<![CDATA[KidSenz - News for kids - September]]>Tue, 08 Dec 2015 09:44:34 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Earthquakes and Volcanoes]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2012 05:53:56 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/september1/earthquakes-and-volcanoesEarthquakes are the shaking, rolling or sudden shock of the earth’s surface. They are the Earth's way of releasing stress or energy. More than a million earthquakes rattle the world each year but we hear about a few of them. Most of the earthquakes are not severe enough for people to notice them. Depending on the magnitude or the strength of the earthquake, the severe ones can cause a lot of damage.  Earthquakes can also cause volcanic eruption.

Theory of tectonic plates
The Earth's rocky outer crust is not a solid shell; it is broken up into massive slabs of rock called the tectonic plates. These plates drift on top of  the soft, underlying layer called mantle. The plates are broadly divided into two groups.
The plates under the oceans are called the oceanic plates and the plates under the continents are called the continental plates. Oceanic plates are denser than the continental plates.

There are about 20 plates along the surface of the earth and they move continuously. Sometimes they just slide past one another. At other times they actually collide with one another.

Plate collisions create landforms like coastal volcanoes, island arcs and mountain chains. When plates move apart, they produce a new ocean floor as magma from the mantle rises up through volcanoes and deposits new rock along the plate boundaries. In some areas plates slide alongside each other, neither creating nor destroying land.

What causes earthquakes?
Plate movement cause a build up of a huge amount of energy. When they spread apart or move past each or under each other, a lot of pressure and energy is released - this produces vibrations, that cause earthquakes. During earthquakes faults are produced by the pressure of the moving rocks.  Faults are a giant crack in the rock that makes up the Earth's surface. They usually occur at the plate boundaries. These faults can be pretty long like the San Andreas fault which is 810 miles.

How can you measure the intensity of an earthquake?
A seismograph is an instrument used for recording the intensity (the energy released) and duration of an earthquake. Earthquakes are expressed in the Richter magnitude scale.

How are volcanoes formed ?
Sometimes tectonic plates sink when another one rises above it. The tectonic plate that went under sinks into the Earth's mantel and becomes very hot. It becomes so hot that it melts. This molten rock gradually makes its way to the surface of the earth through a series of cracks (faults). When it reaches the surface of the earth we refer to it as lava. As layer upon layer of lava builds up, a volcano is formed.

Where do earthquakes occur and the volcanoes erupt?
Earthquakes occur near faults and near the edges of plates in the earth's crust. Volcanic eruptions occur wherever a volcano is. Volcanic eruptions can occur when magma from below Earth's surface seeps through a weak spot (fault) in the crust. Volcanoes occur along plate boundaries and along the edges of plates.

Are earthquakes and volcanoes linked?
Volcanoes and earthquakes are strongly related. If you look at a map of earthquakes around the planet and compare it to a map of volcanoes, you'll find that they match closely. Both earthquakes and volcanoes occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates, which make up the Earth's surface. Earthquakes are caused by the release of pressure built up when the plates spread apart or move past or under each other. In slightly more complicated ways, magma is generated at most plate boundaries, and this magma rises to the surface to form volcanoes.

The movement of magma within a volcano causes earthquakes, which are usually small one. Earthquakes are also caused by adjustments of the plates under volcanoes.

Gem words
Denser: Closely compacted in substance
Stress: Pressure or tension exerted on an object
Energy: A feeling of possessing strength and vitality
Complicated: Make (something) more difficult or confusing by causing it to be more complex
Mantle: The mantle is the layer between the crust and the outer core. Earth’s mantle is a rocky shell about 1,800 miles thick and it consists of about 84% of the earths volume. 
Magma: Magma is a mixture of molten or semi-molten rock found beneath the surface of the Earth.

<![CDATA[Paralympics]]>Mon, 01 Oct 2012 05:26:45 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/september1/paralympicsThe word “Paralympic” comes from the Greek word “para” which means ‘beside’. The name means a competition held in parallel to the Olympic Games.

German neurologist Dr Ludwig Guttmann created the Paralympic Games about 50 years ago in the UK. Guttmann strongly recommended sports therapy to injured soldiers. While working at a hospital in Buckinghamshire, he established the International Wheelchair Games, a forerunner of the Paralympics.

