside, and have some fun.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Fireworks!

It all started with an experiment.
About a thousand years ago.
A Chinese monk stuffed gunpowder into a piece of bamboo and tossed it into the fire. He wanted to make a noise loud enough to scare away ghosts.

He did more than that; he inspired people to continue experimenting with noise and colors. That's why, when you head out to a fireworks display this week, you'll get more than a big bang. The designs and colors we see in the sky are a result of chemistry. Inside the fireworks are pellets of the sparkly stuff that burns in the sky. The pattern you see in the sky results from how those pellets are placed inside the firework. They may explode outward in shapes that look like fronds of a palm tree or a brittle star. Or they might snake across the sky. You can read more about patterns here.

The colors come from burning different metal salts: barium chloride for green, lithium carbonate for red, copper compounds for blue, and sodium - like the salt you shake onto your potatoes - for yellow. Here's a handy color chart.

Have fun and remember: it may look like a fireworks show but it's Science in the Sky!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Explorer Academy ~ The Falcon's Feather

Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather
By Trudi Trueit
208 Pages; ages 8-12
Under the Stars (National Geographic imprint), 2019

This is the much anticipated (well, at least on my part) next installment of the Explorer Academy adventures. We met Cruz Coronado and his friends last December. Now they’ve set sail aboard the Explorer Academy ship Orion to continue their studies at sea.

Cruz, born and raised in Hawaii, is used to spending time on the water. His shipmates … not so much. And, as a way of welcoming Cruz aboard the ship, his Aunt Marisol has left him a postcard bearing a coded message.

The Orion is bound for the shores of Iceland and Norway, where the students will continue their studies. Meanwhile, Cruz is on a personal mission to find clues his mom left behind – clues that will help him uncover a secret that could lead to cures for hundreds of diseases. And Nebula Pharmaceuticals will do whatever it takes to keep that secret buried. Fortunately, Cruz’s friends know about his mission and will stick by his side.

As we sail with the young explorers, we learn some sailor speak: port, starboard, bow, stern, aft, fore. And we learn that this is no ordinary research vessel; it is fitted with hydroponic gardens and a mini-sub named Ridley, after the endangered turtle. There are maps – so we can follow the vessel from Chesapeake Bay to Reykjavik, Iceland via Bay of Fundy and the Norwegian coast – and codes to crack. Plus adventures galore, including getting trapped in an ice cave.

Once again people Cruz trusts turn out to be working with the evil Nebula company, and we end with a problem that will lead us to the next adventure (titled The Double Helix).

Like the first book, this one has an awesome section of back matter that explains the truth behind the fiction. You’ll learn about submersibles, speaking whale, glaciers, bioluminescence, and more.

What’s really cool? There is an activity book for kids who want to be more involved in the Explorer Academy. It begins with a letter welcoming the reader to the Academy and is broken into six missions that require you to use your best code-breaking skills. Combined with Explorer Academy adventures, it makes for a perfect summer of …. adventuring!

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading.
Review copies provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ desert plant field trip

I found this relative of a common garden weed (curly dock) in Arches National Park. Some people call it wild rhubarb, and cook it up. It is also used as a dye plant - as is the more common garden variety.