This will curl your hair—literally

06 Hair This will curl your hair—literally

Straight hair or curly hair is based more on chemistry than environment. It’s made up mostly of proteins produced in a follicle, or sac, at the base of a single strand. Each protein contains the element sulfur, the atoms of which push toward each other to bond, or connect. If the atoms are far from each other, the protein bends and the hair curls. If the atoms are close, the protein does not bend and the hair is straight. So much for hair gel, eh?

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Ichthyosaurus: Semi Big Reptile in a Very Large Pond

Though they weren’t the largest reptiles in the ocean during their time on Earth, ichthyosaurs (IK-thee-oh-SAWRS) were most likely in great abundance. A cross between a modern day fish and a dolphin, they roamed the oceans of our planet between the lower triassic and the late cretaceous periods, and were thought to be warm-blooded. Below the illustration is the text from Howard Temperley’s There Were Dinosaurs Everywhere, available at and other bookstores. Click the image for a larger, classroom friendly version.

Ichthyosaurus1 Ichthyosaurus: Semi Big Reptile in a Very Large Pond

Dinosaurs were a varied lot,
Some showed initiative and some did not,
But of all the many dinosaurs
Credit goes to to the ichthyosaurs
for being the first to see
The attractions of the open sea,
And as their ancestors long before
Had hoped to benefit from life on shore,
So they set out to find if they
Could benefit by going another way
And so embarked on new careers:
Roving maritime buccaneers.

Thus ichthyosaurs came to be
The premiere hunters of the sea,
As they acquired supple skins,
Shark-like tails and dorsal fins,
The first of their species to explore
The riches of the ocean floor.
Then along came other dinosaurs,
With longer teeth and stronger jaws,
Predators for bigger than they,
So the ichthyosaurs sadly slunk away,
And by the mid-Cretaceous age
The last of them had left the stage.

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The Pacific Rim Trade Routes

After Word War II, the United States, Canada, and other eastern rim countries became strong trading partners with Japan, China, Taiwan, and several other Asian nations, where well-educated and relatively low wage workers were easily able to learn new skills and methods of producing everything from air conditioners to laptops. Millions of dollars of goods are traded each year between the countries in this dynamic economic model. Click the image for a larger, printable version.

PacificRim The Pacific Rim Trade Routes

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Barometric Pressure

Feeling a bit under pressure? Join the club. You might not think so, but the atmosphere has weight. In fact, about one ton of air is always pressing down on you. Earth’s atmosphere has a lot of work to do, so you can hardly blame it for being so heavy. It absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation, keeps the surface of the planet warm, and serves to regulate the wild swings in temperature between day and night. It also contains oxygen. (You know, that stuff you breathe.) For more information on air pressure, see the Rain and Snow issue of Kids Discover magazine.

AirPressure1 Barometric Pressure

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Take a deep breath and say “Lungs.”

You might not think it, but your lungs are very complicated pieces of biological engineering. And given the job they’re tasked with (that being to deliver oxygen into the bloodstream and to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere), it’s easy for things to go wrong. Asthma, allergies, bacteria, viral infections, and air pollution can all be blamed for a shortness of breath. And if it must be said, smoking doesn’t help either. (Click the image for a larger version, and check out the issue of Lungs from Kids Discover magazine.)

Lungs1 Take a deep breath and say Lungs.

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat Kidsbill

This year (as in several years past) I was asked to design and illustrate a kid-friendly playbill for Music Theatre of Wichita’s Special Needs show—a performance where under-privileged children in and around the Wichita area are given free passes to a matinee showing. This year’s show was the classic Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat. If you’d like to download a free copy for educational purposes, simply click the the image. All I ask is that you credit Music Theatre Wichita, Christopher Clark (photos) and myself (Michael Kline–design and illustration). Enjoy!

Cover Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat Kidsbill

The Special Needs performances of Music Theatre Wichita are graciously underwritten by a grant from The Lattner Family Foundation. Thank you.
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Fats and Proteins

When it comes to fats and proteins, they have more “juice” than one might think. Both are nutrients that the body needs, and both can come from animal and plant sources. But your body does not require as much protein and fat as it does carbohydrates. In short, a little goes a long way. Here are some of the more popular sources of fats and proteins. (Click for a larger version.)

Proteins and Fats1 Fats and Proteins

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Below is a sketch and an excerpt from a book that author Howard Temperley and I are working on. It’s a rhyming exposé of the presidents… Enjoy!

AdamsJr Presidents


Imagine that your father
Is president of the United States
And that he writes you a letter
In which he clearly states

That if you don’t follow in his footsteps
By becoming president too
It will, in his opinion,
Be verentirely due
To your lack of moral fibre,
And of application too.

(Had I received such a letter,
I have to admit,
It would have taken me aback
More than a bit.)

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Night After Rain

I recently came across a very weathered book of poems by Philip M. Raskin. Several pages were missing or otherwise destroyed, but I see a certain beauty in things that have survived. I felt this particular poem might have been interpreted differently; say, by the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Enjoy!

Night After Rain1 Night After Rain

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The Name Game

Mike Kline Teachers 21 The Name GameEducators salaries are set to raise by 75% this year!

Sorry. That is likely untrue. I just wanted to get your attention. Though I do hope your pay is commiserate with your duties, I will ask your forgiveness and indulgence for just a few more sentences. Just stick with me.

Do you know the names of your students? I know the question is a bit odd. Of course you do, correct? The Britneys, the Ashleys, the Emilys… the Matthews, the Tylers, the Davids. I’ll bet you can’t even toss an eraser without hitting someone named Michael, eh? Then there are the last names. Smiths, Nguyens, Washingtons, etc.

So, if you could change the names of your students, would you? Should you, and why? Though I am a person that likes to take the long view of everything, the curriculum of your local school district may not look favorably upon you reassigning titles, not to mention the ire of parents that perused baby-name books for months in search of the perfect moniker. Yikes!

What I’m suggesting is that you change the names of your students for just one day. And doing so in a manner of what I term Stealth Teaching, or teaching without the kids necessarily knowing that they’re being taught. Sound tricky? Ohhhh, yes.

Find some name labels (the kind that stick to clothing if possible), or you can use mailing labels, or even some type of tape (now we’re getting frugal) and tag your kids. But instead of having the students write out their names, assign each a math equation, as in 3 x 6, or 40 – 7, or (depending upon the grade level) the square root of 49. Those students would then be (in order) 18, 33, and 7.

The idea is that–for the day at least–no one can be addressed unless by their “new” name. To be sure that it involves everyone, I must ask that you play along as well (I see you frowning, but do it). This activity presents a bit of a mnemonic device in that kids will soon begin to associate the answers with the faces behind the name tags. In this manner it also requires a distinct answer. Read on…

Should you feel compelled to add to the confusion (oh heck, why not?), you can assign an answer to each student (say, 12 or 365), at which point students would need to be addressed as potential questions, á la Jeopardy (what is 3 x 4, what is 10 + 2, or what is 400 – 35, how many days are there in a year?). Be prepared as this approach can have many solutions, but is a wonderfully creative approach. And you don’t need to stick with one the entire day. If it’s getting too easy, give everyone a new tag after lunch.

You can also choose a day when your charges are geographically named (the capitol of Nebraska, the Southernmost continent, etc.) and so on. The list of topics is nearly inexhaustible, and you can ask your students if there exists a theme that they would like to visit one day, though I would personally discourage “names of popular video games” or “shoe stores at the mall.” LOL!

Give it a try, and don’t forget to use your imagination. And if it were up to me, you’d get that 75% raise.

Teach. Learn. Enjoy!

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