I’d like to introduce a new series of educational articles that I call Historical Geographic. In this series, we will be covering a wide range of geographic locations, explaining geography terms, and learning a little about the history around each place.
This series will cover well-known locations, like the Nile River and Mount Everest, and introduce some places that may be new to you, such as Salar de Uyuni and the Giant’s Causeway. As always, each article will be written at around a Grade 5 reading level.
I hope you discover some new and exciting things about our amazing planet!
“Tula! Thank goodness. Give me a hand,” Triff said.
Rows of water tanks filled the hydroponics lab. A system of heated pipes fed warm water and nutrients from above, misting a veritable jungle of plants.
Crest loosened his collar, trying to acclimate to the sudden shift from the cold sterile hallway to the humid laboratory. Triff hurried toward a shallow tank, unwrapping the creature. An arm fell limply from the folds of the lab coat. Something dropped from its hand and skittered across the floor.
“I hope it isn’t too late…” Triff said. She gently placed the flower in the water, propping it up against a thick pad of water hyacinth.
Tula examined the giant flower.
“Incredible! He is by far the largest example of Passiflora Incarnata I’ve ever seen!”
“It has stamen only,” Tula said, pointing to the flower. “The root structure is unlike anything… wah?!”
Lithium is the third element on the periodic table. It has 3 protons, 3 electrons, and 4 neutrons. Lithium gets its name from the Greek word “lithos” which means “stone”.
Type of Matter
Lithium is the first element on the periodic table to be a solid at room temperature. It is also the first metal and has a shiny silver color. Lithium is so light that it can float on water! It would be a bad idea to put pure lithium in water though. Lithium explodes when it touches water!
How was Lithium discovered?
In the 1790s, José Bonifácio discovered a new mineral called petalite in Sweden. He noticed that the rock burned bright red when he threw it in a fire. It burned red because the mineral contained lithium. But he didn’t know that!
Johan August Arfvedson tested petalite in 1817 and figured out that it contained a new metal. He called it “lithium”, probably because it was discovered inside of a stone. He wasn’t able to find a way to separate lithium from the petalite though.
In 1855, two scientists, Robert Bunsen and Augustus Matthiessen, discovered a way to separate pure lithium from minerals. Now it could be studied!
Fancy Science Words
A mineral that contains lithium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. It can be clear, yellow, pink, or gray
An atom that has more or less electrons than it has protons
What is Lithium Used For?
The main use for lithium is in rechargeable batteries. Since lithium batteries are so light, they’re great for smartphones, tablets, and laptops. They’re even used in electric cars!
Lithium is used in the glass of huge telescopes to keep lenses and mirrors from getting too hot. It’s also used in grease to keep machinery cool and running smoothly. Some medicines are made with lithium too.
Lithium batteries work by storing extra electrons. When you charge your battery, electricity flows into the battery and adds electrons to the lithium atoms. This turns the atoms into ions. The atoms move from the positive side of the battery to the negative side. When you use your phone, the lithium atoms move from the negative side of the battery to the positive side. The extra electrons leave the atoms and power your phone!
That’s it for lithium. Next time, we will learn about beryllium. It’s going to be out of this world!
“You just need to practice and level-up your skill. Then you can catch bigger fish. It was pretty neat how you made that net though.”
Nitro nodded resolutely. He was determined to do just that.
“I WILL be a Master Fisherfrog!” he declared and leapt into the ocean for more bait.
Gloria, Dexter, Penelope, and Lance perched on the limbs of a giant, twisty, driftwood log, the remains of a massive mango tree. Nitro continued fishing vigorously as they discussed which skills they would choose.
Congratulations! FISHING is now level 2!
Everyone looked up as Nitro approached with a huge froggy grin on his face and a sea urchin in his hands.
“Thank you, thank you,” Nitro said, bowing.
“Good job, Nitro!” Gloria exclaimed. “I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU! OH MY GOODNESS! IS THAT A SEA URCHIN?!”
Nitro drew back a bit. Gloria tapped on the touchscreen of her RIBBETS.
Gloria uses COOKING!
There was a static buzz as a campfire appeared on the sand followed by a metal rack and stand. Nitro leaned forward to inspect it.
There was another buzz as a heavy iron cooking pot materialized over his head. Bonk! Nitro rubbed the lump growing on the back of his head.
“Sorry, Nitro. I should’ve warned you,” Gloria apologized. “Let me have that urchin.”
Gloria dropped the urchin into the pot. Everyone watched as the pot bubbled. Suddenly, a cloud of steam puffed up around the pot. When the steam cleared, a single bowl of soup sat on the sand where the fire and pot had been.
Obtained Urchin Soup!
“Wow, it worked!” Gloria exclaimed. “I LOVE COOKING!”
Nitro bent down and picked up the bowl.
“Mmmmm! Gloria, this smells delici… Ahh, that’s hot!”
