For a complete introduction and to get to know each Fuddlebrook story/concept, work your way across the main menu bar above. Have fun exploring, and please contact us with any questions you may have!
But that's not all. Check out the introductory video that explains why we created the Fuddlebrook School Science Series.
In the book, A Bad Case of the Spots, Freddie learns that too much sun can be damaging to your skin.
The field of forensic science is immensely popular, driven in part by television shows and sensational media. Luckily for those interested, it’s predicted that there will be an explosion in job opportunities in this field!
When you think of life saving breakthroughs, maybe vaccines, antibiotics, or other medical technologies come to mind. What’s often missing from the list is one of the most common tools for cancer prevention: sunscreen, that amazing lotion that can stop harmful radiation from damaging your skin.
You've probably got a dozen half-empty bottles laying around, but have you ever stopped to really appreciate this product or the science behind it? We’ll take a minute to ponder this oft taken-for-granted and misunderstood innovation.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a sunburn? In the medical world, a sunburn is known as erythema. How do ultraviolet sunrays cause erythema and the pain that comes with it? UV-B wavelengths don't penetrate very deeply, but they cause reactions in your epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) and damages DNA. The body's natural response is to trigger several reactions by your immune system. The result is increased blood-flow to your capillary beds and swelling which help in bringing certain cells that repair the damage. This also triggers the body to produce more melanin (skin pigment) to help in future exposures. The result of all this is the reddening of your skin.
Another protein molecule, known as CXCL5, also triggers specific immune cells in response to UV-B radiation. It's thought that this molecule is what causes the pain and tenderness associated with your burn by stimulating the nerve endings in your skin.
All of these reactions don't happen right away. They usually begin around four hours after exposure and peak between 8-24 hours. This is why you might feel fine right after you leave the beach, but by the time you hit the shower the next morning, your back looks like a tomato and the hot water feels like a million pin pricks.
This is where sunscreen comes in. It works in two ways to protect you from a burn. It either absorbs the UV wavelengths or scatters and reflects it. Depending on the specific makeup of your sunscreen, it will come with protection known as Sun Protection Factor (SPF). If you would normally burn in 10 minutes, a SPF of 15 would allow you protection up to 150 minutes. An SPF of 30 would allow you 300 minutes, and so on.
Don't think, however, you are actually doubling your protection every time you double the SPF. As many consumer groups point out, an SPF of 15 filters out around 92% of UVB radiation. An SPF of 30 will only absorb about 96.7%, and an SPF of 40 will absorb 97.5%. They also point out that while sunscreens are often advertised as "Sun-Block," many are actually only blocking UV-B rays, and not UV-A. To make sure you're getting true broad-spectrum protection, your sunscreen must contain both the organic compounds associated with UV-B absorption and the inorganic associated with UV-A reflection.
If you're like many, you probably aren’t that concerned about a little sunburn. In fact, you may prefer it to the hassle of applying sunscreen. But you should be concerned. Countless studies have shown exposure to the Sun's harmful rays are responsible for early aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. You might think this risk is minimal. Unfortunately, upwards of 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are thought to be caused by the Sun. Combined with the fact that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, with the Sun being public enemy number one, even natural sunlight should be fought off with plenty of broad-spectrum, high SPF lotion.
Here’s some other concerns or questions.
In the last few years there’s been an increasing awareness of how much our sunscreen can potentially harm coral reefs. A common chemical called oxybenzone—along with a few others, bleach the coral and damage its DNA. According to recent research, it takes only one drop in 4.3 million gallons of water to cause damage. That’s why some places are moving to ban oxybenzone entirely.
It’s also important to note that you can’t avoid the problem by simply not swimming in the ocean. When you get home, you’ll wash that sunscreen down the drain, and all too often it ends up around the nearest reef all the same.
What about spray-on sunscreens? Besides the fact that sprayed sunscreen often ends up in the wind, misting environmentally-hazardous chemicals into the air is probably not the best idea. More ends up in the air than on your skin, and you’re also likely to inhale some of those particulates. The FDA is investigating whether the inhalation is dangerous for human lungs, but perhaps it’s better to be safe than sorry. Finally, many of us are already terrible at putting on sufficient sunscreen to block incoming rays, so it’s worth noting that a fine mist is less likely to provide adequate coverage than a lotion.
