Making Electricity Turning on a light or a TV is easy because of electricity. But where does all that electricity come from? Most power plants produce electricity by using energy sources like coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. Other plants make electricity using sources such as sunlight, wind, water, or even heat from underground. That means there are eight different sources of electricity in use today.
Hit the Penny
In Chile, kids play a game called “Hit the Penny.” The game requires just a few pennies and a stick or broom handle with one flat end. First, set up the stick by pushing one end into the ground. Then lay a penny on the flat top end of the stick. Around the stick, draw a circle about six feet wide. Next, have each player stand outside the circle and take turns throwing another penny to knock the penny off the stick. If the knocked-off penny falls in the circle, the player gets one point, and if it falls outside, the player gets two points. Hit the Penny only takes a few minutes to learn but a long time to master.
Food for Everybody Kids are always saying, “I’m starving!” They probably hope to get some potato chips or oatmeal cookies. Moms may give them apples or oranges. All of these foods come from plants, but where do plants get their food? Plants actually make their own food through a process called photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis begins when a plant takes in water and carbon dioxide. The plant gets water from the ground through its roots. It gets carbon dioxide from the air through its leaves. Carbon dioxide is a gas that animals breathe out but that plants breathe in.
In the next part of the process, the water and carbon dioxide are changed into sugar in the leaves. Each leaf has cells full of a green substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll uses sunlight to break down the water and carbon dioxide. It then combines these two elements into sugar.
Photosynthesis supports all life on Earth. It creates the sugar that all green plants need to live. It also feeds the plant-eating animals, and eventually the animals that eat the plant eaters. When photosynthesis breaks down carbon dioxide, it releases oxygen. Without photosynthesis, humans and animals couldn’t even breathe!
Bite into an apple and taste the sweetness! That taste comes from photosynthesis. Take a deep breathe of fresh air. That freshness comes from photosynthesis, too. Next time you say, “I’m starving,” remember that photosynthesis is the process that makes food for everybody.
The Water Cycle Once I went sledding on a mountain and swimming in the ocean during the same week. That was an amazing journey, but water makes that journey all the time. After all, the snow that fell on the mountain was once in the sea! The journey that water takes from the sea to the sky and back is called the water cycle.
The water cycle begins with evaporation. Evaporation happens when heat causes water to change from a liquid to a gas. Every day, a trillion tons of water changes to gas. When water evaporates, it leaves its salt behind, so evaporation gives the Earth its freshwater. If water only evaporated, though, the oceans would eventually dry up, as they did on Mars. But Earth’s water cycle doesn’t end with evaporation.
The next step in the water cycle is condensation. Condensation is water vapor (evaporated water) turning back into drops of liquid. This happens if water vapor cools or water molecules stick to dust particles in the air. When water condenses in the air, it forms clouds or fog. When it condenses on the ground, it forms dew or frost. Water can also condense on a cold lemonade glass or a cool bathroom mirror.
When droplets in a cloud get big enough, precipitation begins. Precipitation is falling water. Different temperatures create different kinds of precipitation. Rain, sleet, and snow are forms of precipitation. Most precipitation ends up back in the oceans. That’s where 97 percent of Earth’s water is. Then the water cycle is ready to begin again.
Get out and enjoy the water cycle. Try sledding on a mountain or swimming in the sea. Better yet, just take a sip from a drinking fountain and think of the journey that the water has taken.
Blowing Its Top In 1980, Mount Saint Helens in Washington State erupted with the force of a nuclear bomb. An explosion like that just doesn’t happen. An eruption like Mount Saint Helens results from a long process.
The process begins out at sea. That’s where the Pacific plate gets shoved under the North American plate. This movement is called subduction. The plate that is pushed down melts in the mantle and bubbles up as magma.
Next, the magma pushes up through cracks, trying to escape. The magma under Mount Saint Helens has a lot of air trapped in it. It’s like soda in a bottle. As long as the pressure is on, the air is dissolved, and the magma stays put.
The last step in the process is removing the pressure. In 1980, an earthquake caused a huge landslide on one side of the mountain. With all that weight gone, the magma shot out like soda out of a bottle. It totally rocked!