Nitro squealed and tossed the bowl into the air. Everyone watched in silence as it sailed through the sky.
A little way down the beach, a small fiddler crab looked up at the bowl as it flew towards him. He tucked his eye stalks in and pulled one large claw over his head. The bowl landed upside down with a boiling splash over the unfortunate crab. The frogs looked on in horror. Nitro finally broke the silence.
“I’d hate to be that guy. Know what I’m sayin’?”
Suddenly, the ground began to shake! The bowl exploded, and a cloud of sand was launched into the air. An ominous whooshing and battle music came from the RIBBETSs.
“I don’t like the sound of that,” Dexter squeaked.
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, popped another cashew into his mouth as the turtle taxi lumbered slowly beneath him. He reached into his coat pocket to retrieve a buzzing cell and shouted to the cabbie before answering it.
“Can you pick up the pace! I have a board meeting at the Log in twenty minutes.”
He flipped open the phone.
“Talk. What? No! Sell! Now!” He slapped the phone shut. “Pfft, analysts.” Then to the turtle, “Can’t this thing go any faster?”
Archibald Portobello, acting CEO of DeCOM Enterprises, sighed and popped another cashew into his mouth.
The Archean (ar-KEE-uhn) Period started about 4 billion years ago and lasted until about 2.5 billion years ago. That’s a looooooooot of zeroes! It was so long ago, that there isn’t much left to find from that time period. But we do know that life probably started during the Archean, and we’ve found a few fossils of bacteria that may be from that time!
Fancy Science Words
The period of time between 4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago when life may have begun on earth
Gases like carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet
A very tough crystal that forms as magma or lava cools
Rock formed by sand and other small particles as they settle beneath the water
The process of water or wind wearing away rocks or soil over time
What Did the Earth Look Like?
Since there isn’t much left over from the Archean, it’s hard to say exactly what the earth looked like then. The atmosphere was probably thick with greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. There were probably continents then, but they would have been smaller than today. We do know that there were oceans of water because 4-billion-year-old zircon crystals have been found in sedimentary rocks.
How does that show us that the earth had water? Well, zircon crystals need extreme heat and pressure to form. They probably formed after giant meteorites hit the earth and turned the land into oceans of lava. Water erodes, or wears away, rocks and creates sand. When sand settles together underwater, it can form a sedimentary rock. So, for zircon crystals to get into sedimentary rock, they had to be eroded away by water.
Did you know that about 37% of methane in the atmosphere comes from cows? They should really cover their mouths when they burp!
What Was the Climate Like?
The sun was much younger during the Archean than it is now. That means that it wouldn’t have been as hot, and there would have been less light. Because the sun was so much weaker, the earth should have frozen solid during that time, but it didn’t! We aren’t totally sure why, but one theory is that all of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere kept the planet warm. Actually, the earth was much hotter than it is today. The temperature was probably somewhere between 130-175° F (55-80° C)!
Fancy Science Words
Living creatures whose bodies are made of just one cell
Very tough single-celled organisms. Maybe the first things to ever live
Bacteria that don’t need oxygen to live
The process some living things use to make food from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water
The process some living things use to make food from rocks and minerals
The time period from about 2.5 billion to 541 million years ago
What Lived Then?
There wasn’t much oxygen, and it was really hot, so only single-celled organisms could live during the Archean. Things like archaea (ar-KEE-uh) and anaerobic (an-uh-ROH-bic) bacteria. Archaea are kind of like bacteria. Some can make food by using photosynthesis or chemosynthesis. Archaea are really tough and can survive in harsh environments. Anaerobic bacteria don’t need oxygen to survive, which is why they would have been able to live during the Archean Period.
There are millions of different types of bacteria on earth. Some can make you sick, and some can make you healthy! They help you digest food, and they turn dead leaves into soil. Bacteria are everywhere!
That’s it for the Archean Period. Next time, we will talk about the Proterozoic (proh-ter-uh-ZOH-ic) Period. Life on earth is about to get more interesting!
Hello Reader, Writers, Teachers, and Children! Our earth is somewhere around 4.5 billion years old. And living things have existed on it for maybe 3.5 billion years. But humans have only been around for some thousands of years. Think of all that we’ve missed!
Dinosaurs, mega sharks, giant sloths, huge ferns, and really, really weird critters! New fossils are discovered every day. With each new discovery, we learn a little more about our past. In this article series, we will talk about the following periods and the plants and animals that lived during those times:
The first two sections, Archean and Proterozoic, cover portions of time known as eons. The other sections are periods that fall under the Phanerozoic Eon, which covers the time from 541 million years ago to today.
These articles will be written at about a Grade 5 reading level. I’ll do my best to make them fun and interesting to read at any age!
By the way, did you know that Tyrannosaurus Rex lived during the Cretaceous Period? I guess Cretaceous Park just doesn’t have that ring to it.