Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Plastic Ahoy!

Plastic Ahoy!

Mr. Ferris and his Wheel

In Finding Nemo, Nemo’s Dad Marlin wakes up riding on the back of Crush the sea turtle. Crush is surfing the East Australian Current (EAC) that runs along the coast of Australia. Currents are moving ocean water. They are generated by the wind, temperature, the amount of salt in the water (salinity), by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, and by events like earthquakes. There are several currents in the earth’s oceans that constantly circulate the oceans’ water.

In some places out in the middle of the earth’s oceans, currents surround an area of ocean. These areas are called gyres. You can see the earth’s five gyres on this map. One of the gyres, located off the coast of California (it takes a week by boat to get there!) is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Why is it called that? Because it is full of TRASH, namely, plastic. Water bottles, action figures, legos, you name it. If people somewhere on earth decided they didn’t want it, it’s out there, floating in the ocean, brought to this spot by the ocean’s currents.Gyres250

Plastic Ahoy! is the story of a research vessel called New Horizon that sailed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to study the plastic there. The scientists wanted to answer important questions about how the plastic might be affecting the ocean and the creatures who live there. Questions like:

  • How much plastic is actually out there?
  • Are fish eating the plastic? Is it hurting them?
  • Are the plastic chemicals poisoning the water?

MapTriangles

The book follows three students, Darcy, Chelsea and Miriam, as they help gather samples and prepare experiments. As you can tell by the cover, the book is full of great photos of the ocean and all of the activities that take place on the boat, and not just the scientific ones. You also get to see how the scientists eat, sleep and keep fit while living for long periods of time on a small ship.

The book did three really important things for me.

  1. It made me want to learn more about the ocean.
  2. It made me worry about all that trash in the ocean.
  3. It made me want to do more to use plastic less.

The book also has extra interesting pieces of information that make you go, “Huh. Really?” Here are two things I thought were interesting:

1. What the number inside the recycling triangle means. When plastic is manufactured it is made into small pellets called nurdles. Nurdles are then formed into different shapes like milk jugs or patio chairs or legos. Different kinds of nurdles make different kinds of plastic. The number inside the recycling triangle that you see stamped on the bottom of things made from plastic, tells what type of nurdle was used. Knowing the number helps you know how to recycle the plastic. Interesting! When the recycle container shows which number can go in it – pay attention! It’s important!

2. What bioluminescence is and does. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction inside organism that make them glow when they are scared. It is a defense to confuse predators. Sometimes, the movement of a ship on the water at night can scare bacteria in the water…the water is so full of bacteria that the water glows in the dark. I would love to see that!

Websites:

Books:

Tracking Trash Polluted Oceans What Can We Do About Oil Spills and Ocean Pollution Im Not a Plastic Bag
Save the Oceans Earth Friendly Waste Management Trash Talk
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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Mr. Ferris and his Wheel

Completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair, France’s Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure at 986 feet. Organizers of the next World’s Fair, in 1893 in Chicago, were under a lot of pressure to build something so impressive, so they held a contest to see who could come up with the best idea.

The winner was George Ferris, a steel expert who had a crazy idea…his structure would MOVE. This book is the story of how George built his enormous wheel. George was under a very tight deadline. Four months. In Chicago. During the winter! He really only had one chance to get it right.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “measure twice, cut once”? My Dad used to say that when he was working with wood. It means you should double-check your measurements and design for accuracy…because if you make a mistake you waste time and materials because you have to do it again. George did not have any time to waste and could not afford even a single mistake. The whole project is an amazing story of precision and teamwork. George’s Ferris wheel was assembled from over 100,000 separate parts from more than a dozen different steel mills. Correctly made parts arrived at the building site in the right order and were put together “like a giant Lego toy.” Amazing. Some men have the brains and the guts to dream big.

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s minds.”
~Daniel H. Burnham, American architect and construction chief of the 1893 World’s Fair

Websites:

Books:

Who Invented the Ferris Wheel George Ferris and his Amazing Invention George Ferris What a Wheel Roller Coasters
Amazing Amusement Park Rides Water Rides Ferris Wheels Carousels
Exciting Entertainment Inventions Fast Facts Roller Coasters
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Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs and Their Noses Save the World

Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs and Their Noses Save the World

The Grimm Legacy

Before reading Sniffer Dogs, I knew about all kinds of workings dogs – farm dogs, police dogs, fire dogs & therapy dogs. I also knew there were some dogs whose job had to do with their nose – like drug sniffing dogs and bomb sniffing dogs. But I didn’t know dogs could be trained to sniff out all kinds of other things. They can be trained to sniff out certain kinds of animals in the wild or be trained to sniff the changes in a person’s body chemistry to warn them of a medical problem – like an allergic reaction. These dogs, and their noses, are truly amazing.

In each section you will learn about a dog job and then you will see a picture of a real working dog and learn his/her story. The dog on the cover is an Eco Dog. His name is Tucker. He is trained to track wolverines, gray wolves, moose, caribou, and orca whales – that’s why he has on a life jacket! But he doesn’t even like to swim. He just knows that if he sniffs out orca whale scat (poop) – he gets to play ball. : ) When he’s in the boat, his nose tells the scientists where to go to study whales.

Websites:

Books:

Bomb Sniffing Dogs Eco Dogs Fire Dogs Lifeguard Dogs
Medical Detective Dogs Pest Sniffing Dogs Service Dogs Snow Search Dogs
Therapy Dogs Wilderness Search Dogs Lily Rags Hero Dog of WWI
Tuesday Tucks Me In
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Handle With Care an Unusual Butterfly Journey

Handle With Care an Unusual Butterfly Journey

Handle With Care an Unusual Butterfly Journey

This book has the greatest pictures – just look at the cover. See the butterfly’s wings showing through the pupa (or chrysalis)? Inside is where a caterpillar is changing into a butterfly. That process is called metamorphosis. Amazing. All of the pictures are this detailed and colorful.

The book tells the story of a butterfly farm in Costa Rica. The caterpillars live inside a greenhouse. As caterpillars they eat the greenhouse plants, but once they turn into butterflies they eat sugar water…and bananas! The most amazing fact I read…there are so many caterpillars in the greenhouse that workers can hear the caterpillars chewing!

The butterflies are raised to go to museums so people can learn about butterflies. When they are pupating (inside the pupa) they are packed up and mailed. The timing has to be just right so the butterflies hatch out AFTER they’ve reached their destination.

Websites:

Books:

Grow Your Own Butterfly Farm Butterfly House Catterpillar to Butterfly National Geographic Butterflies
Waiting for Wings Origami Birds & Butterflies
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