When Mount Saint Helens blew its top, it destroyed lakes and forests. However, volcanoes can also make new land. They created one of the 50 states- Hawaii.
Understanding the Barrier Islands by Julia Tazzi
The barrier islands are called the “Children of the Sea.” Born after the last ice age, they stretch along the Atlantic coast in long, narrow chains. Some of these chains extend for 100 miles or more. The islands have been around for nearly 18 centuries, but they may not exist forever.
What caused the islands to form? At the end of the ice age, the air warmed and the glaciers melted. The melting ice caused rivers and streams to rise. As they flooded over the beaches, they carried sand and sediment to shallow areas just off the Atlantic coast. Ridges formed there. Then waves deposited more sand on the ridges. The ridges slowly became islands. Ocean currents pushed the sand up and down the islands. That caused them to lengthen into narrow strips.
The barrier islands have broad beaches and dunes on the ocean side. They have mud flats and salt marshes on the mainland side. This low, sandy structure is vulnerable to erosion. Erosion has caused many changes in the islands. For example, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina had to be moved. The beach had eroded, so in 1999, the lighthouse was moved about one-half mile inland. However, plants in the dunes, flats, and marshes help stabilize the islands. The plants and the dunes themselves slow the wind. As the wind slows down, it is not strong enough to pick up sand and carry it away. Plant roots also hold the sand in place.
Natural erosion isn’t the only danger to these islands. People who enjoy the beach, love to vacation on the barrier islands. To build houses, hotels, and roads for them, developers flatten the dunes. As they fill in mud flats and marshes, they bury the plants growing there. As they change the islands, developers increase the erosion that occurs. Natural erosion from wind, storms, and the pounding surf also contribute to the erosion of barrier islands.
Since communities want to save their islands, they try to stop the erosion with “beach nourishment.” This involves dumping many truckloads of sand on eroding beaches. However, this only helps for a while. The erosion starts up again because there are no dunes to break the wind or plants to hold the sand in place. The new sand is soon washed away. As a result, the islands continue to be in danger.
We need to learn ways to deal with the relentless force of erosion, so we can preserve these sandy national treasures.
The Barrier Islands
by Shane Vessier My family and I often vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These are part of what is known as the barrier islands. They provide a barrier of sorts along the Atlantic coast. Several chains of islands string together for about a hundred miles. Some are so narrow that you can see both edges of the island.
The islands were formed at the end of the last ice age. When glaciers melted, they caused water to rise. The water carried sand to areas on the coast and the waves put more and more sand on these ridges. Over time these ridges became islands. The ocean water pushed against them from the other way which caused them to become narrow strips.
On one side of an island is the Atlantic Ocean. On that side, beaches and sandy dunes make a nice place to lie in the sun. On the other side of an island is the mainland of North America, separated by water. Where we stay, there is a large body of water known as the Sound. Both sides of the island are eroding, and on both sides there are different plants that help hold the sand and not let it wash away. The dunes on the ocean side help
block the wind, too.
The problem is that big companies come in and build houses and roads and such. When they do that, they bulldoze some of the dunes and kill the plants. Because the plants help hold the islands together the developers are actually contributing to the erosion problem. When the dunes and their plants are gone, the erosion keeps happening. People on the barrier islands have tried to stop it by adding sand. But it still doesn’t help because the dunes and plants are gone
You might think a little bit of eroding sand is no big deal. But in 1999, the people had to move a whole lighthouse! The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse had to be moved about half a mile in from the ocean because of the erosion.
People need to stop developing the islands so much and let the plants and dunes return so that the terrible erosion can stop and my family and I can continue to enjoy our vacations.
Home for Your Goldfish
It’s not just people who need homes. Pets need them, too. If the pets in question are goldfish, special care must be taken in choosing and preparing their new home. A goldfish home is called an aquarium, and many factors must be looked at when choosing the aquarium that’s right for your fish—and for you.
