When you speak of the muscle-bound champions of the animal kingdom, your first thoughts may head in the direction of the African elephant. But you would be incorrect. That particular pachyderm doesn’t hold a candle to the rhinoceros beetle when it comes to heavy lifting. The 6-ton African elephant can hoist around 1.5 tons (roughly 1/4 of its weight) while the 1 oz. beetle can lift over 53 pounds (about 850 times its own weight). Much of that ability comes from the fact that the insect has very little body mass, so very few of its muscles are used to support its own body weight. So, how much can you lift? Is it more like an elephant or a beetle?
Wind tends to move from high pressure areas (H) to low-pressure areas (L), kind of like two very energetic children on a teeter-totter–with balance being the main objective. Also, the closer a high and low are to each other, the faster the winds move. If you’d like to experience this phenomenon in the real world, here’s a simple experiment you can perform: Stand outside with the wind to your back (hold out your arms to get a better feel). You will be facing the area of lower pressure, even if it’s hundreds of miles away.
The temperature at which water vapor in the air condenses, or turns to liquid, is called the dew point. There is no single dew point however. It depends on how much water vapor is in the air. If there is a lot of water in the air, the dew point is a high temperature. If the air is dry, the dew point is a low temperature. Once the dew point is reached up in the sky, it causes clouds, rain, snow, and other precipitation. If it happens near the ground, condensation causes dew, frost, or fog. Either way, it’s a wild and wet time when the dew point and temperature meet. For more information on the dew point, see the Rain and Snow issue of Kids Discover magazine.
I posted this a few months ago, but thought it might be worth mentioning again. This is one of several Punzles (Pun Puzzles) in my book WordPlay Cáfe. Here’s how it works:
Highlighted in RED in the story below the image (click for a larger version) are words that describe items within the image, but instead of being literal clues, they are phonetic puns. As an example, for the word apparent, think “a parent.” See how many words and images you can match. When you think you’ve solved it (or if you need some help), drop me a note and I will let you in on the surprise.
Be careful out there! Cold weather can raise serious health issues, most of which are avoidable simply by preparing for the worst. Bundle up, think ahead, and eat lots of chicken soup! For more information on the different conditions that changes in the weather can bring, check out the issue of Kids Discover magazine on Extreme Weather.
When discussing the issue of immigration, it’s handy and correct to know and understand the different descriptors of the process. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right word. Click the image for a larger version, and be sure to check out the issue of Kids Discover magazine on Immigration.
Think of a long, strong stick (a lever). The stick is propped up on a small object (the fulcrum). Now imagine that you are holding one end of the stick and a heavy rock (the load) is on the other end. By pulling down (effort) on the stick, you will be able to lift the rock. In levers, the effort is applied at a different point from the load. And, the position of the fulcrum makes all the difference in the amount of effort (push or pull) that is needed to move a load. Ancient Greek scientist and engineer Archimedes once said “Give me a place to stand on, and with a lever I can move the whole world.” For more information on levers, see the Simple Machines issue of Kids Discover, now available on the iPad. (Click the image below for a larger version.)
Penguin Publishing has just released book 4 of the series The Doodles of Sam Dibble, entitled Abra-Ca Doodle. Sam’s school is having a talent show to raise money to save the local Environmental Center. All the kids are excited, except for Sam–he doesn’t have a talent to perform. But Sam learns that sometimes you don’t have to look very far to discover what you’re really good at! Illustrations courtesy of yours truly, and available at “finer” bookstores nationwide. (Mmmph!) Enjoy the preview, and click the images for larger versions.
It depends upon how you look at it. Cassiopeia may appear two-dimensional to us, but the stars that make up the constellation are always at different distances from the Earth. Though they may seem to be just a thumb’s width apart, in actuality they can be millions of light years from each other (and from us). If you research other constellations, you’ll find that each point of light may not be a star at all. Rather, it could be a nebula, another planet, or a galaxy full of stars–much like our own Milky Way. For more information, see the Telescopes issue of Kids Discover magazine.
There we go. Thanks for playing. I always like to begin conversations with potential friends by doing something just a little different. And that is me. Just a little different.
(You:) You’re not blogging from some kind of dark forest, are you?
Ha! No, but that would be funny. My name is Michael Kline, and for lots and lots of (20+) years I’ve brought my illustrative outlook to Kids Discover magazine in all manner of styles. Subjects that range from babies strapped to boards (Southwest Peoples) to flying cows (Severe Weather) cross my drawing desk daily, and the incessant parade of such items has given me the uncanny ability to carry on a conversation about anything, with anyone anywhere.
(You:) So this is a blog about dinner parties?
Oh for heaven’s sake no. I just wanted to let you know a bit about what you were in for.
My approach to art for the magazine (as well as the 40+ books I’ve illustrated) is straightforward. My mantra? “Never accept the first answer.” If I can come up with a good solution to an assignment, then I can come up with an excellent one. At the end of the day (there’s an overused cliche) I hope to leave my viewers/readers with something memorable, something fun, and hopefully something that kids can build upon.
(You:) You’re going to teach me to draw? I have laundry to do…
Nope. There are way too many of us out there already. But I am going to teach you a new perspective. As a parent you’ve likely realized that children are not born with instruction manuals (though I believe there to be a book entitled Parenting for Dummies). And by the same token, parents are not the easiest things to get a grasp on either. That’s where creativity (and yours truly) comes in. In the following weeks, months, years (as long as Kids Discover is happy with what I’m blogging and hasn’t been sued yet), I hope to provide you with some insight as to how to look at everything differently; from study habits to playtime, holidays to sleepovers, and siblings to snack time. Stick with me for awhile, and I guarantee that you will never look at dirty dishes the same way again.
(You:) Sounds like you have a Napoleon complex, but I’m always looking for ways to get the kids to study better or simply engage, so go on.
“Thank your.” (Greg Kinnear as Frank in You’ve Got Mail, 1988.) Whenever opportunity presents me with the chance to put on my jeans and sandals and leave the house/studio, I find myself the center of attention at area classrooms and libraries. The crowd can run from Pre-K to post grads, but the task remains the same: Get the kids engaged. And that usually translates as “Get their attention.”
One doesn’t have to look very far these days to see how much competition there is for the eyes and ears and brains of the under-4-foot generation. Video games, television ads that literally shout out your shortcomings along with a remedy, iThis and iThat…, heck, there are companies that want to put advertising in school buses. So how do you cut through the clutter?
(You:) How do I cut through the clutter? Seems like a herculean task and I only have the fortitude of Tinker Bell. (Ha ha, now I’m being funny.)
Patience. Rome wasn’t blogged in a day.
Let’s start with something every parent faces, a little thing known as homework. Generally, kids hate it, and parents hate the fact that kids hate it, even though when parents were kids they hated it too. So let’s change the perspective.
Perhaps your offspring is not content with the same droll drudgery that homework presents on a daily basis. Why not find a totally new space for the task at hand? Take a few pillows, make sure the lighting is good, and set up shop in the bathtub. It’s a fairly quiet space with few interruptions (unless of course you only have one bathroom), and the tile is very conducive to humming or singing to oneself. In short, the rules have changed. And be flexible. If your child begins to suggest other venues for studying (perhaps a darkened closet with an LED light, or beneath a blanket draped across a couple of dining room chairs), remember that the important thing is that you have their attention, and the homework is being addressed. Above all else, stick with your kids. Let them know that they are not in this alone.
More to come. And by the way, did you know that Alexander Graham Bell suggested that “Ahoy” be used as the greeting when answering the telephone before Thomas Edison’s “Hello” finally stuck?
Thanks for being here. Teach. Learn. Enjoy!