The Soviet satellite Sputnik 1, which was launched into space on October 4, 1957, was the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Earth. It had no crew members or animals aboard, but instead contained machines that sent information back to Earth via radio.
The former Soviet Union’s (now Russia) launch of Sputnik prompted the United States to get its first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit quickly, igniting the so-called space race. This was the two countries’ rivalry over being the “first” in many areas of space exploration. Explorer 1’s test run in December 1957 burned on the ground, but the satellite was successfully launched into orbit around Earth on January 31, 1958.
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.
Libraries offer books for people of all ages, and much, much more—they are places of learning and discovery for everyone. Besides books, public libraries offer videos, DVDs, free access to computers and the Internet, and many literacy-related programs.
For elementary school children, there are variations of the read-alouds and storytelling hours that often include discussions and presentations by the children themselves, as well as summer reading programs. For middle-school kids, there may also be book talks, summer reading programs, creative writing seminars, drama groups, and poetry readings. The more you read, the more you learn! In addition, the library is a place to find information and help with schoolwork. Your school library may offer some of these services as well.
Both bravery and courage are acts of valour and imply a certain strength and fearlessness. There is, however, a subtle difference in meaning between the two words. Courage comes from the French word coeur, meaning heart. It is a quality of character that allows someone to carry through with a difficult premeditated plan of action.
Bravery, on the other hand, comes from the Spanish word bravado, meaning a single or spontaneous act of valour. It is not planned, but rather a kneejerk reaction that often occurs within a crisis.
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.
A virus is a malicious software program that infects computer files or hard disk drives and then makes copies of itself. Many activities that kids do online can leave computers vulnerable to viruses. E-mail attachments are a common means of distributing viruses, but viruses can also be downloaded when you share files and open instant message attachments. In order to keep your computer safe, never open an e-mail attachment you haven’t requested.
Send an e-mail to friends to confirm that they meant to send you an attachment. Also, you can configure your instant messaging program so you can’t receive files from other users. Never download any program without checking with a parent first. You can protect your computer by always running up-to-date firewall software, by running antivirus software regularly, and by periodically scanning your computer for spyware or other unwanted software and immediately removing it.
Anteaters are slow-moving mammals with long snouts and claws and no teeth. If you can image it, a giant anteater can grow a tongue up to 2 feet (0.60 meters) long! The anteater uses its long tongue to investigate anthills in South America’s tropical dry forests, rain forests, and savannas.
It sticks its long, sticky tongue down the anthill, twirls it around, and scoops up a mouthful of ants. Anteaters can eat mouthful after mouthful of ants—up to 30,000 per day! It also eats termites and other insects.
The inability to hear, or deafness, can occur for many reasons. Some types of hearing loss result from something blocking sound as it travels from the outer ear to the eardrum and the tiny bones in the middle ear. Other types of loss arise from damage to or a defect of the inner ear or the auditory nerve, which is the nerve that carries sound signals from the inner ear to the brain. Deafness can happen as a result of disease, including severe ear infections, or it can be inherited, with the deafness being apparent at birth or sometimes showing up years later. Injuries and accidents also account for many cases of deafness.
Extremely loud noises, like those that come from an explosion, can cause deafness, though that loss of hearing is sometimes temporary. People who work in noisy factories or those who are frequently exposed to very loud music can also develop hearing loss over time. Many people gradually lose some or all of their hearing when they reach old age, but some of those types of hearing loss can be overcome by wearing a hearing aid, which makes noises like speech or music louder.
The greenhouse effect describes a warming phenomenon. (In a greenhouse, closed glass windows cause heat to become trapped inside.) The greenhouse effect occurs when a planet’s atmosphere allows heat from the Sun to enter, but refuses to let it leave. A good example of the greenhouse effect can be found on Venus.
There, solar radiation penetrates the atmosphere, reaches the surface, and is reflected back into the atmosphere. The re-radiated heat is trapped by carbon dioxide, which is abundant in Venus’s atmosphere. The result is that Venus has a scorching surface temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius). The greenhouse effect can also be found on Earth and in the upper atmospheres of the giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Most plants have leaves, even if they do not look like leaves. For example, blades of grass are really leaves. Mushrooms and other fungi do not have leaves, and seaweeds and lichens do not have leaves. Seaweed, a type of algae, also does not have flowers or roots. As an underwater plant, it usually clings to stones, shells, and rocks with its holdfast, a part of the plant that looks like roots. Unlike other plants that feed through their roots, seaweed takes its nutrients from the water in which it grows.