The aquarium container, or tank, is available in many different sizes and shapes, depending on your needs. Goldfish need plenty of space, so when selecting your tank, make sure you get one that’s large enough. That way, your fish will be more likely to stay healthy. A 20-gallon tank will usually be large enough for two goldfish.
Once you have selected the tank, you will need to prepare it for your fish. The bottom should be covered in gravel; use about one pound for every gallon of water. Because gravel is available in many colors, you can choose the one you like best. Also, it is very important to include a filter to keep the water fresh.
In order to make your aquarium look nicer, you might want to consider adding rocks, plants, and small decorations. Pet stores have all kinds of stones in different colors: green, red, white, even striped. Some rocks look like towers. Others have holes the fish could swim through. Plants are important because goldfish like to nibble on them. They also like to hide
behind the leaves.
Now it’s time to set up your aquarium. First, you need to put in the gravel and rocks. Begin by washing the tank, the gravel, and the rocks. As they are drying, set up the tank in a safe spot, so no one will be likely to tip it over. After you spread the gravel around the bottom of the tank, arrange the rocks and other decorations.
You are now ready to put water in the aquarium. Start by filling the tank halfway with water and adding the plants. When everything is in place, continue adding water until the tank is full. Then attach the filter to the side of the tank, and turn it on. Be careful to allow the water to cycle for a while before adding the fish.
Finally, your pets’ new home is ready. Place your fish gently in the aquarium. As they get used to their surroundings, be prepared for the hours of entertainment you will receive from watching them swim around in the beautiful home that you have created for them!
Setting Up Your Fish Tank
by Madelyn Grady Fish are really great pets to have. But don’t assume that getting this pet means less work than other pets just because it’s in a tank. Set up your tank, or aquarium, properly to make sure your fish gets the right home.
There are a lot of different sizes of aquariums to meet your needs. You want to make sure that your fish has plenty of room to swim around free. But don’t neglect the fact that the size isn’t the only thing to consider. Your tank should also have a filter that is the right size. The filter will keep the water fresh and clean. Fresher water means a happier fish!
When you get your tank, make sure to wash it well. Be careful—it’s real slippery when it’s wet. Then choose some decorations. Pet stores will have different colors of gravel, which you want to spread around on the bottom. Next, add some rocks or other tank decorations. You will arrange these things on top of the gravel. Don’t forget to wash them first.
If you want some plants, add them after you fill the tank about half way with water. Plants are good for fish. They will swim in and out of the leaves, and goldfish will even chew on them. You put the plants in, fill the rest of the aquarium with water. Put your filter on the tank according to the directions that came with it. I always like to let the filter work for awhile before I put the fish in.
Your fish can now be put in their home. Put them in the tank very gently. Don’t just drop them in! They will swim around and get used to their new home while you watch.
Getting an Aquarium
by Richard Meyers Last year my mom got me a fish tank and I have really enjoyed it. Here is some advice if you want one too. My fish are still alive and happy.
First, you should buy the right kind of tank. You might think something cheaper might be a good idea, but you have to get the right size. That may be bigger than you think. Your fish need to swim around a lot and have plenty of room. No fish likes to smack into another fish.
Second, you should find decorations you like. Decorations like rocks, castles, and plants. Because their maybe something that isn’t appropriate for your fish or even dangerous. Be sure to buy them from a pet store. You don’t want to hurt the fish with something.
Third, make sure that everything is really clean before you put it in the tank. It’s a pain to wash all this but you really should. I like to use dish soap and really hot water with a washcloth.
Fourth, you should put your tank together following the directions. Next add the trees and stuff. Next add your fish and be really careful. Fish don’t like to be dropped. You could get a lot of different kinds of fish. There are goldfish, angel fish, eels, bettas, and others. I like tetras myself.
Fifth, you’re ready to enjoy your fish for years to come!
My Favorite Place to Go Do you have a favorite place to go—a place with family, good weather, and fun things to do like crabbing? I’m glad I do. New Jersey is my favorite place for many reasons.
The first reason is my family. Over half of my family lives in New Jersey. When I visit, my cousins and I laugh and play all day and night. My uncles and aunts take me to the boardwalk where we ride tall, long roller coasters. We devour juicy caramel-covered apples and foot-long hot dogs. My family is fun to be with.
