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.
Blast off! Every child has probably wondered how a giant rocket can take lift into the sky, stay there, and then move forward at such a fast speed. Scientists have developed special fuels to make enough energy to get a rocket off the ground. Here’s a fun activity that demonstrates the same principle (but without dangerous rocket fuel) to propel a balloon across the room.
In the book, A Bad Case of the Spots, Freddie learns that too much sun can be damaging to your skin.
Maybe it’s ancient history to you. Or maybe you remember right where you were on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this historic event this month, we think about the Moon and getting back to Earth from a scientist’s perspective. Our Moon, rockets, and thrust command our attention during July.
The Moon is fascinating. In terms of distance, it is the closest heavenly body to Earth. We can see it in the sky for three weeks out of four, and people have used its light for thousands of years to guide them in the dark.
From the ‘Man in the Moon’ to being made of cheese, there are all kinds of interesting legends and myths associated with the Moon and its cycles. This month we feature the Fuddlebrook story, The Case of the Vanishing Moon where the children and Herman Tweed learn about moon phases and help Freddie solve the mystery of why the Moon gets smaller and smaller. We also demonstrate “Herman’s Rocket Launch” to learn how thrust propels an object.
According to measurements taken by NASA space probes, the coldest place in our solar system is on our very own Moon. It lies deep inside lunar craters, in places that never experience sunlight. The temperatures in these craters, which lie near the poles, approach about -238 C.
How about some other fun science trivia about the Moon, too?
Gravity on the Moon is much less than on Earth. A person who weighs 180 pounds on Earth would weigh only 30 pounds on the Moon. It is for this reason that the astronauts could maneuver so easily on the lunar surface, despite all the massive equipment.
The Moon experiences extreme temperature shifts every couple of weeks. Because it has no atmosphere and rotates so slowly, any particular surface patch on the Moon will experience wild temperature extremes, from a low of -272 degrees F (-168 C) to highs approaching 243 degrees F (117.2 C). As the lunar terrain experiences changes in light and darkness about every two weeks, there is no circulation of the heat as there is on Earth (thanks to wind and other atmospheric effects). So, the Moon is at the complete mercy of whether the Sun is overhead or not. The lack of atmosphere also means no sound can be heard on the Moon, and the sky always appears black.
The Moon has water. In the last two decades NASA has crashed a series of probes into the lunar surface to measure the amount of water in or beneath the rocks. What they found was surprising, there was much more H2O present than anyone had previously thought. In addition, there's evidence of water ice at the poles, hidden in craters that get no sunlight. In spite of these findings, the Moon’s surface is still dryer than the driest desert on Earth.
The Moon is drifting away from Earth. The Moon is moving approximately 3.8 cm away from our planet every year. It is estimated that it will continue to do so for around 50 billion years. By the time that happens, the Moon will be taking around 47 days to orbit the Earth instead of the current 27.3 days.
The Moon has only been walked on by 12 people; all American males. The first man to set foot on the Moon in 1969 was Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission, while the last man to walk on the Moon in 1972 was Gene Cernan on the Apollo 17 mission. Since then the Moon has only be visited by unmanned vehicles.
The Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed 4.6 billion years ago.
So let’s celebrate one of the Earth’s greatest phenomena, particularly during this historic moonwalk month!
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.
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