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Clouds are an interesting topic for kids. Kids always look at the sky and think of clouds. What are they? What do they look like? What are clouds made of? How are clouds formed? Are there types of clouds? What are those types? Do they have names? How do they affect the weather?

Actually, clouds are associated with many exciting facts. Small droplets of water that gather together are called clouds. Clouds have different types. Each type has special characteristics. They look different and have different shapes.

Clouds affect the weather as well. If we look at the clouds in the sky, we can predict if it is a warm sunny day or there is a storm coming. The colour of clouds also has significance. There are 3 levels of clouds: high clouds, middle clouds, and low-level clouds.

What is the definition of Clouds?

A cloud is a white or grey bunch of fine drops of water or ice high in the earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes clouds look white and puffy. Sometimes they are dark and cover the whole sky. Different types of clouds represent different weather conditions. 

How are Clouds formed?

The air always contains water vapor. The amount of water vapor that air can hold is according to the air’s temperature. When air cools, some of the water vapor condenses or forms visible water droplets. The droplets gather around tiny particles in the air. When billions of these droplets come together they turn into a visible cloud.

White Clouds vs Grey Clouds

Clouds are white since they reflect light from the sun. When clouds are so filled with water that they don’t reflect light anymore. In this condition, they are grey clouds.  Also, when there are many other clouds around, their shadow add to the grey or multi-colored grey appearance.

What are the Types of Clouds?

Clouds are often characterized by the level or elevation where they form. There are high, middle, and low-level clouds. Scientists combine cloud characteristics and levels to categorize the ten main cloud types as follows:

  • High cloud: cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus
  • Middle cloud: altostratus, altocumulus, nimbostratus
  • Low cloud: stratus, stratocumulus
  • Vertical: cumulus, cumulonimbus

High Clouds

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus clouds are the most common of the high clouds. They are above 18,000 feet. They are thin clouds formed of ice crystals that are made very high in the sky. They are considered the highest clouds and the temperature at such a height is about 36 degrees. 

Cirrus clouds are usually white and refer to nice weather. When you see cirrus clouds, it usually indicates that a change in the weather will happen within 24 hours. Where these clouds are made, the wind blows between 100 and 150 miles per hour.

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrocumulus Clouds

Cirrocumulus clouds are high clouds that are similar to tiny cotton balls bunched together. They look like small, rounded white puffs that come in long rows. Cirrocumulus clouds usually appear in the winter and represent fair, but cold weather. In tropical regions, they may indicate a coming hurricane.

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Cirrostratus Clouds

They are thin, sheet-like high clouds that often cover the entire sky like a veil, making it appear overcast. These clouds signal that it may rain in the next day or so. They are so thin that the sun and moon can be seen through them. These clouds are most commonly seen in winter. 

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Middle Clouds

Altostratus Clouds

Altostratus clouds are grey or blue-grey mid-level clouds. They are made of ice crystals and water droplets. They are composed in the middle of the sky, between 6,500 and 20,000 feet high. If there are altostratus clouds, the sun is not very visible. Generally, they are a symbol of continuous rain or snow.

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Altocumulus Clouds

Altocumulus clouds are mid-level clouds that are composed of water droplets and look like grey, puffy masses. They are lower than cirrus clouds, but still generally high. They are composed of liquid water, but they don’t often cause rain. If you see altocumulus clouds on a warm, sticky morning, they usually shape in groups.

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Nimbostratus Clouds

Nimbostratus clouds are dark, grey clouds that appear to fade into falling rain or snow. They are so thick that they often stop the sunlight. They often make precipitation that is usually light to moderate. They can float as low as 2,000 meters above the ground, which is pretty low for a cloud.

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Low Clouds

Stratus Clouds

Stratus clouds often look like slim, white sheets covering the entire sky. Since they are so slim, they rarely cause much rain or snow. Sometimes, in the mountains or hills, these clouds look like fog. Light mist or drizzle sometimes drops out of these clouds. 

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Stratocumulus Clouds

Stratocumulus clouds are patchy grey or white clouds that often appear like a dark honeycomb. They can be seen between 2,000-6,500 feet above the Earth’s surface. Most of these clouds form in rows with blue sky appearing in between them. Rain seldom happens with stratocumulus clouds. However, they can change into nimbostratus clouds.

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Vertical Clouds

Cumulus Clouds

Cumulus clouds appear as fluffy, white cotton balls in the sky. They are beautiful in sunsets, and their different sizes and shapes can make them fun to see. These clouds usually form if the weather is nice and it will be a nice day to play outside. These clouds grow upward and they can turn into huge cumulonimbus clouds, which are thunderstorm clouds. 

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Cumulonimbus Clouds

Cumulonimbus clouds form on hot days if warm, wet air rises very high into the sky. They are huge, tall clouds that are dark on the bottom. From far away, they appear as huge mountains or towers. They are connected to heavy rain, snow, hail, lightning and even tornadoes. 

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Most clouds can be divided into 3 groups: high clouds, middle clouds, and low clouds. This is according to the height of the cloud’s base above the Earth’s surface. Other clouds are grouped according to their unique characteristics like forming alongside mountains (Lenticular clouds) or forming beneath existing clouds (Mammatus clouds).

Lenticular Clouds

They are lens-shaped orographic wave clouds that are made when the air is stable and winds blow across hills and mountains from the same or similar direction at varying heights through the troposphere. They are curved layers, such as flying saucers.

If stable moist air rises over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves can be composed on the downwind side. Lenticular clouds are sometimes composed at the crests of these waves. On the ground, they can cause very strong gusty winds in one place, while air is only a few hundred meters away.

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Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds

They appear as breaking waves in the ocean. After the wind blows up and over a barrier, such as a mountain, the air continues flowing through the atmosphere in a wavelike pattern. These clouds are generally seen near sunrise or sunset. They also appear if the bottom of the clouds is cooler and the air above is warmer.

Complex evaporation and condensation patterns produce the capped tops and cloudless troughs of the waves. These clouds are composed if there is a variance in the wind speed or direction between two wind currents in the atmosphere.

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Mammatus clouds

Mammatus clouds are low hanging bulges that fall from cumulonimbus clouds. Mammatus clouds are usually connected to severe weather. They produce very strong storms.  These clouds are usually composed during warm months and are formed by descending air in the cloud. They are sometimes described as appearing as a field of tennis balls or melons.

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Contrail Clouds

Contrail clouds are a trail of condensed vapor produced when a Jet aircraft flies at high altitudes. The mixture of hot exhaust gases from the engines with cold outside air produces ice crystals to form on particles in the exhaust.

A contrail evaporates quickly if the relative humidity of the surrounding air is low. When the humidity is high, a contrail may stay seen as cirrus-like clouds for many hours.

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Cloud Activities

Let’s check some activities for kids to see clouds:

In this activity, kids see clouds form if they breathe on spoons. When warm, moist breath touches the cool spoon, water vapor condenses and changes into a cloud–or water you can see.

Types of Clouds activity – Describe and give examples of the four types of clouds – cirrus, cumulus, stratus and nimbus. you need crayons and cotton balls to make each one!

Conclusion

A cloud is a huge collection of very small droplets of water or ice crystals. The droplets are so tiny and not heavy that they can float in the air. Clouds are often described according to the level or elevation where they form. They are categorized as high, middle, and low-level clouds. They have an important role in controlling Earth’s climate. 

Nature is full of fascinating colours that seem appealing to the eye. The sky is one of nature’s elements that seems to extend so far over the universe for eternity. It changes colours throughout the day depending on the position of the sun or the lack thereof. But, have you ever wondered what makes the sky blue when the bright sun seems to be that yellowish orange colour?

Well, there is a great answer to why the sky changes its colours and what makes it blue in the morning. Some may say that the reason behind the blue sky is the reflection of the colour of the ocean back into the sky. But, we’re telling you, they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the sky is blue in every place even above the desert or in the middle of the city where there are no oceans.

This is true the other way around. This means that the water of the ocean is not actually blue, but it is transparent with no colour at all. Yet, the blue colour of the sky reflects over the ocean, making it appear blue as well. This also explains why the ocean does not maintain its blue colour at night.

Going back to our main subject, the colour of the sky, here are some interesting facts that you will enjoy learning about the sky and why it is blue.

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Why is the Sky Blue?

Every morning, we look up to the sky and admire its raw beauty and appreciate the fluffy clouds floating around. You keep thinking what could that thing that makes the sky blue be! Well, the short answer is because of how the sunlight interacts with the outer atmosphere. Let’s take things a little slower here and start with the meaning of an atmosphere.

The atmosphere is a layer of gas that goes around our planet Earth, making all kinds of creatures able to survive by giving us, and them, oxygen. It also keeps us warm by protecting the Earth from dangerous light rays. This atmosphere is sort of a transparent blanket that keeps human beings, animals, and plants safe. 

The sunlight is actually made up of the seven colours that are found in the rainbow spectrum. When this sunlight hits the atmosphere, gases and other small particles start carrying the light rays, spreading them all around the air. These colours have waves that make them appear more clearly, the smaller and shorter, the more the light appears. In that sense, we get that the blue light has shorter and smaller waves than all the other colours and that is why we see the sky blue.

Sky Changes Colour Throughout the Day

Obviously, the blue sky doesn’t seem to stay around all day long. You notice the colour starts changing at different times throughout the day. We have already learned that the interaction of the sun with the outer atmosphere is what makes the sky blue in the morning. But, what are the other factors that determine the colour change all the way through the night?

Well, the colour of the sky changes according to the position of the sun from the Earth. In simpler words, there are all seven colours of the rainbow beaming around us. The blue colour scatters the most when the sun is still up in the morning. 

When the sun starts to settle down, the light of the sun reaches the Earth at a sharp angle. At this point, the red colour is the one to be scattered the most while the blue colour starts stirring away from Earth. You can also start seeing shades of red, orange, and pink until it completely comes down. 

When the sun goes away, no sunlight goes through our atmosphere, so the only colour we get to see at that time is black. It gets dark on our planet when the sunlight is no longer invading our outer layer of gases.

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Fun Experiment to Demonstrate the Colour Changing of the Sky

You can easily do a little experiment to see how the interaction between the sunlight and the atmosphere. Besides, all the needed supplies are simple and ones that we all have in our households. You are going to need a glass container or a cup, water, full-fat milk, and a flashlight inside a dark room.

Fill your glass container with water but make sure to leave a little room at the top for adding the milk. Now pour some milk over the water and mix them together. The ratio between the milk and the water can be alternated, so feel free to keep playing and experimenting and see the difference.

Take your full glass container into a dark room and use the flashlight over it. If you hold the flashlight close to the glass, you will notice a blue hue. This explains that the sky turns blue when the sun is the closest to the Earth, for the blue colour doesn’t travel for long distances. Now, try taking your flashlight a little further from your glass and notice the colour difference. You will realise that the colour starts turning into an orange or red shade.

The Colour of the Sky on Other Planets

Given the results of that little experiment, it is now easier to guess that the sky doesn’t have the same colours on all of the planets. The position of the sun is what determines the colour of the sky on every planet, especially that each planet has atmospheres different than ours on Earth, which affect the colour of the sunlight interacting with it. 

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Mercury

Starting with the closest planet to the sun, Mercury. Although the sun is much closer to Mercury than it is to Earth, the sky on Mercury is always black. That is because Mercury has no atmosphere, so there are no gases or small particles to scatter the light over the planet. 

Venus

Venus comes second after Mercury in terms of closeness to the sun. It receives much more sunlight than our planet does, given its shorter distance. However, Venus has a very thick atmosphere, blocking 80% of the sunlight and only 20% gets to the surface. This percentage makes the sky  orange on Venus.

Earth

Just like we have been explaining, the sky on Earth changes colour throughout the day, being bright blue in the morning and utterly dark black throughout the night. The position of the sun changes the shade we see in the sky, given the interaction of the sunlight with the atmosphere. 

When the sun is at its peak and up in the sky, the blue colour is emitted as the distance is shorter, and blue has short wavelengths. As the sun starts going the down and being positioned on Earth with an angle, the colour starts changing into the shades of red and yellow, reaching the pink colour before it goes totally dark.

Mars

Mars happens to have close properties to those of the Earth. The colour of the sky on Mars appears bright red during the day while it goes blue when the sun starts to go down. It is just the opposite of what happens on Earth because the atmosphere contains thick layer of dust particles. Those particles absorb the blue light that emits through the day, and makes the sky appears more of a bright red.

Jupiter

Jupiter comes fifth in the order of the planets in accordance to the sun. The interaction of the sunlight with its atmosphere makes the sky blue, just like Earth. However, since Jupiter sits a little further from the sun, the blue light appears dimmer than that on Earth. Through the night, the sky has a light tan colour that seems to be a little yellow.

Saturn

The atmosphere around Saturn has the same properties, particles, and gases of that of the Earth. For that reason, it is quite easy to guess that the sky on Saturn scatters blue light during the morning.

Uranus and Neptune

Uranus and Neptune happen to be icy planets and the largest as well. The atmospheres on these both planets are, like Earth, blue in colour. However, they both have shades of blue, given the different quantities of methane gas presented. Thus, that makes the sky on both of them appear blue mixed with a little hue of green. 

Pluto

The outer atmosphere of Pluto is very thin, but it still scatters light. Like most of the planets, the colour of the sky is blue. However, Pluto lies a little far from the sun, so the bluish shade of the sky appears a little hazy, given the interaction of the sunlights travelling from afar with the thin atmosphere.

Learn about the Biggest Animals on Earth

What do you know about the biggest animals on earth? Do you know who animals are and what types of animals they are? Animals are classified into vertebrates and invertebrates. Vertebrates are animals that have a skeleton and backbone, while invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone such as insects, spiders, crabs, corals, and worms. Vertebrates are classified into five groups: amphibians, birds, reptiles, mammals, and fish. Amphibians are cold-blooded and have moist and smooth skin. Birds have feathers and wings, and lay eggs in nests. Reptiles are cold-blooded like amphibians but they have scales. Mammals are warm-blooded and they have hair. Fish have a backbone, they live underwater and breathe oxygen in their gills.

Do you know what the biggest animals in the world are? Did you know that not all of the biggest animals in the world are living on the land? Do you know where the biggest animals live? You will find all of these answers in this article. The biggest animals in the world aren’t land animals because of their enormous size, they can struggle because of their size. The biggest animal ever lives in the sea. Let’s know what are the biggest animals in the world.

The Blue Whale “Balaenoptera Musculus”

Blue Whales are considered the biggest animal on Earth and are bigger than dinosaurs. They are also known as Balaenoptera musculus. Blue whales are baleen whales and marine mammals, which can live between 80 and 90 years in the wild. They are carnivorous animals that feed on other animals. You can find them in all major oceans except the Arctic Ocean.

The blue whale has a long and slender body, a wide head, huge flippers, a sturdy tail, and a small dorsal fin. It reaches a length of 98 feet “29.9 meters”, and weighs between 196 long tons and 219 short tons. The blue whale’s body has various shades of greyish-blue on its back and seems lighter underneath. A male blue whale is called a bull, a female blue whale is called a cow, and a young blue whale is called a calf. There are about five currently recognized subspecies of blue whales.

Facts about Blue Whale

  1. Blue Whale’s tongue weighs as much as an elephant.
  2. Blue Whale’s heart is too big, it may seem like the size of a car.
  3. Blue Whale’s blood vessels are so vast, that you can swim through them!!!!
  4. Some Blue whales have a yellowy-coloured underside, which results in the nickname “sulphur bottom” whales.
  5. Blue whales may swim alone or in groups of two to four.
  6. You can find groups of blue whales together in areas where there’s lots of food obtainable.
  7. Blue Whales are not only the biggest animals in the wild, but they are also the loudest vocal sound of all. They communicate with each other by making a series of super-loud vocal sounds.
  8. Although blue whales are huge, they eat tiny shrimp-like crustaceans called krill. Blue Whales have baleen instead of teeth, it is a fibrous material used to filter what they have eaten. During eating, the whale lets a big amount of water and krill inside its mouth. The blue whale after that pushes the water through its baleen plates, which trap the krill to be swallowed fast.
  9. At birth, baby blue whales weigh about 4,000kg and measure about 8 meters long. They grow quickly, suckle on their mother’s fatty milk, and gain about 90 kg each day.
  10. As the reason for being heavily hunted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their population has declined by 70-90 per cent in the past 150 years. There are about 10,000-25,000 left in the wild, so these kinds of whales are today classified as an endangered species.
  11. Text To Speech

Ostrich “Struthio camelus”

Ostrich is considered the largest bird on Earth, but it can not fly because it is too big and heavy. It is also known as Struthio camelus, which is native to Africa. They are found only in open countries in Africa, they circle African savanna and desert lands. This bird can run at speeds of up to 70 km/h over long distances. Also, their powerful legs are considered defensive weapons that help them to pack a powerful kick on would-be predators.

Males are taller and heavier than females, they can weigh up to156.8 kilograms (346 pounds) and can be over 2.8 meters (9 feet tall). Meanwhile, females can weigh up to 109.7 (242 pounds) and can be over 2 meters (6 feet tall). It can live between 30 to 40 years. They are omnivores.

Facts about Ostrich 

  1. They can survive without water for days by generating water internally, they extract water from vegetation.
  2. Get most of their water from the plants they eat.
  3. Ostrich kicks can kill a human or a predator like a tiger. Each two-toed foot has a long, sharp claw.
  4. Ostriches live in small groups, and ostrich males dominate these groups. Males mate with the group’s dominant hen and also sometimes mate with others in the group. All of the group’s hens lay their eggs in the dominant hen’s nest. Both males and females take turns incubating the enormous eggs and caring for their chicks.
  1. Ostriches’ eggs are considered the largest of any living bird, but they are more oval than others eggs. But n living animals, dinosaurs produce larger eggs. Each one of these eggs weighs as much as two dozen chicken eggs. It may weigh 1522 g, measuring 6 inches in length and measuring 5 inches across.
  2. Ostrich hens can lay one or two eggs a week during their breeding season.
  3. After egg hatching, the chicks are about the size of chickens. Chicks leave the nest with their parents a few days after hatching. Approximately by six months, they may become the size of their parents. Around three or four years old, ostriches reach sexual maturity and can mate.  
  4. Ostriches not only primarily eat plants, seeds, and roots but also eat lizards, insects, snakes, lizards, rodents or other creatures available in their habitat.
  5. Ostriches are unable to build nests in trees like other birds, so they dig holes in the ground to lay their eggs. Ostriches regularly rotate the eggs, to make sure that the eggs are evenly heated by sticking their heads into the nest.
  6. Ostriches have a long neck that helps them to see well for long distances and keep an eye out for predators.
  7. Ostriches’ eyes are five times bigger than other land animals and also bigger than the human eye. Ostriches’ eyes is measuring 5 centimetres in diameter from front to back. They have prominent eyes and sweeping eyelashes. 
  8. Ostriches also swallow sand, and small stones, which help smash food in the gizzard.
  9. The male is mostly black but has white plumes in the wings and tail, on the other hand, females are mostly brown. The head and most of the neck, reddish to bluish, are lightly downed; the legs, including the powerful thighs, are bare.
  10. Ostriches have special feathers that are loose, soft, and smooth.
  11. Adult male ostriches’ feathers are mostly black but have white plumes in the wings and tail, while adult females have brownish-grey feathers.
  12. Ostriches are hunted for several reasons such as feathers, skin, meat, eggs, and fat.

Saltwater Crocodile “Crocodylus porosus”

The Saltwater Crocodile is considered the largest and scariest living reptile. They are also known as Crocodylus porosus. They weigh up to 1,000 pounds and can grow to over 7 meters in length. You can find these prehistoric crocodiles around salt and brackish waters in parts of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.

However, the Saltwater Crocodiles are excellent swimmers, they also have often been spotted far out at sea. The Saltwater Crocodiles are carnivores, they feed on anything they can get their jaws on such as monkeys, water buffalos, wild boars, and sharks. They explode from the water without any warning, they hit the victim with their powerful tails, after that they gasp, drag it back in, and hold it under until the animal drowns.

Facts about Saltwater Crocodile

  1. Saltwater Crocodiles can live up to 70 years old.
  2. Saltwater Crocodiles are considered the largest living reptile in the world and the biggest crocodile species in the world.
  3. Saltwater Crocodiles males are bigger than females, with a weight of 1,000 kg ( 2,205 pounds), and a length of 7 meters (23 feet) long, while females weigh about 150 kg (330 pounds), and length of 3 meters (10 feet) long.
  4. Adult saltwater crocodiles have the greatest bite pressure of any animal in the world, they have 66 teeth!!!!!
  5. Saltwater crocodiles communicate by using different sounds, including hissing, barking, chirping, and growling.
  6. Like other animals, Saltwater Crocodiles come ashore to warm up in the sun and to nest.
  7. Saltwater Crocodile females lay a clutch of approximately 50 eggs, They look over their nests to protect their eggs from predators.
  8. The sex of the Saltwater Crocodile is determined by temperature!!!!!!! Yeah… warmer nests produce mostly males, while cooler nests produce mostly females.
  9. Saltwater crocodiles have been widely hunted by people for many reasons including their eggs and meat and skin. Their skin is used as a material for shoes, bags, and other goods.
Crcocodile Facts for Kids

Chinese giant salamander “Andrias davidianus”

The Chinese giant salamander is considered to be the largest amphibian in the world. It is also a species of salamander, which is also known as Andrias davidianus. They are found around mountain streams and massive lakes in central, southwestern, and southern China.

According to research, Chinese giant salamander populations are less than 50000, and they are critically endangered so the numbers have reduced a lot due to habitat destruction, human over-consumption, and water pollution.

These odd-looking creatures are so big, that they are up to 180 centimetres long, and weigh in at 70 kilograms. They are carnivores, they feed on insects, freshwater crabs, earthworms, lizards,

and shrimps.

Their bodies are rough and porous, with a long, thick body, four stubby limbs, and a blunt head with tiny eyes. Chinese giant salamander’s eyes have no lids behind their nostrils and they have very poor eyesight. They also have a long tail that may make up over half of their body length. Their body colour is mottled from brown to dark red to white and orange.

Facts about Chinese giant salamander

  1. The Chinese giant salamander has an ancient genetic lineage of almost 170 million years.
  2. The Chinese giant salamander lives its entire life underwater, it absorbs oxygen through its skin because it has no gills like other sea creatures.
  3. The Chinese giant salamander females lay up to 500 eggs at breeding time. The eggs hatch after 50-60 days. The male is considered the safeguard and they care for the eggs after fertilization. The larvae develop in streams after about 30 days and begin to eat small insects, fish, and worms.
  4. Chinese giant salamanders are considered luxury food items in China.
  5. Chinese giant salamanders’ body contains acidic skin latex that holds a great medicinal value.
  6. Chinese giant salamanders like to be left alone and hidden, they are solitary creatures.
  7. Chinese giant salamanders can live up to 60 years or more.
  8. From August to September is the breeding season for these creatures.
  9. Chinese giant salamander size may be as humans’ size.
  10. Chinese giant salamander babies attain maturity at the age of five or six.
  11. Chinese giant salamanders have sensory nodes that extend along the sides of the body from head to tail, which allows them to track prey. To detect their prey they sense the vibrations in the water.
  12. Chinese giant salamanders are mostly active at night, they spend the day hidden in underwater caverns.
  13. Chinese giant salamanders’ bodies excrete the type of sticky fluid from their skin that is poisonous to their prey.

Capybara “Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris”

Do you know who are rodents? Rodents are mammals with long and sharp front teeth, which are used for gnawing. The capybara is considered the world’s biggest rodent but the capibara has no tail like other rodents. They are also known as Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. They are found in every country in South America apart from Chile. They are found in Central and South America, near swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes and streams. They also have even been spotted in Florida.

It may look so much like a giant guinea pig and is also known as Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. The capybara may weigh up to 65 kg kilograms (143 pounds), stand around 61 centimetres high at the shoulders (2 feet tall) and 1.2 meters long (4.6 feet). They have big, barrel-shaped bodies with rather square heads. Their long, thick hair is varying shades of golden or reddish-brown.

They are herbivores that only eat plants such as grasses and water plants. They are semi-aquatic, they spend much of their time in or around the water. They have webbed feet with big claws that help them not only to swim but also to get around their favoured watery terrain, and walk on the slippery rainforest floor.

Facts about the Capybara

  1. The capybaras’ thick fur helps to dry their bodies quickly after they leave the water and also helps to retain heat.
  2. Capybaras are related to rodents that are mammals in the order Rodentia. There are around 40% of all mammals are rodents such as rats, hamsters, squirrels, and mice.
  3. Their pale brown fur provides camouflage in the murky water from any predator. When Capybaras sense a threat, they quickly dive into the water. They have many predators such as jaguars, pumas, ocelots, green anacondas, and harpy eagles.
  4. Capybaras like to eat their poop. It sounds gross, but it provides them with more protein and nutrients from their food.
  5. Capybaras are lazy animals especially when they are by the water. They communicate with clicking, purring, barking noises and whimpering.
  6. Capybaras’ sharp front teeth never stop growing.
  7. Capybaras are sociable animals that like to live in groups of 10-20.
  8. They may live for around 8-10 years in the wild.
  9. Guarani Indians call capybara “Master of the Grasses”.

The Green Anaconda “Eunectes murinus”

The Green Anaconda is considered the largest snake in the world. This huge snake is also known as Eunectes murinus, which means “good swimmer” in Latin. This is a semiaquatic snake found in tropical South America, mainly in the tropical rain forests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins around swamps, marshes, slow-moving streams, and rivers. It is a member of a family of snakes that is called constrictors.

This reptile weighs up to 250 kilograms (550 pounds), and some anacondas have been measured at up to 9 meters long (30 feet), which may be longer than a London double-decker bus. Female anacondas are slightly larger than males. Their long bodies give them a wide place to swallow all kinds of prey.

They are a carnivore, they feed on deer, fish, alligators, birds, and anything else they can swallow. The green Anaconda eyes and nasal openings are on top of their heads that help them to lay in wait for prey while remaining nearly completely submerged and they also help them to see and breathe while they are in the water. They may live up to 10 years in the wild.

Facts about the Green Anaconda

  1. Although the green anaconda is a member of a family of constrictors, they are not venomous snakes, which means they don”t kill prey by biting them and delivering the venom. They wrap around their prey’s body and squeeze it tightly until it stops breathing!!!
  2. They have stretchy ligaments that allow them to open their mouth wide enough to swallow prey such as rodents, caiman, wild pigs, large fish, birds, turtles, capybara, deer and so on! They can go weeks without food after a big meal.
  3. During pregnancy, the females produce eggs inside their bodies. These eggs develop for 8-12 weeks and then hatch inside their bodies. Female anacondas give birth to as many as 80 tiny snakes, each one 12-24 inches in length. They keep their babies safe until they became able to swim.
  4. Green anacondas babies are about 2 feet long when they are born. 
  5. There are other kinds of anacondas but they are smaller in sizes such as dark-spotted anaconda, yellow anaconda and Bolivian varieties.
  6. Although They are so heavy and big on land, they stealthy and sleek in the water.
  7. The green anacondas have four rows of teeth on the upper part of their mouth. They have between 90-100 teeth, which is may vary from species to other species of anaconda.

Komodo Dragon “Varanus komodoensis”

The Komodo dragon is considered the largest and heaviest lizard on Earth. This kind of reptile is also known as Varanus komodoensis. Komodo dragons are found in a few Indonesian islands of the Lesser Sunda group, including the islands of Komodo, Rintja, Padar and Flores.

It is a dangerous animal, which grows up to 3 meters long and weighs about 91 kilograms. The Female Komodo dragons are smaller than the males. These lizards are a carnivore, they hunt many preys such as large water buffalo, pigs, carrion, small dragon, and deer.

Facts about Komodo Dragons

  1. Komodo dragons are not dragons, they are lizards.
  2. Komodo dragons may live up to 30 years in the wild.
  3. Komodo dragons can walk up to six miles per day, but they prefer to stay close to their home.
  4. Komodo dragons females lay about 30 eggs. After laying eggs, they bury them until they hatch eight months later.
  5. use their sharp claws, and serrated to eviscerate their prey. Their teeth may look like shark teeth. They can hunt anything and eat it such as deer, pig, carrion, and even large water buffalo.
  6. Komodo dragons have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, bowed legs, scaly skin, and muscular tails.
  7. Komodo dragons have venom glands that are loaded with toxins. When Komodo dragons catch prey and bite down with their serrated teeth, they cause huge gaping wounds, which help the venom to raches their bodies through it. These toxins cause lower blood pressure, and massive bleeding, prevent clotting and induce shock.
  8. Komodo dragons use their tongues instead of noses to smell which helps them detect their prey from miles away.
  9. They also have an impressive sense of hearing and sight.
  10. Komodo dragons’ tails play a large role in their length and power. Their tails are as long as the rest of their bodies and their tails are strong enough to take down a pig.

Japanese Spider Crab “Macrocheira kaempferi”

Do you know who are arthropods? Do you know who is the largest arthropod? Arthropods are invertebrate animals having an exoskeleton such as crabs, spiders, scorpions, and insects. Japanese Spider Crab is the largest arthropod, which is also known as Macrocheira kaempferi. The Japanese spider crab is also a species of marine crab, which is considered the only member of the genus Macrocheira.

This kind of marine crab is found around Japan, especially on the Pacific side of the Japanese islands, Honshu and Kyushu. They can also be found in the Sagami, Suruga, Tosa bays, and the coast of the Kii peninsula. The Japanese spider crab is an omnivore, it eats both animals, and plants, and may also eat dead animals. They scrape the ocean floor for plants and algae while others pry open the shells of molluscs.

The Japanese spider crab’s bodies are only 15 inches long. They have 8 legs and 2 arms that are used for feeding, each arm is 1.5 meters long. Their leg span reached up to 3.9 meters long and weighs up to 42 pounds. Like other species of crabs, they are orange in colour, with white spots on their legs, cream-coloured undersides and spiny, oval carapaces that blend in with the rocks on the ocean floor. They may live up to 100 years.

Facts about Japanese Spider Crab

  1. The arthropod family includes lobsters, crabs, spiders, scorpions, and insects.
  2. The Japanese spider crab has the largest leg span of any arthropod on Earth.
  3. The Japanese spider crab is a cute and gentle crab towards others, although it has some ferocious appearances.
  4. The Japanese spider crab has an armoured exoskeleton that helps protect it from larger predators such as octopuses. It can also use camouflage by blending into the rocky ocean floor or adorn its shell with sponges and other animals.
  5. The Japanese spider crab is found up to the depths of 750 meters.
  6. The Japanese spider crab female can lay up to 1.5 million eggs per season, and these eggs will hatch within 10 days.
  7. The Japanese spider crab newborns are small and have transparent bodies.
  8. Males are larger than females, they have larger chelipeds and legs that hold their claws, but females have wider bellies to hold their eggs.
  9. They never hunt, they almost search for plants or dead animals.
  10. In Japan, fishing for these kinds of crabs is prohibited during their breeding season to allow their numbers to increase.

Titan Beetle “Titanus giganteus”

The titan beetle is the only member of its genus “Titanus” and is also one of the largest insect species in the world. It is the largest beetle in the Amazon rain forest also known as Titanus giganteus. If we talk about the largest beetle in the world, the Titan beetle is considered one of two candidates in the world with the other being the Hercules beetle.

These beetles are native to South America, they can be found in Brazil, Peru-Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Guianas. They can reach a length of up to 18cm long and weigh up to 100 grams. Both males and females are similar in size. Most of the beetles’ bodies are black (thorax, head, mandible, antennae), except across the abdomen this species has chestnut colouration. They have three legs on either side.

Facts about Titan Beetle 

  1. Titan Beetles require old-growth trees to feed on so they are threatened by habitat loss.
  2. Titan Beetles have a strong mandible at the front of their head which can be used to break up wood. This powerful mandible may snap a pencil in half.
  3. Titan Beetles have two antennas, which are protruded from their heads.
  4. Titan Beetles have sharp spines, which help to scare off predators that may seek to attack them.
  5. Titan Beetles only feed on decaying wood. They are refused to eat the fruit and sugar water made available to them.
  6. Most Titan Beetle males have attracted to lights at night, so they are easily caught, however, the females are rarely attracted to lights.
  7. The Titan Beetles can fly but flight requires high energy and as such is rarely undertaken, males may fly in search of a female to mate.
  8. Adult Titan beetles are primarily nocturnal which means that they are active at the night.
  9. The Titan Beetles expel air through the breathing holes which are located on the side of the body to hiss as a warning to their predator. Although they will hiss if they feel any predators, they’re not aggressive.
  10. Titan beetles refused to eat the fruit and sugar-water made, which are available to them.
  11. People are sometimes mistaken for a form of a Titan beetle with a cockroach.
  12. During hot and humid weather, Titan beetles fly around looking for mates by following the scent of pheromones. Pheromones are airborne chemical attractants that are produced for mating purposes.

Giraffe “Giraffa camelopardalis”

Giraffes are considered the biggest land animal by height, they reach up to 6 meters tall. They are also the largest ruminant on Earth. These kinds of mammals belong to the genus Giraffa. They are found in the dry savannas of Africa in open plains and woodlands. They also are known as Giraffa camelopardalis.

Giraffes are herbivores, which means that they mainly eat plants. They have a huge appetite, they spend most of their time eating and guzzle up to 45 kg of leaves and twigs every day. They have distinctive spotted pattern and their skin can range from light tan to nearly black depending on where it lives and what the giraffe eats. Giraffe’s shape appearance is between both a leopard and a camel.

Facts about Giraffes 

  1. Giraffes’ tongues are a half meter long that help them pull down leaves growing way up high.
  2. Giraffes’ necks alone can reach near two 2 meters long.
  3. Giraffe females
  4. Female giraffes become pregnant at 5 years old. They have a 15-month gestation period, and their babies are born approximately about 2 meters tall.
  5. Giraffes love eating leaves, fruits, and flowers of woody plants. They only need to drink once every few days because they get most of their water from their leafy meals.
  6. Giraffes can run as fast as 35 miles an hour over short distances, and can also cruise at 10 mph over longer distances.
  7. Although giraffes are very tall, they can’t see in all directions to spot predators.
  8. These social animals are live in groups, which called towers. These groups are consists of about 15 members led by an adult male and some females and young males.
  9. Male giraffes fight by butting their long necks and heads, which is called necking. These kinds of fights aren’t always dangerous.
  10. Female giraffes give birth while they stand up. Giraffe babies are quick to get on their feet and after thirty minutes they can stand, and in only a few hours they can run with their mothers.
  11. Giraffes may live 25 years in the wild and may live longer to reach 40 years old in captivity.
  12. Giraffes have skin-covered knobs called “Ossicones” that are located on the top of their heads. These knobs helped to protect the giraffes’ heads when they fight.
  13. Giraffes sleep less than two hours a day, they may sleep standing up for short time or sleep with their feet tucked under them and their head resting on their hindquarters.
  14. Giraffes face many threats that may lead to the loss of their numbers, including the hunt for their meat, tails, and hides. Also, their habitat may face threats due to logging for firewood.

Wandering Albatross “Diomedea exulans”

Wandering Albatross is considered the largest wing-spanned bird in the world, with a wingspan of up to 3.7 meters wide. They also are the largest seabird of the family Diomedeidae. It is also known as the snowy albatross or white-winged albatross. Its scientific name is Diomedea exulans. They are found in the Southern Ocean, around sub-antarctic, Antarctic, and subtropical waters.

