Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

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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Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle

Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle

Nature is an amazing recycler. Imagine the heaps of trash that would be around if nothing ever rotted. One of nature’s more comical recyclers is the dung beetle. The dung beetle’s job is to turn dung into…its own food! Talk about the world’s worst job! Lucky for us, though, they don’t mind, they’re good at it, and they don’t procrastinate! Dung beetles are quick to act when their antennae detect dung…”The first may arrive fifteen seconds after the dropping plops to the ground.” Fifteen. Seconds. I would love it if someone cleaned up after my dog that fast! If you have a dog or cat too, you know how often scooping is required – now times that by every animal on the planet…be thankful for the beautiful dung beetle! This book will show you everything you need to know about how dung beetles detect, roll, tunnel and battle to keep the earth from turning into one giant litter box.

 

Books:

20 Fun Facts About Beetles Dung Beetles Slugs Leeches and More Natures Minibeasts Dung Beetles Poop Eaters Dung Beetles in the Food Chain
A Green Kids Guide to Composting Compost Basics Composting Nature's Recyclers Nature Recycles How About You

Websites:

TCM Dung Beetles

  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Artifact Collection: Dung Beetles The male dung beetle flies about looking for large herds of mammals to find fresh dung. Once located, he begins rolling the dung into a ball. The female in turn looks for the male with the largest pile of dung, and lands on the dung to mate, eat, and lay her eggs. She then buries the ball and the young then hatch from the ball.

TCM Scarab Bead

  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Artifact Collection: Ancient Scarab Bead Amulets were objects thought to have magical powers worn by Ancient Egyptians for luck or protection. Scarabs, or dung beetles, were the most common amulet design of Ancient Egypt. The species of beetle represented in ancient Egyptian amulets and works of art was commonly the large sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer). Scarab amulets were buried with the dead to ensure the deceased’s safe transport to the Afterworld. Among the living, scarabs were worn as protective amulets and used as seals. Amulets were worn by both wealthy and poor in the form of necklaces, bracelets and rings.

    Video:

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