Why is it important to conserve water?

Water is vital to the survival of everything on the planet and is limited in supply. Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact only 1 percent is available for human use. While the population and the demand on freshwater resources are increasing (each person uses about 12,000 gallons of water every year), supply remains the same. Water is constantly being cleaned and recycled through Earth’s water cycle, yet we still need to conserve it because people use up Earth’s freshwater faster than it can naturally be replenished.

When you use water wisely, you help the environment. You save water for fish and animals, help preserve drinking water supplies, and ease the job of wastewater treatment plants—the less water you send down the drain, the less work these plants have to do to make water clean again. When you use water wisely, you also save the energy that your water supplier uses to treat and move water to you, and the energy your family uses to heat your water. Your family pays for the water you use, so if you use less water, you’ll have more money left to spend on other things.

Are bones hard as a rock?

Yes and no. Bones are hard connective tissue, made up of bone cells, fat cells, and blood vessels, as well as nonliving materials, including water and minerals. Some bones have a very hard, heavy outer layer made out of compact bone. Under this layer is a lighter layer called spongy bone, which is located inside the end, or head, of a long bone.

Spongy bone is tough and hard, but light, because it has lots of irregularly-shaped sheets and spikes of bone (called trabeculae) that make it porous (full of tiny holes). The soft, jelly-like inner core of bone is called the bone marrow. It is where red blood cells, certain white blood cells, and blood platelets are formed. The jawbone is the hardest bone in your body. Although bones are hard, they are not the hardest substance in the human body: the enamel on your teeth is harder.

What’s a charley horse?

A charley horse a muscle cramp, or sudden, uncontrolled contraction of a muscle. This type of pain is generally felt in the legs, sometimes after heavy exercise, and usually lasts just a few minutes.

The expression probably came from the word “charley,” which is used to describe a horse that is lame.

Why do hugs and kisses make me feel good?

Human beings communicate through language, a complicated system of vocal symbols that our complex brains allow us to learn after we are born. But we also communicate through our bodies and senses. Our organ of touch is our skin, covering the outside of our bodies. (Nerve endings under the surface of skin give us our sense of touch.) Hugging and kissing are ways to share love and caring through touch. When you were born, well before you knew language and could understand caring words, you were learning about love through your sense of touch. As a newborn, when everything was frighteningly new, you immediately experienced the comfort of touch when you were held in your mother’s arms, feeling the warmth of her body and the beat of her heart, sensations familiar to you when you were inside her womb. You were held close when you first learned about food and about how good it felt to have milk in your empty stomach.

Your parents’ caring hands kept you clean and dressed in dry clothes when you could not yet do those things for yourself. So, from your earliest days, you learned that someone’s touch usually made you feel comfortable and safe. Loving and caring about special people in our lives is a feeling inside that is hard to describe in words. But hugs and kisses make it easy to show that love—and their message is clear. Giving hugs and kisses feels as good as getting them. (Because the lips have an extra supply of nerve endings, kissing is an especially intense way to touch.) The human need to share affection through touch is something we all experience throughout our lives.

How did we start the ritual of kissing a wound to make it better?

Everyone with children has kissed a small bruise or cut to make it better. This comes from one of our earliest medical procedures for the treatment of snakebite. Noticing that a victim could be saved if the venom was sucked out through the point of entry, early doctors soon began treating all infectious abrasions by putting their lips to the wound and sucking out the poison.

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Medicine moved on, but the belief that a kiss can make it all better still lingers.

Should I wash my hands before I eat?

Yes. Washing your hands with soap and water cleans them of pathogens (bacteria and viruses) and chemicals that can cause disease. Hot water is not enough to clean your hands. Using soap adds to the time spent washing and breaks down the grease and dirt that carry most germs.

The most important times to wash your hands with soap and water are after you use the toilet or before handling food. When not washed with soap, hands that have been in contact with human or animal feces, bodily fluids like mucus, and contaminated foods or water can transport bacteria, viruses, and parasites to others. When done thoroughly and at least for 20 seconds, hand washing can prevent all types of illness and disease, skin infections, and eye infections.

Do I have to brush my teeth?

Absolutely! Strong, healthy teeth help you speak clearly, chew harder vegetables and meats, and help you look your best. Brushing your teeth helps prevent plaque, a clear film that sticks to your teeth. The sticky film acts like a magnet for bacteria and sugar. Bacteria eats the sugar on your teeth, breaking it down into acids that deteriorate tooth enamel, causing holes called cavities. Plaque also causes the gum disease gingivitis, which make your gums red, swollen, and sore. At around age six, you lose your baby teeth and a larger set of teeth begin to surface. Eventually, 32 new teeth will line your growing jaws, the last coming in around the age of 18.

These permanent teeth will perform all of your eating tasks for the rest of your life, so they are worth taking care of! Your four front teeth (on top and bottom) are sharp incisors that cut and tear off food when you bite, along with your four pointed canine teeth. The flat-topped bicuspids (premolars) and molars near the back of your mouth crush and chew your food.

When will I be a grown-up?

In the United States you are considered a grown-up when you reach the age of 18. You are no longer legally connected with your parents, and you are entitled to the rights—and expected to fulfill the duties—of an adult American citizen. (You may vote and be called for military service, for instance.)

There is a good chance, though, that when you are 18 your body has not yet reached full maturity. Many people continue to grow for a few more years. Most are fully grown—at least in height—by the time they are 20 years old, though boys may keep on growing until they are 23.

What are “dog days”?

“Dog days” are the hot, humid days of summer that usually take place in the Northern Hemisphere in July and August typically between July 3 and August 11. The days get their name from the dog star Sirius of the constellation Canis Major.

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At this time of year, Sirius, the brightest visible star, rises in the east at the same time as the Sun in the northern hemisphere. Ancient Egyptians believed that the heat of this brilliant star added to the Sun’s heat to create this hot weather and they blamed the star for everything from withering droughts to sickness.

Will a wart go away if I wrap it in duct tape?

Maybe. Warts are skin infections caused by a common virus called HPV (human papillomavirus). They are perfectly “normal,” in that health researchers estimate that three out of four people will develop a wart some time in their lives, usually on their hands or feet. It can take months or years for a wart to disappear on its own. To speed up the process, some skin doctors recommend wrapping the wart in duct tape until it disappears.

The duct tape removes dead skin from the wart, thereby gradually killing off the wart virus that lives in the skin. It may also trigger the body’s immune system to attack the wart virus. Otherwise the wart can be removed by a doctor with a laser or liquid nitrogen, a substance that freezes the skin, killing the cells.