The Wandering Albatross body’s colour is all-white, with a pale pinkish-yellow spot on the side of its head, plus greyish-black wings, and pink feet. An adult albatross’s body length is about 3.7 to 4.6 feet with an average weight of around 15 to 26 pounds. They are carnivores, they primarily feed on small fish, jellyfish, cephalopods, seal carrions, and crustaceans.

Facts about Wandering Albatross

  1. The Wandering Albatross’ massive wingspan allows them to fly for long distances without any need to flap their wings. They can fly at a speed of up to 23 mph.
  2. The Wandering Albatross land only to breed and feed.
  3. The Wandering Albatrosses are monogamous and usually mate for life. They breed once every two years.
  4. The Wandering Albatross feed at night on small fish, cephalopods, squids, and crustaceans.
  5. The Wandering Albatross may live for over 50 years.
  6. When the Wandering Albatross is looking for a mate, they spread their wings and wave their heads.
  7. The Wandering Albatross make many kinds of noises, such as screams, whistles, and grunts.
  8. The Wandering Albatross reach the maturity age of 11 to 15 years.
  9. The females only lay one egg between mid-December and early January, this egg hatches within 11 weeks. The size of an egg is “10 centimetres”. Their baby is called a chick. Newborn takes about 8 to 9 months for a chick to fledge.
  10. They spend most of their life travelling through the air, they only land on the ground for mating and eating.
  11. These species are usually seen solitary but they can be seen in groups during the breeding season.
  12. They belong to the class of Aves in the animal kingdom.
  13. They have a wonderful wing which has a shoulder lock feature so that a sheet of tendon keeps the wing locked when it is fully extended. This plays an important role in preventing them from having to flap to remain airborne.
  14. The Wandering Albatrosses population slowly increase because they have a slow breeding rate.
  15. They are cute birds, and they haven’t been aggressive.
  16. The Wandering albatross’s stomach is more than 30% of its body mass, it can digest up to 3.2 kg of prey, with a volume of 3-4 litres. Their acidic stomach makes the food they eat break down quickly.

Sperm Whale “Physeter macrocephalus”

The Sperm whale is considered the largest toothed mammal on Earth. They are part of the “Odontoceti” which means toothed whales. The Sperm whale is also known as Physeter macrocephalus, that’s a Greek word means that means blowhole. This kind of whale is found in all of the world’s oceans, from the equator to the edge of the pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. It prefers deep water.

The males are larger than the females like other odontocetes whales. Males can measure in at 20 meters and weigh up to 112,000 pounds. On other hand, females are much smaller, measuring 13 meters and weighing 35,000 pounds.

The Sperm whale is dark-grey to black with white patches mostly on the belly, and a large, square-shaped head. It has a small lower jaw at the top part of the head that has about 36-50 conical teeth, while there is no growth of upper teeth. It has many rounded bumps on its back and paddle-like flippers. It has no dorsal fin, it may look like the Beluga whale and Narwhal.

It is achieved its name because of its large head, which inside its head a spermaceti organ filled with spermaceti oil, that oil solidifies as the water gets colder. On account of this, the sperm whale can dive deeper than any other whale.

They are the largest carnivore in the world, they feed on large and medium-sized squid, rays, crustaceans, skate, and octopus. They are greyish-blue or brown with white patches mostly on the belly. They can live 70 years old and may longer.

Facts about Sperm Whale

  1. The Sperm whale has a wonderful head that weighs it down and gives it the power to swim against the pressures of the deep ocean.
  2. The Sperm whale can hold its breath for 90 minutes.
  3. The Sperm whale can dive over a kilometre to hunt and eat.
  4. The Sperm whale is recognized easily by their huge heads and prominent rounded foreheads.
  5. The Sperm whale can eat thousands of pounds of fish and squid per day.
  6. The Sperm whales are spotted in pods (groups) of 15 to 20 whales. These pods include females and their young, while males may move solo or move from one group to other.
  7. Sperm whale females remain in tropical or subtropical waters all year long, while males migrate.
  8. These kinds of whales are vocal and emit a series of “clangs” that may be used for communication. They generate the world’s loudest animal sounds.
  9. The sperm whale’s head accounts for around 1/3 of its total length.
  10. The sperm whales have been known to sleep for short times.
  11. Baby Sperm Whale is called a calf, it is over 13 feet long at birth.
  12. The Sperm Whale’s brain is the largest in the world, weighing on average 7 kilograms. It is 5 times heavier than that of humans.

Polar Bear “Ursus maritimus”

The polar bear is considered one of the largest mammals in the world, it is also known as “Ursus maritimus” which means in Latin sea bear. It’s too hard to compare the world’s biggest carnivore between the Kodiac bear and the polar bear. And it’s very hard to pick the winner as size-wise they’re so similar!!! But the polar bear is the winner in the end.

A polar bear is a member of the Ursus genus, which is found in Canada, Russia, Alaska, Greenland, and some Northern islands in Norway. The adult polar bear male weighs around 900 to 1,600 pounds and stands around 3 meters tall. It spends most of its life on sea ice in the freezing arctic waters. Polar bears can live from 25 to 30 years.

Polar bears are carnivores, they primarily eat seals. They hunt by swimming beneath the ice, but the cold climate makes it harder for polar bears to hunt, so they must scavenge for other food that is less nutritious. They have a white, hollow fur coat, which keeps them warm in cold weather. They have a blue tongue!!!

Facts about Polar Bear

  1. Polar bears love hunting seals on the ice.
  2. The polar bear is one of the most endangered animals on earth because of habitat erosion.
  3. Polar bears are good swimmers, they may swim hundreds of miles from land.
  4. Polar bears use their large front paws to paddle.
  5. The young polar bear is called a cub, while the female is called a sow.
  6. Pregnant polar bear in fall makes a den on earth and snowbanks for their babies. It gives birth to one to three cubs. In spring, the mother protects its cubs during emerging from her den and teaches them how to hunt.
  7. The polar bear is the most carnivorous member of the Ursus genus.
  8. Polar bears are considered marine mammals due to spending most of their life in the water.
  9. Polar bears’ diet mainly consists of ringed seals and bearded seals.
  10. Polar bears can live up to 25 years and may more than that to 43 years of age in captivity.
  11. Adult polar bears have 42 sharp teeth.
  12. Polar bears are good at swimming, they can swim up to six miles per hour.
  13. Polar bears have good smell sense, they can smell their prey up to one mile away.
  14. Polar bears are currently identified as vulnerable, they may extinct in the wild.
  15. Polar bears’ white fur acts as camouflage in the snow that is good for hunting.
  16. Polar bears have paws that provide them with a good grip on the snow and their black skin protects them and soaks up the sunshine that keeps them warm.
  17. Polar bears’ bodies have managed to adapt in many ways to be able to survive in cold conditions.
  18. They also have oily fur that is great for keeping the heat in and moisture out.
  19. They have large feet, which keep their balance, distribute their weight and increase their grip on the ice.
  20. Global warming is considered the biggest factor that threatens polar bears to become extinct due to the melting and shrinking of ice.
  21. About only 900 polar bears are remaining in the wild.

Killer Whale “Orcinus orca”

Killer Whale is considered the largest animal in the Delphinidae family of oceanic dolphins. Killer whales are found in all of the world’s oceans, especially in the Arctic and Antarctic and in areas of cold-water upwelling.

They are distinguished by their black-and-white colouration with a white eyespot located just above and roughly behind each eye. It also has a bright white lower jaw, streamlined body, large dorsal fin and a sleek.

They are also known as Orcinus orca. They are carnivorous predators, They mainly feed on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales. They also eat seabirds and squid. They may reach 8 meters long and weigh about  5,400 kg. They can live between 50 and 60 years in the wild, females have been known to live more than that.

Facts about Killer Whale

  1. Killer Whale can eat up to 230 kg of food a day.
  2. Killer whales have no predators, and they hunt anything from fish to adult whales.
  3. They are considered the largest carnivores in the world.
  4. A group of killer whales is called a pod, a male killer whale is called a bull, a female killer whale is called a cow, and a young killer whale is called a calf.
  5. Their pods may have up to 40 individuals.
  6. They may know as “the wolves of the sea”.
  7. Females reach reproductive maturity at about 14 to 15 years.
  8. The gestation period of females is about 17 months, they may give birth to calves every three to ten years.
  9. Killer whale calf weighs as much as 350 pounds.
  10. A killer whale is a toothed whale.
  11. Killer whales’ distinctive patterns are a form of camouflage that helps them to hide their presence when in search of food.
  12. They have sharp teeth that can be ten centimetres long.
  13. An adult killer whale may eat 100-300 pounds of food a day.
  14. Killer whale uses sophisticated biological sonar called echolocation, which helps them to locate and discriminate objects underwater.
  15. Killer whales have a tail or flukes used for swimming, which makes them move in an up-and-down motion to accelerate.
  16. The killer whale’s dorsal fin keeps it from rolling side to side while swimming. They also have pectoral flippers that are located behind the head. These flippers are used for steering, stopping, and turning.
  17. Like humans, killer whales breathe through their lungs so they need oxygen. But they didn’t use their nose for breathing like humans, they use their nostrils, which are called blowholes that are located on top of their heads.
  18. They are warm-blooded like other mammals.

Giving a presentation means providing information about a certain topic usually in front of other people. Teachers present different topics all day, day in and day out. We know that good teachers are the ones who can explain lessons in a simple, easy way that kids understand. Similarly, presenters must deliver information in a clear, educational, and engaging way so people can understand and even enjoy listening to them.

Why presentation skills for kids are important

There are multiple reasons why teaching presentation skills for kids is incredibly important; an essential outcome of the school experience. When kids learn how to present in front of the whole class, it allows them to build confidence and self-esteem, and become more aware of themselves in terms of thoughts and emotions.

Furthermore, learning how to give a presentation from a young age makes kids more comfortable with public speaking which becomes absolutely necessary in high school, college, and in their professional life as well.

Here are some benefits that come along when kids learn and practise presentation skills.

Presentation skills for kids help them communicate with others

On top of all the advantages of presentation skills is kids becoming able to communicate well with others.

As the name suggests, giving a presentation surely involves speaking. Those who can give very good presentations are able to express their ideas in a clear way that is easily understood by those around them.

For kids, self-expression is quite crucial. When kids learn to explain things well in a presentation, they inherently develop an ability to properly express themselves and their needs. This helps them feel comfortable among others. It also makes it easy for others to help them if the kids face any problems since they will be able to express themselves in a good way.

As a result, kids become better communicators and more up to approaching other kids and developing friendships with them.

Increase self-confidence

We cannot also forget about how being able to speak in front of others enhances kids’ self-confidence. When they see themselves able to communicate a message to others and clearly explain the topic they are presenting, they feel accomplished and confident.

Receiving positive feedback and encouragement from their teachers and colleagues also contributes to increasing kids’ self-esteem.

Take on responsibility

Then, responsibility.

When kids have the assignment of giving a presentation about a certain topic, they learn to be responsible for the whole project from start to end. Sure, they can be guided by either their parents or teachers or both. But they are the ones who will do the actual work, from determining the points they will talk about, deciding on which information to include, preparing the slides, and adding appropriate pictures that support the presentation.

Become organised

In some way, presentations teach kids to be organised and manage their time properly. If they only have a few minutes to talk about a topic in front of the class, they learn to include the most important and relevant information and avoid fillers. 

As a result, kids become more precise and clear about what they are saying. They learn to use the most accurate and appropriate vocabulary to express their thoughts. They avoid talking too much about unrelated things that may confuse whoever is listening to them. On a wider scale, presentations help kids become more exact when expressing their thoughts and emotions.

Prepare well

Another plus point that comes along with learning presentation skills is that kids learn to prepare well for the topic they will present. First, they have to plan the topic and choose which and how much information to include that must address the topic and fit the duration of the presentation.

Then, kids do the research either by using their school textbooks, going to the school library, or browsing the Internet to look for the necessary resources. This definitely helps them in the long run since they will need to have good research skills in high school and college.

Breaking down presentation skills

People might think that giving a presentation is only standing in front of an audience and talking about some topic. While it does include standing and talking, there are so many other skills that speakers should be able to demonstrate in order to communicate their message clearly.

In fact, working on developing these skills and paying attention to them while giving a presentation is also a great way to tame the fear usually associated with having to speak in front of an audience and feel more comfortable and approachable.

Some of these are verbal communication techniques which involve using words. Others comprise forms of no-verbal communication techniques. These include anything one can do to convey messages without talking or making sounds. 

Let’s discuss these skills one by one.

Eye contact

We make eye contact with people when speaking to them. To be more correct, eye contact involves two people looking at each other at the same time. It is a great form of non-verbal communication that can tell a lot about people.

In a presentation, all eyes are usually set on the speaker so in return, he/she should look back at the audience; look them in the eye. That seems quite obvious and deceptively easy. We do this all the time when we speak to other people but it gets quite hard when it comes to presentations.

When people feel nervous while giving a presentation, they unconsciously forget to look at the audience. Some people might fix their sight on only one person which might translate into them ignoring the rest of the audience. Others feel so nervous that they only look at the slides or the material they are presenting, which again makes the audience feel the speaker is not talking to them.

But eye contact is important.

Come to think of it, looking others in the eye means we are giving them attention. Our time and concentration are currently dedicated to what they are saying. And vice versa.

Have you ever not felt annoyed when you are speaking to somebody and they are not looking at you? Looking directly at someone’s eyes tells them how much we care about their thoughts, their emotions, and their words. 

In other words, making eye contact with your audience allows them as well as you to focus more on the topic being presented. It also makes it easy for them to understand it and even remember it afterwards. If you are looking away from the audience, they will inevitably look away too and drift off into their thoughts and forget about the presentation.

Body language

This is another technique of non-verbal communication.

The most straightforward definition of a language is a set of words that express and carry information. We can define body language in the same way but with tiny tweaks.

A body language is a set of body movements, posture, hand gestures, and facial expressions that each means a different thing. For instance, we know that nodding the head means yes and shaking it means no. High fives mean “bravo” and firm handshakes mean that you are happy you met someone or are giving them a grateful thank-you for something they offered you.

Besides making eye contact with the audience, your body language is a bonus technique to make yourself understood easily, feel relaxed when talking, and make your audience focus better on the topic you are presenting. Interestingly, people seem to pay more than 80% of their attention to body language than to actual words, according to some studies. 

That said, using body language in presentations should not be hard since we already use body language every day in our life. We spontaneously start to move our hands, arms, and heads and make different postures and gestures to show others clearly what we want to say.

However, one has to be very careful with body language. Just like there are good and bad words, there are body language gestures that convey positive or negative messages. Learning what every movement means, which of them to use, and which to avoid highly contributes to the success of the presentation.

Here are some important body language behaviours to use while giving a presentation.

Smile

When somebody smiles at us, we sure cannot help but smile back at them. Another thing that comes along with a smile is the strike of happiness that we feel at such a moment. That is why smiling is the most important thing in the body language toolbox.

Smiling at a presentation will help you feel relaxed. Having your audience smile back at you, you will also feel more confident. Besides, smiling must involve your eyes and not just your lips. This will show you are happy and excited to present the topic.

Move

Standing still in one spot throughout the presentation is pretty uncomfortable both for the speaker and the audience. On the contrary, moving from right to left on stage or classroom makes you feel relaxed, confident, and comfortable. This will be easily communicated to your audience as well which will inevitably increase their level of concentration on what you are saying.

Just make sure that you do not move too much back and forth. This will distract the audience instead of making them concentrate. You should also avoid moving fast or droopingly; otherwise, you will make the audience feel lazy. Instead, you should straighten your neck and lift your chin to show a good posture.

Nod

We know that nodding the head means yes or conveys agreement with what someone is saying. Nodding on what a member of your audience says means you are highly interested in what they say. Besides, you should keep eye contact with them and listen to them without interruptions.

Body language gestures to avoid when giving a presentation

There sure are some gestures that give negative messages about the person using them. Here are some of the body language gestures that you must avoid when giving a presentation as most of them suggest insecurity, shyness, discomfort, defensiveness, surprise, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, disinterest, and nervousness.

  • Crossing arms
  • Putting arms in the pockets
  • Raising eyebrows
  • Nodding too much 
  • Moving around so much

If you are not quite sure what to do with your hands after avoiding the gestures above, you can point at the slides or material you are presenting, clasp your hands above the belly button, or keep them by your side.

Voice tone

We can tell so many things about how a person is feeling only by listening to their voice. We know that nervousness and fear have voices totally different from happiness and excitement.

Mumbling suggests a person is uncertain about what they are saying. On the contrary, confidence can be easily shown in a strong, deep voice. Speaking too fast means you are nervous or quite excited while speaking too slow and pausing every now and then means you are either lazy or uncertain.

A presenter’s nightmare is having the audience get bored, yawn, drift off into thoughts, or fall asleep, which is the worst case ever. To avoid that, you need to make sure your audience is attentive and focused during the entire presentation. This can be achieved by varying your voice tone as well as speed. 

One way to illustrate how important it is to vary the voice tone is the bedtime story. Kids usually fall asleep as their parents tell them a story in a monotone. The brain easily gets used to the same tone and loses interest gradually.

If your presentation is monotonous, you have already lost your audience.

So anyone giving a presentation should learn how to change the pace of their speech and the volume of their tone according to the information they are explaining. Besides maintaining the audience’s attention, a varied voice tone helps the presenter feel more relaxed and engaged with the topic.

Other things that presentations involve

It is true that the components we just mentioned help make a presentation successful but they are performed during the presentation. On the other hand, there are multiple other things that also play a vital role in the success of the presentation. The only difference is that they come before the day of the presentation.

To give a good presentation, presenters need to take care of:

1. Researching

2. Planning the topic according to the period of the presentation

3. Preparing the topic and deciding on the information they will include

4. Preparing a hook—a short story or question at the beginning of the presentation to catch the audience’s attention.

5. Preparing visuals, PowerPoint or paper slides, and using a mix of words and pictures

6. Practicing the topic while performing the skills we discussed above

How parents can help kids improve their presentation skills

While kids can learn presentation skills basically at school, parents can also help their kids practise and improve their presentation skills at home. Here are some tips that can help.

1. Encourage kids to speak

Kids will not be able to give a presentation unless they learn how to speak and express themselves clearly. That is why parents should encourage their kids to have conversations.

Asking kids questions about what they did at school or how they found the new teacher is a great way to encourage them to speak and engage in a conversation. In addition, giving comments and asking questions when appropriate motivate kids to elaborate.

Parents also need to show support and interest in what their kids are saying. Making eye contact, smiling, listening carefully without interruptions, and telling the kids encouraging words show them their opinions are highly interesting and worth listening to.

2. Let kids present to the rest of the family

As parents pay attention to what their kids are saying, they should be able to recognise what topics the kids are mostly interested in and usually bring up. Then they can ask the kids to talk about one of these topics in front of the rest of the family.

Helping kids choose what they will say in the presentation teaches them to prepare well. Writing the main points down on paper and practising saying them out loud beforehand will make them feel more confident.

Parents may also emphasise their kids applying the presentation skills from making eye contact, to using the correct body language and varying their voice tone.

3. Show support

As rehearsals teach kids to speak clearly with a good pace, giving effective feedback in a nice way will make the presentation even easier and easier for kids.

Kids usually feel confident when they receive credit for something they did. Parents should support their kids by telling them encouraging words and appreciating the efforts they are doing.

The more kids feel their parents believe in them, the more confident they will be not only while presenting but even in everyday situations as well.

Bringing it all together…

Presentation skills are important for kids as much as they are for university students and job candidates. They teach kids to communicate with others, better express themselves, prepare well, and be responsible for something. Furthermore, they increase their levels of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Presentation skills involve many components that are highly important to better communicate with the audience and deliver the message. For instance, eye contact means looking at all the audience while presenting and not at only one person. Body language must show confidence and increase engagement while a varied voice tone is intended to keep the audience attentive and focused.

Parents can help kids practise presentation skills first by encouraging them to speak while carefully listening to and making eye contact with them and giving them credit when it is due. Then step by step, parents can teach their kids the different skills and give them the chance to practise them by presenting in front of the whole family. 

Water Everywhere

Since the origin of the Solar System, it has been pretty clear that Earth is quite distinctive among all other seven planets. Earth is different not because it is blue as there are two other near-twins blue giants known as Uranus and Neptune but because of other interesting factors.

Neither is Earth unique because it is rocky as there are three other rocky planets in the inner Solar System. However, Earth is quite a different planet because it is the only planet that is known for having liquid water.

And liquid water is what makes life on Earth possible.

There are many factors that influence the existence of liquid water on Earth. One of these factors is the Earth’s distance from the Sun. Since we are not too close to the Sun, water does not vaporize. And because we are not too far away as well, water does not freeze. Perfect distance, liquid water.

One might wonder, how did water originate on Earth? Well, that is a very legitimate question that agonized scientists for so many years. According to them, there are some theories that try to explain that.

Some theories claim that water was delivered to Earth by other objects that hit our planet billions of years ago. Others hypothesize that it was the hydrogen on Earth that allowed the formation of water.

Whatever the way in which water existed on Earth is, the result is the same. We have water. A lot of water. 

With only less than one-third of the Earth’s surface being land, the remaining area, 71%, is covered in water. This huge area of water is classified into two main things: saltwater which occupies 97% of all the water on the planet and freshwater with a percentage of only 3%.

It is not just water that makes life on Earth possible. It is the freshwater that we need for drinking and growing crops.

Bodies of water

Water on Earth does not exist in one big body but rather in multiple bodies that differ in characteristics. Some bodies are connected to one another; others are independent. Some water bodies are exclusive to saltwater or freshwater while others can be both saltwater and freshwater.

In general, there are six main types of water bodies: oceans, seas, gulfs, bays, lakes, and rivers. That being said, there are other types that are classified based on different subfeatures. Some of these main classifications are fixed and others are interchangeably used, which can make it quite confusing as we will see later.

Oceans are vast bodies of saltwater that exist between continents. For example, the Pacific Ocean which is also the largest and deepest ocean on Earth separates Asia and The Americas.

Seas are smaller saltwater bodies than oceans. They are partially surrounded by land but still connected to other seas or oceans. Take for example the Red Sea. It is surrounded by land from almost all sides but connects to the Arabian Sea through the tiny Gulf of Aden.

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Gulfs and bays might seem the same but they are not, according to scientists. Both are surrounded by land from three sides. The fourth side, however, is connected to a water body; sea, ocean, or even rivers and lakes.

Telling the difference between gulfs and bays is pretty challenging. Some say the difference is the size. They claim that gulfs are much larger than bays. This is true when comparing the Gulf of Mexico to the San Francisco Bay, for instance.

However, such a definition does not work for the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Suez in Egypt. The Bay of Bengal is very large compared to the small Gulf of Suez.

Others say that the only difference between gulfs and bays is defined based on the size of the opening which connects them to other water bodies. If the opening is very wide, it is called a bay. If the opening is narrow, it is a gulf.

Similarly, this definition does not apply to the example we have mentioned earlier. We can clearly see that the opening of the San Francisco Bay is quite narrow; however, that of the Gulf of Mexico is pretty wide.

We can just conclude that there does not seem to be quite a definite rule to distinguish between gulf and bays.

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Then we have lakes. Lakes are surrounded by land from all sides. They are completely independent of seas and oceans. Lakes can be of freshwater such as Lake Victoria in Africa. They can be of saltwater too like the Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA. 

That being said, sometimes, for some reason, lakes are referred to as seas though they are a lot smaller than seas. For example, the Caspian Sea in Iran is in fact the largest lake in the world. Still, it is called a sea even though it is completely surrounded by land and disconnected from other oceans. Similarly, the Dead Sea in Jordan is originally a lake.

It is worth mentioning here that the water in all the bodies mentioned above is still. Although it rises and falls due to the wind, it does not go anywhere else. It does not flow. When water flows from one end to another, the water body is hence called a river, a stream, and sometimes a canal.

Rivers are large naturally-formed streams of water that flow from one end downhill to another. All rivers usually flow into other water bodies such as seas, lakes, or even other rivers.

All the water bodies we previously discussed are mostly characterized by size. Yet, rivers are rather characterized by lengths. The longest river in the world is the River Nile which flows through Africa followed by the Amazon River in South America.

Now, let’s look exclusively into two distinct water bodies.

Seas

The term sea is used by scientists to describe large bodies of saltwater we know as oceans. However, the same term is also used to describe smaller bodies of saltwater which scientists call marginal seas to differentiate them from the ocean.

Seas are called marginal due to their main characteristic of being on the margins of oceans. Seas are enclosed by lands from almost all sides but they are connected to oceans as well through straits. Seas are also less deep than oceans. 

Seas play a vital role in influencing the weather of Earth. In fact, they help keep our planet warm by distributing the heat all over the globe. Here is how it happens.

The heat from the Sun causes the seawater to evaporate and turn from liquid water to water vapor. Water vapor increases the humidity level in the air and forms clouds. Clouds are delivered to every other place on the planet by the wind and cause rain. 

Another reason that makes seas important is that they provide us with a medium through which we can move by ships from one land to another far one. This influences trade and facilitates moving goods between countries.

Additionally, seas are abundant with deliciously edible fish. Seashores are good places for recreation, leisure, and enjoying great vacations.

Waves

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One thing that characterizes seas is waves. When the wind blows, it hits the surface of the water and causes water to rise to form waves. The stronger the wind blows, the larger and higher the waves are.

Waves then travel in the sea as the wind pushes them. When the waves travel at the same speed as the wind, they reach their maximum height. Interestingly, the highest wave ever recorded was 19 m. It was measured in February 2013. 

Waves keep traveling from open water until they enter the shallow water. This is when they slow down and grow in height. They keep moving until they break, creating foam, and reach land.

We are all familiar with waves. They are all fun and entertaining. Wave sports such as surfing are also very popular. Everything is good as long as waves are nice and tame. However, when they go crazy, they turn into grave danger to everything on land.

Tsunamis

Scientists call wild crazy waves tsunamis. Tsunamis do not form by wind moving the water surface. Rather, they are formed by extreme events such as underwater earthquakes, meteorite impacts— very large objects hitting the sea from outer space—or volcanic eruptions. Such events raise or lower the sea floor causing water to form waves that move very fast.

While normal wind-generated waves break as they reach land, tsunamis do not. They keep traveling at high speeds until they reach land, flooding everything they find in their way. As a tsunami wave drains back to the sea, it drags things and people with it causing huge destruction.

One of the most destructive tsunamis is that which happened in 2004. It was mainly caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. Such a tsunami caused great destruction in the coastal areas of many countries such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Tides

Among the changes that seawater experiences are tides. Tides are defined as the increase and decrease of water level influenced mostly by the Moon’s gravity as well as that of the Sun and the rotation of Earth. 

Because the Moon is much closer to Earth than the Sun, it exerts a stronger gravitational pull on Earth. This pull creates what scientists call the tidal force. During the time Earth is the closest to the Moon, the tidal force causes the water to bulge out. This means the water level increases. Think of it as if the Moon is pulling the water out. This is called a high tide.

The opposite is also true. When Earth is the farthest from the Moon, the Moon’s gravity is the weakest. So the water level decreases. This is called a low tide. Low tides are characterized by shorelines with water pulled back.

Tides are quite important to Earth for several reasons. Due to the water movement, tides help move the warm water from places near the Equator to the poles where the water is very cold. This mixing of water balances the temperature on the planet and creates more habitable weather conditions.

Some of the luckiest people during times of tides are fishermen. That is because they can catch large numbers of fish in less time because many edible fish species are known to concentrate in areas where the tide is low.

Tides are also used to help clean the environment by generating renewable energy. The rise and fall of water level caused by tides are used to move turbines that generate electricity. 

Water cycle

Though they are saltwater, seas help freshwater to reach us as well as plants and animals. This is known as the water cycle.

The water cycle is defined as the continuous movement of water. Seas absorb sunlight and heat from the Sun. The heat causes water to vaporize, leaving behind salts. Water vapor forms clouds. Clouds move to different places pushed by the wind. When clouds get too heavy, they drop water back to Earth in the form of rain and snow.

3 Examples of Incredible Seas

There is a tremendous number of seas on Earth. They differ in areas, weather, characteristics, and even the number of countries they are surrounded by. In this section, we are going to explore some of the most important seas in the world.

Arabian Sea

One of the most important seas in the world is the Arabian Sea which is found in the northern Indian Ocean. The Arabian sea is surrounded by Pakistan, Iran, and the Gulf of Oman to the north, the Gulf of Aden on the Arabian Peninsula to the west, the Laccadive Sea and the Maldives to the southeast, Somalia to the southwest, and India to the east. 

Through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, the Arabian Sea is connected to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea while the Gulf of Oman connects it to the Persian Gulf. 

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The Arabian Sea is quite large. It comprises an area of 3.86 million km2. The deepest point is 4,652 m underwater. There are multiple rivers that flow into the Arabian Sea as well. 

The importance of seas or any water bodies can be determined based on whether or not they are a trade route. Trade routes are water bodies through which ships carrying goods travel from one country to another, very far one. In this, the Arabian Sea is super vital.

Since prehistoric times, the Arabian Sea has been used as a major trade route providing a link between India in the east to Europe in the north. Ships carrying different goods sail across the Arabian Sea, enter the Red Sea through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and move up and reach the Mediterranean Sea by sailing through the Suez Canal.

Once in the Mediterranean Sea, ships can easily reach any country bordering the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean Sea

Like the Arabian Sea, one of the most important seas in the entire world is the Mediterranean Sea. It comes in sixth place among the largest seas in the world with a total area of 2.5 million km2.

The Mediterranean Sea is almost completely enclosed by land. A total of 20 countries surround the sea, most of which are found in southern Europe and North Africa.

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Some of these countries that share a coast with the Mediterranean Sea are Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco in Africa and Italy, France, Spain, and Croatia in Europe. 

There is a large number of islands in the Mediterranean Sea as well. Actually, there are more than 3300 islands, the largest of them being Sicily whose total area is 27,711 m2

On the other hand, the smallest island is Tabarca. It is 1,800 meters long and 500 meters wide. That means an adult can cross the island in less than five minutes and go from side to side in only 15 minutes or so.

It is good to mention here that Sicily is part of Italy while Tabarca is Spanish. 

The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the tiny Strait of Gibraltar. You can think of it as a corridor through which ships pass from the sea to the open water of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Strait of Gibraltar is 13 km wide and separates Spain and Portugal in Europe from Morocco in Africa.

One reason that makes the Mediterranean Sea quite important is that it provides a shorter way for ships coming from Eastern Asia and heading toward Europe. This is because the Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Red Sea by the Suez Canal in Egypt.

So instead of ships traveling from India, for example, going all the way around Africa to reach Europe, they would rather enter the Red Sea, pass through the Suez Canal, enter the Mediterranean Sea, and sail across it to reach Europe. This saves so much time and money as well.

Both the River Nile passing through Africa and the Ebro in Spain flow into the Mediterranean Sea.

Adriatic Sea

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Connected from the north to the Mediterranean Sea is the Adriatic Sea. It is the smallest sea in the world with an area of only 138,600 km2. It separates Italy from the southeastern European countries including Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Albania.

Despite its relatively small area, the Adriatic Sea has more than 1300 islands, most of which are along the Croatian coast. While the sea is the shallowest in the north, its deepest point is found in the south at 1,233 m underwater.

Since the River Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea, one-third of this freshwater is collected in the Adriatic Sea. That is why it is less salty than the Mediterranean Sea itself.

The Adriatic Sea and its coasts are a perfect vacation destination thanks to its very moderate weather. While surface water temperature is usually 12 °C in winter, it rises to 30 °C in summer.

Venice, the famous water city of Italy, is bordered by the Adriatic Sea as well as multiple other cities, making them amazing vacation spots for millions of tourists.

Lakes

A lake is a body of slow-moving or still water that is surrounded by land from all sides. Unlike seas, lakes are not connected nor are they a part of oceans. Most lakes are connected only to rivers and streams. These are long narrow channels through which freshwater flows. Rivers can either flow into or out of lakes.

The water in lakes usually comes from rain, snow, melting ice, or from underground. Though most lakes are freshwater, there are many saltwater lakes as well. The majority of lakes are freshwater. That means they existed during the formation of Earth millions of years ago and according to the changes that our planet experienced throughout its history.

Besides natural lakes, there are artificial lakes as well. There are lakes that humans build mainly to store water, irrigate plants, and generate electricity. The largest man-made lake by area is Lake Volta in Ghana. It is 8,502 km2

On Earth, there are 117 million lakes of different characteristics related to size, area, salinity, and even watercolor. At least two million of these lakes are found in Canada only.

Some lakes are very small; they do not even appear on maps nor can be caught by satellites. Other lakes are so big that they are referred to as seas. An example of this is the Caspian Sea in Asia which is 371,000  km2 in area.

Compared to oceans and seas, lakes are way shallower. The deepest lake on Earth is Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia. It has a maximum depth of just 1.6 km.

Another way to classify lakes is by determining whether they are open or closed. When water leaves the lake into a river, it is called an open lake. However, if no water leaves the lake to any river or stream but only by evaporation, it is called a closed lake.

All freshwater lakes are open because they are all connected to rivers and other streams. That means closed lakes are saltwater. This is because when water evaporates and turns into water vapor, it leaves behind salt. So the remaining water becomes salty.

Lakes are important not only because they store water and provide a good source for drinking and watering plants. They also attract tourists. Many lakes are beautiful tourist destinations where people can enjoy swimming, sailing, water skiing, and fishing. The areas around lakes are perfect spots for picnics and camping too.

Lakes also provide a good route for traveling and moving from one place to another through the streams that are connected to them.

Here we come to explore some of the most distinctive lakes in the world.

Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea is in fact a very large lake but because it is very large, it is called a sea. It is 371,000 km2 in area which makes it the largest lake in the world.

The Caspian Sea lies between Asia and Europe with coasts shared with Iran, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. The Volga River, which is the longest river in Europe, flows into the Caspian Sea from the north. Additionally, more than 130 other rivers flow into the Caspian Sea.

The maximum depth of the Caspian Sea is 1,025 m.

Around 34 islands are found in the Caspian Sea, most of which are near the coasts with the largest of them being Ogurja Ada.

Due to its oil industry, the Caspian Sea is very important. It is famous for being rich in oil and natural gas. That is why it is a global source of energy production. That being said, the result of this great oil industry is water pollution that harmed its marine life. The oil disposed of in the sea has bad effects and even kills fish and sea creatures.

The Caspian Sea is considered a closed lake. Despite the large number of rivers that flow into the sea, the seawater itself does not leave it except by evaporation. That is why it is a closed body of water.

Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea is quite distinctive for multiple reasons: water salinity, name, and elevation.

Surrounded by mountains, the Dead Sea is in fact a small lake of 605 km2 in area that is enclosed by land from all sides. However, it is not really known why it is called a sea. Found in the Middle East, the Dead Sea is bordered by Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. The Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea.

One distinctive characteristic of the Dead Sea is its salinity. It is around 9.7 times saltier than the ocean. This makes it the saltiest water body on Earth. Such a high concentration of salt in the water increases buoyancy that no one can actually drown in it. Furthermore, one can easily stay on the surface without having to tread water to stay floating.

On the other hand, this too much salt makes it impossible for any plants or fish to survive in the Dead Sea. And this is how it got its name. Dead, because anything in it would be dead.

