An Eclipse is Coming

We are one month away from a big event that transverses the continental United States. Can you guess what it is?

A total solar eclipse!

Totality2010-S&T-DennisDiCicco

Totality as seen from Easter Island on July 11, 2010. This is a composite of short, medium, and long exposures, as no single exposure can capture the huge range of brightness exhibited by the solar corona. No filter was used during the exposures, as totality is about as bright as the full Moon and just as safe to look at. At all other times, though, a safe solar filter is required to observe or photograph the Sun. Credit: Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope

What is it?

The moon’s path will cross in front of the sun and totally cover the sun except for its corona or the halo area. While the process will take about 3 hours, totality will only last a mere minute or two at the most.

Who sees it?

Everyone in the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse, but the lucky ones are in the path of totality which crosses the country from Lincoln Beach, Oregon and ends right here in Charleston, South Carolina (we can’t wait!). Viewing events are happening all across the path. To find out if you are lucky, go to NASA for the path and viewing events in the area.

Why is it important?

Eclipses can happen two and sometimes up to five times a year. Some of these are partial eclipses; many are not visible for a long duration and may only last a few seconds. A total eclipse is a unique event for scientists to study the corona. This is where much of the sun’s action happens and has an effect on the entire solar system.

This is a great reason to learn about our solar system and how it works. Check out NASA’s information and the South Carolina State Library has wonderful resources for the classroom!

If you don’t make it to this one, you will just have to wait until 2023 for the next one!

Summer on the Shore: What’s the difference between sharks and dolphins?

bottlenose-dolphinThousands of people flock to the beaches for summer vacation, and it is a thrill to spot a shark or a dolphin from the sand. It can be tricky to determine which is which but here are a few similarities, differences, and fun facts about these sea creatures.

When a fin rises above the waves, note the angle.

A dolphin has a curved dorsal fin and a horizontal tail. They propel themselves up and down through the water taking in oxygen as they crest waves before disappearing below the water’s surface.

Sharks have a more triangular dorsal fin. Their tails are vertical, and it moves from side to side smoothly propelling the shark through the water.

thresher-sharkSince a shark is a fish they breathe under the water, but beware if a shark launches itself into the air, dinner is likely in its sights. Great White sharks have been caught on video chasing seals and other fast movers high into the air, although this is not a common sight to see from the beach.

A small number of bottlenose dolphins chase their food above water in a coordinated event called strand feeding. At low tide, a group of dolphins circles a school of fish until they propel themselves onto the beach and feed on the delicious fish and shrimp. Visitors to the South Carolina or Georgia coast may be lucky enough to see this event, but dolphins are very smart creatures and don’t often strand feed while people are around.

Here are a few books where you can learn more about sharks and dolphins!

Sharks and Dolphins:  A Compare and Contrast Book
SharksDolphinsSharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

If a Dolphin Were a Fish
Dolphin_187Join Delfina the dolphin as she imagines that she becomes other sea animals: a fish, a sea turtle, a pelican, an octopus, a shark, even a manatee! The incredible morphing illustrations will have children laughing as they learn about the real differences between these ocean animals and their respective classes.

Shark Baby
SharkBaby_128“Who am I?” wonders Shark Baby. When his “mermaid’s purse” egg case is torn loose in a storm, he finds himself on a journey through different ocean habitats: kelp forests, coral reefs, and seagrass meadows. He learns what kind of shark he isn’t, but not what kind he is. He needs to find the “mermaid” to learn where he belongs, but the ocean is big and full of dangers. Will he find out who he is—and what he can do—in time?

Questions and Answers: Summer Science Journal

kittyA scientist is always at work posing questions and finding out why? Most recently an archaeozoologist, Wim Van Neer set out to find the origins of domesticating cats.

From artifacts, they knew that Egyptians valued cats and even shared their homes with the animals, but were they the first to domesticate the feline? A much older cat was found in a tomb in Cyprus. Is this the ancestor of our modern housecat?

The genetic tests show our housecats can be traced back to the Near Eastern Wildcat. The Egyptian cat mummies have a different subtype and so the research continues for this team. Even with some questions answered, there is always more to discover.

BigCat_187Author Scotti Cohn shares her home with a kitty or two. Before writing her book, Big Cat, Little Kitty, Scotti’s questions lead her down a different path. She researched the behavioral similarities of domestic and wild cats.