The second reason for New Jersey being my favorite place is the weather. Instead of being hot and sweaty, it’s always cool and moist. When I think about my visits, I can just feel the crisp fall breeze in my hair. I can just see the white, fluffy winter snow. I can just hear the soft spring trickles of rain splashing on the sidewalks. I can just feel the warm summer sun on my face. The weather is great!
The third reason for New Jersey being my favorite place is crabbing. If it’s crab season, we crab. We keep the blue crabs and the snow crabs, and we let the others go. Sometimes we catch crabs on hooks, and sometimes we lower crab cages into the bay. Then we pull them out later. One time my brother caught a crab so big that it got stuck in the crab cage! The crab finally got out, but it hurt one of its legs and broke the cage trying. Poor crab!
For all these reasons, New Jersey is my favorite place to go. If you don’t have a favorite place, I think you should search for one. It’s good to visit a favorite place—a place where you can make special memories. By the way, if you crab at your special place, be sure to get a big crab cage.
A Favorite Spot Most kids have a favorite spot. Some kids like a quiet place to be alone. Others like a loud place to be with friends. For me, the best place of all is Holiday Camp.
One of the best parts about Holiday Camp is that there is always something to do. Swimming in Potter Pond, rock climbing on Old Crag, or doing the ropes course challenge are just a few of the daytime activities. At night, we have campfires, or the camp store is open so we can buy snacks while we play games.
The other thing about Holiday Camp is the people. The counselors are all college students, and they are like big brothers or sisters. They keep us in line, but they let us have a lot of fun. I also make new friends with the other girls in my cabin. In fact, one of my best friends is Tanya, a girl that I met at camp three years ago.
Holiday Camp is set up to give city kids a break. We get to meet new people and have fun in the fresh outdoors. I wish I could stay all summer. Maybe someday I will be a camp counselor so my wish will come true.
Friendship A dictionary contains a definition of friendship somewhere in the F’s between the words “fear” and “Friday.” An encyclopedia supplies interesting facts on friendship. But all the definitions and facts do not convey what friendship is really all about. It cannot be understood through words or exaggerations. The only way to understand friendship is through experience. It is an experience that involves all the senses.
Friendship can be seen. It is seen in an old couple sitting in the park holding hands. It is the way they touch, a touch as light as a leaf floating in the autumn air, a touch so strong that years of living could not pull them apart. Friendship is seen in a child freely sharing the last cookie. It is the small arm over the shoulder of another as they walk on the playground. Seeing friendship is not casual. It is watching for subtlety, but friendship is there for eyes that can see.
Friendship is heard in the words of two friends who squeezed in lunch together on an extremely busy day. It is the way they talk to each other, not the words. Their tone is unique. Friendship can be heard by those willing to listen.
Friendship is felt in a touch. It is a pat on the back from a teammate, a high five between classes, and the slimy, wet kiss from the family dog. It’s a touch that reassures that someone is there, someone who cares. The touch communicates more than words or gestures. It is instantly understood and speaks volumes beyond the point of contact, to the heart.
Friendship tastes like homemade bread, the ingredients all measured and planned, then carefully mixed and kneaded, then the quiet waiting as the dough rises. Hot from the oven, the bread tastes more than the sum of its ingredients. There is something else there, perhaps the thoughts of the baker as her hands knead the dough, or her patience as she waits for the dough to rise. Unseen and unmeasured, this is the ingredient that makes the difference. Warm, fresh from the oven with a little butter, the difference you taste is friendship.
Friendship has a smell. It smells like the slightly burnt cookies your brother made especially for you. It smells like your home when stepping into it after being away for a long time. It smells like a sandbox or a sweaty gym. Friendship has a variety of smells. Taken for granted at the moment, they define the memory of friendship.
Finally, more than the other senses, friendship is an experience of the heart. It is the language of the heart—a language without words, vowels, or consonants; a language that, whether seen, felt, heard, or tasted, is understood by the heart. Like air fills the lungs, friendship fills the heart, allowing us to experience the best life has to offer: a friend.