Another thing that makes the Dead Sea unique is its elevation. Or should we say minus elevation? The Dead Sea’s surface is already 430.5 m below sea level making it the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea is 306 m deep.

Despite its extreme salinity, the Dead Sea seems to have some benefits. Its mud is rich in minerals such as silicon, calcium, magnesium, iron sodium, potassium oxide, and phosphorus that are proven to reduce skin impurities, help cure arthritis and acne, and release back pain.

Unlike many other water bodies that seem to retain the same area they cover with water by the water cycle, the Dead Sea is shrinking. In 1930, the surface area of the Dead Sea was 1050 km2; however, it is now 605 km2. Some scientists believe that the Dead Sea will be completely gone by 2050.

The shrinking of the Dead Sea is happening for several reasons. First is the lack of water that feeds the sea. Despite the fact that the Jordan River is flowing into the Dead Sea, much of this freshwater is used for drinking and growing plants. That is why the Dead Sea is receiving less and less water.

Rains and floods are also a source of water for lakes. However, there has been a great lack of rain in the area around the Dead Sea. This is another reason why the sea is drying up.

The third reason that is influencing the slow death of the Dead Sea is being a closed lake. Water leaves the Dead Sea by evaporation which happens to be very strong there. This makes the lake lose its water at a faster rate.

To save the Dead Sea from disappearing, many ideas were proposed to connect the sea to either the Mediterranean Sea or the Red Sea to provide a new water source to feed it. However, these proposals were not accepted because building such canals will be very expensive.

Lake Victoria

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Lake Victoria in central Africa is the largest lake by area. It has a surface area of about 60,000 km2. It is also the world’s second-largest freshwater lake after Lake Superiority between the USA and Canada. The maximum depth of Lake Victoria is 84 m, which makes it quite shallow compared to other famous lakes.

Lake Victoria is believed to have formed 400,000 years ago. It receives 80% of its water from rain and the rest comes from the many rivers and thousands of streams that flow into it. Only the River Nile, the longest river in the world, flows out of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is the primary source of its water.

Tropical lakes are the lakes usually found around the Equator. Lake Victoria is the largest of them all. Being shared between three countries, around 49% of Lake Victoria is in Tanzania, 45% in Uganda and only 6% of it is found in Kenya. 

Though all those countries have been familiar with the lake ever since it existed, the lake was pretty unknown to the rest of the world. It was not until British explorer John Hanning Speke started searching for the source of the River Nile that he finally reached Lake Victoria in 1858. The lake was named after Queen Victoria who was the queen of England at the time.

Lake Victoria is quite important for the countries within which it lies. Since it is abundant with fish, more than 200,000 people work in the fishing industry of Lake Victoria which provides food and major life necessities for them and millions of other people.

Unlike the Dead Sea which lies 430 m below sea level, Lake Victoria is 1,134 m above sea level. Interestingly, this huge lake completely dried out about 17,000 years ago but it filled again several thousand years after that.

Since its main water source is rain, Lake Victoria experiences heavy rainfall most of the year leaving only a short period of semi-dry weather.

With a spectacular coastline along which are many hotels and resorts, tourists flock to the lake usually in the months of June to August when the weather is cooler to enjoy a relaxing vacation and the beautiful scenery of the lake.

Laguna Colorada

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We have mentioned earlier that there are multiple characteristics that set lakes apart. Among such characteristics are surface area, water volume, depth, salinity level, and the number of rivers or streams flowing into or out of the lake. However, another feature that can distinguish lakes is the color of the water.

Though one might think that lakes’ waters usually look blue or green, some have red water. Laguna Colorada is one of these lakes. Located in Bolivia, South America, Laguna Colorada is named after its main red water feature. Laguna Colorada in Spanish literally means red lagoon in English.

The lake is 60 km2 in area. Though being relatively large, Laguna Colorada is very shallow. It has an average depth of only 35 cm and a maximum depth of 1.5 m! The lake primarily gets its water from Rio Sulor (River Sulor) that flows into it.

While the old local culture thought the red water of Laguna Colorada was the blood of the gods, this red color is actually caused by the different types of red algae that grow in the lake’s salty water as well as the red sediments settling on its floor.

Another interesting feature that makes Laguna Colorada an incredibly beautiful destination for many tourists is flamingos. Among the six species of flamingos found in the entire world, three of them settle in the area of Laguna Colorada. Flocks of flamingos gather in the lake to eat plankton, the flamingos’ food the lake is rich in.clouds LearningMole

Flamingos also feed on the red algae, brine fly larvae, and brine shrimp found in large amounts in the lake. This food is full of the red pigment beta-carotene which when digested by the flamingos, turns their feathers pink. So pink flamingos live in the red lake. Makes sense.

Laguna Verde

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It seems like Bolivia has something for calling lakes after colors.

In contrast to Laguna Colorada we just discussed is the Laguna Verde or the green lake located also in Bolivia. Laguna Verde is a lot smaller and a bit deeper than Laguna Colorada. It has a surface area of 7.5 km2 and a depth of 5.4 m. Laguna Verde is located at the foot of a volcano called Licancabur.

The spectacular green color of Laguna Verde is attributed to the minerals that come out of the lake’s soil into the water. These minerals include arsenic, magnesium, carbonate, and calcium.

Because the lake is very beautiful, it is one of Bolivia’s most important tourist attractions. 

Conclusion

Everything on planet Earth, including us, is made of water.

Though water may sound very simple: a colorless, tasteless, odorless liquid required for humans as well as all other creatures to survive, or maybe a chemical made of two hydrogen atoms combined by one oxygen atom, water is much much more than that.

Covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, water is classified into different bodies that are different in many ways. Some bodies are saltwater only such as oceans, seas, and lakes. Others are freshwater only like rivers, streams, and lakes too.

In this article, we explored together the characteristics of two of the most important water bodies; seas and lakes. We learned that the term sea can be used to describe oceans; however, the term marginal sea would probably mean the seas we are familiar with.

We learned that seas cause different phenomena such as waves, tides, and other extreme events like tsunamis which are mainly caused by earthquakes and are quite destructive as well.

We then explored three of the world’s most notable seas: the Arabian Sea which is connected to the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Adriatic Sea which is the smallest sea in the world.

After that, we discussed lakes, what they are, where they get their water from, and the difference between closed and open lakes. Lakes can be very large and tiny as well. They can be of both freshwater and saltwater; however; the majority of lakes on Earth are freshwater.

Then we discussed some of the most interesting lakes. On top of those lakes were the Caspian Sea in Asia and the Dead Sea in Jordan which are lakes but no one knows why everyone calls them seas. 

The Dead Sea is pretty interesting because it is the lowest point on Earth and the saltiest water body ever found on the planet. We also learned how it is shrinking and what plans can help save it from dying.

Next, we explored two of the world’s most distinctive lakes which are both located in Bolivia in South America: Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, or the red lake and green lake. These two lakes get their unique colors from the algae and minerals residing on their floor and coming out of the soil.

Lastly, we explained how such red algae in Laguna Colorada give flamingos their distinct pink color and how these two lakes are flocked yearly by thousands of tourists to enjoy their beautiful scenery. 

A myth or an ancient tale can feed the imaginations and souls of humans. The vast majority of these tales are just stories people have handed down through the decades. 

But a few of these tales have roots in real geological events of the past, giving warning of possible dangers and speaking to the astonishment the one holds for the might of the planet.

These stories record the observations of the people who witnessed them. This article introduces tales from different countries around the world. It introduced Indian tales, Irish tales, Greek tales as well as Chinese tales. 

Indian Tales

India is a land of great people and has a lot of great tales as well. India passed through a lot of critical events during history. Indian Mythology is full of adventure and morals. These stories are a great way to introduce Indian values and ethics to children. 

Right and Might

A deer was eating wild fruit one day.  The deer heard an owl call “Haak, Haak”, and a cricket cry. “Wat” felt surrounded and frightened so he fled. During his flight, he flew through the trees up into the mountains, and down into streams. 

In one of the streams, the deer walked upon a small fish and smashed it almost to death. Then the fish made a complaint to the court, and the deer, owl, cricket, and fish had a case. In the court appeared this evidence:

When the deer escaped, he ran into some dry grass. So, the seed dropped into the eye of a wild chicken. The pain of the seed in the eye of the chicken made it fly up against a nest of red ants. The red ants were alarmed so they rushed out to do battle. While hurrying, They bit a mongoose. 

The mongoose flew into a vine of wild fruit and shook many pieces of it on the head of a hermit. The hermit sat thinking under a tree. He asked the fruit why they fell on him. The fruit said that it is because of the mongoose. 

Then, the hermit asked the mongoose about the reason. The mongoose answered that he didn’t mean it. It was because of the red ants. So, the hermit asked the red ants why they did so. The red ants replied that it wasn’t them, it was because of the hen. 

 The hermit asked the hen why she flew against the ants’ nest. The hen answered that it was because the seed fall into the hen’s eyes. The hermit turned to seed to ask. The seed answered that it was because of the deer. 

The hermit asked the deer why he shook the seed down. The deer said that he didn’t mean to do that but the owl called, frightening him, so he ran. The hermit asked the owl why she frightened the deer.  The owl replied that because she used to call so the cricket called too.

After the judge heard the evidence, he sentenced the cricket to replace the smashed parts of the fish. This is because he is the main reason to frighten the deer and caused all of these troubles.  The cricket was smaller and weaker than the owl or the deer, thus he had to accept the punishment.

Agasthya drinks the ocean

The Devas and Asuras were cousins. They were consistently fighting. The Devas had control over Devalok, the world above Earth. The Asuras existed in the world below Earth which is called Paatal. The Asuras became more powerful after sunset. So, the Asuras always struck their cousins at night.

When the sun rose, the Devas grew more powerful. They would be prepared to attack the Asuras. But the Asuras would vanish! The Devas would look for them in heaven, earth, and, everywhere, but the Asuras weren’t there. 

Finally, the Devas noticed the Asuras’ footprints guiding them to the ocean. Indra, lord of the Devas, shouted that the Asuras were hiding in the ocean. Vayu, the Wind God, was excited to catch them.

Agni, the Fire God hissed and wondered if they could fight them underwater. He saw Sage Agasthya sitting on the beach, in a mood of meditation. Indra ran to him and asked for his help. Agasthya was a strong sage, who liked the Devas. 

He decided to help them. Agasthya prayed to the Sun, he plunged his hands into the ocean and lift out some water. The next moment, all the water from the ocean was pulled into his palms. The sage drank it all at once.

As the great sage was in seventh heaven, the Asuras stood uncovered on the dry ocean bed. The Devas attacked them. Terribly beaten, the Asuras ran from battle. The Devas roared in victory. 

Seeing his cousins flying away, Indra believed that they would not bother the Devas again. He thanked Sage Agasthya and asked him to return the water to the ocean.

Agasthya frowned at Indra and said that he already drank all the water. He can’t return it. Indra felt sinful. Without the ocean, all living things on earth would suffer. 

Agasthya continued that the only way out is to wait for Ganga to come down to earth. This was the only river that can fill the empty space in the ocean. Therefore started the long wait for Ganga.

The Rajah’s Rice

Once upon a time, there was a Rajah who ruled over many rice farmers. He demanded nearly all of their rice. In exchange, he would store it and return it in times of famine. 

One year, when the rice grew badly, there was a terrible famine. The Rajah refused to return any of the previously promised rice. He thought it was improper that a Rajah ever goes hungry. 

Many people starved to death, yet he still refused. One day an elephant carrying rice from the royal storehouse strung a leek. A young girl named Rani saw this and began to catch the grain in her skirt. She formed a plan. 

When the elephant finally stopped, Rani ran to the Royal Palace. She was led in to be personally thanked by the Rajah for saving his precious rice. He told rowdy that she can have anything she wished for. Rani at first asked for nothing but a single grain of rice.

The Rajah was very confused. He didn’t want to reward such a good deed with such a small price. After more goading, Rani finally agreed to a new reward. She asked the Rajah to first give her a single grain of rice, and every day for 30 days, he would double that amount.

As in tomorrow, she would get two. The next day, she would get four. Soon after 30 days, the amount slowly was by the sixteenth day, she received it back in Hainan 32.768 grains. It was enough for two medium-sized bags led by a goat.

There all she grew worried, perhaps it wasn’t so smaller the gift after all. But there were only 14 days left, what could happen? The 27th day soon arrived and Rani received 64 baskets of rice delivered by 32 bowels. 

The Rajah was worried but vowed to have fulfilled his promise until the end. By the 30th day, the Rajah sent out 56 elephants carrying the rice of 4 royal storehouses. The Rajah was officially out of rice. 

Rani promised to give all the rice to the hungry people. The Rajah swore you would never be so selfish again. There was never that sort of catastrophe in the land again 

The Strength of Durga

This story is based on the essence of the day why Indians celebrate Mahalaya. It is about how goddess Durga defeated the demon named Mahisha Surah.

As you know, Mahisha Surah was a demon. He was partly a buffalo and partly a demon. Since the mother of Mahisha surah was a Mahesh which is a buffalo, his name was Mahisha Surah. Mahisha means the buffalo and Asura mean the demon.

Goddess Durga is known to kill many demons. Once a demon named Mahisha Surah became very powerful. After that, he was very cruel. He started defeating various gods who were staying the heaven. Finally, he defeated Lord Indra, the king of all the gods in heaven.

Mahisha Surah took the place of lord Indra in heaven. He sat under the throne of Indra. After that, he decided that he would stay and became the lord of the gods

Goddess Durga was called upon. She has been created from the divine energies of all the gods combined there. Goddess Durga was the combined force of all the gods.

Durga took on Mahisha Surah. She defeated him and ultimately she saved the gods in heaven. Thereby, she saved the world. 

The Focus of Arjuna

The Pandavas and Kauravas were studying in the Gurukula. They were studying under the guidance of Acharya Drona. One day, Guru wanted to test students’ skills in archery. He called all the students. He asked them to gather.

Drona called upon one of the students, Yudhistra. Drona asked him to aim at the bird’s eye. Drona asked the student about what he could see. The student replied that he could see the bird. Drona asked him to move back and that he needed more practice.

Then, another student came forward and aimed at the bird’s eye as well. Drona asked him the same question. The student, called Bhima, replied that he could see the bird and its base. Again, Drona sent him back.

Another student, Duryodhana, came in. Drona asked again the same question. The student answered that he could see the bird, its base, and some clouds. Drona told him that he needed a lot more practice because his aim was bad. 

Drona called Arjuna to come in and asked him to aim at the target. Then, he asked about what he saw. He answered that he could see only an eye of a bird. Drona asked him to shoot. Drona was happy about it.

Drona explained that it was about concentration. That sort of concentration is what makes a great archer. Drona wished the student to become the best archer in the whole world.

The Loyalty of Shravana

Shravan Kumar was the only offspring of his parents. He used to serve them a lot. One day he fed the parents, when they started relaxing he started pressing their feet. 

The conversion started when he said some people were going to the shrine today. There were happy to sing hymns. They didn’t have their own presence of mind. The old father said that he wished they could go to the holy place. The mother prayed for her son to be safe and guarded. 

At the same time, Shravan Kumar decided that he would hurl them. He didn’t even tell this his wife. He was aware that she would not be happy. Shravan was married in childhood. His wife was used to serving in form of laws. 

On the second day, Shravan went to the carpenter. The carpenter was very happy to see him. He asked Shravan how to help him. Shravan said that he wanted him to make a basket. 

Shravan wanted to take his parents on to pilgrimage. The carpenter said that it would be difficult to take the paths alone. Shravan asked the carpenter how long he would take to finish the basket. Finally, the carpenter told him that he could take the basket the next day in the evening. 

Shravan went back home. He started preparing to go. In the evening, he returned home. He told his wife to go to the shrine. He would leave in the early morning. He also told his parents explaining that they wouldn’t have any problem in the way.

The next morning, he got up early. His parents sat in the basket. He carried the baskets. All the people of the whole village were blessed with blessings. Anyone who saw them, their eyes were full of tears.

Several months elapsed, and Shravan travelled with his parents all day long. He slept at night. One day he was coming out of the forest, and the sound of the birds seemed good to him. 

It became night, and he put the basket down. They lay down. The father asked for water. Shravan picked up the bowel but there was no water in it. He told his father that he would go to get some water. Father refused still Shravan went. 

In a while, he saw a river. He started filling the water. An arrow came into his chest. He got a lot of shouts out of his mouth. King Dashrath came to the forest for hunting. The king heard the sound. He thought that it was an elephant coming to drink.

The king heard the man’s scream. Then, he saw a handsome young man on earth. The king put his head on his lap. The king took the arrow from Shravan’s chest. Shravan was calling his parents. 

Tears flow with the king’s eyes. The king said that he became a big sin. The king told Shravan that he thought it was an elephant so he started an arrow. The king asked Shravan to forgive him.

Shravan told the king that his parents were sitting thirsty in the forest. Shravan asked that king to go and give them water. The king heard all the story from Shravan. There was no limit to the king’s sorrow. Shravan asked the king to take the water to his parents, and then he died. 

The king went to Shravan’s parents. The father said that he was late. The king gave them the water in hand for both of them without speaking. The father wondered asked why he didn’t speak, under the impression that he was his son Shravan. 

The mother told him that they would drink after he explained what happened to him. King Dashrath had tears in his eyes; his throat was blocked. The king said that he was also their son. Finally, he told them about the death of Shravan

On hearing his news the parents screamed. The king said that he was their Shravan. He said that he would serve them but they refused. They told him that one day he would suffer for a son like them. After saying this, the parents died. 

The king was afraid after the curse of Shravan’s parents. The king performed their last rites with a very heavy heart. Even after he went back to his palace, there was no peace in his mind. His eyes didn’t sleep. 

After many years, his son Ram went into exile. The king was so sad. Yearning for the son, he remembered the curse of his parents of Shravan.

The Integrity of Ram

Lord Rama is the strongest character in Indian history. He is strong mentally, emotionally and spiritually. He doesn’t shy from taking the road less struggling. He was a living example of the popular saying “do what is right and not what is easy”. 

There are five instances of how he chose right over wrong whatever price he had to pay for it. First, he was sent to Gurukul by his father Nashira. His life was tough. He could have thrown a tranquil of being price and treated in a different way. Yet, he acted with respect toward his guru. He followed all the tenets of the guru, a personal spiritual teacher, Shishek Parampara. 

Second, he was sent to exile by his father under the command of his stepmother. Rama had the right to refuse his father but he chose not to do so. He ended up in the forest and made the most of his state. 

Rama learned many things from many people. He learned the art of sharing from Shabri. He also learned friendship from the king of Nishadas. He came to know wisdom from Rishi Bharathwaj. He also learned protection from demons. Though he loses his crowd, he gained wisdom like no one else.

Fourth, Rama lost his wife after she got kidnapped. He waged the biggest war of all time fighting tooth and nail to get his wife back. He even injured his brother. He could have let it go since he was from a loyal family. Yet, this showed his love and dedication to his wife, Sita.

Fifth, after Ravan’s death, Rama was requested to perform the funeral rites of his brother. According to Dharma, a religious belief in India, the winner of the battle had all the rights on the asset of the defeated person, even his body.

Rama told the bishop that he didn’t have any enmity or hostility toward his brother unattended with his death. Ram explained that he killed his brother because he didn’t send his wife back to him till the very last moment. 

Ancient Irish Tales

The Irish are popular for their wonderful tales. Many of these tales have been moved passed through generations. Let’s check the best Irish stories for kids. They vary from stories inspired by myth and ancient folklore to modern tales about today’s world.

The Children of Lir – the inspiration for Swan Lake

It is a unique and poetic tale that fits right along with the rest of Celtic mythology. The tale begins with the 

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy chieftain. His name was Lir. He had 4 children. Lir loved his children more than anything in the whole world. Their names were Vanilla, A, kun and Fiachra. 

A heartbreaking thing happened. The children’s mother has passed away. King Lir and the children were very emotional that day. Lir felt very sad. The absence of his wife made him love his children even more.

His advisers said he should get married again. Lir agreed and got married to another daughter of bob Jargs called Ifa. She was a very beautiful young woman. They loved each other very much.

One day when Lir was out of the castle, Ifa asked the children if they wanted to visit their grandfather. The children squealed in delight. Even though Vanilla thought it was a bad idea and tried to get out of it. 

When they went out to the coach, she told the knights to kill the children. The knights said no. One day they were going to the castle, and she asked them if they would like to go for a swim in the lake. The children jumped right. 

Ifa threw one from her cloak and turned them into swans. Ifa told the children that they would spend 300 years in lake Jerivara, 300 years in the sea of Moya, and 300 years in the sea of Varys. 

The spell would be broken when a king from the North marries a queen from the South and the bell of a new religion rings. Vanilla swam up to Ifa. Vanilla asked Ifa not to leave them like this. 

Ifa felt sorry for them, so she gave them the gift of song. That would make anyone happy. When Ifa came home, she told Lir that the children drowned and she couldn’t save them. 

Ifa thought that lir then would give her all the attention. Yet, Lir was so sad. He set off to find his children. He found 4 swans in the lake Derevara. Then, the swans started to talk to father, father. They told him that Ifa cursed them. They would be stuck swans for 900 years. Lir was so sad. When he went home he punished Ifa.

Lir stayed with the 4 swans for 300 years. When the swans had to leave, he waved goodbye to them. Tears flooded his eyes as he watched them disappear into the clouds.

After 300 years of being in lake Derevara, the 4 swans travelled to the sea of Moya for another 300 years. The sea of Moyo was not like the lake Derevara. The sea was rough and stormy. It was a sea between Ireland and Scotland. Finula sheltered her brothers under her wings in the cold and lonely nights. 

Finally, the 300 years and the cold sea were over. The swans flew over Ireland to the western ocean. In the western ocean, there was grass instead of hard rocks. It was their favourite Island.

The swans would watch the sunset over the sea and sing quietly together. People in the ships passing by them thought that they were listening to mermaids. 

One day when they were out fishing, fisher and Kun came to Vanilla. Kun said that something strange was happening. On an explorer, the 4 swans flew towards the island. Then they saw a holy man who was building a tiny hut of stones. 

The holy man sang while he was walking. When he finished, he tied something shiny to the top of the hut. It was a bell. The wind blew and the bell began to ring. 

The children had never had anything so lovely. The holy man looked up at the 4 beautiful swans flying around above him. The man asked the swans to come down and sing with him.

As soon as the poor children landed on the island, something strange happened. Their feather fell from them. Vanilla looked at her brothers, she saw three very old men. She found herself also a very old woman.

The holy man looked sadly at them, he knew from the old stories that there were the children of Lir and that they are going to die. Yet, Vanilla smiled and asked the holy man not to be sad. She continued that they are too tired, they lived for too long lives. She said that they would be happy to sleep on his island.

The holy man purified the 4 children. Then, children lay down on the soft green grass behind a little hut. All the bells of the island came to sing them to sleep 

The Harp of Dagda

It is said that there were two different kinds of people in Ireland. One set of people with long dark hair and dark eyes is called Faux Mauryans. They carried long slender spears made of gold and bronze when they fought. 

Another race of people who were golden-haired and blue-eyed, and carried short blunt heavy spheres of dull metal.

The Dagda was the supreme god of the Celts and the king of Tuatha de Danann. He was said to watch over the Celtic tribes like a father figure, together with Ogma who was sometimes said to be his brother.

Together with Lugh, Dagda formed the great trinity of gods of the Tuatha de Danann. His name Dadga means the good god. Not because he was particularly good to the people, but because he was good in everything he did. 

Dagda had a lot of skills and talents. He was also known under a lot of different names, including the great father and the fertile one. In Gaul, he was known as Sucellos. His real name was a mystery but the names he is given describe a lot of his character traits.

When picturing him, he is described as a giant of a man, always dressed in the wooden hooded cloak covering up his face. Thanks to his giant stature and his enormous appetite, his clothes were always too tight. His stomach and butt often stuck out. 

Dagda’s unshaven face was adorned by a long unruly beard and all in all he was a little bit off. But at the same time, he was said to be very good-looking, pretty, and wise beyond compare.

He is the all-father, the keeper of justice, law, and order. He is a king, a father, and a druid associated with wisdom, magic, masculinity, and also fertility. He had a lot of lovers and a lot of children. 

Some of his lovers were the goddess Danu, the goddess Boine and the goddess Morrigan. His children include the famous goddess Brigid as well as gods like Aengus, Caermit, and Aed.

While the Dagda was best known for his strength and his enormous appetite, his most famous attributes may have been the objects he possessed.

There were three magical objects in his possessions. First, the Coire ansir, the undry, a bottomless cauldron big enough for two grown men to fit into it. It was big enough to feed a whole village with an endless supply of food. 

At the same time, the hilt of the club had the power to restore health and resurrect people. So, this object might have brought the Dagda the association with the power over life and death. 

The third and probably most interesting object was the Daurdabla or the Uaithne. It is a magical golden harp made from the very first oak tree of Ireland and covered in Jewels. With this harp, the Dagda had the power of changing seasons or even the weather. 

This object, the Coire ansir, might have been given to the Dagda the association with feasts and prosperity.

The second object was the Loge Mor, a massive club. It was so big, so huge that it has to be transported on a cart. It can only be lifted by the Dagda or eight grown men. It was also said that the Dagda could kill nine men with a single stroke of this club. 

He could introduce prophetic sleep. He also could invoke the strongest emotions within beasts, men and gods alike. In fact, the harp was so powerful that it could incite man to war, cure the battle-weary men and bring joy and sorrow beyond measure.

Of course, an object as powerful as the harp, couldn’t stay unnoticed by the enemies for long. So, after the second battle of Moy Tura, which was won by the Tuatha de Danann, the Fomorians were so impressed with the harp. The Fomorian chief wanted to have it in his possession. 

The Tuatha de Danann meanwhile celebrated the victory, ate from the bottomless cauldron of the Dagda, and listened to stories of glorious victories. While listening, the Tuatha de Danann were unaware of the Fomorians who made their way into the camp.

The Fomorians stole the magical harp from right beyond their noses. Of course, the Fomorian didn’t stay and wait until the theft was noticed. They ran for their lives carrying the harp with them to a nearby abandoned fortress. 

It wasn’t until one of the Dagda’ men asked to hear some music from the harp that the theft was noticed and the Tuatha de Danann realized what had happened. The Dagda was furious, what an insult to him! He knew that the thieves wouldn’t be able to handle the magic of the harp.

Yet, without the harp, the Dagda wouldn’t be able to control seasons and weather either and people would have to suffer. So, he asked his men who would come with him to retrieve the harp. The first men to stand up and joined the Dagda in his mission were Ogma and Lugh. 

As the trio found the camp of the Fomorians after a long walk, they saw that the enemies vastly outnumbered them. Lugh and Ogma weren’t really sure how they would be able to retrieve the harp. But the Dagda didn’t even flinch. 

The Dagda called out his harp. Hearing it is his true master’s voice, the harp sprung from where it was hung and flew directly into the hands of the Dagda. On its way, it killed seven Fomorians and wounded a lot more. 

Within seconds, the Fomorians followed the harp and stormed in the direction of the trio. Ogma and Lough told the Dagda it would be time to play a tune. 

The Dagda agreed. He started to play a sad melody of grief. As it came to the ears of Fomorians, they instantly stopped and started sobbing with their heads and their hands.

Even though they were cold people, they couldn’t help but feel the pain of the worriers lost in the recent battle. They were overwhelmed with grief and misery. The tears rolled down their cheeks.

 Yet, the moment the song ended, they got themselves together again. They were even more furious than before and stormed toward the trio. Again, the Dagda started a little tune. This time, it is a joyful one. 

The Fomorians started laughing uncontrollably. Once again, tears rolled on their cheeks. But this time, they were tears of pure laughter. They laughed so hard to the extent that they even dropped their weapons. 

Yet, the moment the tune stopped, they picked up their weapons again. They started to charge at the trio. The Dagda meanwhile started the third and last song. This time the tune was the most gentle and soothing anyone had ever heard. 

Within seconds, the Fomorians just stopped their attack. They also fell into a deep slumber. None of them had the chance to resist the tune. So, when the trio was sure that everyone was asleep, they just rode home and let them sleep there.

Since that day, no one ever dared to steal the harp again or even 

touch it. 

Tir Na Nog

Tir Na Nog is an Irish legend. It is the land of eternal youth a land full of beauty and bliss. Oisin was the son of the legendary Fionn Mccumhaill, the leader of the Fianna. Oisin was known as a poet and a bard but also as a skilled worrier.

Oisin was known for his strong sense of justice. He was well respected and highly valued among the Fianna. Oisin, Fionn, and the Fianna had many adventures together. It seemed like nothing would ever change until that one faithful day.

The Fianna came from just another great battle and decided to rest at the beautiful and quiet shore of Lough Lane near Killarney in the country Kerry. Their heads were weary of the thoughts of the friends they had lost and the faces they would never see again. 

Suddenly, as the men looked toward the water, a young maiden appeared ridding swiftly above the water on a beautiful white stallion. The Fianna couldn’t believe what they saw. As the woman approached, every man turned to watch her beauty.

Her long golden hair fell softly upon her shoulders. Her eyes were blue like the ocean. Her clothes were of the finest the Fianna had ever seen. Gold and silver patterns had been woven into them. A sight that was only surpassed by the crown on her head.

But it was not just the maiden that stole the breath of the Fianna, even the majestic horse she rode, a silver crown, and her golden braidings all over her body. 

The maiden rode towards the men. As she reached them, she spoke with a voice so gentle and kind. Her accent seemed strange and very old to the Fianna. They had never had an accent like that. 

The maiden introduced herself as Niamh Cinn Oir, Niamh of the golden hair, princess of Tir Na Nog. She told the Fianna that she was indeed the daughter of Manannan Mac Lir, the king of the oceans. 

Fionn who was as captured by the woman, as his man spoke up and asked what she wanted. Niamh looked around the men for a second and responded that she had heard of the bravery and the talents of the Fianna and that she has come to seek a husband.

Bewitched by the beauty of Niamh, all men instantly tried to show off in the hope that her choice would fall on them. Some showed their strength, others their talents with the swords. 

Only Oisin took the time to get his harp and tune it. Then he started to play the most beautiful song directly from his heart. Not only did he get the attention of a Fianna, but as soon as the song came to Niamh’s ears, she started to sing from her heart.

As both tunes met and melted into one, Niamh and Oisin were meant to be together. One more Niamh spoke to Fionn. She had already heard of the pure heart, the beauty, the bravery and the skills of poetry and music that Oisin possessed. She did come to ask for his land.

Fionn’s heart was troubled for he knew Niamh was one of the Sidhe the people of the other world. But he also knew that Oisin’s mother was also one of their kind. Also, It might be Oisin’s fate to follow her to her people.

One look at Oisin told Fionn that the lad would follow this woman, no matter what he thought about it. As Oisin heard her words, he was full of joy. He ran to her and took her hands into his own.

Niamh told Oisin of the land she was from, a land where there would never be any sorrow, no death, or age. It was a land where all he could wish for would come true. It was a land where there were feasts and drinking, music and more riches than he could ever imagine.

Niamh continued it was the land where he could stay young and strong forever. Tempted by her words and the beauty, Oisin mounted the horse and was about to ride off with her. 

When Fionn called his name and said “You don’t know what waits for you in this mysterious land! No one has ever returned.” But Niamh just whispered into his ear “Come away with me Oisin. Come away to Tir Na Nog, the most beautiful land you can imagine. We have no illness, no aging, no death. But beautiful valleys and several rivers.” 

Oisin bit Fionn and the Fianna farewell and promised to return one day. A promise made by one of the Fianna must always be kept. Even though Fionn felt like this day would never come, he let him go and watched as Niamh and Oisin galloped away upon the water.

Oisin was full of joy as he and Niamh rode past many strange places, beautiful palaces, and cities, and finally, they reached Tir Na Nog. Oisin looked around. This place was all that Niamh had promised and more. 

Oisin looked at the flawless blue skies, at animals without compare, at the beautiful people who seem to be as happy as can be, and the jewels and gold that were to be found everywhere.

Niamh and Oisin married. Oisin feasted on food and wine, composed a lot of poetry, and hunted every day. So, they lived happily for a while. The happy couple had three children, a daughter, and two sons. It seemed like everything was perfect.

After a while, that felt like an eternity, Oisin felt the call back to Ireland for he desired to see his father and the Fianna again. For a while, Niamh was able to distract his thoughts through more feasts, hunts, or other entertainment. 

But after a while, he couldn’t ignore the ache in his heart anymore. After three years, he asked Niamh if he could visit Ireland once more. Niamh knew that time passed slowly in Tir Na Nog and that the land he wanted to return to, wouldn’t exist anymore. 

Niamh feared losing him, but couldn’t refuse to let him go. She called upon her white horse. She made him promise that whatever happened, he may never under no circumstances, set foot on Irish soil or he would never be able to return to her. 

Oisin didn’t quite understand why but gave her the promise to never set foot on Irish soil and to return to her and the children. Oisin rode away, while Niamh had the feeling that she may never see her fair love again.

Oisin unaware of his fate rode away with a light heart, full of joy to see his friends and family again. But as he arrived in Ireland, he couldn’t find Fionn anywhere. He was also confused about the sights he saw. 

Mighty castles he once knew now lay in ruins that had been overgrown. The forest he and Fiann loved to hunt in was cut down. The people he found seem to have grown a lot smaller and weaker than the people he remembered, not more than children in his eyes.

He came across a lot of churches that he had never seen before. The thought that something must have happened while he was away, grew stronger and stronger. 

After a while, he approached a man on the road and asked for the whereabouts of his father. But the man didn’t know who Fionn was. Oisin couldn’t believe him since everyone knew Fionn and the Fianna. He rode off.

Once again after a while, he came across another group of men. Oisin asked about the Fianna again. Those men had indeed heard of them but only in very old legends and poems. 

Only now did Oisin realize that while his time in the land of youth felt for him like three years, in Ireland really three hundred years had passed. He was devastated. His heart broke and he was already about a return to his great love Niamh and his children. 

When he came across two other men who were unable to lift the large boulder. He approached them and leaned over to lit the rock. It was a small thing for him and he lifted it without a problem. But as small as the boulder seemed to be for him, its weight was enough so that the saddle strap snapped and he fell off his horse. 

The white stallion ran off in fright, never to be seen again. Oisin as long as his skin touched the ground was called upon the years he had missed. 

The two men near him rushed to help him up but found him not being the beautiful young man he was a minute ago, but an old man near to death. 

Weeping for the family and friends he would never see again, and begging for someone to write down all the stories Oisin has to tell about the Fianna, the man brought him to the great bishop Patrick, who was known as St. Patrick. 

Patrick helped Oisin to be comfortable and listened to the stories Oisin told of Fionn and the Fianna. As Oisin ended and Patrick had everything written down, both men started to argue at length. For Partick came to Ireland to bring Christianity to the people. 

Oisin was still an advocate for the old ways. Patrick wanted to baptize Oisin and prepare him before his death and the afterlife, but Oisin denied Christianity. He stood true to the way of his people, the path of honour.

In the end, Oisin died as the last of his kind. It is said that with his last thought of all he had lost, the one thing he regretted most having lost was his wife Niamh. For if he could choose between 300 years with Fianna or one single day with his love, he would always choose Niamh.

Some say that until this day once in a while, a woman in a white horse can be seen, galloping above the water in the hope of finding her true love again. 

Ancient Tales and Folklore From Japan

Japanese folklore is the mythology of Japan. It is very affected by Shinto and Buddhism, the two most significant religions in the country. It usually has funny or strange characters and situations.

