America’s founders did debate a bit as to whether or not to force children to attend schools, and they decided to leave such decisions to individual families and local and state governments. The words “education” and “school” do not appear in any of our founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.
Some of our most famous inventors, writers, and politicians were self-taught, learning through mentoring or apprenticeships, conversation, and reading. In 1850, Massachusetts became the first state to institute a compulsory schooling law.
When you flush the toilet or wash your clothes, the used water, called wastewater, goes down the drain. This wastewater travels through a network of underground pipes known as the sewer system. The city system treats the wastewater to keep it clean. Both large objects, such as sticks, cans, rocks, and small debris, such as gravel and sand, are separated from the wastewater.
It is treated with oxygen, which allows micro-organisms to grow and eat small bits of organics. The wastewater is then recycled and clarified again. The wastewater is then disinfected with chlorine to kill harmful pathogens before being released into a nearby river, lake, or sea. In towns that do not have a sewer system, each house has its own septic system. Toilet water flows into a big underground tank where bacteria helps break down the waste. Then the water flows out into the soil, where it is absorbed.
According to a national survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufaturers Association in 2008, Americans owned about 75 million dogs and 88 million cats. Approximately 39 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog, and 34 percent own at least one cat.
According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are the most popular dog breed, followed by Yorkshire terriers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers. Persian cats are the most popular feline breed, followed by the Maine coon and the Siamese. Combined reptiles are the next popular type of pet, followed by birds and horses.
Yes. Even though it may feel awkward or embarrassing, it helps to tell your parents, a teacher, or a counselor about a bullying experience. A trusted adult can make you feel better by explaining why bullies behave the way they do and by reassuring you that what a bully says about you has nothing to do with who you really are.
Adults can help keep you safe if you’re being threatened, and come up with solutions to deal with the bullying. Many states have bullying laws and policies, and many schools have programs in place that educate parents and kids about bullying.
In the seventeenth century, the British borrowed a Dutch army custom of sounding a drum and bugle to signal soldiers that it was time to stop socializing and return to their barracks for the night. The Dutch called it “taptoe,” meaning “shut off the taps,” and the abbreviated “taps” became a signal for tavern owners to turn off the spigots on their beer and wine casks.
After lights out, taps signals that the soldiers are safely home, which is why it’s played at funerals.
Eyelashes protect our eyes. They help keep small particles and dust out of our eyes, especially when the wind is blowing. Eyelashes are also super-sensitive, and they alert the eyelids to shut when something touches them. If you rub your finger against your eyelashes, you will find that your eyelid automatically shuts.
But be careful not to rub too hard—if you lose a lash it will take about four to eight weeks to grow back! Fortunately, your upper eyelid has between 100 and 150 lashes.
Carved into the southeast face of a mountain in South Dakota are the faces of four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Known as Mount Rushmore, these 68-feet (20.7 meters) high granite sculptures were the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson. In 1923, he conceived the project to attract more people to the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Congress passed legislation that authorized the carving in what is today known as Black Hills National Forest. In 1927, the sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers began the project, using dynamite to remove unwanted rock. Mount Rushmore was completed in 1941.
The governor is responsible for the well-being of his or her state. The details of this job include many hands-on tasks and leadership duties. The governor’s executive powers include the appointment and removal of state officials, the supervision of thousands of executive branch staff, the formulation of the state budget, and the leadership of the state militia as its commander in chief.
Law-making powers include the power to recommend legislation, to call special sessions of the legislature, and to veto measures passed by the legislature. In 43 states, governors have the power to veto (or reject) several parts of a bill without rejecting it altogether. The governor can also pardon (excuse) a criminal or reduce a criminal’s sentence.
The blue whale, who swims all of the world’s oceans, in the largest mammal. The largest blue whale cited was at least 110 feet (33.5 meters) long and weighed 209 tons (189,604 kilograms). The average length is about 82 feet (25 meters) for the males, and 85 feet (26 meters) for the females. A newborn blue whale can weigh anywhere from 2.5 to 4 tons (2,268 to 3,628 kilograms), and can reach 100 to 120 tons in adulthood. Whale calves drink 50 to 150 gallons of its mother’s milk per day, adding about 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of weight per hour, or 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms) per day.
At about eight months of age, when the calf is weaned, it measures close to 50 feet (15.2 meters) long and weighs about 25 tons (22,679 kilograms). Blue whales do not have teeth. Instead, in their upper jaw they have rows of hundreds of baleen plates—flat, flexible plates with frayed edges, arranged in two parallel rows that look like combs of thick hair. The blue whale feeds on a small shrimp-like animal called krill. Scientists believe that large marine mammals, like whales and dolphins, have brains much like those of humans. They are able to communicate, follow instructions, and adapt to new environments. Throughout history, these gentle giants have been hunted for their baleen and blubber (fat), and are today considered an endangered species. Scientists believe there are about 4,000 or so of them left in the world.
Rain forests—thick forests of trees and other plants found in the lowland areas of the Tropics around the world—exist in parts of Australia, Indochina, India, the Malay Peninsula, the East Indies, in central and western Africa, and in Central and South America. Unlike forests in many other parts of the world, which have been affected by global climate changes like the Ice Age, tropical rain forests have been growing uninterrupted in some places for millions of years. During that time an unimaginable number of different types of plants and animals have evolved to use every food source and live in every spot there. Tropical rain forests have more plant and animal species than the rest of the world combined, and scientists continue to discover new species. Because tropical rain forests are located near the equator, their climate is warm.
The name “rain forest” comes from the fact that they receive a lot of rain—between 160 and 400 inches (4 and 10 meters)—throughout the year. Plants grow very quickly under such ideal conditions. In order to get the sunlight that they need for photosynthesis (the process by which they and other green plants make their own food), rain forest trees grow very tall, up to 130 feet (40 meters) high. Their tops form a huge canopy that shades most of the ground, protecting plants on the ground from excessive sunshine as well as wind. Rain forest trees have very shallow roots, for the soil in which they grow is poor, having long been depleted of nutrients by the needs of thick plant life over millions of years. But the abundant life all around contributes organic matter (the decomposed remains of plants and animals) to the surface of the soil, which is enough to nourish these grand, ancient forests.