History – People – Zheng He and China’s Treasure Fleet


Quick Fix History

Zheng He commanded China’s navy, advised the emperor, traded with distant lands, and explored much of the Indian Ocean. But before he was Zheng He, Explorer Extraordinaire, he was just Ma He.

Quick Fix FactsZheng He
Birth NameMa He
BornSeptember 23 1371 CE
DiedApril 1443 (71 years)
BirthplaceYunnan Province China

Ma He was born into a dangerous time. He spent his early childhood in Yunnan, China, which was controlled by the Mongols. Yunnan province was recaptured by China in 1381 or 1382 CE by the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. At 11 years old, Ma He was taken prisoner and his name was changed to Zheng He. He was sent to serve the emperor’s son, Zhu Di and soon became one of the prince’s most trusted friends. Eventually, Zhu Di became emperor himself, and Zheng He commanded the navy!

Quick Fix FactsThe 7 Voyages of Zheng He
Time Covered1405-1433 CE
Crewup to 27,000

Zheng He was a great explorer, making 7 voyages across the Indian Ocean. Each voyage took about 2 years, and he visited many places including: Vietnam, Java, Sumatra, Sri Lanka, India, the Persian Gulf, Arabia, Bengal, Thailand, the Philippines, the Maldives, Borneo, and the Somali coast in Africa!

Quick Fix FactsTreasure Ships
Lengthpossibly 447 ft (136.25 m)
Width183 ft (55.78 m)
Masts6-9 each 195 ft (59.44 m) tall

The largest ships in Zheng He’s fleet were the monstrous Treasure Ships. They were bigger than a football field! These massive ships carried porcelain, silk, and lacquerware from China to trade for ivory, spices, precious stones, exotic lumber, and in one case, a giraffe! Chinese court officials thought it was a Qilin, a mythical “dragon horse”.

Quick Fix Words
LacquerwareThings like dishes, bowls, and boxes coated with lacquer for protection

Zheng He’s epic voyages of the early 15th century continue to astound and spark the spirit of exploration today!

Who, what, or where will we discover next?


Blog – What Topics Interest You?


Hello Readers, Writers, Teachers, and Children! I have several nonfiction article series planned for the coming months, (I’m stuck at home, what else am I gonna do?) and I’d like to know what topics interest you?

Would you like to hear reviews on literature or analyses of classic books?

Do you want to understand how gravity works or how a tree decides whether to grow leaves or fruit?

Have you wondered what it was like to live in ancient Egypt or why Bluetooth is called Bluetooth? (It’s named after a Viking.)

Let me know your thoughts and interests, and maybe you’ll find a short, easy-to-read article here to answer your questions!

Science – The Elements – What is an Atom?


If you can eat it, throw it, dance on it, or ride it to the moon, it’s made of atoms. Atoms are all around us, in fact, they are us! So, what exactly is an atom?

What is an Atom?

Simply put, atoms are the building blocks of matter. Things that take up space are made of matter. Things like basketballs, toothpaste, and air. Stuff like electricity and heat are energy, but we will talk about that another time.

Fancy Science Words
MatterAnything that takes up space.
EnergyPower, like electricity or heat.
ElementAnything that is made up of only one type of atom.

There are 118 different types of atoms that we know of. When we are talking about just one type of atom, we call it an element. Hydrogen is an element, and so is Oxygen. When you put them together, you get water!

Can Atoms be Split Apart?

Atoms can be split apart. But splitting an atom will change its element. Atoms can also be smashed together. This changes their element too.

Fancy Science Words
Nuclear FissionSplitting atoms apart.
Nuclear FusionSmashing atoms together.

For example, an atom of Uranium can be split apart into an atom of Barium and an atom of Krypton. This is called Nuclear Fission.

When two Hydrogen atoms get smashed together, they turn into one atom of Helium. This is called Nuclear Fusion, and that’s how the sun gives us heat and light!


What are Atoms Made of?

Fancy Science Words
ParticlesSmall parts that make up atoms.
ProtonsA particle with a positive charge.
NeutronsA particle with no charge.
ElectronsA particle with a negative charge.
NucleusThe center of an atom. Made up of protons and neutrons.
Periodic TableA chart listing all of the different types of atoms.

Atoms are kind of like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Jelly is jelly and peanut butter is peanut butter, but when you put them together on bread, you get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Atoms are made up of three parts too. These parts are called particles. The three particles that make up an atom are protons, neutrons, and electrons.

An atom of Helium

Protons and neutrons stay in the middle of the atom. This is called the nucleus. Electrons circle the nucleus, just like the moon circles the earth. Atoms stick together because protons and electrons have electrical charges. Protons have a positive charge, and electrons have a negative charge. This makes them want to stick together like two magnets.

ElementAtomic Number

So, there you have it. Atoms are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and if you stick them together, you can make basketballs and toothpaste. Well… not exactly.

In the next article, we will learn about Hydrogen, the first element on the periodic table. It’s going to be explosive!

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