It also contains many supernatural creatures, such as kami, gods and revered spirits. It also has yōkai, monster spirits such as oni, kappa, and tengu.  Onryō is ghosts, dragons, and animals with supernatural powers like the kitsune, and a fox. Tanuki is a raccoon dog, mujina that is a badger, and Bakeneko is a transforming cat.

Japanese folklore is often separated into different categories: 

  • mukashibanashi: tales of long-ago 
  • namidabanashi: sad stories
  • obakebanashi: ghost stories 
  • ongaeshibanashi: stories of kindness
  • tonchibanashi: witty stories
  • waraibanashi: funny stories; and 
  • yokubaribanashi: stories of greed

The Ogre of Rashomon

A long time ago in Kyoto in Japan, there was a band of samurai knights. They were renowned for their great might and power, Kyoto was at this time in question the capital of Japan. 

Across Japan, were various gates leading in and out of cities and areas and such. One night the band of fierce samurai knights sat around the table, nestled on the Tatami floor, drinking sake and eating a meal.

One of the samurai began to speak of a tale he had heard from an elderly woman. He mentioned that the gate to Rashomon, the word on the street had it that there is an ogre that is taking people from twilight through dusk.

One samurai named Watanabe blurted out that it could not be true as their master had led them into battles against the last of the ogres in Kyoto, upon the mountains not so far in time. 

The others looked upon him and said: “if you are so sure then you should go check out.” For a moment Watanabe grew concerned. Then his brave and gallant personality kicked him. 

Watanabe said: “I shall everyone wanted evidence, I’m willing to go alone and check.” So, each member of the band of samurai knights placed their surnames on a parchment.

Watanabe said he would nail the paper to the door, and they could all go in the next morning to see it placed upon the gate. 

Despite the fact that there was a fierce storm and the wind howled and screeched like pigs going to slaughter and the rain beat down like the pounding of her falling oak, Watanabe drew the reins of his horse and attached his Katana to his armour, and placed firmly his helmet upon his head.

For a brief second, the band of samurai thought that he would succumb to fear at the ferocity of the storm of which no normal person would dare to brace. Nonetheless, Watanabe rode into the night and the wind berated him and the horse. 

The rain was cold as ice, the night was as dark as a cavern, and the thunder and lightning roared and lit the way toward the gate. He arrived and like as he thought there was nothing there. He stapled the parchment to the gate.

Watanabe began to ride home to his fellow samurai knights and brothers when suddenly a giant hand latched onto his helmet and stopped him in his tracks. 

He felt around to find that it was a thick arm as thick as a temple pillar and had hair as coarse as a brush littered upon it. The stench was also overwhelming.

At this moment with knowledge of the battle he had thought upon the mountain with his master and samurai brothers, he became alert to the fact it most certainly was an ochre. 

Watanabe drew his sword as fast as the lightning and struck and began slashing furiously at the ogre’s arm. The ogre’s grip released and a battle ensued. 

The lightning-casting shapes of a ginormous ogre and one brave samurai fighting for their lives. Watanabe had battled ogres before but never alone.

His heart pumped with a passion to protect the folks of Kyoto and seek glory for his band of samurai and to claim the head of the ogre as proof of his battles. 

The rain struck the blade of the Katana making more bellowing whipping sounds than the wind itself. Soon, the ogre began to realize that this was no average samurai, that Watanabe had gallantry, that his swordsmanship was incredible.

So the ogre began to flee the battle. Watanabe provoked by the cowardice of the ogre, set to chase him. The ogre, the size of the gate itself had great stride and so soon surpassed him. 

Watanabe was disappointed that he had not slain the ogre. The human-eating ogre returned to the gate of his loyal steed. As he approached the horse, he noticed a large object scattered on the floor in the shining light of the storm.

It was the ogre’s arm. He was elated and began to tie the rope to the back of the horse. As dawn struck, he approached the centre of Kyoto dragging the ogre’s arm with his horse. 

The samurai brothers and master were astounded and so proud of his gallant effort. They prepared a feast for him with fish of all kinds cooked in all manners and even raw. 

They celebrated his efforts with saki and shochu and many assortments of entertainment. The whole of Kyoto had already known that this band of samurai knights was powerful and had a protective spirit, yet now there was a samurai who would fight ogres alone.

Watanabe became renowned. His notoriety extended across Kyoto like a bushfire. People paid to see the arm and praised his greatness. Yet in time, he became concerned that the ogre would return for the arm as ogres are very revengeful and possessive.

So Watanabe had a great box of timber and steel made to lock the arm away. Then, he placed the box in his own bedroom. He sought to never let anyone see it in fear that the ogre would snatch it.

Then, one cold and stormy night not unlike the one on which he had faced the ogre on, there came a knock at his gate. The maid came to the gate and found an old woman scratching at the door. 

The old woman said, “I’m the master Watanabe’s witness.” I nursed him since a child. I heard of his great exploits and sought to it in my final hour to congratulate my sweet child of yesterday.” The maid rushed to Watanabe and told him of her at the gate. 

Watanabe was void of all sense and concerned for the nature of her late call at night. As he was overwhelmed with nostalgia and love for his witness, she had been more like a mother than anyone else. 

He had deep feelings of love and adored her kind and gentle soul. So, the gate was opened. Luckily, there was no sign of the ogre in the tempestuous night and the gate was closed behind her. 

The old wet nurse limped into the lobby and proclaimed “my sweet child, you are a great hero of Kyoto. I heard of the exploit of this night and had to rush to congratulate you.”

This brought a serene joy and smile to Watanabe. The old woman nurse went on to say: “I so desire to see the ogre’s arm.” Watanabe replied that these eyes no one can see and that the arm is locked away. 

Then, the old woman went on to whisper: “I’m old and soon I will pass. This is as certain as the light of a new day. Please, allow me this favour. I’ve in all my days to see such an anomaly and the freak of nature such as the arm of a demonic ogre.”

Watanabe endeared by her gentle voice, agreed. As the box was unchained and unlocked, the wet nurse seem to tremble in fear. The wooden lid was removed and she nervously limped over to the box.

With every step closer she took, she was seemingly stricken with more fear. Then suddenly the old woman transformed into an ogre. It was not fear, it was eagerness. 

The ogre grabbed the arm and began swiping it furiously at Watanabe. Watanabe was emotionally overwhelmed by this meeting. For a moment petrified. Then, as he was flayed across the room, he instantly came to his senses and drew his katana as fast as he did on that night.

The ogre seeing the light of the lamp shine upon the katana was overwhelmed with fear and let through the ceiling chortling with a menacing laugh and madness as the ogre reclaimed his arm.

Watanabe was disappointed that he had trusted the ogre and not anticipated a shape-shifting power that some ogres are known to have. He sat down as the rain dripped through the ceiling and started onto the moon. 

The light of a new day came in. Watanabe remained respected for his swordsmanship, yet he always felt disappointed that his heart was so supple and susceptible. 

He waited at the gate of Rashomon for another chance many times. The ogre fearful of Watanabe might never return. Thus, Kyoto was saved.

Urashima-Taro

Long ago in a village by the sea, there was a young man named Urashima Taro. He made his living by going out to the sea in his rowboat every day to catch fish. 

But one day when Taro went out to sea, he couldn’t catch any fish. So, he left early and went back to shore. Then, he found some village children making a commotion. 

Going closer, he saw a baby turtle tired of the children’s torment. He shouted at the kids to get out of the place. Taro took pity on the poor little turtle. He took the baby turtle home and took care of it until back to health.

The next day the baby turtle was good, so Taro sat it free back into the sea where it swam happily away and disappeared. A few days later when Taro was fishing, as usual, he heard a voice calling his name. 

Taro thought it strange to hear a voice way out of the sea, but then his name called again. The sound was coming from the water. The voice said that it is a messenger from the Dragon of the Sea. The baby turtle he saved was from the palace of the Sea Dragon.

The messenger continued that it would take him there to repay him for his kindness. The turtle asked him to get on its back. Taro did as he was asked and got onto the turtle’s back. 

Taro met someone there. She welcomed him and introduced herself as Otohime. It is the turtle he saved the other day. She continued that he wanted to see the world above, so he changed himself into a turtle. 

Taro was astounded that the turtle he rescued had become that beautiful princess. She asked him to follow her as her father wished to thank him. Her father welcomed him and thanked him for saving his daughter.

Taro was treated to a fabulous reception. Then the mysterious day was over. Each day was like a dream. Then, one day Taro was taken to a special room where he could forget about time. He could quickly spend an enjoyable year. 

Still, Otohime advised him not to use that room much as there was no way o turn the time back. Taro forgot all about the journey of time. He enjoyed himself in the room time again and again. 

Nevertheless, eventually, he remembered his other life above the sea. The next day he asked about going home. The princess told him to just live in the palace and have fun. Taro was overcome with sadness but she couldn’t stop him.

Taro’s mind was made up. The princess gave him a lid as a memento. With it, he can come back to the Palace of the Sea but he must never ever open the lid on his world.

Once again, Taro got on the turtle’s back to take him to his world above the sea. He left the Palace of the Sea Dragon. Taro went back to the village he longed for so much. The village however had changed. 

Where his house has been was now a big field with big trees and overgrown weeds. The villagers were all people he didn’t know. As taro hang around aimlessly, an old man asked him if he needed any help. Taro asked about his house.

The old man replied that there used to be a deserted old house but that was long ago. Taro was astounded. Then, he knew that what seemed like months at the Palace of the Sea Dragon had passed as decades or even countries here in the village.

Forgetting Otohime’s warning never to open the box, instantly Taro’s hair was gone and he changed into a withered old man with a bent back. NO longer having any place where he belonged, Taro just disappeared. 

Some said he turned into a crane and flew off somewhere but that is another story. 

Chinese Folk Tales

There are various myths and legends in Chinese culture. China has one of the ancient records of myths of all the countries in the world. Some of them go back over 4000 years. Chinese tales contain tales from emperors and heroes to mythical creatures like dragons.  

The Jade Stone: A Chinese Folk Tale

Long ago in China, there lived a stone carver named Chang Lu Chan. Chan Lu spent his days carving birds, deer, and water buffalo from the coloured stones he found near the river.

People came from near and far to buy Chang Lu’s carvings. So, it happened that when the great emperor of all of China was given a perfect piece of green and white cape stone, one of the advisors in the celestial Palace thought of Chang Lu.

Tumble stone Carver was brought before the Great Emperor of All-China. Chang Lu bowed deeply. The emperor’s men carried the precious stone to Chang Lu’s garden. Chang Lu had never seen such a perfect piece of jade.

The great emperor commanded a dragon of wind and fire. Chang Lu wondered if that was what the stone wanted to be. Change Lu bent down and put his ear to the stone. 

From deep inside came a gentle sound. Change Lu wondered, perhaps it was the sound of a dragon’s tail splashing in the ocean. But he was not sure. That evening he thought about dragons. 

The next morning, Chang Lu went to the garden. The stone was spring water green in the morning light. Chang Lu put his ear to the green and white gate and listened. Softly, the sound came. 

But these were not mighty dragon bombers coming from the rock. They were gentle lazy playful sounds. Chang Lu’s heart grew heavy, for he had not heard the emperor’s dragon.

That evening, he tried to think again about dragons. In the middle of the night, Chang Lu awoke. He went into the moonlit garden. The stone showed silver-green in the moonlight. He would listen one last time.

He put his ear to the stone, Silence. Chang Lu ran his hands over the jade and his fingers about tiny ridges. But Chang Lu knew these small delicate ridges were not dragon scales.

His fear weighed heavy in him like a great stone as he picked up his tools and began to carve. He worked slowly and carefully for a year and a day. 

Only in the morning, before the birds were awake, Chang Lu wrapped the jade carving in a cloth and set out for the celestial palace. Chang Lu entered the great hall where the three advisors sat waiting for the Great Emperor of all China.

Chang Lu placed the jade stone on the table in the centre of the room. Soon, the emperor’s advisors grew curious. They scurried to the jade stone and peeked under the cloth.

The emperor roared, his eyes dark with anger and his voice rolling like black thunder.  The emperor’s words burned into Chang Lu’s ears. But the emperor was so angry, that he couldn’t decide which punishment to choose.

Chang Lu was lifted by two palace guards. Then, he was dragged down many flights of stairs and thrown into a black prison cell. The emperor ordered that the jade stone be removed from the celestial palace.

The carver was placed outside, near the reed of the reflecting pool. That night, the emperor dreamed of fish playfully slapping their tails in green water. In the morning, the emperor’s advisor asked about the punishment the emperor choose.

The next day, the emperor dreamed of fish gliding smoothly through the deep, clear water. In the morning, the emperor’s advisor asked if he chose a punishment.  Still, the emperor didn’t decide yet.

On the third night, the emperor groaned and tossed in his sleep but he didn’t dream. He awoke in the darkest hour of the night. A strange sound filled the room.

The emperor got out of bed and went toward the sound. Thereby the reflecting pool was the jade stone. The shining scales of the jade carp glowed in the moonlight. The fish’s slippery bodies were reflected in the pool. 

The Fish seemed ready to flick their tails and swim among the reeds. Gazing at the jade stone until his advisors found him at sunrise. The great emperor smiled an imperial smile. 

The advisors asked the emperor about the punishment he chose. The emperor asked his advisors to bring Chang Lu before him. The emperor spoke to Chang Lu and told him that he also heard the creatures in the stone.

Chang Lu was so pleased that the emperor became happy and asked the emperor to let him return to his village and carve what he hears. The emperor told him that he would return to his village in great honour being the master carver to the Great Emperor of all of China. 

The Lost Horse: A Chinese Folk Tale

It is a story about a man in a far northern kingdom in China. There lived a man who owned a horse, a beautiful horse. It was so beautiful that people from all around come to see his horse, admire its beauty, and congratulate him.

The man would shrug and say “hmm, perhaps”. But a blessing could sometimes be a curse. Sometimes later, his horse ran away and disappeared. Those very same people would come to him and say “ Oh, that’s terribly bad luck” 

People said that he should have built a fence. They say such a bit of bad luck. The man said “perhaps! You know sometimes a curse can be a blessing.” Some weeks later, his horse returned but not alone.

With it, it brought 21 wild horses, and by the law of the land, those 21 horses became the property of that man. Everybody congratulated him. They said that he was really lucky and that they are so jealous and that he must be blessed.

The man shrugged and said, “ Perhaps!. You know sometimes a blessing can be a curse.”. Sometime after his horse returned, his son and only son decided he wanted to try and ride one of the wild horses. 

But it wasn’t broken in, it threw him from its back. The man’s son broke his leg and the bone never healed right, leaving the boy laying. People looked with pity in their eyes, shook their heads, and said “You must have done something terrible in your past life, such a curse.” 

The man shrugged and said, “Perhaps but you know sometimes a curse can be a blessing.”. A few months later, a war broke out, the Emperor’s soldiers came to conscript the young men of the village but the boy with the broken leg couldn’t go.

The man’s lame son was no good as a soldier. They didn’t want him. All the young men who left the village to fight in the war none of them returned.

The people looked at the man with the horse and his lame son and said “You’re so lucky” The man shrugged and said “Perhaps” 

So in these trying times, when the road ahead seems like an uphill struggle, always remember it is sometimes the curses, the hard times in our life which turn out to be the greatest blessings. 

Tikki Tikki Tembo 

Once upon a time a long time ago, it was the custom of all the fathers and mothers in China to give the first and honoured sons quite long names. But second sons were hardly given any name at all.

In a small mountain village, a mother who had two little sons lived there. Her second son she called Chang which meant ‘little’ or ‘nothing’. 

But her first and honoured son, she called Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa Rembo-Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako which meant the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. 

Every morning, the mother went to have a bath in a little stream near her home. The two boys always went playing along with her. On the bank, there was an old well. The mother warned them not to go near the well, otherwise, they would surely fall in the well. The boys didn’t always mind the mother.

One day, Chang fell when they were playing beside the well. Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa Rembo-Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to his mother.

He said: “most honourable mother, Chang has fallen into the well. The mother replied: “The water roars little blossom; I can not hear you.” Then, Tikki Tikki Tembo raised his voice and cried “Chang has fallen into the well.” 

The mother asked him to go to the old man with the ladder to fetch him out. Then, Tikki Tikki Temb ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to the old man with the ladder and said “ Old man with the ladder, Chang has fallen into the well. Will you come and fetch him out?” 

The old man agreed. He went into the well. He steps over step picked up Chang. He brought him out of the well. He pumped the water out of him and pushed the air into him. Soon, Chang was just as good as ever.

For months, the boys go near the well. But after the festival of the eighth moon, they ran to the well to eat their rice cakes. They are near the well and played around the well. They walked on the well. 

Tikki Tikki Tembo fell into the well. Chan ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to his mother and said “ Oh honourable mother, Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa Rembo-Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako has fallen into the well.”

The mother couldn’t hear him so the little Chang took a deep breath and repeated “ Oh mother, most honourable, Tikki Tikki Tembo-no sa Rembo-Hari Kari Bushkie Perry Pem Do Hai Kai Pom Pom Nikki No Meeno Dom Barako has fallen into the well.”

Still, the mother couldn’t hear Change and he repeated what he said but he messed up with his brother’s name. The mother asked him to say his brother’s name correctly. 

Chang was out of breath and couldn’t say that long name again. Then, he thought of his brother in the old well, he bawled his head clear to the sand and took a deep breath, slowly said his brother’s full name, and told her that Tikki Tikki Temo was at the bottom of the well.

The mother ran to the well and asked Chang to go to the old man with the ladder to fetch his brother from the well. He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him to the old man with the ladder. 

Under the tree, the old man set. Chang called him and asked him to go with him but there was no answer. With the very last bit of breath, Chang shouted again and told him that Tikki Tikki Tembo fell into the well. 

The old man with the ladder was annoyed that Chang woke him up from his dreams. Chang begged him to go and get his brother out of the cold well. The old man with the ladder ran fast as he could.

Step over step, he picked the little boy out. He pumped the water out of him. He pushed the air into him. But the little Tikki Tikki Tembo had been in the water so long because of his great long name. 

The moon rose so many times before he was quite the same again. From that day to this, the Chinese have always started wisely to give all the children little short names instead of great long names. 

Roman Tales

The Romans, as they expanded adopted various things from other cultures. They imitated all the Greek gods but they gave them different names to make them Roman and made changes to some of the stories to make the gods appear more like Romans.  

The Legend of Romulus and Remus

It is a myth about two twin brothers who went through a lot and ended up founding the city of Rome. It was written around the 3rd century BC, but the actual story takes place a little bit earlier in the 8the century BC. It takes place in a city called Alba Longa, what is now known as modern Italy.

The original king of Alba Longa had his power taken away by his evil brother Amulius. Amulius was always jealous that his brother was the king and not him. 

Ever since Amulius was a little kid he always plotted to find a way to take his brother’s power away. Since the king’s power is usually passed down from father to son, Amulius literally had no other choice but to kill every single one of Numa tour male offspring. 

Amulius took his brother’s daughter Rhea Silvia and appointed her a vestal ever to live as a virgin within the temple of Vesta and served that goddess of hearth and home that she might never get married and never bear a son having a lawful claim to the throne. 

This was no evidence against the will of the gods. For one day, Mars went down from the heavens and took to himself, Rhea Silvia. She soon found that she was pregnant. Although she strove to keep this secret the penalties against a Vestal who broke her vows were severe.

Rhea Silvia couldn’t hide her stay forever and in time she gave birth to twin boys. When Amulius found out this, he fell into anger. He locked away Rhea Silvia in a prison.

Amulius ordered that the boys be put into a reed basket and set adrift in the river Tiber. The basket floated down the river. Finally coming to rest against the river bank. 

A she-wolf moving down the river to drink came across the basket. It seemed that there were two small motherless babies inside. Offered her own treats for them to suckle.

In this way, a shepherd to Amulius, a man named Faust Alice spotted the two children being cared for gently by the she-wolf. Taking pity on the children, Faust Alice had them home and handed them to his wife Lorenzo to nurse.

Under the care of Faust Alice and Lorenzo, the boys named Romulus and Remus grew up in the young in two young men, tall and strong. They assisted their foster father in his work. They hunted game in the forest. They practised with a bow and spear. They wrestled and boxed.

Soon it became well respected in the lands of Faust Alice’s homestead for their courage and strength, for their honesty, and for the way they stood up for the weak when oppressed by the strong. 

Indeed, one of their favourite pastimes was to lay in wait for robbers to spoil them of their plunder and then share out the goods among the local shepherds. 

It was not long before Romulus and Remus had summoned about them loyal bands of young men who would willingly do anything the brothers asked of them.

One day during the celebration of the feast of Penn, when the young men ran about naked in the honor of the gun. A group of robbers made up their minds to take their revenge upon the twins.

The robbers lay in a surprise attack for the lads as they celebrated the festival. While Romulus managed to fight his way free, Remus was caught captive. He was brought before Amulius. 

Amulius was allowed to live in his state near Alba Longa. Remus, therefore, was sent to Numa Tour to command punishment. 

Although Faust had suspected for some time that Romulus and Remus were the twin son of Rhea Silvia who had been condemned to exposure by Amuluis, he said nothing to anyone about this following to protect the children from their wicked uncle. 

But seeing that Remus had been taken by the king, Faust thought to pour out his story to Romulus, telling him the whole truth of his parentage and how he came to be raised in a shepherd’s hut.

Soon after hearing the truth of his and his brother’s parentage, Romulus was frightened for the life of Remus and desired to have revenge upon his uncle for his misdeeds. 

Romulus, therefore, assembled a band of his friends and headed to the palace of Amulius where they were soon joined by Remus who had been set free by Numa Tour.

He gathered his own band of companions together. The brothers and their friends stole to the palace and there Romulus killed the king. When Numa Tour heard of the assault on the palace, he at first summoned guards to deal with what he supposed was a foreign invasion. 

But when Romulus and Remus came to him at the head of their band of powerful friends and proclaimed Numa Tour king, Numa Tour assembled a council of all the nobles of the land. He told the nobles the story of Amulius’ usurping the throne and killing all the Numa Tour heirs.

He also told the nobles how Amulius had imprisoned Rhea Silvia and condemned Romulus and Remus to exposure. He clarified that Romulus and Remus were his own grandsons. He also said that the vile Amulius had been put to death in answer for his crimes.

The nobles and the people gladly proclaimed Numa Tour their rightful king, so he took the throne of Alba Longa. Although the twin could expect to inherit  Alba Longa after the death of their grandfather, they didn’t want to wait for a city of their own to rule.

They went out from Alba Longa searching for a place closer to where they had been fostered to find a new settlement. Along the river Tiber, they discovered a place that looked good where the river ran among Seven Hills. 

Romulus thought palatine hill was by far the best place partly because it was closest to where they had been found as babies. Remus disagreed with the Aventine hill. He said had a better aspect being less steep and therefore easier to build on. 

That surely was a more serious reason than the one Romulus clung to. Also, there was the problem of who would rule the city as soon as it was built as Romulus and Remus were twins. 

Neither could demand to have more of a claim than the other because of age. The brothers debated at length over what was to be done. Yet, neither would yield to the other. Wishing still to resolve their quarrel peacefully, they went to Numa Tour to seek his advice.

Numa Tour suggested they determine which course to follow by augury since surely a sign from the god would be the best guide in such a great undertaking as to the foundation of the city.

The brothers agreed that this was a piece of wise advice and so returned with their followers to the place along the Tiber. Remus stated that Aventine hill was the place where he would search for augury while Romulus took the Palatine.

While they watched a fight of six vultures was seen above the Aventine hill which Remus took to be a sign that his cause was in the right. But soon after that Romulus reported 12 vultures above Palatine hill. 

Since they had not determined how the augury was to be interpreted beforehand, Remus claimed himself the victor because birds has been seen over his hill first. While Romulus said the prize should go to him since his hill had a greater number of birds.

This time, the quarrel did come to blows. In the fight that ensued Romulus killed his brother, thus becoming the sole ruler of the new kingdom. After confirming that Remus was properly buried, Romulus stated about building his new city.

First, he ploughed a furrow some distance from where the city walls would be, to mark out the boundaries of the city. Then, he commenced the building of the walls. 

In time, Romulus instituted laws in a system of government adopting the Etruscan custom of appointing 12 lictors, counsellors who attended the king and helped meet out justice.

Romulus also appointed 100 senators to help make the laws. One thing however was missing in this new state, there were not enough women among the settlers. Therefore insufficient children to keep its laws and customs when their parents were gone.

Romulus, therefore, sent emissaries to many neighbouring cities asking whether any of their families or women might be willing to join this new Enterprise on the banks of the Tiber.

But nowhere did the emissaries find anyone ready to leave their homes and live in the new city which was now known as Rome, after the name of its founder. 

Romulus and his companions considered this a great insult. They decided that if they were not to be allowed brides by consent, they would have them by force. 

The Romans, therefore, stated that they would have great games at the feast of Consuela, a harvest festival sacred to Neptune. They sent invitations to all the neighbouring cities and made preparations for the feasting.

When the time came, people from the districts all around responded to the invitation. Gladly coming to watch the competitions and honour the god, The Sabine people attended in particularly great numbers, bringing with them their wives and their children as did families from other neighbouring tribes.

But the games and the feasting were just a ruse. At Romulus’s signal, the Romans fell upon the young women who came to the festival and dragged them back into the city. 

The families were angry and asked for the return of their daughters but the Romans refused, saying that they too had the right to marry and have children. And that it had been unjust of their neighbours to deny this to them. 

The Romans also promised that they would treat the women well and that the families had no reason to worry about that score. This for sure did not satisfy the families. 

Families went to Titus Tatius, king of Sabines asking that he might raise an army to get their daughters back. When Titus didn’t act quickly enough, the other tribes massed their own armies and jointly attacked Rome.

But their campaign was ill-conceived and disorganized. Soon, the attacking armies were routed by Romulus and his troops and their own towns took before the Romans could despoil the towns and slay the inhabitants. 

Herselio, the wife of Romulus, begged her husband to despair the townspeople, for their captive daughters had entreated her to ask this over. 

Romulus came to an agreement but on the condition that they joined the Roman state. To this, the defeated townspeople gladly agreed. Some of the Romans moved to Rome itself while others took up farms in the defeated districts.

Both expanding Romulus rule in making peace between the old cities and the new. Although Titus Tatius had not participated in the first assault upon Rome, he had not been idle. He gathered his army and placed his plans carefully.

First, one of the Sabine generals paid off a Sabine woman to let soldiers of her own nation into the citadel of Rome. They then killed the woman. 

Soon, the citadel was in the hands of the Sabines. Romulus gathered his army and laid siege. But not before the Romans were at the very gates did the Sabines do battle.

The fight went for the Romans until their chief general was slain. Then, the Romans line buckled and the soldiers began to fly from the Sabines. Romulus himself was taken in the fight for the gates.

He prayed the Jupiter to give him the victory promising that a great temple would be built in honour of the god if he were successful. Crying out that the god Jupiter himself commanded to the Romans turn and fight.

Romulus rallied his troops and thus turned the tide of the battle seeing that their menfolk were being put to the slaughter. The Sabine women were released forth from the citadel. 

They stood between the combatants saying that they would rather die themselves than see a such conflict between their parents and husbands.

At this, the Sabines and Romans put down their weapons and agreed to a truce, placing the Sabine territories under the rule of Rome. Romulus, therefore, strengthened his authority and well established his city. 

Although there were some more wars in the years that followed, the Romans appeared victorious in all of these. Romulus ruled wisely and was respected by his own people as well as by his allies.

Under his rule, Rome had a long period of peace. Then one day as Romulus was in the Campus Martius checking his army, a storm went down with much thunder, and a cloud covered Romulus, hiding him from the sight of his men.

When the storm passed and the cloud had disappeared, Romulus was nowhere to be found. The senators who had been placed next to the king stated that Romulus had been picked up to heaven by a divine storm and that their king now ruled immortal among the gods themselves.

One senator broke with Julius and said that Romulus had later appeared to him and that it was his will that the Roman state thrives and flourish and that it became the very capital of the world itself. 

The people agreed that surely their king had been taken up into immortality and thus they strove to follow his command that Rome became the greatest state on earth.

The Mighty Hercules

Hercules was the prime of the mythological Greek heroes. He was popular for his incredible strength, courage, and intelligence. Hercules is actually his Roman name. The Greeks called him Heracles.

He was a demigod, which means that he was half god and half-human. His father was Zeus, the king of the gods, and his mother was Alcmene, a human. 

Hercules was very strong even as a baby. When Hera Zeus’s wife came to know of her husband’s illegitimate child, she wanted to kill the baby.  She sent two large snakes into the crib. 

The snakes slit towards the bed. The Viper that was outside in front stuck out his tongue and hissed. It reared its head. That was the last thing it did because the boy shut out his hand and grabbed it by the neck.

The other snake slid quickly across the floor towards him but the child caught that one too and began to shake it violently. The nurse heard the disorder and came rushing into the nursery. Yet, it was too late for the snakes. Hercules had killed them both.

Hercules grew into a fine teenager and he was, without doubt, the strongest man on earth. One day, he met the Oracle of Delphi to get some advice. The Oracle told Hercules that he must serve king Eurystheus for ten years, and do any task the king asked of him.

Hercules obeyed and met king Eurystheus. The king was jealous of Hercules and did not like him at all. So, the king gave Hercules 

 Impossible tasks to do, hoping that Hercules would fail.

Task 1:

 Eurystheus told Hercules has got a lion that was the cause of suffering in the land of Nemea. It was attacking not only animals but people as well. 

Hercules’s first task was to hunt and kill the Nemean lion. He travelled to Nemean. The local people showed him in the direction of the lion’s cave. When Hercules reached the cave, he hid behind a boulder and waited for the lion to come out.

He waited and waited but the lion didn’t show up. When it was evening, the lion yawned and walked out of the cave. The Nemean lion had large teeth and skin so thick that it could not be pierced by arrows.

Everyone in the land of Nemea was terrified of it. A lot of hunters had tried to kill the beast but no one had succeeded. Hercules took aim and shot an arrow. It rushed towards the lion and had it in the chest. But instead of penetrating his skin, the arrow simply bounced off.

The lion looked with concern at his brave attacker, who was this fellow, no ordinary human of the curse. Seeing that Hercules was as strong and fierce as himself, he decided to retreat into his cave. 

Hercules uprooted a tree and sealed the entrance so the lion may not escape. Once he was inside the cave, he saw the gleaming green eyes of the lion waiting to attack him. The lion was strong but Hercules was stronger than the lion.

He bounced on the lion. He fought and grappled with the man-eating beast and finally defeated it, killing it with his bare hands. That’s how Hercules completed his first task.

King Eurystheus was not very happy when he saw Hercules walking into his palace wearing the lion skin. Hercules had completed his second-day work by killing the Nemean lion. So, this time he decided to give Hercules a tougher task.

Hercules was given the task to fight another terrible creature known as the Lernaean Hydra. The Hydra was a big snake, a very big one, and it had nine heads.

Task 2: 

The king knew that anyone who came near the monster’s den in the swamp would be killed by the snake’s poisonous breath. Also, if anyone tried to cut off any of its heads, two more would grow in its place.

The Hydra was indeed a fierce opponent. Even Hercules didn’t think he could fight this monster on his own. He considered the help of his nephew Iolaus. 

Hercules was very clever too. When they reached the swamp, he could sense the poisonous air inside the den. They realized the danger and did not enter the den. They lured the monster out of the swamp.

Hercules did not waste any time and he jumped into action. Hercules fought the Hydra fiercely.  Each time he chopped off one of its heads, Iolaus spurned it before another set of heads sprouted out. 

Hercules and Iolaus clubbed off the monster’s nine heads. But one head refused to die. So, Hercules crushed the head and buried it deep in the ground.

He returned to Eurystheus with the news of his victory, but the king was not satisfied because he didn’t fight Hydra on his own. So, the labour did not count. 

Task 3:

Hercules’s next task was to bring the sacred deer of Artemis which had iron feet and golden horns. It was called the Ceryneian Hind.

The Ceryneian Hind was not a monster like the Nemean lion or the Hydra. It was a noble creature, depicted with iron feet and golden horns that could outrun an arrow.

The sacred Hind belonged to Artemis goddess of wilderness. Hercules went out to hunt down and catch the golden stag of Artemis. Hercules spent almost a year wandering the forest in search of the Hind.

Finally, one night while the stag was sleeping, Hercules crept out of the sleeping animal and caught it by throwing a net over the sleeping animal. At once, Artemis appeared before Hercules.

Even though Artemis was a goddess, she feared the strength of the son of Zeus. She brought Apollo, her twin brother, along for moral support. Hercules apologized for his deeds. Then, he explained how he needed to capture the deer for completing the tasks given to him.

Artemis consulted with her brother and agreed on a compromise. Hercules was allowed to take the sacred deer to the Eurystheus alive but then, he must let it go. Hercules agreed.

He returned to the city gates with the deer. He knew that if the deer didn’t return safely, Artemis would hurt him. So, thinking fast Hercules agreed to give the king the deer under one condition that the king comes outside the city gates and get the deer himself.

The king agreed and arrived at the city gates. Just as the king was about to take the Hind, Hercules let it go and the deer sprinted back to Artemis. Eurystheus was furious.

Hercules told the king that he was not fast enough and that’s why the Hind escaped. That’s how mighty Hercules completed his third task.

Task 4: 

The fourth labour of Hercules was to bring the wild boar of Erymanthus back to the castle alive. This time Eurystheus was sure that Hercules would get killed while trying to capture the boar.

It was called Eyramantheon boar because it lived on a mountain called Eyramanthus. This pig was huge, wild, and with a bad temper and tusks growing out of its mouth. 

Every day the boar would come crashing down from his lair on the mountain attacking men and children. It was easy enough for Hercules to find the boar. 

He could hear the beast’s snorting and stomping as it rooted around for something to eat. Hercules chased the boar round and round the mountain shouting as loud as he could.

The boar frightened and out of breath hid in a thicket. Hercules poked his sear into the thicket and drove the exhausted animal into a deep patch of snow. 

He ran after the boar through the snowfield where it fell down from exhaustion. He trapped it with a net, then bound its feet and prompted it over his shoulder to carry it back to Eyramanthus.

King Euyrstheus didn’t expect Hercules to complete the labour. He was completely terrified when he saw the live boar snorting and squealing wildly. He immediately fled and hid in a half-buried bronze pathos which was like a giant storage jar. 

He demanded that Hercules get rid of the boar before he dared to step out. Hercules left the place and took the boar with him. Disgruntled, He couldn’t understand why the king would ask of bringing back the boar if he was afraid of it.

King Eurystheus was ashamed now. Everyone had seen him hiding when Hercules brought the Eyramanatheon boar into the palace. He somehow had to get rid of Hercules. Now he finally came up with the next task for Hercules.

Task 5:

It was to kill the Stymphalian birds. The Stymphalian birds were just plain nasty. The people in the area spent their days and nights hiding from these frightful birds. 

The Stymphalian birds were depicted as having pointed beaks and ripping claws as well their feathers were created from razor-sharp bronze. 

At the lake which was deep in the woods, Hercules had no idea how to drive the huge gathering of birds away. Goddess Athena appeared before him and gave him a pair of bronze Crotona.

These were noise-making clappers similar to castanets. These were no ordinary castanets. This was created by Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths. The castanets created tremendous sounds that would scare every living thing in the vicinity.