“Animal behavior is fascinating to me, whether we’re talking about pet cats and dogs or wild animals around the globe,” says Scotti. “I think my interest in animal behavior comes across in all of my Arbordale picture books. Why do wolves howl? How does a domestic cat’s behavior mimic that of a lion or tiger? What prompts animals to migrate? Why do animals form “partnerships”? I like being able to respond to those questions in a way that makes children eager to learn more.”

We know sometimes science seems overwhelming to kids and parents, but really asking questions and finding answers is fun! Summer is a great time to hone research skills, and test theories without the pressure that sometimes comes with school assignments.

cheetahHere are some tips:

Write it down: Start a science journal filled with questions just waiting to be answered

Research: Head to the library or a museum and find tools that help to fine tune your questions

Experiment: Set up simple experiments or observations to help come to a conclusion

Begin Again: What did you find out? Are there new questions waiting to be answered?

Read Big Cat, Little Kitty, as part of the Arbordale Summer Reading Program. Learn more about domestic and wild cats in the For Creative Minds section too!

Want to read about the origins of your kitty, learn more about the domestic cat study here.

 

Votes are in and Elephants Win!

elephantArbordale is honored to announce that Once Upon an Elephant by Linda Stanek and Shennen Bersani has won the Children’s Choice Book Award sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader.

Last night at the ABFE Children’s Art Auction, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang announced the winners of the Children’s Choice Book Awards in the four categories. Stanek’s book came out on top in the 3rd and 4th grade. This is the tenth year that kids across the country have voted for their favorite books in the only national awards selected entirely by readers.

OnceElephantThrough Once Upon an Elephant, readers learn why the large creatures are so important to other animals on the African Savanna, and what a keystone species means to the human residents as well. Author Linda Stanek worked with the Columbus Zoo to write a different elephant book and after learning so much about the animal; she knew that she had to write a nonfiction story about what would be if elephants were only “Once Upon a Time.” Bersani completes this picture book with highly realistic and bright illustrations. Following the story, a “For Creative Minds” section includes activities and fun facts where kids can learn more about elephants and keystone species.

Once Upon an Elephant is available in hardcover (9781628557312, $17.95), paperback (9781628557381, $9.95), ebook (9781628557664, $6.95), and interactive ebook (9781628557664, prices vary). A Spanish-language edition is available in (paperback, $9.95), ebook (9781628557732, $6.95), and interactive ebook (9781628557732, prices vary) through Arbordale and all major booksellers. Arbordale has extensive teaching activities, quizzes and related resources free for educators to download from the book’s homepage.

This fall the duo will release Night Creepers a nonfiction look at the animals that roam in the dark.

Science News: How Plates Shape the Earth

volcanoIf you have read the “For Creative Minds” section in A True Princess of Hawai‘i or Gopher to the Rescue, you have learned the basics of how volcanoes form. Scientists at The Australian National University have just concluded a study to find out when the Hawaiian hot spot was formed.

Although this group of researchers began with the knowledge of the twin tracks that sit underneath the young islands, they used computer simulation to date the occurrence of a change in the movement of the Pacific plate to 3 million years ago. A mantle plume, or columns of rock caused by heat from the Earth’s core, was out of alignment creating the volcanic activity and forming the beautiful islands we know today.

Learning about the past is important to predicting the future of the Earth’s landscape. Future scientists may be looking to this research just as this team used the knowledge from the scientists that discovered the twin tracks in 1849.

Dive into Earth science with these books:

TruePrincessA True Princess of Hawai‘i
Nani has always dreamed of being a princess. When a real Hawaiian princess comes to her hometown of Hilo, Nani dresses in her best clothes. But as she watches Princess Luka, who has come to save the town from a volcanic lava flow, Nani learns that there is more to being a princess than fine clothes. This incredible story of kindness and generosity is based on the historical events of the 1880-1881 eruption of Mauna Loa on the Island of Hawai‘i and the real-life Princess Luka.

GopherRescueGopher to the Rescue: A Volcano Recovery Story

The forest animals are surprised when a volcano suddenly explodes, covering the land in gritty, warm ash and rocks that make it unlivable for many plants and animals. Gopher survives in his underground burrow with food to eat. How does Gopher help bring life back to the mountain? Scientists spent years observing life returning to the mountain following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. This fictionalized story is based on their surprising observations of how life returns to an area that has been totally changed or destroyed.