The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960.
The competition is now the world's second largest sporting event, after the Olympics and has multi-sport events, involving athletes with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.

The games are held every four years, following the Olympic Games, and is a fantastic time for the different countries in the world to link together and celebrate sport and culture.

Paralympic Games have 4 core values:

Determination, Inspiration, Courage, Equality and the Motto is Inspire a Generation.

The 2012 Paralympic Games was the fourteenth Paralympics and took place between 29 August 2012 and 9 September 2012 in London, England, United Kingdom.

It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth and the torch was carried by Margaret Maughan.

Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee known as 'Blade Runner' due to his carbon fibre running blades, is a figure of great controversy. His decision to enter both the 2012 Olympics and Paralympian Games is seen by some in the Paralympic community as a defection.

The 2012 Paralympic Games was one of the biggest ever, with 164 Nations and 4294 athletes participating in 20 sports. Coldplay also performed at the closing ceremony. You can't get bigger than that.

Gem Words:
Forerunner: One that happened before another as in time
<![CDATA[Coal Mining]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2012 22:23:37 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/september1/coal-miningCoal is a black or brownish-black shiny rock and most of it is buried deep underground so we must "mine" or dig it out. It is a very important form of energy and is used in producing electricity.   Coal is a non-renewable energy source because it takes millions of years to form. This is why coal is very important to us.

How coal was formed?
Coal is a black or brownish-black rock composed mostly of carbon and hydrocarbons. It is the most abundant fossil fuel produced in the United States.
It takes millions of years to create coal. The energy in coal comes from the energy stored by plants that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. For millions of years, the layer of dead plants at the bottom of the swamps was covered by layers of water and dirt, trapping the energy of the dead plants. The heat and pressure from the top layers helped the plant remains turn into coal.

Why is Coal important?
Coal is a reliable and affordable energy source.  Coal provides 54 percent of the electricity used in America. A typical coal power plant burns 1.4 millions of tons of coal a year. If it wasn’t for coal, electricity would be too expensive to afford, and the progress of America as a nation would be severely crippled. Coal has been used for thousands of years, and is often overlooked. However coal is very important to the world.

How is coal mined?
There are two types of mining methods: Surface Mining and Underground Mining.

Surface Mining  
This is done when the coal is less than 200 feet below the ground. Surface mining is the most common mining process used to produce coal in the U.S. Giant machines like bulldozers and large trucks remove the topsoil and rocks so the miners can get to the coal. After the coal is mined, they replace the dirt and rocks and replant the area with seed and trees. This enables the area to be reused for wildlife, growing crops, or to build commercial properties like stores and offices.

Underground Mining
This is done when the coal is more than 200 feet below the surface. Some mines can go as deep as 1,000 feet below the ground! This is a more dangerous job for the miners than the surface mining. Miners use deep mine shafts and special digging equipment to dig out the coal and bring it to the surface.

Processing the Coal
Once the coal has been mined it needs to be processed. The coal is first washed and cleaned to make sure it is not contaminated. The cleaning removes impurities like rocks, ash, sulfur and other substances.
Large pieces of coal are crushed to a useful size. Mined coal may have large pieces of coal, up to 3 feet in size, so this is usually a two stage process. In the first stage, the coals biggest lumps are crushed into smaller pieces. In the second step of the process coal goes through a machine, which breaks it further down into a much smaller size.
After the coal has been processed it is then cleaned and transported by trucks and trains to markets. Sometimes coal is crushed and mixed with water and transported through pipelines.

How is coal converted into electricity
1.     First the coal is mined and taken to a power plant.
2.     Then the coal is burned in a large boiler which causes water in the boiler pipes to become steam.
3.     The steam travels through the pipes to a turbine.
4.     The steam spins the turbine blades.
5.     The spinning blades turn a shaft connected to the generator.
6.     In the generator, big magnets spin close to coils of wire.
7.     When this happens, electrical current is produced in the wires.
8.     Then the electricity goes out through wires to homes, schools, and businesses.