Hercules thanked Athena and Hephaestus for their gift and started climbing a hill nearby. Once he reached the top, he began to furiously shake the rattle. The loud noise shocked the birds and they ran away from the Marsh into the open air.

Hercules began to shoot as many as he could with his poisonous arrows. When the last bird knocked down,, the people hiding inside their huts and homes hurried outside and cheered. 

Hercules retrieved the birds he had slain to bring back to King Eurystheus to prove that he had successfully completed his labour. Once again, Eurystheus was not happy. 

Task 6: 
This time Eurysthesus gave Hercules the labour of travelling to Audion and cleaning the king of Aegean stables in a single day. This didn’t seem like much of a task for an immortal hero.

Although these specific stables housed thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses, the stable had not been washed up in 30 years. The Aegean king was said to have more cattle than any man in Greece. 

Hercules showed up before the king of Audion and offered to clean up his stable in one day. The king walked up to him and spoke to him confidently that if he did it, he would give over to him the 10th part of all his possessions in cattle.

Hercules didn’t say anything about how he was sent by Eurystheus or about his labours of redemption. He accepted the offer and set off to work. He took the king’s son along to watch.

First, the hero cut a big opening in the wall of the cattle yard where the stables existed. Then, he tore another opening in the wall on the opposite side of the yard. 

Hercules set to work tearing a big hole in front of the stable yards. Next, Hercules cut a hole in the back wall of the stable yards. These holes were connected to the two rivers flowing nearby.

Hercules then turned the course of the rivers into the yard. The rivers rushed through the stables flushing them out and all of the mess flowed out of the hole in the wall on the other side of the yard.

That’s how Hercules accomplished the menial work without stooping to anything unworthy of an immortal. He met the king after completing the task and asked for the promised reward.

However, the king of Audion learned that Hercules’s work had been done in the service of Eurystheus, he now refused to reward Hercules saying that if Hercules didn’t agree, he could seek a settlement at the Audion courts.

So, Hercules did just that, the judge took his seat. Hercules called the son of Aegeus to testify. The boy swore that his father agreed to give him a reward. The judge declared that Hercules would have to be paid.

The king reluctantly paid Hercules. Then, he promptly banished both his son and Hercules from his kingdom. So, the boy went to the north country to live with his aunt and Hercules headed back to Mycena.

With all of the animals who housed the stables coming home that night from the fields, they saw clean beds of hay, warm buckets of oats and freshwater running. They couldn’t have been happier.

But Eurystheus said that this labour didn’t count because Hercules was paid for having done the work. 

Task 7:

 One-day king Minos, the ruler of Crete, prayed to the sea god Poseidon for a special bull to sacrifice to Zeus, the highest Olympian god. Poseidon granted his wish and a magnificent bull emerged from the ocean. 

King Minos was dazzled by the beauty of this amazing creature. King Minos decided not to sacrifice this bull and sacrifice another one instead. 

When Poseidon came to know about this, he punished Minos for his disobedience by making Pasiphae, the king’s wife, fall in love with this animal. As a result, Pasiphae delivered the Minotaur.

The Minotaur was a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. Poseidon was still made at the king, so he turned the bull mad that fire was coming out of its nostrils.

To the Minoans bulls were sacred. It was religiously forbidden to kill a bull. They tried to capture it again without harming it but they failed. The bull hid during the day. At night, it caused destruction from one end of the island to the other.

To capture the bull, master it, and bring it before Eurystheus was the 7th labour of Hercules.

Hercules arrived in Crete as instructed by Eurystheus. The beast was hiding in a forest at the far end of the island. When the bull saw Hercules, it was scared. 

It didn’t fight Hercules and bowed its head down. Hercules quickly grabbed its horn and climbed on top. So thoroughly did Hercules master the animal that he drove it back to King Eurystheus.

Eurystheus saw that Hercules had succeeded in bringing back the Cretan bull, he planned to sacrifice the beast to his benefactor, the Greek goddess Hera. 

Hera hated Hercules. she didn’t wish to receive a sacrifice because of the work of her husband’s illegitimate son and refused the offer. Eurystheus has no other option than to set the bull free.

When it was no longer under the management of Hercules, the bull became wild again and wandered in the city, destroying everything in its sight. It wandered around Greece, frightening the people and ended up in Marathon, a city near Athens.

At Marathon, the bull stopped its wandering and rather caused damage to property and people like what it had done in Crete. Later, it acquired the name Marathonian bull. 

Later, Theseus, the son of the king of Athens Egeus, set forth to capture the bull. He went to Marathon and indeed successfully caught the bull. He then went back to Athens where he sacrificed it to Athena or Apollo. Theseus of course later travel to Crete where he killed the offspring of the Cretan bull. 

Task 8:

Diomedes was the mean king of Thrace. He was a mean giant who ruled the land ruthlessly. Diomedes was the son of Mars the god of war. He was considered the great worrier. 

He owned four ferocious mares who were so wild that they had to be secured with an iron chain. They were kept in a bronze manger tied to a golden post. These terrible creatures had fire coming out of their nostrils.

They sometimes ate humans too. The evil king would feed the innocent newcomers to the island with his horses. Stealing the mares of Diomedes was the 8th task of Hercules. 

King Diomedes had a huge army of Bastognian men who were a bunch of nasty barbarians. They always kept guard of the king’s mares.

Hercules took with him his young squire Abduros whom he cared for very much. They sailed with his volunteer across the Aegean and after many days of travel, they finally reached Thrice.

Once they reached the island, off they went in the middle of the night to steal the man-eating mares. They snuck up on the horses. But before he could release them, Bastongnian men saw them and attacked them.

Diomedes woke up hearing the commotion, he was not very happy when heard that Hercules was trying to steal his favourite mares. Hercules asked Abduros to take care of the mares while he went ahead and fought Diomedes.

The king was huge but Hercules was stronger and smarter. Hercules defeated the king easily and returned to Abduros. But it was too late when the mares got hungry, they ate his favourite squire. 

When Hercules saw this, he was very sad and angry. Enraged Hercules fed Diomedes to his own mares. Once the mares were done munching on their former master, they reverted to being regular calm mares.

When the Bastongnian and soldiers saw what happened to their kings, they started running away. Hercules rode the calm mares back to Macedonia and presented them before Eurystheus.

Eurystheus ordered the horses to be taken to Olympus to be sacrificed to Zeus. But Zeus refused the sacrifice and instead he sent lions and bears to kill the wild mares.

The mares indeed had such a notorious reputation. It was said that one of the mares managed to survive and had powerful descendants. Alexander of Macedonia or Alexander the Great was believed to have ridden one of them. 

As for Hercules he greatly grieved over the loss of his friend and later founded a city in honour of Abduros naming it after him. 

Task 9:

Hippolyte was the queen of the tribe of the Amazons in Greek Mythology. She was the daughter of the god of war, Ares, who had given her a magical belt as a gift. The belt didn’t seem to be outstanding.

At first glance, the belt seemed like nothing more than any other leather belt. But this one held magical properties that were granted to Hippolyte as she wore it. It also represented the authority over her people, much in the same as that a crown signified aking’s power.

King Eurystheus wanted to present this belt to his daughter. This was the ninth labour of Hercules. 

The Amazons inhabited the region of the river Therodyne and were a race of strong women who followed the occupation of men. They were an all-female tribe of warriors who hated and distrusted men.

Hercules gathered his warrior companions into a ship and sailed through the black sea to accomplish his 9th task. They sailed for many days and Hercules kept thinking of ideas to get the belt Hippolyta.

There was no way that his small band of supporters could defeat a whole nation of dedicated warriors.

After a long journey, they have reached the land of Amazons. Hercules and the Greeks got off the boat and waited at the dock. Hippolyte was informed by her warriors that a ship had appeared on the horizon.

The amazons never had visitors to their homeland before. Both she and her people were concerned about these newcomers to their lands. When Hippolyte arrived at the dock, Hercules greeted her and asked her permission to meet her in private. 

In the candlelight, Hercules told his story. Hippolyte listened concealing her pity and feelings. She was torn because she knew what the belt symbolized to herself as well as to her people.

But she was not heartless and felt great pity, compassion, and sorrow upon hearing Hercules’s story. Finally, Hippolyte agreed to give him the belt, so he could finish his 9th task.

Hera who hated Hercules overheard this and she was not very happy. She has been trying to foil and curse Hercules at every opportunity for years. 

Hera disguised as an Amazon warrior and went up and down the army saying to each woman that the strangers who had arrived going to carry off the Queen. 

The amazons were terrified. They put on their armour and raced down the hill. They began a battle with Hercules and his crew. Hippolyte didn’t understand what had happened and tried to calm her people but they were too angry to listen.

In the great battle that ensued, Hippolyte got accidentally killed. Hercules knew that he didn’t have much time before his ship would be completely overrun.

He kissed Hippolyte lightly on the cheek and with the belt in his grasp set sail towards Mycenae. When he reached back home. He gave the belt to king Eurystheus, thus completing the 9th task.

Task 10:

Obtaining the cattle of Geryon from Eurasia was Hercules’s 10th labour. These cattle were magnificent beasts with coasts made red by the red light of the sunset.

The danger in this task though was the fact that the cattle were owned by Geryon. Geryon himself was enormous. He was depicted as having three bodies, three heads, six arms as well as six feet.

Geryon was the son of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe who was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, which made Geryon the grandson of the Titans. On his island, Geryon kept a herd of red cattle guarded by Cerberus’s brother, Orthus, a two-headed hound, and the fierce herdsmen Eurytion.

Hercules set off for Eurythia, encountering and promptly killing many wild beasts along the way. After a long wandering through the desert country, he came at last to a fruitful land through which great streams flowed.

Here he founded a city of vast size which he named Apollodorus, which means city of a hundred gifts. When Hercules reached the most Western point of his journey, he spilt a mountain in half and created the Strait of Gibraltar.

These mountains were later known as the Pillars of Hercules. Hercules then crossed the Libyan desert. After travelling through the desert for three days and three nights. Hercules was so hot and thirsty.

By now, he got so angry that he shot an arrow at the sun. Helios or the Sunn god was not mad at Herculesfailed attempt to kill him. Instead, Helios admired Hercules’s courage and granted him a golden cup. 

This wasn’t a cup for drinking. For you see, it was a cup that would allow the last leg of Hercules’s journey. It was a special cup that Hercules was going to sail into the island of Eurythia.

The golden pot allowed Hercules to quickly sail to Eurythia. On the island shoreline, the hero landed. Not long after he arrived, Orthus attacked Hercules. So, Hercules bashed him with his club, killing him in a single stroke.

He also killed the giant herdsmen who came to help the dog. Just as Hercules was hurrying away with the cattle, he was confronted by Geryon himself.

Hercules exhausted from his travels, took out an arrow and dipped it in the poisonous blood from the Hydra, and shot Gerron on each of his three heads, killing him instantly.

Hera, however, was not about letting the hero accomplish this labour. When Hercules reached Thrice, Hera sent a swarm of gadflies to bite the cattle. When the gadflies began biting the cattle, they got frightened and scattered all over the island.

It took Hercules a whole year to gather back all the cattle and continue his journey. Hera then caused the river Strymon to flood to make it impassable. The flood was only a minor setback.

Hercules threw rocks into the river all the way to be shallow enough for the cattle to safely cross it. Eventually, Hercules returned to the court of King Eurystheus driving the cattle of Geryon before him.

Once again Eurystheus was disappointed by the fact that Hercules had not died in the attempt of the task. Taking the cattle from the hero, Eurystheus sacrificed all of the herd to his benefactor Hera. 

Eurystheus wasted no time and he summoned Hercules to give him his next labour. 

Task 11: 

Eurystheus asked Hercules to find him three golden apples from the trees of Hesperides. As Hercules went on his journey, he met three maidens. He asked them about the way to Hesperides. They told him that he had to ask the old man of the sea.

The maidens told Hercules that when he met the old man, he would hold him tight as he could easily escape. Once he did, Hercules couldn’t be able to find him because no one knows where he live.

Hercules thanked the maidens and made his way to the seashore. There he saw the old man sleeping. He instantly jumped on him and held him tightly. Hercules asked him for the way to Hesperides.

The old man immediately tried to escape, he turned himself into a stag, then into a sea bird, and every other animal form possible to escape from Hercules. But he couldn’t.

The old man told Hercules that it was an island in the middle of the sea. He told Hercules to keep walking along the seashore until he met a giant. Then, Hercules could ask the giant to show him the way.

Hercules reached the huge and strong giant that was sleeping. Hercules woke him up but the giant was very angry and struck Hercules with the club. But Hercules was strong.

Hercules attacked the giant and threw him down. The giant attacked Hercules back and every time Hercules threw him down. Then, Hercules lifted it in the air and kept him there. This made the giant slowly lose all of its strength.

Afraid of the giant, pleaded with Hercules to put him down on the ground. Then, Hercules asked him about the way to the Hesperides. The giant told him to go and meet the Atlas.

Hercules went on his journey again. He met Atlas. He was holding the sky on his shoulders. Hercules told him that he wanted the golden apples and his labour.

Atlas told him that Hesperides was so far from there and he was the only one who could go there. Atlas told him that he could get him the apples if he could hold the sky for him. 

Hercules agreed and took the burden of the sky on his shoulders as Atlas walked away. He returned after some time with three gold apples and put them at Hercules’s feet. 

Hercules thanked him and asked him to take back the sky. Atlas told him that he held the sky for a thousand years so Hercules had to hold it for the next thousand years. 

Hercules was shocked to hear that but he calmly asked Atlas for some more help. He asked Atlas to hold the sky until he adjusted his shoulders, and then he would take it back. 

As soon as Atlas took the sky from Hercules, he picked up the three golden apples and left. Hercules made his way back to Greece and gave the apples to the king.

The king was surprised to see that Hercules succeeded but he pretended to be happy and gave him a reward. Hercules completed his 11th task. 

Task 12: 

For the final and most difficult task, king Eurystheus asked Hercules to bring him Cerberus from the underworld to prove his strength and fearlessness. To Eurystheus this seemed an impossible task. 

Cerberus was a wild beast that guarded the entrance to Hades and kept the living from entering the world of the dead. According to some legends, Cerberus was a strange mixture of creatures. 

He had three heads of wild dogs, a dragon for a tail, and heads of snakes all over its back. Hercules was not daunted. Before starting the trip to the underworld, Hercules settled that he should take some extra precautions. 

This was in any case a journey from which no mortal had ever survived. Hercules made his mind to be initiated in the Eleusinian mysteries in order to learn how to travel alive from the world of the living to the realm of the dead and vice versa. 

The ancients were confident that those who acknowledged the secrets of the mysteries would have happiness in the underworld. After the hero met a few conditions, the priests initiated Hercules into the mysteries.

Then, with the strength to meet the horrors of the underworld, Hercules travelled to the Laconian city of Tenaris which contained the opening to the underworld.

Through a deep rocky cave, Hercules made his trip down to the underworld. He faced monsters, heroes, and ghosts as he made his way through. 

The first barrier to the soul’s journey beyond the grave was the River Styx. One could cross this river only with the help of Sharon, the boatman’s ferryboat.

Sharon accepted those who were only dead and whose corps had gold coins under their tongues. Hercules met neither condition. Suddenly, goddess Hestia appeared and she helped him negotiate with Sharon. 

Sharon agreed and helped Hercules to cross the Styx. Hercules then found the entrance to the underworld. But instead of attacking Cerberus, he went straight to Hades to ask permission to take his beloved hellhound.

Hades was impressed by the respect shown by Hercules and coming to him first before going to his hound. Hades was so impressed in fact that he allowed Hercules to try his luck but only on a few occasions.

Hercules could not kill or seriously injure Cerberus. This meant no weapons could be used. He found the hound camping near the dwelling of Acheron.

Without paying any attention to the bellowing three heads which were like the echo of fearful resounding thunder, he seized the dog by the legs, put his arms around his neck, and wouldn’t let him go.

The dragon tail of the animal kept biting him on his cheek. But Hercules held the dog even stronger. Cerberus had to bow to the force of the hero. Hercules left the underworld. 

The king who thought this was a suicide mission was shocked, dismayed, and frightened when he saw Hercules with Cerberus cowering behind his throne.

He gave Hercules due credit for this final labour. Hercules then went on to return the dog to its master. Hades made an appearance in front of Eurystheus demanding to know why he would want his favourite pup as a trophy.

Eurystheus almost fainted begging Hades for forgiveness and asking that he spare him. Eurystheus revealed that he received orders for all of Hercules’s labours from Hera herself.

The tale goes that a none-too-happy Hades visited Hera and warned her if she ever sent Hercules on any such errand again, she would have to deal with him. 

Thus, did the labours of Hercules come to an end

Egyptian Mythology

The Ancient Egyptians believed in a variety of deities! They had gods for everything, from dangers to chores, and each had different duties and had to be worshipped for life could be kept in balance. 

The Great Myth – of Amun-Ra

When it comes to myths and legends, the most common theme in creation across cultures is the will of a creator god who separates the earth from the heavens, shapes the landscape, and creates people from clay, twigs, sweat, or even from his fleas.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, this god was Amun Ra, the divinity who brought himself into existence, and then followed the creation of every single thing in the universe.

According to the myth, Amun was the chief god throughout most of Egyptian history, the lord of the sky, and the almighty king of the Egyptian world.

He is perceived as the deity present in chaos at the creation of the cosmos, the mysterious creator god whose name meant the hidden one. 

Although Amun’s true form was said to be unknowable, he was mostly portrayed as a bearded man, as a pharaoh in the prime of life wearing a turban surrounded by two long feathers symbolic of dominance over both upper and lower Egypt.

Originally the god was painted with red-brown skin but later was shown depicted in all blue illustrating his union with the sky and appeared in a wide variety of other forms.

His origins are said to be obscure but Amun and his female counterpart were part of the group of the eight primordial deities who came to be known as Ogdoad of Hermopolis.

They were listed among the divine protectors of the kings mentioned in the pyramid texts representing the invisible power. As early as the middle kingdom, Amun has been linked to another deity to become the embodiment of males’ strength and sexual power.

From there forth, he earned epithets followed by theories rising around his birth and how he populated the world. Through the name Amun Min, he gained the nickname meaning the bull of his mother.

A figure that came from the notion that since he was the first god formed, he couldn’t have had a father and had to impregnate his mother. Amun Ra was the mysterious originator of all life and was known as the one who made himself into millions.

In the temple of Thebes, he was given a partner in the form of a royal priestess known as the god’s wife. One of her duties seems to have been to physically arouse the gods so that he would continue the ongoing work of creation by generating life.

Like the ram god ban of Judah, Amun was said to be mystically united with the queen of Egypt to sire the heir to the throne. This legend of royal birth was depicted in several Theben temples.

For instance, in the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, there is a relief of her mother being impregnated by the god. 

In the new kingdom, the cult of Amun was over time combined with those of other deities particularly that of the sun god Ra. 

Becoming Amun Ra, he was worshipped as the king of the gods and the creator of the world and its inhabitants, earning the name Nebuchad, the lord without limit. 

Another hymn tells that Amun Ra was a whole of three gods above everything in reality. Amun was the hidden one, the entity that cannot be known. Ra was set to be the visible form of the creator, especially through his features. 

However, he also had a secret name, the knowledge which could bring great power to whoever gets his hands on it. He is the god regarded as concealed but still widely spread throughout the cosmos.

Unlike the other important deities, Amun didn’t seem to have been thought of as living in some distant celestial realm. He was everywhere unseen but felt like the wind.

Based on some accounts, Amun was worshipped outside Egypt as well, primarily in Libya and Nubia where he is chiefly symbolized by a curly-horned ram or as a ram-headed sphinx.

The lord of the thrones ruled as a divine pharaoh and was considered the father of each Egyptian king. Being a member of the Ogdoad, he was also shown with a snake’s head. The form in which he was revered at Thebes. 

The Egyptian deity Amun was drawn as a manifestation of the ancient sun god of Heliopolis, which effectively raised his prestige and earned him the title of the king f the gods. 

He was also worshipped at the great temple complex of Karnak and Thebes as the hidden god, becoming the local patron of that area, the paternal figure in a Theben triad of deities alongside his new consort, the goddess Maat and their son, the youthful moon god Khonsu.

In the temple of Amenhotep III at Luxor, the great hall of hypostyle is filled with wall paintings of Amun and the pharaoh which contains several processions honouring the god and allowing the Amun priesthood to turn into a powerful force in Egypt. 

But unfortunately, the pharaoh Amenhotep IV truly disliked the cult devoted to Amun and brought forth the worship of Aten, leading eventually to conflicts of beliefs between them. 

The story relates how the fanatical Pharaoh tried to establish the disk of the midday sun as the only god, both literally and symbolically. He deserted the old capital of Thebes where the god Amun Ra was worshipped and built a new city in honour of the solar disk.

He also named his son Tutankhamun, which means the living image of Aten. But with the abandonment of the pharaoh’s city and new reforms, the boy took the name from which history now knows him, the Pharoah Tutankhamun.

Amun Ra became revered as a transcendental self-created deity who maintained his secrecy and became the life force within everything in existence, including gods. 

He was considered to be unfathomable by any other being, mortal or divine. The Egyptians honoured him as a supreme benefactor of mankind who bestowed the individual blessing of life and received praise from the powerful and helpless one alike.

The god Amun retained chief importance in the Egyptian pantheon throughout the new kingdom, except for the atheist Hersey under the Pharoah Amenhotep IV.

A question that is left unanswered is that is to know who genuinely the creator god between Amun and Ra. Despite being worshipped in different eras, perhaps these two entities emerged together since they are much more alike or they are just the same deity with different names.

This mystery would probably be left unknown, certainly because there is the knowledge that can’t be revealed. Therefore, remaining forever secrets. 

Conclusion

Myths are the source of inspiration for humans throughout time. People used the majority of these tales to reintroduce morals to the ages. These stories record the observations of the people who established them. This article introduces tales from different countries around the world. It introduced Indian tales, Irish tales, Greek tales as well as Chinese tales. 

Electricity: Definition, Types, and 20 Tips

Electricity plays an important role in about every aspect of modern-day living. It gives the power to almost all of the daily life appliances, such as microwaves, Air Fryer, TV. etc. It is considered a physical phenomenon, it is not invented by humans. 

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the discovery of electricity since he proved that lightning is a state of electrical energy after applying his kite experiment. Electric current is measured in amperes, it is abbreviated as “amps”.

Electricity is a kind of energy that can assemble in one place or rush from one place to another. If electricity gathers in one place it is named static electricity, which indicates that it doesn’t move. While electricity that moves is named current electricity.  

What Do You Know about Electrical Circuits?

A circuit is a path for electrons to move through. These circuits allow electricity to be used to provide power to any electrical device. Electricity can only move through a complete circuit that has no gaps. In the 1800s, Alessandro Volta designed the first battery which could supply a constant flow of current.

A circuit consists of some parts that are known as components. The first component is called the power source or the voltage source. It drives the electricity through the circuit. Connectors are another component. They connect all the parts of the circuit and make the path that the electricity moves through. They are often composed of wire or other metal.

The load is the third component of a circuit. It is powered by the electricity in a circuit. It could be a toaster, a TV, a fan, or any electronic gadget used every day. Finally, most circuits have a switch that switches the power on and off. 

A circuit can be composed in 2 ways: series circuits and parallel circuits. In a series circuit, there is one single path where the electricity flows. So, the amount of current is the same throughout the path. 

However, the amount of current that moves through each device differs because, the more devices are added, the less the amount of current flowing through each device.

In a parallel circuit, the current is divided into several paths. Each part in a parallel circuit is on a separate branch. One of the parts like a bulb can be turned on or off without impacting the others in a parallel circuit.

There are different paths through which the electricity moves in a parallel circuit. This means that the amount of current is different at different points in the circuit. Each component of a parallel circuit is separate from the other, so adding more bulbs does not affect the amount of current on each branch.

Accordingly, in a series circuit, if we add more bulbs, it affects the brightness of the light. On the other hand, in a parallel circuit adding more bulbs doesn’t affect the brightness of the light.


Benjamin Franklin and Electricity

He was an American scientist. He began analyzing the phenomenon of electricity in 1746. His famous kite experiment was to prove that lightning is electricity. He tied a wire to one end of the kite and a metal key to the other end of the kite.

He flew the kite in a thunderstorm. He used a Leyden jar as well to store the electric charge. He successfully proved that lightning transferred from the key to the jar. As a result, Ben invented the lightning rod, which helps to maintain buildings safe from lighting.

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What is a Static Electricity?

Static electricity is the formation of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. Static charges form when two surfaces scratch together and electrons move from one surface to another. This makes one object has a negative charge and one has a positive charge.

Lightening is a typical example of the impacts of static electricity. During a storm clouds move by each other and electrons jump from one cloud to another, making clouds have strong positive or negative charges. These charges are attracted to each other and finally jump through the air causing an amazing spark.

Interesting Facts about Electricity

  • Electricity travels at the same speed as light, which is more than 186,000 miles per hour.
  • Volt is the unit of electric force that estimates the possible strength of the current.
  • Water is not a conductor, however, the impurities cause it to conduct electricity.
  • One flash of static electricity can calculate up to 3,000 volts.
  • Electricity is a natural power and was not invented by humans.
  • Benjamin Franklin is the one who discovered electricity.
  • The unit of measurement for electricity is the watt which equals 1 J/s.
  • Electricity can be created by the sun, wind, water, and animal poop also.
  • The Statue of Liberty was the first lighthouse that utilised electricity in 1886.
  • Some creatures use electricity as a way of hunting or for self-defence such as electric eels.
  • Power plants are also called power stations, generating stations, or generating plants.
  • The first power plant was constructed in 1882, possessed by Thomas Edison.
  • Almost all the power plants throughout the world use fossil fuels to generate electricity.
  • In 2018, the biggest source of electricity generation went to natural gas power plants.
  • There are other sources of electric generation that has the smallest impact on the environment and the planet like renewable energy sources (like solar, hydroelectric, geothermal)
  • Current electricity can be in one of 2 forms: the form of DC (direct current) or AC (alternating current).
  • The main difference between DC and AC is the direction of the current flow.

Hydropower Facts and Gravity Science

Hydroelectric energy, also named hydroelectric power or hydroelectricity, is a form of renewable energy that uses the water, stored or flowing, to generate electricity. 

Over 20% of the world’s electricity is produced by utilising hydroelectric power. Tidal power is another form of hydropower that uses the energy of tides to produce electricity. The largest hydroelectric power station in the world is the Three Gorges Dam which is located in China.

Most hydroelectric power plants have a supply of water, a gate to manage the amount of water that flows out of the reservoir, and a portal or a place where the water stops after flowing downward. 

Water has potential energy just before it falls out of the top of a dam or moves down a hill. The potential energy is turned into kinetic energy once water moves downhill. The water can be used to turn the blades of a turbine to produce electricity, which is provided to the power plant’s customers.

There are three different types of hydroelectric energy plants, the most popular is an impoundment facility. In an impoundment facility, a dam is used to manage the flow of water stored in a reservoir. 

When more energy is required, water is unleashed from the dam. Once water is released, gravity controls and the water moves downward through a turbine. As the blades of the turbine turn, they give the power to a generator.

A diversion facility is another type of hydroelectric energy plant. This type of plant is special because it does not utilise a dam. Rather, it uses a series of canals to channel flowing river water toward the generator-powering turbines.

A pumped-storage facility is the third type of plant. This plant gathers the energy generated from solar, wind, and nuclear power and stores it for future use. The plant stores energy by pumping water uphill from a reservoir at a lower height to a reservoir found at a higher elevation. 

When there is an increased demand for electricity, water located in the higher pool is unleashed. Once this water flows back down to the lower reservoir, it spins a turbine to produce more electricity.

Hydroelectric energy is the most generally-used renewable source of electricity. The largest producer of hydroelectricity is China. Other top producers of hydropower all over the world include the U.S.A, Brazil, Canada, India, and Russia. Roughly 71% of all of the renewable electricity produced on Earth is from hydropower.

Dangers of Electricity and Electrical Safety Tips

Kids are inherently curious and do not know the dangers of electricity. Introducing them the basic information about the power of electricity and the danger of electrical shock saves them from harm. Here are some of these dangers: 

  • Electricity can make burns, shocks and even death.
  • Devices and power wires can be just as harmful s electrical power lines if you do not take appropriate safety protection.
  • Electricity moves easily through water, and it can travel through the human body because it is made of 70 % water.
  • The muscles in the body get tensed and cause choking making it hard for the kid to breathe.
  • It makes the heartbeat get disordered which in turn tightens the blood vessels.
  • Electricity if not managed appropriately has the power to cause severe internal damage multiple hours later after suffering the shock.

Let’s move to the safety tips:

  • Never cling your fingers or anything into an electrical outlet or light socket.
  • Keep fingers and other things out of small appliances, such as the boiler, even if the device is turned off.
  • Never use an appliance near any source of water.
  • Keep electrical wires and cords far from sources of heat.
  • Keep electrical cords far from any sources of water.
  • Never touch any electrical appliance or device, like a hairdryer, when you are touching the water.
  • Never remove an electric plug out of the wall outlet by pulling the electric cord.
  • Unplug any electrical device before cleaning it.
  • Replace torn cords on the spot to avoid getting shocks.
  • Never touch broken wires that are lying on the ground. Keep a safe space from such live wires to avoid getting shocked.
  • Never charge phones under the pillow as they get overheated and catch power.
  • Stay away from power stations.
  • Never fly kites around power lines, instead find an open area.
  • Never climb trees that are next to power lines or have power lines tied through them.
  • Never swim if there is a thunderstorm.
  • Never climb on borders around electric substations.
  • Never throw objects, like shoes or fibres onto electric power lines.
  • Never touch an electrical line with your hands or even fingers or anything.
  • Do not stick posters or banners on electric utility poles.

How Can We Save Electric Energy?

  • Turn off the lights and electrical gadgets while leaving the place.
  • Limit electronic usage to minimize charge time which in turn saves electricity.
  • Unplug electronic device chargers once they are fully charged.
  • Don’t keep the refrigerator door open.
  • Plant a tree to shade the house on hot summer days.
  • Keep the curtains closed during the day in summer to block the sun’s heat.

Conclusion

Electricity is very important in about every aspect of modern-day living. Benjamin Franklin is an American scientist who discovered electricity. The circuit is the path for the electrons to produce electricity. One of the most common ways to generate electricity is through Hydroelectric energy.

Although electricity can result in some dangers, there are some safety tips to avoid these dangers. It’s also very important to know different ways and tips to save electric energy.

Our planet Earth is full of wonders and marvels. From nature and marine life in the oceans and rivers, mountains and waterfalls to the complicated yet miraculous structure of the human body. If we look around, or inside, we will always be in awe of the stunning arrangement of the system we live in.

The great set-up in which our planet Earth operates did not come into existence overnight. Previously on Learningmole.com, we have understood how the Solar System formed 4.5 billion years ago. Everything that we have now started as small as a speck of dust then evolved.

Today, we are going to look into one of these marvels of our planet which is so indispensable for life. Well, what I want to say is that we will not actually be here without it. Today, we are learning about the atmosphere of Earth.

What is the atmosphere?

Earth’s atmosphere is known as the thick layer of gases that wrap our planet. We may also call it air. Such a layer extends from the surface of Earth to 10,000 km above. That is the distance from Cairo, Egypt in Northern Africa to Cape Town in South Africa! That is an enormous distance!

It is interesting to mention here that although we say that the atmosphere’s height is 10,000 km above sea level, actually there is no dividing line between the last level of the atmosphere and the beginning of outer space. They only just merge into one another.

The atmosphere is as heavy as 5.5 quadrillion tons! That is a really big mass! And it is puzzling as well. We can imagine air as something light, very light actually it is almost weightless! But it is not. In fact, such a very heavy weight is literally above our heads and 66.6% of it is found at a height of 11 km from Earth’s surface.

But how does the atmosphere stay in place and wrap Earth? Why does it not escape to space? Well, it is Earth’s gravity that pulls the atmosphere down. This pulling action creates a force on Earth’s surface known as the atmospheric pressure.

Why is the atmosphere incredibly important?

We literally cannot live without the atmosphere. Not only because we need oxygen to breathe, but also because the atmosphere is responsible for so many essential aspects of life. 

For example, the atmospheric pressure turns water vapor into liquid water. Such a process is called condensation. With liquid water, life on Earth is possible. That is the first reason why the atmosphere is very important to us.

Secondly, the atmosphere prevents the heat coming from the Sun from escaping back to space. This happens as the surface of Earth absorbs sunlight and radiates heat. But carbon dioxide absorbs such heat and traps it in the atmosphere. This warms the surface of Earth and makes it suitable for us to live on it. This is known as the greenhouse effect.

When the heat is locked in the atmosphere, it also keeps the night less cold which allows life on Earth. If there were no atmosphere at all, Earth would be so hot during the day and so cold during night that no living being would be able to survive.

The atmosphere also protects us from meteors. Meteors are small objects of rocks or metal that hit the Earth from outer space. They are a lot smaller than asteroids. Actually, they can be as small as a grain or as big as one meter-wide. When such meteors hit Earth, the atmosphere burns them before reaching the surface and causing any harm. When they burn, they create a ball of fire that we know as a shooting star.

📌 Yearly, an automobile size asteroid hits Earth but the atmosphere burns it before reaching the surface.

The atmosphere is also important because it protects us from the Sun’s harmful waves. These waves are called ultraviolet radiation. If anyone gets exposed to it, it will damage their skin cells and may also give them cancer. Luckily, we have the atmosphere to protect us.

In addition, the atmosphere has oxygen which we need to breathe and carbon dioxide which plants need to generate oxygen for us. That is why the atmosphere is very important for life on Earth.

Earth’s atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen (N), 20.95% oxygen (O2), 0.93% argon (Ar), 0.04% carbon dioxide (CO2), and little amounts of different other gases.

📌 All planets have an atmosphere, except Mercury.

Then how did the atmosphere form?

Well, let’s get a little back in time, 4.5 billion years back to be precise.

Earth’s atmosphere started once Earth settled as a big ball of rocks. Scientists believe that our atmosphere has passed by different stages to be what it is today. So let’s explore these stages one by one, from the very beginning to the present moment.

Earliest atmosphere

The very first stage of the formation of Earth’s atmosphere started 4.5 billion years ago. The atmosphere was mostly hydrogen (H) at the time with little amounts of water vapor, ammonia (NH3), and methane (CH4).

The second atmosphere

Around 3.5 billion years ago on Earth, there was an extremely intense series of volcanic eruptions that swept gases from the interior of Earth and released them into the atmosphere. 

Simultaneously, Earth was bombarded by asteroids, rocks, and particles left over from the formation of the Solar System. These rocks failed to form planets on their own so they started hitting Earth. Such an event is known as the Late Heavy Bombardment and is believed to have lasted for about 700 million years.

These two events changed the then hydrogen-rich atmosphere significantly. The new atmosphere consisted of nitrogen (N), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and other gases. Nitrogen made up the major part of the atmosphere.

Third atmosphere

While Earth was dealing with the crazy volcanoes we mentioned earlier around 3.5 billion years ago, the very first form of life on Earth appeared. It was a microorganism known as anaerobic bacteria. It lived in the ocean and did not require oxygen to survive. Well, this makes sense because the atmosphere had no oxygen in the first place.

