How did the dandelion and the daisy get their names?

The dandelion and the daisy are both named for a particular physical characteristic. The English daisy, with its small yellow centre and white- or rose-coloured rays, closes at night and reopens with daylight like the human eye, and so it was named the “day’s eye.”

The dandelion, because of its sharp, edible leaves, was named by the French “dent de lion,” the “tooth of a lion.”

What is a pen pal?

Pen pals (also called pen friends) are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. They are often located in faraway places, such as other states and countries. A pen pal relationship is often used to practice reading and writing in a foreign language, to improve literacy, to learn more about other countries and lifestyles, and to feel connected to people in other parts of the world which helps the world feel like a much smaller place! Pen pals come in all ages, nationalities, and cultures.

Pals may seek new pals based on their own age group or a shared common interest, such as a specific sport or hobby, or they may select someone totally different to gain knowledge about a foreign culture (such as the Far East, Europe, or South America). With the advent of the Internet, a modern version on the traditional pen pal arrangement has developed, and many pen pals also exchange e-mail addresses as well as, or instead of, paper letters. In order to connect with a pen pal, get your mom or dad’s permission first. Often, online sites dedicated to pen pal communication can help you connect with a student your own age.

Why is something useless and expensive called a “white elephant”?

The term “white elephant” comes from ancient Siam, where no one but the king could own a rare and sacred albino, or white, elephant without royal consent.

The cost of keeping any elephant, white or otherwise, was tremendous, and so when the king found displeasure with someone he would make him a gift of a white elephant, and because the animal was sacred and couldn’t be put to work, the cost of its upkeep would ruin its new owner.

What were the first primitive plants to appear on land?

The first primitive plants appeared on land about 470 million years ago. But these plants did not look like the lush greenery we see in the world today. Rather, they were rootless patches of thin, leaflike plants called liverwarts, so named because some species look like green livers. Liverwarts used a specialized filament (called a rhizoid) to absorb water and stick to rocks.

Fossils reveal that the first true plants to colonize land appeared about 420 million years ago. These plants included flowerless mosses, horsetails, and ferns. They reproduced by throwing out spores, or minute organisms that carried the genetic blueprint for the plant. The ferns eventually bore seeds, but not until about 345 million years ago. Plants with roots, stems, and leaves (called vascular plants) evolved about 408 million years ago.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day is a national holiday that was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. It was created by Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962. Senator Nelson decided to set aside one day aside for the entire nation to focus on environmental issues, learn about ways to improve the environment, and protest against the federal government’s unwillingness to help solve problems such as air pollution and the widespread destruction of forests.

After lots of hard work and publicity, on the first Earth Day 20 million Americans gathered at different places from the East to West coasts to hear speeches, participate in community-wide cleanup efforts, and demonstrate to the government that the environment is a major national issue. Ever since then, April 22 has been the date for celebrating Earth Day—a time when the United States (and now many countries all over the world) could participate in educational activities that celebrate Earth and think of new ways to preserve our natural resources. On Earth Day 2008, over 100 million people joined in the effort to celebrate and protect our planet.

Where are the world’s rain forests?

The name “rain forest” comes from the fact that these lush areas of land receive a lot of rain—between 160 and 400 inches per year. They are located near the equator, Which means that their climate is warm. Rain forests cover only a small part of Earth’s surface, about 6 percent, yet they are home to over half the species of plants and animals in the world. For example, the jungles and mangrove swamps of Central America contain many plants and animals found nowhere else, including many types of parrots. The Amazon jungle in South America is the world’s largest tropical rain forest, and is home to one-fifth of the world’s plants and animals.

The forest covers the basin of the Amazon, the world’s second longest river. Central Africa has the world’s second largest rain forest. To the southeast, the large island of Madagascar is home to many unique animals. The rain forests of Asia stretch from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. Bangladesh has the largest area of mangrove forests in the world. Australia, too, has rain forests: undergrowth in this county’s tropical forests is dense and lush.

Why are barns usually painted red?

Paint coats wood, protecting it from sunlight and rain damage and making it last longer. When early farmers had enough money to paint their barns, they usually used inexpensive paint because the structures were so large. Ferrous oxide, a chemical powder that gives paint its red color, was readily available and cost little. Thrifty farmers in New England, New York, and the upper Midwest region painted their barns red. In those places, red barns remain a tradition. But there are plenty of barns in other parts of the country that are not red. Early farmers that were poor—especially in regions like Appalachia and the South—left their barns unpainted because they did not have the money to do the job.

Unpainted wood usually weathers to a soft gray color. And in places like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and some southern Midwestern states, the most frequently seen barn color is white. Some people think that white barns grew popular when dairy farming became more important after the Civil War; white suggests cleanliness and purity, desirable qualities to be associated with milk production. Special farms where fancy horses or prize livestock were raised sometimes had barns painted unusual colors, like yellow, green, or black.

What is air made of?

Air is a mixture of gases that circle Earth, kept in place by gravity. Air makes up Earth’s atmosphere. The air we breathe is 78 percent nitrogen gas, 21 percent oxygen, 0.9 percent argon, and 0.03 percent carbon dioxide, along with water vapor (floating molecules of water).

Also present are traces of other gases and tiny bits of dust, pollen grains from plants, and other solid particles. As our atmosphere extends higher and higher above Earth, toward outer space, air becomes thinner and the combination of gases in the air changes.

Where in space could you ice skate?

On Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, it is possible to ice skate, as long as you wore a space suit. A little smaller than Earth’s moon, Europa is covered in smooth ice. Its gravity is only about one-eighth of planet Earth’s, which makes for great leaps. However, Europa temperatures reach about –328 degrees Fahrenheit (–200 degrees Celsius), which means you would be frozen stiff in a nanosecond.

The only colder object in the solar system is Neptune’s moon, Triton, which has unique “ice volcanoes” and a surface temperature of –391 degrees Fahrenheit (–235 degrees Celsius).

Why did pirates wear earrings?

Earrings were used by seamen, especially warriors such as pirates, for very practical reasons and not for decoration. They were given to young sailors as a symbol of their first crossing of the equator, and their purpose was to protect the eardrums during battle.

The pirates, especially those who fired the ships’ cannons during closed combat with the enemy, dangled wads of wax from their earrings to use as earplugs.