ThisLandThis Land is Your Land
Take a trip around the world to discover a wide variety of Earth’s landforms and geological features through the rhythmic verse in This Land is Your Land. On the journey encounter plains, plateaus, and rolling hills. Find out how a stream can make a canyon or lava creates an archipelago. Read aloud and discover new terrain with the flip of each page.

Read more about the study here!

Spring reading! A Booklist for your blooming backyard

The grass is greening, animals are popping out of their winter dens, it’s a great time to pick up a book and learn about what happens in the world when spring has sprung. Here are a few titles that feature animal babies, budding flowers, and pollen.

DaisylocksDaisylocks
by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Cathy Morrison

Daisylocks needs a home that is just right. She asks Wind to help her find the perfect habitat to spread her roots, and he accepts the challenge. Wind blows Daisylocks to the plain, the mountain and the wetland. She objects to each place one by one—too cold, too hard, too wet. Daisylocks is not ready to give up! They try the humid rainforest and then the warm beach; those are not just right either. Will Wind find the perfect climate and soil for Daisylocks to place her roots and grow into a beautiful flower?

AchooAchoo!
by Shennen Bersani

Spring has arrived and pollen is in the air. Baby Bear does not like the pollen—it sticks to his fur and makes him itchy and sneezy. He’s allergic! Achoo! He just wishes the pollen were gone. When his friends gather to tell him why they need pollen, Baby Bear learns that pollen is good for the forest and provides food for many animals, including him! Pollen might be something we all love to hate, but can we really live without it? This story explains why we need it.

BackyardIn My Backyard
by Valarie Giogas, illustrated by Katherine Zecca

Baby dogs are puppies and they belong to a litter, but what is a baby skunk called and what is the name of its family group? This clever, rhythmic story tells us just that! Counting from one to 10, familiar backyard animals are introduced by baby and family group name. Each stanza also tells a bit more about each animal by providing clues as to what they eat, how they sound or where they live. The “For Creative Minds” section includes more animal fun facts, information on keeping a nature journal and how to watch for wildlife in your own backyard.

HeronHenry the Impatient Heron
by Donna Love, illustrated by Christina Wald

Henry the Heron couldn’t stand still! He was always moving, and it drove everyone crazy! His brother and sister yelled at him for stepping on their heads, and Mom and Dad could barely get food into his little baby mouth. But herons have to stand still to catch their food, so how would Henry ever be able to eat on his own? In Henry the Impatient Heron, Donna Love takes readers along with Henry as he learns a valuable lesson from the King of Camouflage! Hilarious and lighthearted illustrations by Christina Wald complement the important lesson in the text. It is a meaningful lesson for both herons and kids alike, which teaches the importance of just being still!

OtisOwlOtis the Owl
by Mary Holland

In beautifully detailed photographs, Mary Holland captures the first few months of a baby barred owl’s life. The huge eyes and fluffy feathers will steal the hearts of readers as they learn how barred owl parents ready their young owlets for the big world outside the nest. Follow along as Otis learns to eat, fights with his sister, and prepares for flight.

Get to know these books and more at arbordalepublishing.com. Happy spring reading!

New Science Discoveries: Animal Instincts

800px-Glass_frog2

One thing scientists just know is that many types of animals rely on their instincts to make their way in the big world. You might remember our picture book, They Just Know by Robin Yardi and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein that comically compares how different animal moms are from our human moms.

Amphibians are one of these creatures that leave their young tadpoles giving them very little care, but two scientists from Boston University have discovered that one frog mom may be around for longer than once thought.

The duo observed glass frogs in several countries and found that these frog moms lingered over their eggs for a few hours pressing their bellies into them hydrating the eggs and creating a slime of protection. Then dad takes on the job of shooing away spiders and rehydrating the eggs.

This is the first time this type of behavior has been observed, and researcher Jessie Delia noted, “The pattern we found is completely bizarre.”

Glass frogs are small frogs, and mostly green but have transparent skin on their bellies. Giving them the appearance of glass skin. They lay their eggs on leaves near streams and as they hatch the tadpoles drop right into the stream.

If you want to learn more about the study, read more about it here.

Also, check out these great books about frogs and animal instincts.