Over hundreds of millions of years, some bacteria evolved until they obtained the ability to produce energy using photosynthesis, just like plants. This bacteria is called Cyanobacteria and is now found everywhere on Earth.

Cyanobacteria started absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. With the help of water and sunlight, it could produce sugars to use for energy and released oxygen (O2) as a waste product.

This oxygen was then released into the ocean. But the anaerobic bacteria (remember them from above?) were allergic to oxygen. And with all this newly produced oxygen, the ocean was full of toxins for the poor anaerobic bacteria which killed them all.

Scientists called this event the first mass extinction in history. It is also called The Great Oxygenation event or The Oxygen Catastrophe. This is one time when oxygen played the bad guy.

Anyways, oxygen (O2) also oxidized the materials in the ocean, notably iron. So, when the ocean was full of oxygen, it started to be released into the atmosphere and accumulated. It also reacted with methane (CH4) to form carbon dioxide (CO2). As Cyanobacteria reproduced fast, it absorbed a great amount of carbon dioxide from the air and released more and more oxygen.

With Cyanobacteria absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and oxygen (O2) reacting with methane (CH4), the amounts of these two greenhouse gases decreased significantly. Consequently, there was nothing to keep Earth warm so the temperature went down so much that Earth became very cold. Many believe that this was the beginning of the first ice age.

Though, oxygen remained active. About 600 million years ago, and as oxygen (O2) accumulated in the air, it started to absorb the ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun. This caused the oxygen molecule (O2) to split into two atoms (O and O). Such single atoms then combined with oxygen molecules (O2) to form ozone (O3).

Ozone (O3) piled up and formed a band that shielded the entire Earth. This shield absorbed all the ultraviolet radiation and prevented it from reaching Earth’s surface. Such an act enabled life to be possible on the surface of Earth and not just exclusive to the oceans.

Since then, the levels of oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere varied until they reached a steady percentage of more than 15%, then reached its peak of 30% around 280 million year ago. Scientists do not know why oxygen levels fluctuated. But it finally reached a steady level at 21% of the atmosphere.

So now we understand how our atmosphere came to be 78% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, and 0.04% carbon dioxide.

Layers of the atmosphere

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We mentioned before that the atmosphere extends from the surface of Earth to 10,000 km up. Despite this great distance, the atmosphere is nowhere near bulky! In fact, the atmosphere is composed of five different layers. Each layer has a different length and many many different features. Let’s explore them one by one.

(1) Troposphere

The troposphere is the first layer of the atmosphere. It extends from the surface of Earth to several kilometers up in the sky. This thickness changes based on where you are. For instance, if you are at the north or south poles, the troposphere will extend to only 6 km. But if you are at the equator, the troposphere is 18 km thick. So the average thickness of the troposphere is 13 km, from the surface of Earth up. The troposphere contains 75% of the mass of the whole atmosphere as well.

Because it starts from the surface of Earth, the troposphere contains the greatest amount of water vapor. This is because water vapor stems from oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, as well as plants. Water vapor then creates clouds which in turn drive rain and snow. That is why the weather phenomena happen in the troposphere.

The troposphere is also known for having air turbulence. The hot surface of Earth heats the air above it. But the warmer air is more buoyant than the cool air so it floats higher pushing the cool air down toward the surface. The hot surface then heats the cool air which goes up letting the air which is now cooler go down. This air movement is called turbulence.

📌 In fact, the troposphere is called troposphere because the word ‘tropo’ means rotation in Greek. It refers to the rotation of air, turbulence, which occurs in this layer.

When it comes to temperature, we find it changes just like the thickness of the troposphere. At the equator, the temperature ranges from 20°C on the surface to −75°C at the end of the troposphere. At the poles, the temperature starts from 0°C to −45°C at the end of the layer. The poles are icy, you know!

So the higher we go, the lower the temperature gets. But at some point, the temperature ceases to decrease with height. This is exactly where the troposphere ends and where the tropopause starts.

The tropopause is the boundary between the troposphere and the second layer of the atmosphere, the stratosphere. In this pause layer, air temperature does the exact opposite. It increases the higher we go (we will know why in a bit). That means the warmer air is above the cooler air. That is why the tropopause is called the inversion layer.

(2) Stratosphere

The stratosphere is the second layer of the atmosphere after the troposphere. It starts from the end of the tropopause and extends for 35 km higher. Temperature in this layer ranges from −51°C to −3°C at the end of this layer.

Wait! −51°C is colder than −15°C! That means the temperature at the beginning of the layer is colder than the end. That also means the higher we go, the warmer it gets, just like the tropopause! So why does this happen? Why does the temperature increase with height?

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Well, this is due to the ozone layer, the guardian angel that protects Earth from the dangerous ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun.

Do you remember how ozone forms? Yes, that happens when an oxygen atom (O) combines with an oxygen molecule (O2). Scientists have found that ozone is better at absorbing ultraviolet radiation. And this absorption heats up the stratosphere.

As the temperature rises the higher we go, this creates different layers of temperature along the stratosphere. That is why it was called stratosphere because strato means layer.

Because these layers have ascending temperatures, warmer air is always above the cooler air and this is exactly where they should be. So air is stable where it is; it does not move. As a result, there is no turbulence in the stratosphere.

📌 Because there is no turbulence, airplanes like to fly in this region of the atmosphere. Since there is not much air resistance, planes can fly faster and burn less fuel.

What is interesting is that some birds such as rüppell’s vulture and bar-headed geese can fly as high as in the stratosphere!

And just like the tropopause, there is the stratopause at the end of the stratosphere. It acts like a border between this layer and the next one, the mesosphere. The stratopause stretches for about 5 km.

(3) Mesosphere

Now with the third layer of the atmosphere: the mesosphere. This layer extends from the stratopause at a height of 50 km from surface level to around 80-85 km above. That means the mesosphere is around 35 km thick.

Since the mesosphere is the third layer, it is the middle one. That is why it is called meso because meso is a Greek word that means middle.

Leaving the ozone layer behind, the temperature goes back to its first behavior. It decreases with altitude. The mesosphere has an average temperature of −85 °C. At the end of the mesosphere, there is the mesopause which marks the end of this layer and the beginning of the layer after.

The mesopause extends for 15 km; from 85 km from sea level to 100 km. It is the coldest region on the planet since its temperature is −143°C. And because it is very high in the sky, sometimes it is referred to as near space.

The mesosphere is where meteors burn, resulting in meteor showers or shooting stars. When meteors and small asteroids enter the mesosphere, they collide with the air. This collision is called friction which generates fire (just like when you grind two rocks against each other fast to get fire).

So the mesosphere protects us from dangerous bodies coming from space.

Given that it is so high in the sky, planes cannot fly in the mesosphere. Satellites are not located there as well because they orbit Earth at a much higher level. And even though scientists can send rockets, they can only study the mesosphere for a few minutes.

As a result, we do not know much about the mesosphere. Unfortunately. That is why the mesosphere got its nickname: ignorosphere!

(4) Thermosphere

Thermosphere is the fourth layer of the atmosphere. It starts from the mesopause and extends for a thickness of 513 km. That is by far the thickest layer we have studied so far. It is called thermo which refers to heat.

Like the stratosphere, the thermosphere absorbs the Sun’s highly energetic radiation which creates heat within the layer. Sometimes, the temperature can reach 2000°C and even more. The temperature also increases with higher altitudes.

The International Space Station (ISS) resides in this region and orbits Earth. This station is a cooperative project between five different countries in which scientists stay in orbit and study space.

Space shuttles and satellites also orbit Earth from the thermosphere. Space shuttles are rockets that can be used multiple times to travel to and from space. They are used to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station. They can also stay in orbit for some time so scientists can study different features of space.

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One of the most successful and popular space shuttles is Discovery, developed by NASA, which stayed in work for 27 years from 1984 until it retired in 2011.

Wait!

If the temperature of the thermosphere can get to as high as 2000°C, why then did the International Space Station, nor space shuttles and satellites not melt?

That is a good question! To answer it, we need to learn how heat is transferred.

For liquids and gases, heat is transferred by a process called convection. Any gas has atoms or molecules and they are free to move because the distances between them are large. When we heat a gas, the molecules take the heat energy and they start to move faster.

As molecules go crazy from here to there, they collide with other molecules and give them some of this energy. And there you go, heat is transferred.

When distances between atoms or molecules increase so much, we call the gas less dense or thin. And the air in the thermosphere is very thin.

Keeping this in mind, let’s get back to the thermosphere and look into what happens in it:

  1. Molecules absorb the ultraviolet radiation and get so energetic.
  2. The temperature of the molecules rises so much, sometimes it reaches 2000°C.
  3. Molecules move around so fast trying to collide with other molecules to give them energy but they find no one because other molecules are so far-distant.
  4. Eventually, heat stays inside the molecules and is never transferred.

In fact, if we go to the thermosphere, we would feel cold rather than hot! That is why astronauts at the International Space Station never melt.

(4.1) Ionosphere

As the ozone layer is within the stratosphere, the ionosphere is a layer within parts of the mesosphere and it takes the entire layer of thermosphere as well as some parts of the exosphere (the fifth and last layer of the atmosphere).

The ionosphere extends for a distance of 917 kilometers! It is called ionosphere because it is ionized. To understand what ‘ionized’ means, we need to go back to the very first chemistry lesson: atoms and molecules.

An atom is the smallest particle there is. A molecule is made of two or more atoms connected together. An atom has a nucleus, protons, electrons, and neutrons. Protons and neutrons are inside the nucleus while electrons orbit the nucleus.

Protons have a positive charge but neutrons, you guessed it, are neutral. It means they have no electric charges. Meanwhile, electrons have a negative charge. And they spin around the nucleus in an orbit, just like Earth orbits the Sun.

Each atom is neutral because it has an equal number of protons (+) and electrons (-). These two opposite charges cancel each other so the atom stays neutral. 

When the number of electrons and protons is unequal, the atom is called an ion. Ions are electrically charged. If the number of electrons is higher than the number of protons, ions are negatively charged and vice versa. They are positively charged if the protons are more than the electrons.

Back to our topic..

We have mentioned in the thermosphere that gases in this layer absorb the ultraviolet waves from the Sun. This tremendous energy pushes an electron or two out of their 

atom which turns it into a positive ion. These free electrons collide with other atoms and make them negative ions.

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This ionization process makes the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the thermosphere produce free electrons and light. Oxygen gives out green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and purple. This light can be seen from Earth and we know it as aurora.

If you live anywhere in Norway, Sweden, Alaska, or Canada, you will be able to see auroras.

📌 Since the ionization process is activated by the highly energetic radiation from the Sun, the thickness of the ionosphere changes dramatically during the day and at night.

(5) Exosphere

The exosphere is the outermost layer of the atmosphere and the largest in distance as well. It extends from the thermopause, which marks the end of the thermosphere, for 9300 km! 

In this part of the atmosphere, the air is so thin. This means that there are great distances between gas molecules so they do not collide with each other. The gases in this layer are mostly hydrogen and helium.

The exosphere is hence the perfect home for satellites because they can orbit Earth without any problems of friction or disruption since the air is very thin.

Weather

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We cannot mention the atmosphere without discussing the weather. Weather is a very distinctive feature of Earth’s atmosphere and it dramatically affects how we live on this planet as well as the development of humanity in general.

When we think of weather, we know we are referring to how hot or cold a day is and whether or not it is rainy or windy. Well, this is pretty correct. Weather is caused by changes in the air temperature, air pressure, and how much water vapor is in there. That is why most weather phenomena happen within the troposphere.

Why does weather happen?

To understand how changes in the air temperature, pressure, and amount of water vapor determine the weather events we are familiar with, let’s study the lifecycle of water vapor.

Humidity

We can define humidity as how much water vapor there is in the air. Heat from the Sun causes water from rivers, lakes, oceans, seas, and even dew on leaves to evaporate. Water then turns into its gas state and becomes vapor. When we feel it is too humid, this is because there is so much water vapor in the air.

Clouds

We have learned before that in the troposphere, the higher we go, the colder it gets. So when water vapor goes high in the air where it is cooler, it starts to condense on teeny-tiny particles such as dust, salt crystals, and ash, which act as surfaces to the water vapor.

So water vapor condenses and goes back to its liquid state, water. Well, it actually forms water droplets. Water droplets then accumulate and form a cloud. Sometimes, if it is too cold (temperature is usually 0°C or lower), water droplets turn into ice crystals and form an ice cloud.

So if clouds are pure liquid water or ice in the form of droplets, why do they not fall down from the clouds? How can clouds float in the air?

Well that is a good question. Let’s know how this happens.

Everything on the surface of the planet as well as the atmosphere that extends for 10,000 km above is pulled down by Earth’s gravity. And for an object to fall down, it must also have a mass. The heavier an object is, the faster it falls back to Earth. And vice versa. That is why a rock reaches the ground so fast but a balloon takes longer.

Those water or ice droplets in the clouds are so tiny. Their weight is so small that Earth’s gravity does not affect them. And because the air is dense, it pushes them up so they float in the clouds. As a result, they do not fall back to Earth.

Clouds grow at different altitudes from Earth’s surface. Based on where they are in the atmosphere, they can be classified in three different categories. Low-level Clouds form at ground level to almost 2 km up. Mid-level Clouds start at a height of 2 km and have a range of 5 km (to 7 km up). High-level Clouds start at altitudes of 5 km up to 12-13 km.

Fog

When clouds form at or near ground level, they are called fog. Usually fog forms at a height lower than 15 m. When it is higher than that, it is a cloud.

Precipitation

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When water droplets in a cloud get so large and heavy that the air cannot carry them anymore, they get subjected to Earth’s gravitational pull and they fall back down to the surface of Earth. This falling water is called precipitation.

Precipitation includes different types, some of which are very familiar to us and others may sound a little bizarre:

  1. Drizzle
  2. Rain
  3. Sleet
  4. Snow
  5. Graupel
  6. Hail

Each one of those takes specific conditions to form. So let’s discuss them one by one.

Drizzle vs. Rain vs. Sleet

Precipitation includes different types which depend on either the size of the water droplets or the conditions at which they form. If the water droplets falling from the clouds have a diameter of less than 0.5 mm, they are called drizzles.

If the droplet’s size is 0.5 mm or bigger, it is called rain. Rain can be light, moderate, or heavy based on its intensity. When sunlight passes through rain droplets, light is scattered to its seven colors which we collectively call the rainbow.

If the temperature where the cloud is located is 0°C or lower, droplets of drizzle or rain turn into ice as they fall. These icy balls are usually less than 0.76 cm in diameter and we call them sleet.

Snowflakes

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Sometimes during the formation process of clouds and when the temperature gets very low, usually below 0°C, water vapor condenses directly to ice crystals without going through its liquid form. These ice crystals accumulate to form an ice cloud.

Then, ice crystals absorb more water vapor and freeze it. The result of this is the formation of more crystals onto one another. These crystals are called snow clusters or aggregates which then fall to the ground forming the familiar white snow blanket.

While ice crystals are fairly clear, these resultant snow clusters are white. This is because the snow clusters reflect light in all directions until it goes out of it. The reflected light includes all colors which together look white.

Typically, as the ice crystals aggregate to form clusters, they would cluster in 6-armed symmetrical or almost symmetrical hexagon shapes. These perfect shapes have confused scientists for years. Finally, we understood that they are mainly influenced by the chemistry of water.

Water (H2O) consists of two atoms of hydrogen (H) and one atom of oxygen (O2). Usually oxygen has a negative charge and the hydrogen atom has a positive charge. This is called a water molecule. When water becomes ice, these water molecules start to attract each other and stick together.

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The negative charge of oxygen attracts the positive charge of hydrogen and they result in a beautiful hexagon shape. This is called a hydrogen bond.

When ice crystals absorb water vapor which freezes onto them, these crystals take the shape of the hydrogen bond in ice. That is why snowflakes have a hexagon shape.

We mentioned that snowflakes form in ice clouds. Every cloud is subject to different conditions of temperature and humidity. The difference between such conditions controls the shape of each snowflake. It is even said that every snowflake is unique, that no two snowflakes are alike.

Sometimes the conditions are so severe that they diminish the hexagon shape altogether and make snowflakes completely irregular.

When snowflakes become heavy, they fall to the ground.

Graupel vs. Hail

Sometimes, clouds get so cold, around −40°C, but water droplets in them stay in their liquid state. In this case, they are called supercooled water droplets. When snowflakes fall through one of these supercooled clouds, the supercooled water droplets stick to the surface of the snowflake and then freezes.

These frozen water droplets then accumulate on top of the snowflake until the beautiful hexagon shape of the snowflake is no longer identified. These frozen droplets are called graupel. Graupel is usually 2–5 mm in diameter.

And these supercooled clouds are called cumulus clouds.

Thunderstorms, which we will discuss in a bit, cause air to move up, pushing graupel so it does not fall to ground. So more water droplets from the supercooled clouds stick to and freeze onto the graupel causing it to grow. When the graupel gets so heavy that the air cannot hold it anymore, it falls down to the surface and is then called hail.

Thunderstorms

Clouds form in different types, shapes, and colors that are determined based on the conditions at which they form. One of them is the very common cloud type we are all familiar with. It looks puffy, fluffy, and cotton-like. These clouds are called cumulus clouds.

Cumulus clouds create a different, bigger, and taller type of cloud called cumulonimbus. Such clouds accumulate upward and they look like towers of clouds. That is why they are called the kings of clouds.

Cumulonimbus clouds form at a height of 200 to 4,000 m and they grow upward to a maximum of 12 km from the surface of Earth. Some of these clouds were even found to grow to an altitude of 21 km! That means these towering clouds exceed the troposphere itself and even grow in the stratosphere. How gigantic! 

The temperature of the cumulonimbus clouds is usually way below 0°C and can sometimes reach −30°C. Due to such low temperatures, they have ice crystals.

Wind causes these ice crystals to move up and down fast so they collide with each other. Remember the ionization process? These collisions cause electrons to be knocked off their molecules to make them positively charged. Then free electrons collide with other ice crystals and make them negatively charged.

Moving air causes the positive charges to go to the top of the cloud and the negative ones go to its bottom. It also acts as a barrier between them so they do not attract each other.

As the ionization process continues, the negative charges at the bottom of the cloud grow magnificently. Right at this moment, they get so strong that they overcome the air barrier. So they start to attract the positive charges whether those within the cloud itself or the positive charges of the ground.

These two opposite charges move toward each other. Once they touch, the negative charges from the cloud begin to move quickly towards positive ones and a sudden flash of light bursts into the air caused by this discharge of electricity. This light is actually a very strong electric current and we know it as lightning.

The tremendous amount of negative charges is called a stepped leader because it is the one that leads the whole lightning process.

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Lightning bolts are also tremendously hot, reaching a temperature of 27,760°C! That is five times hotter than the surface of the Sun!

This immense heat causes the air to expand quickly. When the expanding air moves, it makes a sonic shock sound which we know as thunder.

Thunderstorms are usually accompanied by extreme rainfall, sleet, and hail.

Wind

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We might define wind as the movement of air, and this is fairly correct. But how does the air move in the first place? Well, just like something as gigantic as thunderstorms was initiated by tiny water droplets, wind is existent because of air pressure.

We have understood that air is made of different gases. We have nitrogen (N), oxygen (O2), aragorn (Ar1), and little amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and other gases.

The molecules of these gases have weight. Since all molecules are pulled down by Earth’s gravity, their weight presses on the air or surface below them. When the number of molecules increases, this pressing force increases in return. So the pressure increases.

And vice versa, the fewer the molecules, the lower air pressure gets.

Temperature affects air pressure. Heat causes gas particles to move faster and away from one another so their number in a given area decreases and makes the pressure low. Also altitudes change air pressure. The higher we go, the fewer the air molecules. So pressure is low. 

When there are two places with high and low pressures, air would always try to equalize itself. So the air molecules of high pressure move towards the lower pressure areas to balance the pressure out. This movement is the wind.

The bigger the difference in air pressure between different places, the faster the wind blows.

Wildfires

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Forest fire flame composition destructive fire that destroys trees and entire forests vector illustration

Wildfires are an extreme weather event in which fire burns plants, kills animals, pollutes the air, causes people to leave their homes, and sometimes even kills them.

Scientists could track back wildfires to 420 million years ago. They started after plants appeared on Earth. In this section, we are going to discuss how wildfires occur, how they change the atmosphere, and whether or not they have any good sides.

Wildfires happen randomly and unexpectedly. They can start from a small dwarfing spark of a leftover cigarette or by a lightning strike. Wildfires are usually initiated with the presence of three main components: heat or flame, fuel, and oxygen. And all three of these are available in the forest. 

High temperature evaporates water and makes plants, trees, grass, bush, and everything in the forest dry. Fire cannot happen if the plant has water. So dry plants are a perfect fuel for the fire. Secondly, oxygen and we already have plenty of it in the atmosphere. So what is missing? Well, we need a spark to start a fire.

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The majority of wildfires are ignited by, unfortunately, people. The carelessness of people to be fair. The spark or flame which starts wildfires could be something as trivial as a cigarette leftover or when someone forgets to put out the fire they lit as they were camping in the woods.

So the tiny spark fires the poor dry plant which then reacts with oxygen in the air. As a result, fire is magnified and gases and smoke are released.

Naturally-caused wildfires

Nature itself can also cause wildfires. They occur by the extreme heat coming from the Sun, lightning strikes, volcanoes, and the wind as well.

Heat? Can heat by itself start a fire? Yes. Yes, it can. Here is how.

Every substance has a temperature called autoignition temperature. When this temperature is reached, a substance can react with oxygen (O2) and burn spontaneously without an external source of flame or spark.

Lightning strikes can also initiate wildfires because they generate very strong electric current. But if the lightning is accompanied by rain, wildfires fail to start because the rain puts out any fires. 

Volcanoes can also start wildfires using their lava. Lava is burning rocks that spread over long distances. It is extremely hot, reaching, sometimes, a temperature of 1200°C. When they reach dry grass land for instance, their tremendous heat can start a fire.

The wind also has a hand in spreading wildfires over long distances. Since it provides the fire with a bigger supply of oxygen, the wind helps the wildfire magnify and pushes it to different places. The stronger the wind blows, the faster the wildfire spreads.

📌 If the air is very humid, wildfires are less likely to happen because the water in plants will not allow the fire to happen.

But are wildfires any good?

Since wildfires started to happen ever since plants appeared on Earth, the environment, by some means, could survive through them. In other words, wildfires in and of themselves are a part of nature.

But how could nature evolve with the presence of wildfires given the destruction they leave behind? Well, that is a good question. Let’s break the answer down.

Fire clears the forest from the dead organisms that can badly affect other living organisms. When plants die or rot, they fall on the ground and build up a shield that prevents organisms in the soil from accessing their food which they get from outside such as the atmosphere. This shield also prevents small plants from growing.

So the fire burns this dead shield and gives the soil an open window to the atmosphere so it can breathe. Also when these dead plants burn, they turn into ash which is usually full of nutrients for the soil. So the soil quickly absorbs the ash to become healthy and fresh.

A healthy soil is a fertile soil. Farmers need fertile soil to grow vegetables and fruit which we need to have a healthy diet.

Another good side of wildfires is that they help some plants and insects to grow. I know this sounds strange but here is how.

When the holiday season is approaching, people start to buy or cut down trees to decorate as Christmas trees. Well, there are different types of Christmas trees, one of them is called pine trees (pineapples come from the same family by the way).

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In order for new pine trees to grow, their seeds must go into the soil. But unfortunately, the seeds are stuck inside thick and stiff pitch cones and only fire can melt the pitch and allow the seed to come out.

Another benefit of wildfire is gained by a type of butterfly called karner blue (it is blue) which requires fire to come to existence. A baby butterfly is usually called a carter pillar and it has to go through a process called metamorphosis in order to grow into an adult butterfly. Yet, its food is a plant called wild lupine which does not flourish without fire.

But still, wildfires are detrimental

Despite the benefits wildfires bring to some species, they are still dangerous because they burn large areas of plants and vegetation and kill animals that live in these forests. Not only plants and animals are affected but the atmosphere and therefore us as well.

As fire burns forests, it releases large amounts of smoke, carbon dioxide (CO2), and nitrogen oxides (NO). Smoke causes air pollution in the area of wildfire as well as very distant areas because it travels so far. Smoke causes health problems to people.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas which traps the heat inside Earth’s atmosphere and prevents it from escaping to space. This, as we will see in the next section, puts our planet in danger.

Effects of human activity on the atmosphere

As we discussed earlier, the atmosphere has been evolving since the formation of Earth. It responded to the changes our planet was subjected to until it made our life on Earth possible. But, did we return the favor? Well, not quite.

In order to understand how human activity affects the atmosphere and puts our beloved planet in danger, we need to hop into a time machine and go back to 18th-century Britain.

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In the mid-18th century, Britain started using machines in factories rather than people. Machines enabled the production of incredibly large amounts of products such as textiles. For the machines to work, they needed power and their power was fossil fuels.

What are fossil fuels?

Well, when animals and plants die and get buried, their bodies decompose into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces are then mixed with the soil and with the heat from inside Earth; they turn into fuel over time. Well, I mean over millions and millions of years. And they are called fossil fuels.

When fossil fuels burn, they give out energy so humans started to use them as an energy source for the machines.

As time went by and as more technological changes were introduced to societies, the usage, and then burning, of fossil fuels increased dramatically. And now we depend on them to provide the essential needs for life. For example, we burn fossil fuels to have electricity, heat homes, and run cars and factories.

The most common types of fossil fuels are coal, natural gas, and oil. When these fuels burn, they mainly release carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NO), and methane (CH4). These gases changed the planet dramatically. They caused air pollution and global warming which may one day be responsible for the drowning of our cities. 

Besides burning fossil fuels, humans also burn waste in order to get rid of it. Fire releases smoke and chemicals that pollute the air and cause serious health problems. And let’s not forget sprays, paints, and perfumes that harm the atmosphere and magnify air pollution.

Air pollution

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The gases from burning fossil fuels, smoke, and the chemicals released to the air all change the composition of the air we breathe, resulting in air pollution which causes serious health problems to humans, animals, and plants.

For example, nitrogen oxides (NO) create smog. Smog looks exactly like fog. Although fog is made of tiny water droplets and caused completely by nature, smog on the other hand is human-made fog containing harmful gases. It is called smog because it is part smoke and part fog.

On the one hand, nitrogen oxides are helpful in creating the ozone gas which we are now familiar with. Though ozone blocks the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, it is helpful only when it is in the stratosphere layer, up there. But when ozone is in the troposphere, we can breathe it.

Inhaled ozone can cause many health problems especially for kids and old people as well as those who have asthma because it causes shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing.

Global warming

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) which are released from burning fossil fuels are greenhouse gases. That means they lock the heat coming from the Sun in the atmosphere, precisely in the troposphere, and prevent it from going back to space.

The more greenhouse gases there are in the atmosphere, the more heat is trapped inside. This increasing heat is one of such threats that endanger our planet and we know it as global warming.

Global warming increases the temperature which makes summers longer and winters shorter. This high temperature also causes wildfires to happen more frequently which in turn release large amounts of smoke and harmful gases as discussed above.

Another serious consequence of high temperature is that it causes water to evaporate at a higher rate. More water vapor means more and more clouds. Then, we have more heavy rains which cause floods, kill plants, damage the soil and make it unsuitable for growing plants anymore. Floods also damage people’s homes and drown them.

On the other hand, evaporation also causes drought. It sucks the water from plants making them dry, evaporating all water from Earth’s surface, making it water unavailable for the animals who live there. Animals hence leave those areas and look for other places where water is available. Sometimes during this relocation process, animals may die and disappear from Earth altogether. They go extinct.

However, the most serious outcome of the rising temperature is causing the ice in the north and south poles to melt. The resulting water then moves towards oceans and seas increasing their water level. When the water levels increase beyond certain points, it can flood our cities.

Increasing the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is not just serious for humans, but also for fish. When oceans absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, it makes it hard for the corals to form their homes, the reef, and may cause the existing ones to dissolve in the ocean.

This also makes food for fish less available which affects their life cycle. And since millions of people depend on fish in their diet, they will be badly affected as well.

So what can we do?

Global warming imposes serious threats on our planet and we have to take action in order to minimize them and help make our planet a safer place for us and for the upcoming generations. Here are some actions which we can take every day to help save our planet.

Save energy

Since energy from fossil fuels is used to generate electricity to run our home appliances, we can help burn less fuel when we save power. Here are some steps to do that.

  1. Switching off lights when not in use.
  2. Reducing the temperature of the heating or cooling systems.
  3. Choosing energy efficient appliances.
  4. Using LED light bulbs.
  5. Pulling the plugs.
  6. Carpooling: instead of having five individuals in five cars, we can have five individuals in one car. Thus power consumption is reduced to 20%. Bingo!
  7. Walking and cycling: they are even healthier and more fun

Throw less food

When we throw food away and it goes rotten, it produces methane which is a greenhouse gas that intensifies global warming. We can minimize food waste by buying the exact amounts of food we eat and not more than that.

Buying less food also saves energy. This is because a lot of energy is used to grow, process, package, and ship the food to distant places.

Recycling

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When we recycle, then we do not need to buy a lot of stuff. This in turn reduces their production and hence less fuel is burned.

Many of the devices we cannot live without anymore such as mobile phones and laptops emit carbon (C) during their manufacturing process. This carbon reacts with oxygen (O2) to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). This causes an increase in the global warming level. 

When we use these devices efficiently, unplug them when not in use, and get them repaired instead of buying new ones, we are helping save our planet.

Save water

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Water requires a huge amount of energy to clean, purify, pump, and heat. So when we use less water, in turn we use less energy. 

Conclusion

Our atmosphere is one of the millions of miracles we are surrounded by. It is one thing that has started life on Earth, making me write this article to you now and making you able to read it. It has formed, changed, evolved, and transformed to be the way it is now, just like we grow from clumsy toddlers to full-grown and independent adults. 

In this long journey in our earthly atmosphere, we demonstrated how important it is and dived into the history of its formation and evolution which started 4.5 billion years ago. In this section, we have learned that the atmosphere has passed by three main stages: earliest, second, and third atmospheres which created the structure it has now.

Then we studied this structure in detail and looked into each of the five layers starting from the troposphere where we breathe and live and experience weather, the stratosphere where our guardian angel, the ozone layer, resides, the mesosphere which burns meteors, the thermosphere where the International Space Station, space shuttles, and satellites are, and finally the exosphere which extends so far up until it dissolves in outer space. 

Through this journey of the layers of the atmosphere, we introduced many different concepts such as how heat is transferred, what an atom is and what its components are, how ions form in the ionosphere, and how they create the beautiful aurora light as well.

Then we moved to study weather closely and learned how a small process such as the evaporation of water is responsible for a great deal of weather conditions such as humidity, cloud formation, rain and snow falls, and thunderstorms. And we also learned how lightning and thunder occur. 

Next, we discussed how the wind forms and where it comes from as well as wildfires, how dangerous they are, and what part humans have in starting them. 

Lastly, we moved to how we, humans, have caused the atmosphere to suffer by burning fossil fuels to run machines and how this expanded as technology developed. Burning fossil fuels creates air pollution and global warming which threaten our life. At the very end, we finished with some small actions which when carried on by every one of us, we can help preserve our beloved atmosphere and our planet as well.

So when you take a deep breath, or see a puffy fluffy cloud in the blue sky or extend your hand to feel the drizzles, remember that you are a part of this great, extremely accurate, complex, and beautiful system and that we need to preserve it in order to continue living happily and healthily, and allow our planet to continue evolving.

Kids usually have many questions about hurricanes. What are hurricanes? How do they form? What are the most famous hurricanes? Where can hurricanes be found? What is the biggest hurricane?

Many articles and videos introduce really useful information about hurricanes for kids. One of the most interesting ways for kids to be taught about hurricanes is through activities. When they make projects about hurricanes, they understand them better.

A hurricane is a kind of a giant storm that results in heavy rainfalls. There are some reasons why hurricanes form. Some changes happen during hurricanes. Hurricanes have damaging effects. In this article, we introduce almost all the information about hurricanes.

Stages of a Hurricane for Kids

Table of Contents

What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a huge rotating storm with strong winds at speeds of 75 to 200 mph that forms over warm waters in tropical areas. They usually form in the sea. The word hurricane goes back to “Huracan,” the name of a Mayan god. It is the god of big winds and evil spirits.

Hurricane season starts from the beginning of June till the end of November. Mid-September is considered the peak of the hurricane season. Coastal zones are most prone to the dangers of hurricanes. In addition to this, each hurricane lasts for over a week.

Hurricanes have different names according to their locations. In North America and the Caribbean, hurricanes are called hurricanes. In the Indian Ocean, hurricanes are given the name cyclones. They are given the name typhoons in Southeast Asia. 

How do Hurricanes form?

Hurricanes form over the warm ocean water of the tropics when the warm moist air over water starts to rise. The moist warm water is replaced by cooler water which in return starts to rise. This cycle results in huge storm clouds that start to rotate. These huge storm clouds, along with wind speeds, form a hurricane.

How do hurricanes form?
How do hurricanes form?
How do hurricanes form?
How do hurricanes form?

What are the Parts of Hurricanes?

There are five parts of hurricanes:

  • Eye: it is at the centre of the hurricane. It is an area of descending air. There are not usually any clouds in the eye and the wind there is calm. However, the most dangerous part of the storm is at the edge of the eye which is called the eyewall.
  •  Eyewall: it is around the outside of the eye. It is a wall formed of very heavy clouds. This is considered the most fatal part of the hurricane and where the highest speed winds are. The winds at the eyewall can get to speeds of 155 miles per hour. 
  • Rainbands: hurricanes contain large spiral bands of rain called rainbands. These bands can throw down huge amounts of rainfall causing flooding when the hurricane crashes land. 
  • Diameter: hurricanes can turn into huge storms. The diameter of the hurricane is calculated from one side to the other. Hurricanes can measure a diameter of over 600 miles. 
  • Height: the storm clouds that give hurricanes power can become very tall. A powerful hurricane can go up to nine miles into the atmosphere.
Parts of a Hurricane for Kids
Parts of a Hurricane for Kids

What are the Stages of Hurricane?

A hurricane has 6 stages as follows:

  • Disturbance Formation
  • Tropical Disturbance
  • Tropical Depression
  • Tropical Storm
  • Hurricane
  • Dissipation

Disturbance Formation

The first stage of a hurricane starts with disturbance formation. Hurricanes are made of a mixture of many factors. A hurricane starts to form due to the evaporation that happens over tropical ocean waters. 

Once it starts to evaporate, a cloud of warm air begins to shape, heating the air around it and forming even more densely packed clouds as air rushes in. As the air still heats up, a large mass of warm rain clouds is formed over the ocean.

Stages of a Hurricane for Kids
Stages of a Hurricane for Kids

Tropical Disturbance

In the second stage, the tropical disturbance is made of loosely packed rain clouds creating thunderstorms. The wind circulation is light, with minimal chances to cause any amount of damage. If this storm system can maintain its structure for more than 24 hours, it is considered a tropical disturbance.

Tropical Depression

A tropical disturbance will change to a tropical depression when it has wind speeds of anywhere between 23 mph to 38 mph. Once winds turn to be more organized, they start to circulate in the center of the storm. 

A tropical depression will start to form into a more significant storm. However, at this stage, it doesn’t have the power to move on to the next step and it still lacks the true form.

Tropical Storm

Before the hurricane formation, a tropical storm is formed first as the tropical depression grows increasingly stronger. The wind speeds at this stage jump from 39 mph to around 73 mph. 

