Tag 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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The Mad Potter George E. Ohr Eccentric Genius

The Mad Potter George E. Ohr Eccentric Genius

George E. Ohr was a potter from Biloxi Mississippi. He’s been dead for a long time – he was a little boy during the U.S.Civil War. Even so, when you read about him, it seems like you could just walk into his studio and start making stuff out of clay with him. He doesn’t seem old-fashioned or distant. He seems like a friend. He called his pots his “mud babies”. As you can see by his picture on the cover of this book – George was one-of-a-kind. There is another picture of him in this book with his mustache sticking straight out on both sides and his eyes crossed. This is a man who listened to his own voice and nobody else’s. Some of the words people used to describe him were:

  • scallywag
  • rascal
  • braggart
  • clown

But he was more than that. He was also a genius, and an artist. The picture of the pots he made are amazing. They are one-of-a-kind also, just like George.

This book is the story of George’s life from the time he was a boy helping in his father’s blacksmith shop or his mother’s grocery store, to the time he spent digging up natural clay along the banks of the Mississippi to make into his “mud babies”. If you have ever felt like the oddball, the one whose ideas don’t seem quite in step with everyone else, you’ll like George’s story. Reading about how he believed in himself makes you feel confident enough to do the same. If George was “mad” he was the good kind!


Websites:


Books:

Dave the Potter The Pot That Juan Built Super Simple Clay Projects Decorated Pottery
Easy Clay Crafts in 5 Steps The Kids N Clay Ceramics Book A Single Shard
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Elections

Elections

Websites

Indiana Websites

 

Voting Machine

Thousands of Marion County, Indiana residents voted at this machine between the 1930s and the 1980 election.

Voting Machine 2

During this time, many African Americans struggled to gain the civil rights Caucasian men and women enjoyed. Even though the 15th Amendment granted all American citizens the right to vote regardless of “race, color or previous condition of servitude,” African Americans still struggled for the right to vote particularly in the southern United States. In Indiana, African Americans continued to work for equal rights welcoming two significant federal laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voter Rights Act of 1965, helped to ensure African Americans the right to vote. Artifacts at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis 

See More Elections Artifacts from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Collection

Books about Elections

Election Day Getting Elected Presidential Races Voting
The 15th Amendment Womens Right to Vote

Stories about Elections

Big Nate Mr. Popularity Caste Your Ballot The Ellie McDoodle Diaries Ellie for President I Am a Genius of Unspeakable
The Kid Who Ran for President The Misfits

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Queen of the Seas

Elizabeth Queen of the Seas

Animals are amazing navigators. Caribou, salmon, sea turtles, whales, monarch butterflies and many other species travel across continents and oceans to find food or have their babies. This is called migration. These animals have some kind of in-born knowledge about where to go as well as WHEN to go. This natural instinct helps them survive.

But there are some individual animals who have done the same thing…but AGAINST their natural instincts. Sometimes an animal returns to its home after being lost for YEARS. Sometimes an animal becomes uncommonly attached to a human. Sometimes two very different species of animals become close friends.

One of these unigue animals is Elizabeth, an elephant seal from Christchurch, New Zealand who lived in the Avon River in a city park. Humans tried to return her to her natural habitat in an elephant seal colony, but each time they tried…she showed up in Christchurch again! Sometimes it even took her several months to swim all the way back to her home in Christchurch. Try this story of one determined animal who insisted on living HER way. Finally, they just let her stay.

Regional fisheries officer with the ministry, RV Reid, told The Press that Elizabeth was free to roam the streets. “Under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, we can’t disturb her at all.” She could go into Cathedral Square and bask in the sunshine for a week and we couldn’t do anything about it.” From Memories of Avon River’s Sea Elephant

So you see, this isn’t just a made up story, Elizabeth the elephant seal…was real. If you look here: Memories of Avon River’s Sea Elephant you can even see pictures of her. The author of this book is Lynne Cox, an American long-distance open-water swimmer. An open-water swimmer swims great distances not in a pool – mostly, Lynne swims in the ocean. Lynne has crossed the English Channel, the cook Strait in New Zealand, the Straits of Magellan in Chile, the Bering Strait in Alaska and many more…she even swam in Antarctica! Lynne heard Elizabeth’s story while she was in New Zealand. Lynne knew a good story when she heard it – animals sometimes have amazing relationships with humans, and with other animals. Take a look at the books below to learn about some other real animals and their amazing friendships.

 

Websites:

Books:

Elephant Seal Elephant Seals City Critters Wild Animal Neighbors

Unique Animal Relationships:

Best Friends Forever The Dog and the Piglet Hachiko How to Clean a Hippopotamus
Lenore Finds a Friend The Leopard and the Cow Lola Goes to Work The Monkey and the Dove
Owen and Mzee Owen and Mzee2 Paisano the Roadrunner Rags Hero Dog of WWI
The Right Dog for the Job A Small Dog's Big Life Stubby the War Dog Suryia and Roscoe
Tarra and Bella Tuesday Tucks Me In The World's Greatest Elephant
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