Monday, April 30, 2012

Cool Clouds: Delightful Diversity

It turns out the diversity of clouds I wrote about last week wasn't a fluke. Springtim clouds really do seem to be the most diverse. Here's another example. These images were taken just a few hours apart.
Early in the morning, just a few small cumulus clouds dotted the lower atmosphere. But by late morning, the lower atmosphere featured larger cumulus. And the one in the middle looked like it might be developing into an anvil-shaped thunderstorm cloud (but it didn't.)

Higher up, a variety of cloud types seemed to compete for space in the sky. What a lovely show.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Fun: Five Super Silly Science Jokes

Q: What happens when a dinosaur dies angry?
A: It becomes a hostile fossil.

Q: Why did the bacteria cross the microscope?
A: To get to the other slide.

Q: Why was the Pikaia worm so happy to live 500 million years ago?
A: Because early birds didn’t exist yet.

Q: Why does a scientist measure fish fossils in inches?
A: Because fish don’t have feet.

Q: Why did the giant millipede go to the police academy?
A: So it could join the arthropod squad.

Looking for more super silly jokes from long, long ago? Check out Dino-mite Jokes about Prehistoric Life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Behind the Books: Super Silly Science Jokes, Rhyme Time

Have you ever accidentally said something that rhymed? Sometimes rhymes just spill out of our mouths, and they can make us laugh. And if you’ve ever been a kid (and who hasn’t), you must know that playing with words to create rhymes can be highly entertaining. But it’s even better when the rhyming words are the heart of a joke.

Here’s an example:

Q: What did the shrimp yell when it got stuck in the seaweed?
A: Kelp! Kelp!

This joke is funny because kelp is a kind of seaweed and because kelp rhymes with help.

Here’s another one.

Q: What do young beavers do for fun?
A: Have a lumber party.

Here’s one more joke. It’s sure to be a hit.

Q: What do fish hear when a stone falls into the water?
A: Plunk rock.

No doubt about it. Playing with rhyming words can lead to some great jokes. Now it’s your turn. Can you or the kids you know come up with jokes that use these rhymes?
• crack of dawn/quack of dawn
• side/tide
• stunk/skunk

Here’s a book that might help: Young, Sue. Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. New York: Scholastic, 2006.

Feel free to post your best jokes in the comments. We could all use a good laugh.

Be on the lookout for more joke-writing posts in the future. And check out the Super Silly Science Jokes I post on Friday.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cool Clouds: The Coolest Season

Remember all those amazing clouds I blogged about last week? Well, it turns out they were no coincidence. The springtime clouds continue to thrill me. They seem to be the most dramatic--at least this year.

Believe it or not, the two gorgeous cloud formations shown here occurred just a few hours apart. I don't recall the autumn clouds or the winter clouds being so mercurial.

This is an interesting phenomenon, so I'll have to keep watching to see if it continues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Behind the Books: More Super Silly Science Jokes

There are some simple strategies for writing jokes that just can’t lose. Let’s start out with jokes that are based on a popular expression.

Every kid has heard some adult say: “He’s got ants in his pants.” Or (just to be fair) “She’s got ants in her pants.” It’s funny to imagine someone jumping around because he (or she) has ants in his (or her) pants. That’s why it could be the punch line for a great joke.

Is there an animal that really could have ants swarming all over its body? You bet! An aardvark breaks into anthills and chows down on the insects inside. As ants rush to safety, some scurry up the aardvark’s long snout. It’s a good thing an aardvark can shut its nostrils tight!

Now that you have an animal in mind, you need to think of a question that hints at the answer. Let’s try this one:

Q: Why did the aardvark jump for joy?
A: It had ants in its pants.

When kids study the solar system, they learn that life on our planet couldn’t exist without a steady stream of light rays from the Sun. Here’s how you can use that science fact and a popular expression to write a great joke:

Q: What did Earth say to the Sun?
A: You’re the light of my life!

Okay, okay. That joke might have gotten a groan instead of a laugh. After all, it’s a little bit sappy.

Next, let’s try a joke that’s more gross and goofy. When someone isn’t brave enough to do something, we say he or she “has no guts.” You can turn that expression into a joke that includes something every kid knows about the human body:

Q: Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road.
A: It had no guts.

Hope that one made you chuckle.

Now it’s your turn. Can you or the kids you know come up with jokes that use the following expressions as punch lines?

• earth science joke: “It was your fault.”
• animal joke: “It has two left feet.”
• space joke: “You’re hot stuff!”

Here’s a book that might help: Terban, Marvin. Scholastic Dictionary of Idioms. New York: Scholastic, 2006. An idiom is an expression that can’t be understood based on the meanings of the individual words. Examples include kicked the bucket, which means “died” or keep tabs on, which means “watch closely.”

Feel free to post your best jokes in the comments. We could all use a good laugh.

Be on the lookout for more joke-writing posts in the future. And check out the Super Silly Science Jokes I post on Friday.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cool Clouds: So Many I Couldn't Choose

Last week, I spent a lot of time making a new video here in my office. And that means I had to pay close attention to how the light changes during the day (There are soooo many things to think about when you make a video over several days and desire continuity.)

The good news is that when you spend a lot of time paying attention to light, you really notice changes in the clouds. And everytime I saw a cluster of clouds that I really liked, I snapped a photo. Why not? After all, when I'm making a video, my camera is always close at hand.

I couldn't choose just one, so this week I have four lovely and very different cool cloud photos to share with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

I think the second one is my favorite. Which is yours?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Behind the Books: A Titanic Video

Ten days from today—April 14, 2012--will mark the hundredth anniversary of one of the most talked-about tragedies of all time—the sinking of the Titanic. And that means a whole slew of interesting books about the ill-fated ship are hitting bookstores and e-readers all over the world.
What makes my book special? Because National Geographic, my publisher, was one of the organizations who supported Bob Ballard’s exploration of the wreck in the 1980s and because science is my favorite topic, my book contains lots of information about the discovery and exploration of “the wonder ship.”

Recently, I created a video interview about my research and writing process for The Children’s Bookshelf, which is maintained by three fabulous professors of education and literature at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Take a look. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cool Clouds: High and Low

Today's photo features a plethora of cumulus clouds, some high in the sky and some way down low. Strong winds mean they're floating across the sky, shape shifting as they go.

What a great day!