Tropical storms are similar to smaller forms of hurricanes and aren’t as threatening. But a tropical cyclone is nothing to pass over, though. Tropical storms can still result in heavy rains that can cause severe flooding wherever they make landfall.

Categories

If the tropical storm is forming at wind speeds that go up to at least 74 mph, it is clearly a hurricane. It takes the real final form of a hurricane as its eye forms completely.

Hurricanes are categorized according to their wind speeds. They include:

  • Category 1 Hurricane: Wind speed ranges from 74 miles per hour to 95 miles per hour.
  • Category 2 Hurricane: Wind speed ranges from 96 miles per hour to 110 miles per hour.
  • Category 3 Hurricane: Wind speed ranges from 111 miles per hour to 129 miles per hour.
  • Category 4 Hurricane: Wind speed ranges from 130 miles per hour to 156 miles per hour.
  • Category 5 Hurricane: Wind speed ranges from over 157 miles per hour.
Hurricane Categories for Kids
Hurricane Categories for Kids

Dissipation

As hurricanes continue to flow over warm tropical waters, they’ll continue to gather power and speed. Once they make landfall, they stop gathering power because they no longer have warm water to depend on to power themselves. 

So, during landfall, they turn to be less and less organized as wind speeds fall dramatically. Finally, the hurricane will start to be divided into thunderstorms, before breaking down completely. While the hurricane floats over land, its high-speed winds and heavy rains result in massive damage, probably levelling entire towns in the process.

What are the types of Cyclones?

A cyclone represents a weather system marked by circling winds around a low-pressure centre. The wind direction around the canter is counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, while in the Southern Hemisphere the wind direction is clockwise.

Coming in a large variety of sizes and settings, cyclones cause some of the most dramatic and complete violent weather on the planet, including the tropical cyclones known as hurricanes and typhoons. The science behind cyclones helps you realize where and why this weather phenomenon exists.

Tropical Cyclone

A tropical cyclone is defined by The National Weather Service as “a rotating system of clouds and thunderstorms that originated over tropical or sub-tropical areas.”

The significant tropical-cyclone basins include the North Atlantic (including the Caribbean), North Indian Ocean, Southwest Indian Ocean, Eastern Pacific, Western Pacific, Southern Pacific and Australian region. 

Exactly tropical cyclones grow within 5 and 30 degrees of latitude, as they need ocean waters of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit to form. Winds funnel into a low-pressure disturbance, evaporating warm surface waters and unleashing energy as rising air condenses into clouds.

Hurricanes, Cyclone, Typhoons and Tornadoes

The terminology connected to tropical cyclones can be confusing because people call these violent storms by different names in different parts of the world. In the North Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the north-eastern Pacific too, people call them “hurricanes”.

In the Northwest Pacific, “a typhoon” is the most active tropical-cyclone basin in the world. While in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific, people call them “tropical cyclones” or “cyclones”. Tornadoes are called “cyclones,” yet they’re completely different storms.

Mesocyclones: Tornado Factories

Supercell thunderstorms are the name given to especially strong thunderstorms that display circling updrafts called mesocyclones. Rotating “wall clouds” may fall from mesocyclones and ultimately form a funnel cloud. 

If a funnel cloud touches the ground, it turns into a tornado. The United States underwent approximately 1,700 mesocyclones in a year, with about 50 percent of these turning into tornadoes.

Midlatitude or Extratropical Cyclones

Hurricanes and typhoons may be popular to laypeople, but the cyclonic storms that grow along frontal boundaries in the middle latitudes are just as significant.

These cyclones, which grow where sharp temperature gradients exist between adjoining air masses, can be much larger than hurricanes, though their winds are generally weaker. A remarkable example of a midlatitude cyclone is the “nor’easter” that often affects the U.S. East Coast, particularly in winter.

Polar Lows, aka “Arctic Hurricanes”

Hurricanes frequently form over Arctic and Antarctic seas, sparked by freezing air moving over somewhat warmer ocean waters. In the Northern Hemisphere, scientists sometimes call polar lows “Arctic hurricanes,” because both their power source as well as their circling cloud bands are somewhat similar to a tropical cyclone. Polar lows often form quickly, sometimes in less than 24 hours, and it is not easy to forecast.

How Do Scientists Forecast Hurricanes?

Scientists can guess when hurricanes may happen depending on the complicated tools available. However, it is not guaranteed that the timing is accurate. Hurricane predictions can be divided into two categories: seasonal probabilities and the track of a current hurricane.

Scientists can’t give exact dates and times for hurricanes. However, they calculate the wind speed and the past occurrences of hurricanes to forecast possible hurricanes to form. 

Scientists can track the path of a hurricane once it is formed using a lot of models. They can also forecast the intensity of the hurricane which is very important to give people chances to prepare for the hurricane. However, forecasting isn’t accurate enough.

How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names

Hurricanes used to be named by their geographical location and year until the 1950’s, when the U.S National Hurricane Centre developed a practice for naming hurricanes from the Atlantic Ocean. At the beginning hurricanes were named using female names in alphabetical order and the same names would be used every year. Later one both male and female names were used. Now the World Meteorological Organisation has established a strict procedure for naming hurricanes. Names used for hurricanes can be repeated, however, if a hurricane was deadly, life-threatening and costly, the name that the hurricane was named after is no longer used again.

Some names used for Hurricanes in the past that will never be used again are; Frances, Irene, Matthew, Otto, Gustav, Katrina, Charley and Sandy to name but a few.

Hurricanes in History

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was classified as a Category 4 storm that hit Texas on August 25, 2017. Harvey hit three times in six days and its peak was on September 1, 2017. The storm passed through the Caribbean and Mexico.

Harvey was classified as the strongest hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961. The hurricane was violent with maximum sustained winds of at least 130 mph. Let’s have a look at the damage caused by Harvey:

  • Two feet of rain dropped in the first 24 hours.
  • 39,000 people were forced out of their homes and into shelters because of flooding.
  • It resulted in damaging 204,000 homes.
  • Right after the storm, at least 3,900 homes were still without power.
  • 19 water systems were down as a result of the flood.
  •  75 of the 275 schools of Houston Independent School District were closed due to flood damage.
  • one million vehicles were ruined in the Gulf area.
  • It caused 25 per cent of oil and gas production to shut down in the region.
  • U.S. average gas prices rose to $2.49 a gallon after the hurricane.
  • Between 25 and 30 per cent of Harris County was flooded.
  • Damage from Harvey was about $125 billion.
  • The storm caused 100 people in Texas alone to death.
  • Harvey is rated as the second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1990.

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian was a tropical cyclone that occurred in 2019. It is considered a category 5 storm. It was one of the most violent Atlantic hurricanes to make landfall. Winds reached  220 mph and storm surges reached 23 feet. Let’s check the damages caused by hurricane Dorian:

  • More than 2 million people along the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina have to leave their homes. 
  • Dorian resulted in about $3.4 billion in damage.
  • 74 people lost their lives and 245 people were still missing a year later.
  • It resulted in flooding and mass destruction on the northwest islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
  • 29,500 people don’t have homes or jobs.
  • The Grand Bahama International Airport, as an example for the damage of the infrastructure, was affected. 

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence hit near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on September. 14, 2018. The wind reached 90+ mph winds. It was a violent and long-lived hurricane. The following are some damages caused by Florence:

  • More than 40 people, including many children, lost their lives across three South-eastern states.
  • Nearly 2 million people had to leave their homes.
  • Thousands of people were left without power.
  • It was the ninth most destructive storm for property damage in U.S. history.
  • 15 people were killed because of flooding.
  • Florence caused house fires, electrocutions and traffic accidents.
  • Florence caused damage that was estimated at $24 billion.
  • North Carolina had the largest portion of the damage, with an estimated $22 billion in damage.
  • In South Carolina, the estimated damage was $2 billion and $200 million in Virginia.
  •  In Georgia, the damage reached $30 million.
  • The rainfall exceeded 20 inches in some regions.
  • Florence was the reason for damaging thousands of structures, like toxic animal waste containment sites. This resulted in bacteria and hazardous chemicals being sent into the water.

Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew is considered a category 5 hurricane. It affected the Bahamas and the United States of America on the 16th of August, 1992. The highest sustained winds reached 175 mph. Here are some of the damages caused by Andrew:

  • The damage caused by Andrew was estimated at $27.3 billion.
  • 65 people were killed because of the hurricane.
  • About 1.4 a million people were left without power
  • The U.S. State of Florida, in Dade County, had the largest loss of life.
  • In Florida, 25% of trees were pulled down by the storm.
  • The storm was the reason behind the killing of 182 million fish in the basin.
  • In Louisiana, the hurricane pulled down 80% of the trees.
  • In Louisiana, the storm killed 9.4 million fish.
  • In Louisiana, about 6,200 people moved to 36 shelters.

Hurricane Camille

Hurricane Camille was a category 5 hurricane that hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast region on the 17th and 18th of August 1969. The average sustained winds reached 210 mph. It is classified as the 2nd most intense hurricane to strike the continental US. Let’s check some of the damages caused by Camille:

  • 143 people were killed along with Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  • 113 additional people were killed due to flash floods and landslides.
  •  5,662 homes were ruined, and 13,915 homes experienced huge damage.
  • The total cost of damage was estimated at US$1.42 billion.
  • A huge number of cattle, deer, fish, and alligators drowned because of flooding.

Hurricane Irma

It is classified as category 5 that hit Florida on Sept. 10, 2017. The highest sustained wind reached 180 mph. It was the most violent hurricane to strike the United States since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Let’s check some of the damages caused by the hurricane:

  • The total loss was estimated at $77.16 billion. 
  • At least 134 people were killed because of the hurricane.
  • Coastal areas were evacuated, with around 6 million Florida residents.
  • In Florida, more than 7.5 million homes became without electricity.
  • In Carolina, 100,000 homes were left without power and five died because of storm-related issues.
  • In Cuba, about 150,000 homes were ruined.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was the most violent hurricane to hit the United States in August 2005. Katrina where Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi were the most affected states by the hurricane. It is classified as a category 5 hurricane. Let’s have a look at some of the damages caused by Katrina:

  • At least 1800 people were killed because of Hurricane Katrina.
  • 80% of the city of New Orleans flooded to a maximum depth of 20 feet.
  • Around three million people were left without power because of the storm.
  • The total damage was estimated at $125 billion in 2005.
  • 40% of all the deaths in Louisiana were because of drowning.
  • Between 300,000 to 350,000 vehicles were also damaged, as well as 2,400 ships and vessels.

Hurricane Mathew

It is classified as a category 5 hurricane. Mathew hit Haiti Cube on October 4, 2016, in the evening. The highest sustained wind reached 160 mph. Let’s check some of the damages caused by Mathew:

  • 546 deaths were estimated because of the hurricane.
  • The total loss was estimated at $10 billion.
  • Matthew was the most awful disaster to hit Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
  • The most general effects of the storm in the U.S were flooding and power outages.
  • In Haiti, damage was estimated at just over $1 billion.

Hurricane Michael

It is classified as a category 4 hurricane. It hit near Mexico Beach on Oct. 10, 2018. The wind speed was 160 mph. Scientists stated that, in recorded history,  Hurricane Michael was the first category 4 storm to make landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast. Let’s check some of the damages caused by Michael:

  • 35 people were killed because of the hurricane.
  • Initial property damage was estimated at $4.5 billion.
  • Florida’s forestland damage was estimated at $3 billion.
  • About 375,000 people were evacuated from their homes.
  • In Cuba, about 70% of the offshore went without power. 
  • Most of the city’s TV and radio stations stopped working because of the hurricane.

Hurricane Ophelia

It was one of the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclones. It hit Ireland in October 2017. It is classified as a category 3 storm. It is ranked as the tenth consecutive hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Let’s check some of the damages caused by Ophelia:

  • The estimated damage caused by the storm was more than $70 million USD.
  • More than 385,000 homes went without power.
  • The country was shut down for 2 days.
  • Three people in Ireland were killed because of the hurricane.
  • 43% of the people In Dublin said their property was damaged.

Hurricane Tomas

Hurricane Tomas began to hit the Caribbean islands on Friday October 29, 2010. The highest sustained winds reached 100 mph. 10 countries in the region were affected by the hurricane. Let’s check some of the damages caused by Tomas:

  • 15 people were killed on the island because of the hurricane.
  • Roads and infrastructure were destroyed.
  • Bridges and roads were completely damaged.
  • The estimate of the total loss was about $652 million.

What is the Difference between a Hurricane and a Tornado?

Both hurricanes and Tornadoes are natural phenomena. They are fatal and cause a lot of damage. They cause strong sustained winds. Let’s have a look at some of the differences between hurricanes and tornadoes:

HurricanesTornadoes
It occurs in the warm water tropicsIt occurs on land
It can be up to hundreds of miles wideIt is usually less than a quarter-mile wide
The highest sustained winds can reach 100 mphThe wind can reach 300 mph
Around 10 tropical storms can occur in a year in the Atlantic OceanFrom 800 to 1000 tornadoes in a year in the U.S.A
It can be predicted several days aheadIt can be predicted 15:30 minutes ahead
The greatest damages are caused by floodsThe greatest damages are caused by winds
It is huge but slowIt is not predictable but fast
It occurs in warm areasIt occurs anywhere
Diameter ranges from 60 to 1300 milesDiameter is about 100 meters

Some Safety Precautions during Hurricanes

  • Explain to the kids what’s expected during hurricanes.
  • Get ready with the emergency bag that includes flashlight, blanket, medical aid, and any other personal stuff.
  • Plan for the evacuation process.
  • Practice the evacuation plan.
  • In case no evacuation is needed, stay indoors.
  • Buy all the necessary outdoor objects.
  • Buy enough food and water.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Move to a shelter if needed.
  • Be careful of flooding that can occur after hurricanes.
  • Don’t drive in flooding water.
  • Don’t drink tap water unless it is officially allowed.
  • Always be updated with the weather reports.
  • Cover any glass area and windows with boards.

Some Hurricane Survival Stories

  • Story of Carol Park: The story goes back to September of 1961 in the Gulf of Mexico when Carol was only 10. She witnessed Hurricane Carla which is a category 5 hurricane. She was playing outdoors and her family didn’t take any precautions. There were heavy rains and violent winds. She still remembers the mixed feeling of fear and excitement.
  • Story of RJ Cywinski: He was 11 years old. His family had to evacuate their home. They left for a shelter with their pets. They found a lot of people there as well. He felt terrified while they were driving to the shelter as if the storm was following them.
  • Story of Bill: Bill witnessed hurricane Sandy in November 2012 in New York. He and his family were under the impression that they got ready for the hurricane. They prepared the emergency bag and all the needed supplies. However, the hurricane was much stronger than expected. Trees bent down and the power went down as well. Roads were blocked by the falling trees so there was nowhere to go. They had to stay at home away from the windows until the hurricane passed. 
  • Story of Christina: She witnessed 3 major hurricanes in the area of Virginia in 2003, 2011, and 2018. During the first hurricane, power went off for 13 days. They didn’t have access to gas or ice. During the 2nd hurricane again power went off for 7 days. The wind was terrifying. The third experience, power went off for 5 days. Some roads were blocked.

Interesting Projects for Kids to Make a Hurricane

It is exciting for kids to design a project that represents hurricane formation. Here are two projects that kids can do by themselves.

Project One

Supplies needed:

  • A bowl of water
  • Water
  • Food colouring

Steps:

  1. Bring a bowl of water
  2. Spin the water
  3. Pour water into the bowel
  4. Add food coloring
  5. Now watch the bands spin-out from the center then lose energy

Project Two

Supplies needed:

  • A bottle of water
  • Hair conditioner
  • Glitter

Steps:

  1. Get a bottle of water
  2. Add hair conditioner to the water bottle
  3. Add the glitter
  4. Spin the bottle
  5. Now you can watch the hurricane

List of Books About Hurricanes for Kids

  • Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste
  • Carrie and the Great Storm by Jessica Gunderson & illustrated by Matt Forsyth
  • The Magic School Bus Inside A Hurricane by Joanna Cole & illustrated by Bruce Degen
  • Skylark and Wallcreeper by Anne O’Brien Carelli
  • I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005
  • Hurricane Heroes in Texas 
  • Let’s Read and Find Out scientific series
  • Hurricane Lesson Resources and Activities
  • The Magic School Bus
  • Hurricanes! (New Edition) Written & illustrated by Gail Gibbons
  • Miss Twiggley’s Tree Written & illustrated by Dorothea Warren Fox
  • Storm Runners
  • Hurricane Child
  • Scout Storm Dog

Frequently Asked Questions About Hurricanes

When is Hurricane season?

  • The Atlantic hurricane season is the period in a year from June through November when tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The South Pacific cyclone season lasts from January until the end of April.
  • The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is the period in a year from mid-May until mid-October. Around this period, Typhoons start forming in the Western Pacific.
  • The Western Pacific cyclone season is between May and October.

What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?
If it’s above the North Atlantic, central North Pacific or eastern North Pacific oceans a tropical storm is known as a hurricane. If it occurs over the Northwest Pacific Ocean, around East Asia, it is known as a typhoon.

What’s the difference between a hurricane and a cyclone?
As we know, when a tropical storm develops over the the North Atlantic, central North Pacific, and eastern North Pacific it is called a hurricane. When a tropical storm forms over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean it is known as a cyclone.

What’s the difference between a hurricane and a tornado?
Unlike the others spoken about which are distinguished from where they occur, the difference between a hurricane and a tornado is the size and lifetime of it. Hurricanes are typically much larger and have a longer lifetime than that of a tornado.

What happens when you are in the eye of the storm?

The eye of the storm is actually the calmest part of a hurricane and is one of the safest places you can be during a hurricane, besides being completely outside the hurricane. Skies are often clear above the eye and winds are light compared to the outer hurricane. The eye is so calm because the strong winds that spin around never reach the centre.

How long do Hurricanes last?

The part of the hurricane that impacts us on land can last from a few hours up to a full day. The actually whole lifespan of a hurricane can last from a few days to a few weeks from when it forms in the ocean.

Conclusion

To recap, hurricanes are considered natural disasters. They are divided into categories depending on how violent they are. There are 6 stages for hurricanes. They cause mass destruction. There are a lot of hurricanes that hit many countries. 

As well, many writers wrote books only about hurricanes for kids and adults too. There are many activities and projects for hurricanes that kids can do. A lot of people spoke and even wrote about their experiences during hurricanes and how they survived.

thunderstorms

Most kids love watching heavy rain. Sometimes there is lightning accompanying the heavy rain. They inquire what the thunderstorm is and how it forms. It is all related to the water cycle and the weather conditions.

There are signs to predict a thunderstorm. One of these signs is the dark appearance of the sky. Thunderstorms have some features too. One of these features is lightning. They occur almost everywhere around the world. 

Thunderstorms do not last for a long time. However, they are dangerous. People have to prepare if a thunderstorm is predicted especially in the regions where thunderstorms are violent. There are various ways to stay safe during a thunderstorm.

What is a Thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is a storm that involves thunder and lightning. It is sometimes called an electric storm. It usually occurs between May and September in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, it occurs between November and March. 

A thunderstorm occurs in almost every zone of the world. It’s made by a cumulonimbus cloud. It usually causes gusty winds, heavy rain and sometimes hail. It is considered ‘severe’ when it contains ¾- 1-inch hail, winds of 58 mph or higher, or even a tornado.

How Do Thunderstorms Form?

Moisture, unstable air and lift are the components of any thunderstorm. Cumulonimbus clouds are formed due to the moisture in the air. These clouds are heavy, dark, and full of rain. 

Warm, humid, unstable air quickly rises, making the clouds develop bigger and higher. The unstable air is left and rises even higher. If the three components are mixed, then there is a thunderstorm.

The Three Stages of a Thunderstorm

The life cycle of a thunderstorm occurs in three stages. The three stages are as follows: the cumulus stage, the mature cumulus stage, and the dissipating stage. Each stage has its features. Let’s check the characteristics of each one.

The cumulus stage

During the day, the sun makes the surface of the Earth warm. As a result, heated air rises upward which is called updraft. The more the sun heats the Earth’s surface, the warmer the air becomes. Since hot air is lighter than cool air, it rises.

In the existence of wet air, heated air condenses, causing a cumulus cloud to form. The non-stopping expansion of clouds will be supported as long as warm air beneath the clouds continues to rise.

Mature stage

This is a serious stage. As the cumulus cloud grows in size, its water becomes more visible and heavier. The rising air becomes too strong, and raindrops starts to fall through the cloud. 

As the rain starts to fall through into the clouds, cool, dry air starts to creep the cloud. This is called the downdraft phenomenon. The phenomenon develops if warm air is lighter than cool air, resulting in the cool air falling into the cloud. 

The downdraft pulls heavy water downwards, causing rain. This atmosphere produces a cumulonimbus cloud because of the updraft, downdraft, and rain. The cumulonimbus turns into a thunderstorm cell.

Dissipating stage

It is the final stage. Thunderstorms generally disappear after 30 minutes. Whenever downdrafts dominate the cloud’s updraft, the updraft disappears. The warm moist air can’t rise anymore.

Since the warm moist air can no longer rise because of this downdraft dominance, cloud droplets will stop forming. The storm will disappear when the cloud evaporates from top to bottom.

Thunderstorm Analysis

There are three types of thunderstorms, categorized by their structure. These types are as follows: single-cell thunderstorm, multi-cell thunderstorm and supercell thunderstorm. 

Single-cell thunderstorm

Single-cell storms are thunderstorms created by just one convection cell in the atmosphere. Most of these thunderstorms are small, lasting for about an hour. They are also called ordinary thunderstorms.

These storms are often created during the summer season and include towering cumulonimbus clouds that can develop 12 kilometres high in the atmosphere. Rain and lightning are popular. Sometimes hail drops.

Multi-cell Thunderstorms

Some thunderstorms are composed of many convection cells moving as a single unit. They are called multi-cell thunderstorms. Often the convection cells are organized as a cluster, with each cell at a different stage of the thunderstorm cycle. 

A squall line is often formed by multi-cell thunderstorms if they are along a cold or warm front. The squall line can reach up to 600 miles (1000 km) long. Strong wind gusts often blow just before the storm.

Where Do Thunderstorms Occur Most Often?

  • Thunderstorms most often form within areas located at mid-latitude where warm moist air front hits and border cool air fronts.
  • Thunderstorms are quite rare in Alaska, New England, North Dakota, Montana, and other northern states where the air is commonly cold.
  • Thunderstorms are also commonly rare along the Pacific Coast because the summertime air there is quite dry.
  • Florida‘s Gulf Coast suffers the greatest number of thunderstorms than any of the U.S. locations.
  • Thunderstorms typically occur 130 days per year in Florida.
  • Thunderstorms typically occur 60–90 days per year in the Gulf Coast.
  • Thunderstorms typically occur 50–80 days per year in the mountains of New Mexico.
  •  Thunderstorms typically occur 20 to 60 days per year in Central Europe and Asia. 

Thunderstorm Diagram

clouds LearningMole

What is Lightning?

clouds LearningMole

Lightning is a powerful electrical current made during a thunderstorm. The electric current is very hot and makes the air around it expand very fast, which in turn causes thunder. Sometimes it happens on the cloud level, or it goes to the ground.

Water drops and ice particles inside a cloud hold electrical charges. Some of these electrical charges are positive while others are negative. Lightning occurs usually when a lot of negative charges develop in a cloud. 

To make these negative charges balanced, positive charges form under the cloud on the ground. Since opposite charges attract, the negative charges in the cloud want to unite with the positive charges on the ground.

It is difficult for the charges to unite because electricity does not move smoothly through the air. As the cloud develops, the strength of the charges develops too. Finally, the charges dominate the air and the cloud unleashes a powerful, negatively charged electrical current.

Since the negative current moves toward the ground, a positively charged current skips from the ground to meet it. When the currents unite, a bright flash is created that moves back up toward the cloud. This is a lightning spark. This process repeats until all the negative charges in the cloud are used.

A spark can reach 5 miles long. It would take up to 80 million car batteries to match the power of one thunderbolt. A single lightning flash has enough power to light a 100-watt bulb for three months!

The speed of light is faster than that of sound. This is the reason why we usually see lightning before we hear the thunder. To know how far away the lightning storm is from you, count the seconds between the flash and the sound. Observe the flash of lightning. Time how long it is before you hear the crack of the thunder. Divide the number of seconds -the time difference- by 5. The solution is the relative number of miles away.

For example, if the thunder rumbles 20 seconds after the lightning flash, then it is about 4 miles away. Math: 20 seconds / 5 = 4 miles.

What is Thunder?

Thunder is the terrifying crack you hear after a lightning flash. The lightning flash heats the air around it so fast. As a result, the air expands very fast. Then, it makes a shock current in the air. That current is the thunder you hear.

Thunder makes a very loud noise because the amount of electrical energy that releases from the cloud to the ground is so big. Since Light travels faster than sound, you see lightning first. When the time difference between lightning and thunder is so short this means the lightning is closed to the ground.

There are different sounds for thunder, it can be like a deafening bag when you stand in a close place where the lightning hits the ground. It can also be a cracking sound when the air cools and shrinks. It can sound like a low grumble if the air keeps on shaking from the lightning bolt. 

Damages Caused by Thunderstorms

  • Rainfall from thunderstorms results in flash flooding which kills a lot of people every year.
  • Lightning is the reason for many fires around the world each year and causes huge losses.
  • Hail in big size damages cars and windows, and kills farm animals left out in the open.
  • Strong straight-line winds, about 120 mph or more, connected to thunderstorms strike down trees, power lines and landlines. 
  • Thunderstorms can result in tornadoes which are one of the most destructive forces. They can cause major damages to infrastructure and buildings

Advantages of Thunderstorms

  • Thunderstorms cause rainfalls which provide plants, humans, lakes and reservoirs with water. 
  • A thunderstorm functions as a cooling tool for the earth. Without it, the percentage of heat in the atmosphere would significantly increase, which becomes negative for the living creature.
  • Lightning releases Nitrogen which is one of the most important elements for farming. Lightning turns the nitrogen gas into nitrogen compounds which benefit the fertility of the soil.
  • Thunderstorms help in clearing a huge amount of pollution from the atmosphere. They clean the air providing us with fresh air.
  • We enjoy watching the fantastic spectacle of a rainbow after a thunderstorm.
  • Lightning caused by thunderstorms helps maintain the electrical balance between the earth and the atmosphere.

Some useful tips to Stay Safe

  • When you hear the crack of thunder, go to a safe place immediately.
  • The perfect place to go is a strong building or a car, but make sure to close all the windows in the car.
  • If there is no safe place to go to, stay away from trees.
  • If you are a group of people, stay about 15 feet from each other.
  • Stay away from water. It’s a perfect conductor of electricity.
  • Any water sport is not safe during a thunderstorm.
  • Stay away from any metal.
  • It’s better not to use a landline phone because lightning may hit exterior phone lines.
  • Do not use electric equipment like home appliances.

Some Interesting Facts about Thunderstorms

  • There are three types of thunderstorms: single-cell, multi-cell cluster, and supercell.
  • The diameter of the average thunderstorm measures around 15 miles. 
  • The average thunderstorm holds 13.2 million gallons of water vapor into the Earth’s atmosphere and unleashes a tremendous amount of energy. 
  • Thunderstorms pass by three stages: developing stage, mature stage and dissipation stage.
  • Thunderstorms need three components to form: moisture, a lift mechanism and unstable rising air.
  • Winter thunderstorm causes snow instead of rain as precipitation, but will still cause thunder and lightning.
  • There are an average of 16 million thunderstorms across the globe every year.
  • Thunderstorms don’t just happen on Earth, they’ve been noticed on other planets like Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Venus.
  • Some thunderstorms are violent enough to produce tornadoes.
  • Thunderstorms can cause winds as fast as 300 mph.
  • Lightning is considered the most dangerous feature of a thunderstorm.
  • Thunderstorms have some advantages like cooling the earth.
  • For safety indoors, a person has to be away from any electrical appliances and water.
  • For safety outdoors, a person has to be away from trees and water.

Thunderstorm Experiment

ٍSupplies needed:

  • Plastic containers
  • Food colouring (red and blue)
  • Ice cube tray
  • Some room-temperatured water

Steps:

1. Add water into the ice cube tray.

2. Add one drop of blue food colouring to each section.

3. Stick it in the freezer.

4. Fill in the plastic container with room temperature water.

5. Take a couple of the blue ice cubes and put them on one side of the clean container at the same time put drops of red food colouring to the other side of the container. 

6. The cold front is now represented by the blue food colouring, the warm air is represented by the red food colouring.

7. The warm air is forced to rise over the colder air which finally caused the thunderstorm.

clouds LearningMole

Conclusion

Thunderstorms occur everywhere in the world when there is unstable air, moisture and a lift. They most probably happen in summer and spring. Although thunderstorms have destructive effects, they have good effects too. Lightning and thunder are some of the characteristics of thunderstorms. 

The universe around us

The universe is very old and tremendously gigantic. It extends in all directions for long distances measured by big units called light-years. A light-year is defined as how far light travels in one year. Since the speed of light is 300,000 km/sec, one light year is 9.5 trillion km (that is a very very long distance!)

This enormous space is full of galaxies. Galaxies are full of millions and millions of stars. Each star is a big ball of fire with a powerful gravitational force. This force pulls other space bodies and makes them orbit the star.

We happened to live on top of one of these objects called Earth which orbits a star called the Sun. Many other objects orbit the Sun as well. Scientists then categorized all these objects in one group called the Solar System (sol means sun in Latin).

planets of the solar system

The Sun is the most gigantic object in our Solar System. It comprises 98% of the Solar System’s mass. The remaining 2% of the mass is occupied by all the planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, and comets spinning around the Sun.

Some of these objects, like planets, orbit the Sun directly in almost circular or elliptical orbits. Other objects orbit the Sun indirectly like natural satellites, also known as moons. These moons orbit planets or comets which in turn orbit the Sun.

But how did the Solar System form?

How did planets form?

Well, that is a really interesting story so read closely.

In space, the matter and radiation between star systems are called interstellar medium. A thick region of the interstellar medium that accumulates gas, plasma, and dust is called an interstellar cloud. There are different types of interstellar clouds. One of them is called a molecular cloud.

About 4.6 billion years ago, a giant molecular cloud of hydrogen and helium collapsed. This collapse caused all the mass, which was too hot, to be collected in the center forming the Sun.

In addition, this collapse produced so much dense gas and dust that formed a disc around the Sun. These gassy and dusty particles started to be attracted to one another by gravitational power to form bigger bodies.

Such bigger bodies were later categorized as planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and moons. There are eight planets in our Solar System. Scientists further classified these eight as inner system planets and outer system planets.

Inner system planets VS outer system planets

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The inner system planets are the four closest planets to the Sun. They are also referred to as terrestrial or rocky planets. These planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth (hello!), and Mars. All of them are composed of silicate rocks or metal.

The outer system planets are also four but gigantic and mostly composed of gas and ice. The largest of the four are Jupiter and Saturn. They are called gas giants because they are composed of hydrogen and helium.

The second-largest ones are Uranus and Neptune. They are so far from the Sun that they are unusually cold. They are composed of ice, not only water ice but also ice of ammonia and methane. And just like the sky makes the ocean look blue, methane also makes those two distant planets blue.

Since it was discovered in 1930 until the early 21st century, Pluto was considered a planet. It was the ninth planet of the Solar System after Neptune. Yet, scientists discovered many other objects. They were either the same size as or bigger than Pluto. So in 2006, the International Astronomical Unit reclassified Pluto as a minor or a dwarf planet.

The inner system planets are the four closest planets to the Sun. They are also referred to as terrestrial or rocky planets. These planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth (hello!), and Mars. All of them are composed of silicate rocks or metal.

The outer system planets are also four but gigantic and mostly composed of gas and ice. The largest of the four are Jupiter and Saturn. They are called gas giants because they are composed of hydrogen and helium.

The second-largest ones are Uranus and Neptune. They are so far from the Sun that they are unusually cold. They are composed of ice, not only water ice but also ice of ammonia and methane. And just like the sky makes the ocean look blue, methane also makes those two distant planets blue.

Since it was discovered in 1930 until the early 21st century, Pluto was considered a planet. It was the ninth planet of the Solar System after Neptune. Yet, scientists discovered many other objects. They were either the same size as or bigger than Pluto. So in 2006, the International Astronomical Unit reclassified Pluto as a minor or a dwarf planet.

And then what?

In fact, there are many other bodies in the Solar System. They might not be as large as planets but definitely as marvelous. For example, asteroids.

Asteroids

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Besides the eight known planets, there are many, so many that we cannot even count them, other smaller rocky bodies called asteroids. They are not round but they have irregular shapes.

Asteroids can be very large or very small. For example, the diameter of the largest asteroid ever found, Vesta, is 525 km. That is almost the distance between London and Belfast! However, the smallest asteroid scientists discovered is about 10 meters across.

The largest collection of asteroids in our Solar System, about 1.1 to 1.9 million, is found in the space between Mars and Jupiter. This collection is defined as the asteroid belt. These millions of asteroids orbit the Sun too.

Just like the asteroid belt, there is the Kuiper belt right behind the orbit of Neptune. This Kuiper belt is different from the asteroid belt. Its objects are mostly composed of ice because they are very very far from the Sun. Pluto in fact lives in the Kuiper belt along with many similar brothers of objects.

Besides the eight known planets, there are many, so many that we cannot even count them, other smaller rocky bodies called asteroids. They are not round but they have irregular shapes.

Asteroids can be very large or very small. For example, the diameter of the largest asteroid ever found, Vesta, is 525 km. That is almost the distance between London and Belfast! However, the smallest asteroid scientists discovered is about 10 meters across.

The largest collection of asteroids in our Solar System, about 1.1 to 1.9 million, is found in the space between Mars and Jupiter. This collection is defined as the asteroid belt. These millions of asteroids orbit the Sun too.

Just like the asteroid belt, there is the Kuiper belt right behind the orbit of Neptune. This Kuiper belt is different from the asteroid belt. Its objects are mostly composed of ice because they are very very far from the Sun. Pluto in fact lives in the Kuiper belt along with many similar brothers of objects.

So, what did our ancestors think about the Solar System?

clouds LearningMole

Since the beginning of life on Earth, humans have been interested in exploring space. Ancient civilizations like Egypt and Babylon studied the stars and planets. They took measurements to determine festivals and the hours of the night.

However, people throughout history always believed that Earth was the center of the universe. They imagined it floating motionless while other planets and stars spun around it.

Perhaps one of the earliest true assumptions ever made about the Solar System was that by the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Aristarchus of Samos (born in 310 BC). He presented a model that placed the Sun in the middle while Earth and other space objects revolved around it.

Unfortunately, Aristarchus was not believed much. This is because other great philosophers such as Aristotle thought he was wrong. And since the public extremely trusted Aristotle, they did not believe Aristarchus as well.

Starting the 15th century, many astronomers and mathematicians from different regions across Europe began to explore the sky, planets, and stars. They developed different theories that later proved Aristarchus right.

It is so interesting to mention here that all these incredibly intelligent astronomers made their assumptions about the Solar System mostly by using mathematics. They barely looked at the sky. Well, even if they did, they would only see teeny-tiny twinkling bulbs and nothing more.

And this is when telescopes came into existence.