Finally, why not just take a new sunscreen pill? As of now, the FDA notes "there’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen."
Now that you know more about sunburns and sunscreen, take time to read the fun Fuddlebrook story, A Bad Case of the Spots, and learn even more! Then view our video of Mrs. Wigglebum’s Sunny Surprise to demonstrate both the UV waves the Sun makes, and how sunscreen offers protection.
In the Fuddlebrook book, The Mystery Scientist, Liza, Freddie, and Bert, along with Herman Tweed, try to imagine what kind of scientist Mrs. Wigglebum’s husband is. Needless to say, their imaginations run a little wild as they picture him as a “mad” scientist first and then in other exotic science-based careers. You’ll have to read the story to discover which type of scientist he turns out to be.
The truth is, we encounter scientists every day! There are some notable scientists and some science-related professions that are not so typical, too. Take our fun video quiz to see how many renown scientists you can identify. Then read on to learn more about cool careers in science you maybe haven’t thought about.
Walk by the supermarket's fresh fish counter and you will see a collection of marine life from around the world. Some of the fish is wild, caught by fishermen from the open seas, but these days, a lot of fish and shellfish is farm raised. Aquacultural managers direct operations on farms and fish hatcheries that cultivate ocean and freshwater fish for human consumption, recreation, and research.
There will always be both man-made and natural disasters, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks, that affect public health and safety. Emergency management specialists are the officials who plan for these disasters—imagining and preparing for the worst—and then coordinating the emergency responses.
There is a fraction of the world's population that doesn't have enough to eat or doesn't have access to food that is nutritionally rich. Food scientists work to find new sources of food that have the right nutrition levels and that are safe for human consumption.
Think of all the things that use electricity. Power plant distributors work to keep electricity flowing to homes and businesses by carefully watching and planning for problems like big storms that could damage transmission lines, heat waves that cause a big surge in demand for power, or normal construction work, which could take transmission lines out of service.
Any time you hear music at a concert, a live speech, the police sirens in a TV show, or the evening news, you're hearing the work of a sound engineering technician. They operate machines and equipment to record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions.
Not unusual enough for you? How about these jobs?
It’s someone's job to create fireworks — namely, a chemist who designs fireworks with chemicals that emit those beautiful colors when they're heated. For example, copper compounds burn blue, strontium compounds let off a crimson hue, and sodium blazes a bright yellow. The chemicals are very reactive, and sometimes dangerous. Being a firework designer usually requires a master's degree or Ph.D. in chemistry.
Space psychologists study how astronauts cope with the conditions of spaceflight and the weightless environment in space. Space psychologists make recommendations about the best way for astronauts to perform physical and mental work, as well as rest. This profession could become increasingly important as more extended periods of space travel arise, such as manned missions to Mars.
Beer, wine, bread, cheese, pickles, yogurt — all of these foods are made by fermentation, the process by which yeast or bacteria convert sugars to acids, gases or alcohol. Zymologists, study how these microorganisms can be used in fermentation processes, such as beer brewing. Louis Pasteur was the first zymologist, discovering that yeast led to fermentation.
A volcanologist is a geology specialist who studies volcanic activity. Volcanologists help to predict the timing and severity of volcanic eruptions.Their work helps to plan evacuations of volcanic areas, making it a useful, although highly specialized, discipline.
These are but a few of the really unique jobs in science. Just like the Fuddlebrook students, we hope you are fascinated by the variety offered. Read The Mystery Scientist, remember to take our famous scientist quiz, and don’t forget this month’s experiment!
This new series marvelously succeeds in introducing young students to inquiry-based, experiential learning of scientific concepts that are age-appropriate. Moreover, students have the opportunity to explore story-based scientific concepts further through hands-on investigations.
--Teresa, Biology Ph.D; former elementary teacher, Springfield, MO
The thing I love most about the Fuddlebrook series is the connection aspect. Not only have the creators connected literacy and science, they have also provided opportunity for exploration of all areas of life. The dispositions and traits of the characters are consistent throughout the books and lead to discussions about friendship, bullying, loyalty, honesty, and humility. Fuddlebrook is "teaching the whole child by connecting to life."
--Carolyn, First Grade Teacher, Ozark, MO