Series – The Flowerman – Issue 005

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Series

Issue 004

“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!”

“He?”

“It has stamen only,” Tula said, pointing to the flower. “The root structure is unlike anything… wah?!”

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Series – Nitro! Frog – Issue 004

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Series

Issue 003

Gloria patted Nitro on the shoulder.

“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.

“Cooool.”

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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.

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Science – Prehistoric Times – What Was the Archean Period?

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Prehistoric Times

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
Archean PeriodThe period of time between 4 billion to 2.5 billion years ago when life may have begun on earth
Greenhouse GasesGases like carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet
ZirconA very tough crystal that forms as magma or lava cools
Sedimentary RockRock formed by sand and other small particles as they settle beneath the water
ErosionThe process of water or wind wearing away rocks or soil over time
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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.

Science Facts
Did you know that about 37% of methane in the atmosphere comes from cows? They should really cover their mouths when they burp!
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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
Single-celled OrganismsLiving creatures whose bodies are made of just one cell
ArchaeaVery tough single-celled organisms. Maybe the first things to ever live
Anaerobic BacteriaBacteria that don’t need oxygen to live
PhotosynthesisThe process some living things use to make food from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water
ChemosynthesisThe process some living things use to make food from rocks and minerals
Proterozoic PeriodThe time period from about 2.5 billion to 541 million years ago
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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.

Science Facts
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!

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Flash Fiction – Antsy

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Zippy Flash Fiction

“Now boarding Stalk 147! Now boarding Stalk 147!” the Conductor announced.

Bingham grabbed his bags and climbed aboard. He always said he’d “get off this nowhere dandelion one day!” and today was the day. He waved his antennae to the other ants and was gone with the wind.

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Blog – Prehistoric Times

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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:

ArcheanPermian
ProterozoicTriassic
CambrianJurassic
OrdovicianCretaceous
SilurianPaleogene
DevonianNeogene
CarboniferousQuaternary

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.

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Flash Fiction – Matteo the “Mouse”

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Zippy Flash Fiction

Inspired by: September 17: Flash Fiction Challenge

On a little island in a big ocean, there lived a family of brown mice. There was a papa mouse, a mama mouse, six little mice, and… Matteo. Matteo always felt a little out of place. For one thing, he didn’t look like other mice. He had dark spots around his eyes, his hair was blondish brown, his toes were too grabby, his tail was too wrappy, his snout was too big, and his nose was too pink. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Matteo wasn’t a mouse. He was a mouse opossum. But he didn’t know that.

Science – The Elements – Helium

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What is an Atom?

The Elements – Hydrogen

What is Helium?

Helium is the second element on the periodic table, and the second lightest element in the universe. It has two protons, two electrons, and two neutrons.

Helium gets its name from the Greek word “helios”, which means “sun”, because it was first discovered surrounding the sun!

HeliumHEE-lee-uhm
Atomic Number2
Atomic Weight4.003
Type of MatterGas

Helium is a gas at room temperature, and it has no color or smell. There isn’t much helium on Earth because it’s so light that it floats off into space. Jupiter’s atmosphere has a lot of helium. In fact, it actually rains helium on Jupiter!

How was Helium Discovered?

Pierre Janssen first discovered helium in 1868. While watching a total solar eclipse in India, he noticed a yellow glow around the sun. When heat or electricity runs through an element, it will glow a certain color. The element glowing yellow around the sun was helium!

An atom of Helium

In 1889, William Hillebrand put a mineral called uraninite in acid. It made a gas as it dissolved. That gas was helium. He didn’t know that though!

Finally, in 1895, Sir William Ramsay did a similar experiment. He wasn’t looking for helium, but he found it! This was the first time that helium was discovered on earth.

Fancy Science Words
Total Solar EclipseWhen the moon passes between the earth and the sun and completely covers the sun
UraniniteA mineral made up mostly of uranium and oxygen with some helium, lead, and other elements
Particle AcceleratorA machine that smashes atoms and particles together at high speed so they can be studied
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What is Helium Used for?

Helium is usually collected from natural gas. It is used to make party balloons, weather balloons, and blimps float! Particle accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, get really hot, so they use liquid helium to keep them cool. Helium is also used in car airbags to make them inflate quickly.

Science Facts
Did you know that Helium is a noble gas? Noble gases don’t react with other elements, so they don’t combine with them. Helium atoms don’t make bonds with other atoms, but they aren’t lonely. About a quarter of the atoms in the universe are Helium!

In the next article, we will learn about Lithium. Don’t forget to charge your batteries!

Short Story – Lemon Laws – Cereal Juicer

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To unlock the full story, please consider supporting my efforts with a small donation. Thank you!

“Over here, Sheriff! We got another one,” Deputy Barry said.

Sheriff Lemon’s handlebar mustache twitched as he looked down at the sidewalk. Applesauce. Applesauce everywhere. Lemon’s bushy gray eyebrows lowered into a look of disgust. It didn’t matter how many times he saw it, this kind of thing always turned his pulp.

“Doesn’t matter how many times I see it, this kind of thing always turns my pulp,” Lemon said. “Any evidence?”

Deputy Barry shook his head.

“Same as last time, Sheriff. And the time before that. And the time before that. This guy does a thorough job of covering up his tracks.”

Sheriff Lemon sighed heavily.

“Alright. Go over it one more time, Barry. I’ve gotta go make a call.”

***

Lemon sat down behind his desk and reached for the phone. He paused, leaned back in his chair, and rubbed his lemonhead. A zesty scent filled the room. Lemon sighed, sat forward, and slapped his desk before picking up the phone. After a few rings, someone picked up on the other end.

“Mango,” the voice answered.

“Mango, it’s Lemon. How’re things goin’?”

“Can’t complain.”

“How’s the family?”

“Expanding at an exponential rate. How’s the Missus?” Mango asked.

“Just as sour as ever! Hahahaha!”

“Hahaha! …So, what’s the real reason you called?” Mango asked…

Continue reading “Short Story – Lemon Laws – Cereal Juicer”

History – Culture – Great Zimbabwe

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Quick Fix History

Tucked away in the interior of southern Africa lies the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe. These ruins were once the bustling capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe.

Quick Fix FactsGreat Zimbabwe
LocationZimbabwe
PeriodAround 1000-1450 CE
PopulationUpwards of 18,000
SizeAbout 3 sq mi (7.7 sq km)

The word “Zimbabwe” means “Houses of Stone”. A fitting name since many houses, temples, and walls were built from blocks of granite. One set of ruins, known as the Great Enclosure, protected the king’s palace and boasted a massive outer wall made up of over 100,000 tons of granite!

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The farmers, craftsmen, and artisans of Great Zimbabwe lived in sophisticated round houses made from daga, a building material of clay and gravel.

Quick Fix FactsThe Great Enclosure
Height35 ft (10.7 m)
WidthUp to 17 ft (5.2 m) at the base
Length830 ft (253 m)

Gold, ivory, soapstone carvings, and ornaments of precious metals were among Great Zimbabwe’s exports, which supplied the merchants of the Swahili and helped to drive Indian Ocean trade. Chinese stoneware and glazed dishes, Persian painted bowls, and colored glass from the Middle East have all been found among the ruins of Great Zimbabwe!

Great Zimbabwe is just one of hundreds of similar ruins that are spread over an area of more than 270,000 sq mi (nearly 700,000 sq km) in modern day Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, and South Africa. These magnificent ruins are a lasting testament to African ingenuity and craftsmanship!

Who, what, or where will we discover next?