Interesting facts about Coal
  • Coal is made largely of carbon but also features other elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur and nitrogen.
  • Different types of coal contain different amounts of carbon. Lignite contains only around 60 to 75%, while anthracite contains more than 92%.
  • Coal has long been burned to create electricity and heat. The use of coal is increasing every year, in 2006 the world consumed over 6,000,000,000,000 kilograms of coal!
  • Coal is the world’s largest source of energy for the production of electricity.
  • Nearly 70% of China’s electricity comes from coal. In total, coal produces around 40% of the world’s electricity.
  • Coal mining and the subsequent burning of coal can have many bad effects on both humans and the environment. Examples of this include waste products, acid rain, contaminated water, poisonous emissions, high levels of carbon dioxide and increased risks of lung cancer for coal plant workers.

GEMS Words
Reliable-  A person or thing with such trustworthy qualities
Overlooked- Fail to notice
Contaminated- Make something impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance
Impurities- To be mixed with something not good
Shaft-  A long, narrow part or section forming the handle of a tool
Acid rain- Rainfall made sufficiently acidic by atmospheric pollution that it causes environmental harm, typically to forests and lakes.
Fossil fuel-  Any naturally occurring carbon or hydrocarbon fuel
Swamps – Overwhelm or flood with water.
Cripple - to become unable to move
Topsoil - Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil.
Commercial properties- The term commercial property refers to buildings or land intended to generate a profit
Furnace - An enclosed structure in which material can be heated to very high temperatures
Boiler - Container for heating water.
Turbine – A machine for producing continuous power.
Generator – A machine that converts mechanical energy into electricity.
Emission - The production and discharge of something.

<![CDATA[Curiosity Rover]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2012 21:00:11 GMThttp://www.kidsenz.com/september1/curiosity-roverWhat are other planets like?
We already know what Earth looks like. Now scientists are curious about other planets and want to study environment and signs of life there. The planet being explored now is MARS, the fourth planet in the solar system.

The rovers on MARS
Instead of people going to Mars to research the planet, scientists have sent rovers. These rovers are robots which propel themselves across the surface of the planet Mars. Some of the advantages of using these Rovers instead of a spacecraft and astronauts are: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features and they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months.

There have been four successful Mars rovers, all of  which were robotically operated. Currently there are three rovers on Mars:
Spirit and Opportunity working on the Mars Exploration Rover mission and Curiosity working on the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Among all the rovers Curiosity is the most powerful rover built so far.

Some facts about Curiosity Rover
Specifications of Curiosity
Curiosity weighs 1,982 pounds on earth, which is about the weight of a Mini Cooper. Curiosity has 17 cameras that can take pictures as tiny as 12.5 microns, which is smaller than the width of a human hair.

Curiosity rover’s journey to Mars and its landing
It took eight months for the Curiosity to make it to Mars from Earth.
This one-ton Rover was lowered onto the planet with a 51 foot wide parachute (which is a pretty massive parachute).
Curiosity approached Mars at a speed of 13,200 mph, and it’s entry period was called the seven minutes of terror. It’s landing is given this name because the other rovers landed on Mars were much lighter in weight and easier to land compared to the Curiosity rover.

An interesting fact is that the radio signals take 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, so the Rover was already at Mars for 14 minutes before anyone knew.

How the rover will collect the rocks from Mars for scientists
The lasers fixed on top of the rovers “head” can shoot at a distance of up to 23 feet and quickly pick up any substance without being noticed. These collected substances (mostly rocks) can be analyzed by scientists to see if the landscape of Mars is toxic.  Curiosity will also be able to dig deeper into martian rocks with its two-inch drill on the end of one of it’s “arms”. This is one of the features of curiosity that no other rover has.

What if curiosity gets stuck in a ditch while doing its mission
Curiosity was designed to be self sufficient, with an independent suspension and drive motor so it can roll over 30 inch boulders.

What we expect to happen now
Curiosity will spend at least two years on Mars, but it is only expected to travel between three to 12 miles the entire time. That means it will have an average speed of less than 0.00073 mph.

There have been 39 missions to the red planet out of which 24 have failed. Curiosity is our most promising chance of finding signs of life on Mars.

Gem Words:
Propel: To cause to move forward or onward.