The story of telescopes

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In 1608, a Dutch eyeglass maker invented an instrument that could magnify objects three times. A year later, an Italian astronomer—who would become very known after that—heard about this invention. So he made one for himself that could magnify objects 20 times.

This Italian astronomer was Galileo Galilei. Because he was so interested in space, Galileo started pointing his 20-time magnifying optical instrument towards the sky. Later on, this instrument took the name of the telescope.

Using his telescope, Galileo could make different observations of objects in the sky. For example, he observed Earth’s moon and the transits of Venus. He also discovered that Jupiter, the biggest planet in our Solar System, had four moons.

Galileo then used these observations to claim that the Sun was the center of the Solar System, not Earth and that all other planets orbited it.

But once again, Galileo was not believed; this time by the Catholic Church as well as thousands of people. Those people only accepted the model in which Earth was at the center of the sky. So, the Church considered Galileo’s model against religion.

Sadly, Galileo was arrested and kept in his house as a prisoner. Nine years after his arrest, he died.

Luckily, Galileo’s observations did not die with him. Many astronomers followed in Galileo’s footsteps. They could prove mathematically and telescopically that the Sun is in the middle and that other planets and sky bodies orbit it. This fact was later given the name we are all familiar with: the Solar System.

How were planets discovered?

So far, we have learned about the Solar System as a whole. We understood what our ancestors thought about it. We also found out how the great astronomers of the past proved the Sun is in the middle of the sky.

Now let’s learn about how each planet was discovered.

Mercury and Venus are two planets that can be spotted in the sky with the naked eye. Ancient people knew about and mentioned them in their rocky journals. But Galileo (remember him from above?) was the first person to observe both Mercury and Venus through a telescope. That was in the early 17th century.

During the next two centuries, many other astronomers could observe both planets using more accurate telescopes. Such observations enabled them to study Mercury’s surface features and Venus’s phases and atmosphere. Astronomers could also calculate Mercury and Venus’s day and year lengths.

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were also known in prehistoric times. Galileo (yes, again) could observe Mars with his telescope in 1610. In the same year, Galileo observed the four largest moons of Jupiter. These moons, as a group, were named after him: Galilean moons.

Yet, Galileo’s simple telescope could not observe Saturn accurately. But in 1655, a Dutch astronomer called Christiaan Huygens using a more advanced telescope saw Saturn’s rings and one of its moons.

So far, we have learned about the Solar System as a whole. We understood what our ancestors thought about it. We also found out how the great astronomers of the past proved the Sun is in the middle of the sky.

Now let’s learn about how each planet was discovered.

Mercury and Venus are two planets that can be spotted in the sky with the naked eye. Ancient people knew about and mentioned them in their rocky journals. But Galileo (remember him from above?) was the first person to observe both Mercury and Venus through a telescope. That was in the early 17th century.

During the next two centuries, many other astronomers could observe both planets using more accurate telescopes. Such observations enabled them to study Mercury’s surface features and Venus’s phases and atmosphere. Astronomers could also calculate Mercury and Venus’s day and year lengths.

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were also known in prehistoric times. Galileo (yes, again) could observe Mars with his telescope in 1610. In the same year, Galileo observed the four largest moons of Jupiter. These moons, as a group, were named after him: Galilean moons.

Yet, Galileo’s simple telescope could not observe Saturn accurately. But in 1655, a Dutch astronomer called Christiaan Huygens using a more advanced telescope saw Saturn’s rings and one of its moons.

What about Uranus?

Just like his planetary neighbors, Uranus was observed in prehistoric times but it was mistaken for a star. Then in the late 17th century and the mid 18th century, multiple astronomers observed Uranus at least 18 times.

One day in March 1781, British astronomer Sir William Herschel was observing the sky from his garden. Using his telescope, he spotted an object. At first, he thought this object was either a Nebulous star or a comet. But he later defined it as a comet. Then again, Herschel thought that the object he discovered was either a comet or a planet.

Later, Finnish-Swedish astronomer Anders Johan Lexell discovered that the new object had a nearly circular orbit, like planets. But comets have an overly elliptical orbit. So the new object was internationally identified as a planet.

Just like his planetary neighbors, Uranus was observed in prehistoric times but it was mistaken for a star. Then in the late 17th century and the mid 18th century, multiple astronomers observed Uranus at least 18 times.

One day in March 1781, British astronomer Sir William Herschel was observing the sky from his garden. Using his telescope, he spotted an object. At first, he thought this object was either a Nebulous star or a comet. But he later defined it as a comet. Then again, Herschel thought that the object he discovered was either a comet or a planet.

Later, Finnish-Swedish astronomer, Anders Johan Lexell discovered that the new object had a nearly circular orbit, like planets. But comets have an overly elliptical orbit. So the new object was internationally identified as a planet.

And Neptune?

We learned that Galileo observed Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. He also spotted Neptune with his telescope. Galileo observed Neptune twice on 28 December 1612 and on 27 January 1613. However, he did not think it was a planet. He thought it was a stationary star.

One day in 1821, the French astronomer Alexis Bouvard published astronomical tables about Uranus’s orbit. Such tables contained data that facilitated the calculation of Uranus’s position and its planetary calendar.

However, when Bouvard observed Uranus with a telescope, he saw something strange. Uranus’s orbit experienced some changes. These changes caused the orbit to deviate from the perfect circle shape. That meant Bouvard’s data and the real data from the orbit were unmatching.

So Bouvard assumed that Uranus was subject to gravitational force from a mysterious planet. More than 20 years later, two other astronomers called John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier used Bouvard’s observations to predict, with mathematical calculations, the position of that mysterious planet.

In September 1846, German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle was able to observe Neptune using an advanced telescope. His observation almost matched the calculations made by Urbain Le Verrier.

It is interesting to mention here that Galileo recorded his observations as drawings. In them, there were some plotted points in a position. When Galle later discovered Neptune, he found out that those dots in Galileo’s drawing were in the same position as that of Neptune.

Galileo was the first to observe Neptune but he never knew that.

How did planets get their names?

Now we are quite familiar with the concept of the Solar System and its second most popular inhabitant, the planets. We learned about how and by whom they were discovered. Now let’s discuss how each planet got its name. There are some interesting stories so let’s take them one by one.

Mercury

Before Mercury became the name of the closest planet to the Sun, it was the name of a Roman god which people worshiped many many centuries ago. The god Mercury was actually a messenger. He could travel very quickly delivering messages from here to there among other gods.

On the other hand, Mercury, the planet, is the fastest in the Solar System. Being very close to the Sun means the planet is subject to a huge gravitational pull. This pull in return causes the planet to orbit the Sun very fast. In fact, Mercury travels around the Sun in only 88 days. That is even shorter than winter in Ireland!

So, the fastest planet was named after the fastest Roman god, Mercury. Makes sense.

Before Mercury became the name of the closest planet to the Sun, it was the name of a Roman god which people worshiped many many centuries ago. The god Mercury was actually a messenger. He could travel very quickly delivering messages from here to there among other gods.

On the other hand, Mercury, the planet, is the fastest in the Solar System. Being very close to the Sun means the planet is subject to a huge gravitational pull. This pull-in return causes the planet to orbit the Sun very fast. In fact, Mercury travels around the Sun in only 88 days. That is even shorter than winter in Ireland!

So, the fastest planet was named after the fastest Roman god, Mercury. Makes sense.

Venus

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With Venus, things start to get a little different (and interesting.)

Although Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus is much hotter. In fact, Venus is hotter than any other planet in the Solar System. This is because Venus is covered in clouds and its very thick atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide. This gas creates the well-known greenhouse effect. Such an effect keeps the heat inside and prevents it from escaping to space.

In addition, these clouds reflect the light coming from the Sun. That is why Venus always looks as bright as the Moon. But Venus looks tinier than the Moon of course because it is further from Earth.

As Venus is so beautifully bright, well the brightest of all planets, it was given the name of the Roman goddess of beauty and love. Interestingly, Venus can be seen with the naked eye to the east before sunrise or in the west during the evening.

Earth

Earth, also known as home.

When it comes to naming Earth, we do not really seem to know a lot about it. All we know is that the word earth came from English/German origins which means the ground.

Maybe because it is the only planet suitable for life?

Mars

Way before Mars referred to a 51g-nougat-caramel-almondless chocolate bar, it was the name of the Roman god of war.

Meanwhile, planet Mars was found to be red. Scientists attributed its red color to the fact that Mars’s surface is full of iron oxide. Iron oxide is a red chemical composed of iron and oxygen. It gives Mars the red color. It is also the same chemical that gives blood and rust their reddish color.

Since blood is associated with war, the fourth planet from the Sun was then named after the Roman god of war, Mars.

Jupiter

Jupiter is the giant of the giants and the second biggest body in the Solar System. It is so big that it is 11 times wider than the earth. To easily get that, imagine a coin is Earth then place 11 such coins beside one another. They would make the diameter of a much bigger circle. This bigger circle is Jupiter.

Naming Jupiter was no big deal at all. The gigantic planet got its name from the Roman king of gods, Jupiter, who was in charge of all aspects of life in Roman religion.

Saturn

Known for its incredibly beautiful rings, Saturn is the second biggest planet after Jupiter. It is also the third biggest body in the Solar System. Saturn got its name from Roman mythology. It was named after the Roman god of wealth, agriculture, and harvest.

Uranus

We learned that Sir William Herschel was the astronomer who discovered Uranus. And just like we get to name a kitten we adopted, Herschel was asked to name the planet he discovered. So he named it after King George III who ruled Britain back at the time.

Yet, such a name was only popular in Britain and not in the rest of the world. So many other names were then proposed. But seventy years later, the seventh planet in the Solar System was finally given the name of Uranus. Uranus was the Greek god of the sky.

Neptune

Neptune is often described as Uranus’s near-twin. It is the eighth planet in the Solar System. Neptune is also the bluest, densest, and furthest planet from the Sun.

Naming Neptune is an interesting story to know. At first, it was called the planet exterior to Uranus or Le Verrier’s planet. Then astronomers began suggesting different names such as Janus and Oceanus. These were Roman and Greek gods’ names.

Neptune was known to be the god of the sea in Roman religion. Astronomers wanted to keep with the previously named planets in the Solar System. That is why they called the eighth planet Neptune.

How many orders can we put planets in?

We are now familiar with the planets in our Solar System. We learned about how planets were discovered and how they got their names. We also learned some interesting facts about planets such as Venus’s brightness.

By default, planets are classified according to their distance from the Sun. This order goes like this: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Yet, we can also arrange planets in order of heat, size and mass, orbital speed, and day length. Let’s explore them one by one.

Planets in order of heat

It is very rational to think that the closer a planet is to the Sun, the hotter it is. But this does not apply to two of the planets in our Solar System: Venus and Uranus.

As we previously explained, Venus’s atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide. This gas keeps the heat inside and prevents it from escaping to space. This makes Venus hotter than any other planet in the Solar System.

Similarly, we would think that Neptune is colder because it is further from the Sun than Uranus. In fact, it is the other way around. The coldest temperature ever found on Uranus was -223.8 °C which beats Neptune’s coldest temperature -210 °C. Here is how this happens.

Every planet has an axis. Scientists found that each planet also tilts a certain degree. While Earth’s tilt is 23 degrees, Uranus’s tilt is 98 degrees! This makes Uranus look like it has been knocked over and is rotating on its side.

This tilted rotation is believed to cause Uranus to never retain the heat coming from its core. It escapes perpetually to space. This causes Uranus to be very cold, even colder than its brother Neptune.

So when we put planets in order of heat, they go like this: Venus, Mercury, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.

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Planets in order of size

This is another order when planets take different positions than that of the distance from the Sun.

Mercury happens to be the smallest planet in the Solar System with a radius of 2.4 km.

The second smallest planet is Mars with a radius of 3,389.5 km. Scientists believe that Mars has become so small because of the gravitational pull of Jupiter, its giant neighbor. Jupiter’s gravity caused Mars’s small size while it was forming billions of years ago.

Some planets are very close in size like Venus with a diameter of 6,051.8 km and Earth with a diameter of 6,371 km. It is the same case with Uranus, 25,362 km in radius, and Neptune, 24,622 km in radius. Each pair of these planets is called near-twins.

Now, putting planets in order of their size would come up this way: Mercury, Mars, Venus, Earth, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter. This is also the same planet arrangement in order of mass.

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Planets in order of orbital speed

Orbital speed is how fast a planet orbits the Sun. Every object in the Solar System is attracted to the Sun by its gravitational pull. That means, the closer an object is to the Sun, the stronger the Sun’s gravitational pull. This also means that the stronger the gravitational pull on a planet, the faster the planet revolves around the Sun.

Such orbital speed also determines how long a planet takes to complete one orbit around the Sun. This is called the solar year. So when a planet is fast, it takes a short time to orbit the Sun. So, fast planets have short solar years, and vice versa.

That is why Mercury is the fastest planet with an orbital speed of 47.36 km/s. Mercury also has the shortest solar year of 88 earth days. Likewise, Neptune is the slowest planet. It goes around the Sun at a speed of 5.43 km/s. That is why Neptune’s solar year is the longest. It is equal to 60225 earth days (Earth’s solar year as you know is 365.25 days)

So, planets in order of their orbital speed are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. This is also the same planet arrangement when put in order of their distance from the Sun.

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Planets in order of day length

Three paragraphs ago, we defined a solar year as the period taken by one planet to complete one revolution around the Sun. A planet takes one whole day to complete one rotation around its axis.

And this is where the fun begins! When it comes to putting planets in order of their day length, things get a little jumbled. For example, Jupiter completes one rotation around its axis in only 10 hours. Then comes Saturn with 10 hours and 42 minutes, Neptune with 16 hours and 6 minutes, and Uranus with 17 hours and 14 minutes.

We know that Earth’s day lasts 24 hours. That means the giant planets of the Solar System have shorter days than that of Earth. In sixth place, we have Mars with 24 hours and 37 minutes. After that is Mercury whose day equals 58 earth days, 15 hours, and 30 minutes.

In eighth place, we have Venus whose day equals 243 earth days! This is quite insane, you know why? Because Venus’s year is 224 earth days! Venus’s year is shorter than its day! And this is because Venus travels around the Sun faster than it rotates around itself.

So planets’ arrangement in order of their day length comes like this: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Earth, Mars, Mercury, and Venus.

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All in all

After we have learned about the different orders in which we can put the eight planets of our Solar System, here’s a table vision of them all.

Distance from
the Sun
(closest to furthest)
Heat
(hottest to coldest)
Size, diameter,
and mass
(smallest to biggest)
Orbital speed (fastest to slowest)Year length (shortest to longest)Day length (shortest to longest)
MercuryVenusMercuryMercuryMercuryJupiter
VenusMercuryMarsVenusVenusSaturn
EarthEarthVenusEarthEarthNeptune
MarsMarsEarthMarsMarsUranus
JupiterJupiterNeptuneJupiterJupiterEarth
SaturnSaturnUranusSaturnSaturnMars
UranusNeptuneSaturnUranusUranusMercury
NeptuneUranusJupiterNeptuneNeptuneVenus

Did you notice how many orders are the same?

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed how the Solar System formed. We learned about the different space bodies that orbit the Sun. We also studied planets in a bit of detail.

After that, we learned the astounding story of the planets’ discovery. Italian astronomer Galileo made great contributions in discovering Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune. We also understood where each planet got its name and how those names are related to the features of the planets.

Lastly, we demonstrated five different orders to arrange the planets. These orders gave us multiple interesting information about the planets. For example, Neptune has the longest year and Venus has the longest day.

The Solar System is as mysterious as it is enchanting. Humans have always looked at the sky and wondered what those teeny-tiny sparkles were. This curiosity has inspired astronomers to work hard and explore the Solar System.

So every time you see the Moon in the night sky or use your school telescope to spot Jupiter, or go to a stargazing spot during a meteor shower in summer, remember all those great astronomers who devoted their lives to exploring the Solar System and tell us about the enchanting universe we are floating in.

If we talk about the weather, we should talk about the sky and the air outside and how they look. We see and feel the weather around us every day. When you ask about the weather, you can get various answers depending on what time it is and which season we are in.

Weather is the state of the air and atmosphere at a particular place and time. Weather can change from place to place, from season to season, from day tonight. Weather is something that we experience and feel every day, so it is very important to understand it at an early age. 

Explaining the weather to kids can be a fun and dynamic experience. You can find a variety of content everywhere to explain what weather is for all ages. The weather includes sun, rain, snow, and wind. Weather occurs as the Earth is heated unevenly by the sun. That means these temperature changes that occur winds form, which blows hot or cold air. The wind is also responsible for causing the formation of clouds through precipitation and storms.

There are Four Types of Weather

Sunny

When the weather is sunny, that means that the sky is full of sun. The sun’s energy affects the air pressure and the temperature. Sun gives us the power to do our activities. 

The plants need sunlight to grow. Plants make their food by sunlight, this process is “called photosynthesis”. When the sun is up and shining, most animals and reptiles come out to raise their body temperatures and become active. Sunny days are not always hot. Sometimes, they can be cool depending on which season we are in.

Cloudy

Clouds are a huge mass of water vapour. Clouds make a barrier between the sun and us. When there are clouds in the sky, the sun isn’t able to shine and keep the environment warm. It can be warm on a cloudy day when the clouds trap heat near the surface. Clouds are often connected with rain, when we see the sky full of clouds we think of rain. 

Windy

The wind is the air that moves from one place where there is high pressure to another place where there is low pressure, which means when air is under pressure, it starts to move.

What is the Meaning of “Under Pressure”?

Imagine you are blowing up a balloon, as you blow the air inside the balloon, the balloon blows but when the pressure increases it can pop.

The wind blows when air is pushed smaller spaces of areas. When the weather is stormy, there is a strong wind and heavy rain.

Rainy

Rain is water droplets that fall from the cloud. When the water droplets from the clouds became too heavy, they fall to the ground. When it’s raining the streets become wet and we find fresh air around us. When the air temperature gets near freezing or below, the snow falls. All things around you become white. It might be hail, hail is formed when the water freezes. That time you can find ice balls around you. 

The Four Seasons

The weather changes from season to season. We have four seasons in the year: Spring, Summer, Winter, and Autumn. Let’s see what is the difference between the four seasons: 

Spring

Spring is famous for its warm weather. Spring sits between Winter and Summer. Spring is celebrated with festivals in many cultures. In Spring plants, trees, and flowers grow, bud and bloom. Trees start to sprout new leaves. Animals are also affected too, they come out of their winter hibernation and begin their nesting and reproducing activities.

Summer

Summer is the hottest of the four seasons, coming after spring and before Autumn. High humidity during the Summer is called a heatwave. There are many things to do in Summer like going to the beach, exercising, and eating ice cream. Most people love to do activities in Summer. The night is shorter in Summer.

Autumn

Autumn, is also known as Fall. Its temperature transitions between Summer heat and Winter cold. Autumn sits between Summer and Winter. The leaves fall from the trees at that time, so it is also called fall. 

Do you know that animals collect their food in Autumn in preparation for the coming Winter??? 

In Winter day and night are equals.

Winter

Winter is the coldest season of the year. Winter is the season, which comes between Autumn and Spring. The word Winter comes from an old Germanic word that means the time of water. The weather is very cold and sometimes it rains and snows. The animals start hibernation. Trees and plants stop growing. Nights are longer in winter.

Tsunamis

What’s a Tsunami? 

A tsunami is an enormous wave, which is caused by an underwater earthquake and/or a volcanic explosion. Sometimes the waves reach heights of over 100 feet (30.5 meters). Most tsunamis about 80 per cent happen in the Pacific Ocean. Because of such large waves, some people can’t compare tsunamis to tidal waves.

When we hear about Tsunami, we are in a great panic. It is important to know the signs of a Tsunami as it is considered a natural disaster. This is a common mistake due to the large nature of the wave itself, but there are nuanced differences that separate the two from each other. 

For example, Tidal waves are occurs by the moon, sun, or planet tides. This occurs the wind moves over the water with typical waves. The major difference is the water flow. As waves of tsunamis flow straight, they became more damaging and worrying.

Do you know that the word tsunami originates from a Japanese word, which means “A great harbour wave? 

Earthquakes

What are Earthquakes?

Earthquakes are sudden shakes of the ground caused by the crossing of seismic waves through Earth’s rocks. When some form of energy is stored in Earth’s crust, seismic waves are suddenly released. About 50,000 earthquakes occur annually in different countries. The size of the earthquake indicates the damage that will happen. 

The Size of Earthquakes

  • When the earthquake magnitudes start from 2.5 to 5.4, you often feel it and it only causes little damage.
  • When the earthquake magnitudes start from 5.5 to 6.0, it causes slight damage to buildings and other structures.
  • When the earthquake magnitudes start from 6.1 to 6.9, it causes a lot of damage in very populated areas.
  • When the earthquake magnitudes start from 7.0 to 7.9, it causes serious damage.

How do we Measure Earthquakes?

The instruments, which we are used to calculating earthquakes are known as seismographs. 

What are Seismographs’ Jobs?

Seismographs are used to monitor the seismic waves, which travel through the Earth after an earthquake begin.

Do you know how Seismographs calculate information about earthquakes? 

Modern seismometers have three elements to determine simultaneous movement. They are settled in a very solid position. Each direction of movement gives accurate information about the earthquake. 

The Three Directions are: 

1-Up-down. 

2-North-south. 

3-East-west. 

The instrument is made up of:

1- A-weighted pin.

2- Spring.

When earthquakes begin, these tools can record the vibrations from the earthquake. They make lines from the pen onto paper creating a record of the earthquake. This record is known as a seismogram.  

It is considered an effective way of discovering the size of the earthquake. So If the earthquake is small, the pen will make a short, wiggly line. And if it’s a big earthquake, it will be a long wiggly line. From here we know the accuracy magnitude of earthquakes.

Thunder and Lightning

What are Thunder and Lightning?

Thunder is a loud rumbling noise heard, it’s the sound that comes from lighting. Lightning is a discharge of electricity. A single shot of lightning can heat the air around it to 30,000°C. The lightning quickly heated the air.

Intense heating causes the hot air, the hot air quickly expands into cooler air around it, which makes a shock wave so we hear thunder. Lightning does not always create thunder. Lightning is the most effective element of a thunderstorm.

History of Lightning

Lightning is considered one of the oldest observed natural phenomena on earth. Ancient people mostly always believed in nature gods. Some ancient people believed that God was responsible for lightning, others believed that angry gods threw lightning bolts from the heavens. 

Do you know that the Early Greeks believed that lightning was a weapon of Zeus? So in the past, no one knew the fact of lightning. By the 1700s scientists proved that lightning is a bright flash of electricity produced by a thunderstorm.

Lightning

is a huge, bright flash of electricity in the atmosphere that happens between the clouds, the air, or the ground. Ice particles and water droplets, which are inside a cloud carry electrical charges, some are positive and others are negative. Air is considered as a barrier between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground.

Lighting usually happens when the opposite charges build up enough in the clouds. To equalize these opposite charges, the positive charges form under the cloud on the ground. The sparkle flash of lightning very fast equalizes the negative and positive charges in the atmosphere until the opposite charges are set up again.

When the electricity from the lightning heats the gases in the air, the gases expand and make a loud noise. The loud noise, which follows lightning is called thunder.

All lightning that is produced from thunderstorms is very dangerous. So if you hear the booming sound of thunder, then you may be in danger. Not all lightning is dangerous. 

Do you know that….!!!
  • Lightning hits the ground 25 million times a year which means about 50 to 100 lightning bolts may strike the Earth every second. 
  • A lightning flash has enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for about 3 months. 
  • Lightning is approximately six times hotter than the surface of the sun!

Lightning Color

Lightning is always bright in white color, but often it’s tinged with another color around the edges. Lightning may come in different colors of the rainbow “Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Violet”. Lighting color depends on conditions in the clouds and in the air.

The color of a lightning stroke depends on how hot it is and what is in the clouds and in the air. Lightning color starts with red and ends with violet, which is considered the hottest. Let’s see:

  • Yellow or Orange lightning: point out that there is a large concentration of dust in the air.
  • Blue lightning: inside a cloud, points out the presence of hail.
  • Red lightning: inside a cloud, points out the presence of rain.
  • White lightning: indicates that the air has a little amount of moisture “humidity”.

What are Cloud Flashes?

Cloud flashes are lightning that occurs inside the cloud which travels from one part of a cloud to another, or from the cloud to the air.

Thunder

is mainly caused by lightning. When a lightning blot travels from the cloud to the ground it makes a little hole in the air called a channel. At the moment when the light is gone, the air breaks down again and occurs a booming sound of thunder.

Do you know why we see lightning before we hear thunder??????

That’s because light travels faster than sound.

What is a “stepped leader”?

A stepped leader is negatively charged particles that come from the cloud, it moves in many directions trying to find the path of least resistance. Stepped leader speed reached two hundred thousand “200,000” miles per hour.

There are several types of lightning. You can identify the type by what is at the flash channel start and end. Here are some of the lightning types:
Cloud-to-Ground Lightning (CG) 

All of you kids think that Cloud-to-ground lightning comes from the sky, but in fact, it comes from the ground up. It is a channel of a negative charge that is called a stepped leader. It takes the zigzag or forked pattern, so it is sometimes called forked lightning. The stepped leader is not easy to see by eye, it is so fast and travels to the ground in a millisecond. 

When the negative charge of the stepped leader became near the ground it attracts a channel of positive charge “steamer”. It starts moving upward from the ground tries to find tall objects such as a tree, house, or telephone pole. When the charges of leader and streamer connect, a powerful electrical current begins to flow.

Cloud-to-Air Lightning (CA)

Cloud to air lightning occurs when negatively charged air particles are attracted to positive charges inside the cloud. Cloud-to-Ground lightning contains Cloud-to-Air lightning through the branches, which reach the main channel into the mid-air. 

The flashes of Clouds sometimes have visible channels which reached out into the air around the storm but do not strike the ground.

Ground-to-Cloud Lightning (GC) 

It is an invisible channel of electrically charged air moving from the cloud directly to the ground. Its strikes sometimes called upward-moving lightning, they are common on tall structures such as towers and skyscrapers.

How does the Visible Lightning Strike produce?

When a separate channel closes an object on the ground, a powerful wave of electricity from the ground moves upward to the clouds and produces that visible lightning strike.

Do you know that the ground is mainly made up of positively charged particles, and storm clouds have negatively charged particles? Negatively charged in Ground-to-Cloud Lightning follow positively charged particles.

The polarity of the Ground-to-Cloud Lightning can be either positive or negative. Ground to cloud lightning and cloud to ground lightning are nearly the same. The name depends on the flash itself.

Cloud-to-Cloud Lightning (CC) or Intercloud Lightning

Cloud to cloud (CC) or intercloud lightning happens between two clouds, one carries a positive and the other carries a negative charge. These obviously do not strike the ground so they just travel from cloud to cloud.

Intracloud Lightning (IC)

Intracloud lightning is often called “sheet lightning that’s because of the appearance of its discharge lighting, which lights up the sky like a sheet of light. It is the most common type of cloud that mainly occurs inside a cloud and jumps between different charge areas in the cloud.

FRANKLIN’S LIGHTNING ROD

Have you heard about lightning rods one day? Do you know who Benjamin Franklin is?

Who was Benjamin Franklin?

Benjamin Franklin was an American inventor and politician. He had many inventions such as Urinary Catheter, American Celebrity, Swim Fins, The Odometer, American Political, Cartooning, Glass Armonica, Reaching Device, Franklin Stove, Bifocal, Eyeglasses, and the Lightning Rod. Benjamin Franklin was fond of storms and loved to study them. Lightning Rod was one of his great inventions. 

What is the Lightning Rod?

A lightning rod is an external terminal set up in a building or structure. The main purpose of a lightning rod is to attract the lightning to prevent it from striking a building, structure, or people. You can find many types of lighting rods with different characteristics. 

How does the Lightning Rod work?

By the 1700s Benjamin Franklin invented a gorgeous invention called the “ lightning rod”. Before that invention, the houses were burned out from lightning strikes. One day in May 1752 a thunderstorm passed over the village of Marly-la-Ville “Philadelphia” and destroyed many buildings.

Benjamin Franklin was ready for this storm and waited for it. He prepared the tools for his experiment. Here are the tools he used in his invention:

  1. Kite made of silk cord.
  2. Hemp string.
  3. Silk string. 
  4. House key. 
  5. Wire. 

First, Franklin built a simple kite and connected a wire to the top of it. At the bottom of the kite, he tied a hemp string, and silk string. After that Franklin attached the key to the hemp string. Then they waited. Franklin’s son helped him to fly the kite in the air through the thunderstorm.

Franklin noticed that the free threads of the hemp string were upstanding, just as they suspended on a common conductor. Also when he moved his finger close to the key, he felt a spark because the electricity reached the key. The negative charges in the metal piece attracted the positive charges in his hand, so he felt 09othis spark.

From this point, Franklin proved some points:
  • The metal key was electrostatically charged.
  • The clouds were electrically charged.
  • The lightning strikes were large electrostatic discharges.

As a result of this discovery, in 1753 Franklin invented the lightning rod and it became a great invention at that time. Lightning rods saved many houses and structures from destroying and burning.

What is Fulgurite?

Fulgurite is a glassy formation that happed by a lightning strike on sandy soil. The lightning heats the soil and mixes the soil particles, which surround the path of the channel and cause a hollow tube-lined formation shaped like the lightning strike that formed it.

What is the difference between Thunder and Lightning?

Lightning Thunder
MeansThe flashing of light that is produced by a discharge ”positive and negative charge” of atmospheric electricity.The sound that follows lightning because of a sudden expansion of the air in the way of the electrical discharge.
EnergyElectrical energy.Sound energy.
MovementLight travels faster than sound. You can see the lightning first. Lightning is fast and too hot. It is more destructive than thunder.Thunder is slower than lightning. You can see thunder after lightning. Thunder causes heavy rain and strong winds. It is not dangerous as lightning.

Formation
Lightning is formed when water and ice particles hit with warm air and build up static energy. Thunder is formed by the quick expansion of gases in the electrical charge of lightning.

What is Volcanic Lightning?

Volcanic lightning is known as “Dirty Thunderstorms”. It is able to produce some of the most powerful lightning storms on Earth.  

Volcanic eruptions don’t always produce lightning. Just a single eruption can produce multiple or separate lightning storms.  

Scientists discovered that lightning seems to be explosions throughout the eruption, however, not all explosions occur lightning. They also observed that most of the strong lightning happens at the beginning of the eruption and after that lightning progressively less in intensity as the eruption continued, it may take weeks to stop.

Facts about Lightning and Thunder

  • Thunderstorms are always a result of lightning, so you can’t see and hear a thunderstorm without lightning. On the other hand, you can see lightning without a thunderstorm. 
  • Thunder is sometimes called “heat lightning” because it always happens in the summer.
  • Lightning can have 100 million to 1 billion volts and contains billions of watts.
  • Positive lightning is stronger than negative lightning because of its electrical field. And due to its long flash duration and its great peak charge, positive lightning is considered more dangerous than negative lightning.
  • Lightning happens more in the summer due to the humidity in the atmosphere. The land surface is warm in summer, so warm air keeps more water vapor. The water vapor condenses into liquid water cloud drops, the latent heat is released to occur thunderstorm.  Moist and warm air near the surface can cause deep convection that may produce lightning.
  • Thunderstorms are less common in the winter, and sometimes lightning can happen during snowstorms. 
  • Lightning hit the same spot more than one time.
  • Lightning hit taller objects more than shorter objects to produce the upward channel.

What is the 30-30 Rule for Lightning?

It is considered an easy way to determine the lightning in our area. First, if you see lightning start, begin counting to 30. Then, count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder.

If this second is less than 30 seconds so this lightning is so harmful. At this time you should quickly search for a safe place to hide in.

Lightning Tips for Kids

Here are some tips, which help you to protect yourself from harmful Lightning: 
  • You can protect yourself from harmful lightning by staying indoors during the storm. Indoors means a safe place such as homes, enclosed shelters, offices, and shopping centers.
  • Always follow up the weather forecast to know what’s the news about the weather.
  • During thunderstorms, you should delay any activity outdoors.
  • Don’t forget the 30-30 rule. 
  • If you are stuck in an open area, try hard to find a safe place to stay in. you can get low, sit down, or crunch that may help you to stay safe but not remove you from danger.
  •  If you are stuck outside and there is no safe place to hide, the following actions may remove the danger from you:
  1. If you are in elevated areas such as hills, or peaks, you should leave it instantly.
  2. Don’t lie flat on the ground just crouch down, tuck your head, and put your hands over your ears. 
  3. Don’t stay under a tree.
  4. Don’t stay on a cliff or rocky overhang.
  5. If you are swimming in a pond, sea, or pool, instantly get off the water. 
  6. Don’t stand near objects that conduct electricity such as light poles, barbed wire fences, and power lines that is because lightning can travel through any metal.
  •  Staying at home never indoors protects you from lightning. So f you are indoors “homes”, you should follow these instructions, which keep you safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:
  • Stop using water during a thunderstorm such as a shower, wash dishes or any other activity with water. Lightning can travel through plumbing.
  • Turn off all electronic equipment, lightning can travel through electrical systems such as televisions, iron, air conditions.
  • During thunderstorms do not lie on concrete floors or stand on walls, lightning can travel through metal wires in concrete flooring or walls.

Let’s Do Simple Experiments

1- How to make Lightning at home?
Materials:
  • A low-watt light bulb and a ballon.
Process:
  • Make the room dark by closing the curtains and turning off the lights. 
  • Blowing up the balloon and rub it on your head.
  • The friction builds up an electrical charge just like the inside of the cloud during the storm.
  • Move the balloon closer to the end of the light bulb.
Conclusion: 
  • The light-up is similar to lightning, the negative charge from the ballon leaps across the air and is connected to positive charges inside of the light bulb, that what happened during the thunderstorm from a cloud to another cloud, or from a cloud to the ground.
2- How to Make a Spark?
Materials:
  • Pencil with an eraser.
  • Aluminum tray.
  • Your hair.
  • Styrofoam plate.
  • Thumbtack.
Process:
  • Attach the pencil with an eraser in the center of the aluminum tray by using pushpins.
  • The function of the pencil is to make like a handle “ to lift the aluminum tray”. 
  • Rub the styrofoam with your hair, you should rub it roundly, fast, and so hard for about 3 minutes.
Conclusion:
  • Hold up the aluminum tray by using the pencil handle and putting it on the Styrofoam plate.
  • You will see the spark very clearly as what you see during lightning…Try it yourself…
Common Questions about Lightning

1- What is the speed of lightning?

The flashes of lightning that we see travel at the speed of light “670,000,000 mph”. 

2- Is lightning a fire or air?

Lightning is a brilliant electric spark “fire” discharge in the atmosphere, which occurs during a thundercloud.

3- Is lightning faster than sound?

No, doubt that lightning and thunder occur at the same time. But in fact, we see lightning before hearing thunder because light travels a million times faster than sound. On the other hand, sound takes about five seconds to travel one mile.

4- Is lightning as fast as the speed of light?

No, lightning is not as fast as the speed of light. The speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second.

5- Is lightning faster than a bullet?

Yes, if we compare lightning speed with bullet speed we will find that lightning is faster than a bullet.

6- Is lightning hotter than the sun?

Yes,  lightning is hotter than the sun, which is 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun. In fact, lightning strikes fall on a tree, it can blow off.

7- Is anything faster than light?

No, there is no object else that can travel faster than lightning.