In This Issue: A New Earth-Like Planet; Survey Links Texting and Literacy; The Shape of Your Sandwich
Are Other Earths Out There? Astronomers have discovered a watery world outside of our solar system. Don't pack your bags yet; the planet is not habitable for humans—its ocean surface is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is likely shrouded in a dark fog of superheated steam. But its existence gives scientists another reason to believe that they will soon find a planet that could support some kind of life. Known as GJ 1214b, it joins a growing list of planets discovered outside of our solar system. Learn More:The Journal Nature Summary
Activity Ideas - Working With Very Large Numbers: Use the following numbers: Earth has diameter of about 8,000 miles. It is 93 million miles from the sun.
GJ 1214b has a diameter 2.68 times that of Earth. What is its diameter? (21,440 miles)
ESTIMATE the sum of the planets' diameters: 8,000+21,440. (8,000+21,000=29,000)
GJ 1214b is 1,900,000 miles from its sun. Earth's distance from our sun is _______ times this. (48.947)
ROUND 1,900,000 to the nearest million. (2,000,000)
Survey Says: Texting = Reading & Writing :-) A recent survey indicates that kids who text, blog or use social networking sites are more apt to be enthusiastic readers and writers offline as well. Researchers from National Literacy Trust concluded that the more forms of communication children use, the stronger their core literacy skills. The Trust doesn't see any problems with the jumbled jargon and misspellings that make up texts, saying that children can distinguish between different writing styles.
Activity Ideas - Ways Words Are Formed: Tell your child that new words enter the English language all the time. Thousands are added each year, in part because native speakers like to get creative.
WORDS: Have your child match the following words with the manner in which they were formed: scuba (c), brunch (a), exam (b), racist (d), ping pong (g), igloo (h), diskette (d), bungalow (h) Hindi, biohazard (d), brainstorm (f), To chair (e), Britpop (a) British Pop Music, chocoholic (a), yuppie (c) young urban professional.
WAY WORDS WERE FORMED: a.) mixing two words and their meanings together; b.) using part of a word; c.) forming a word from the letters of a phrase; d.) adding a prefix or suffix; e.) changing the way a word is used, e.g., noun becomes verb; f.) joining two words; g.) words made with rhyming pairs; h.) taking a word from another language
What Shape Is Your Sandwich? Think sandwiches are boring? Think again: NPR recently explored the shape of the lunch-box staple with a chef, an architect and other experts to determine how best to optimize the ratio of crustless bread. All agreed that triangles topped rectangles. A food editor stated that the diagonal cut creates the illusion that your sandwich is bigger. An architect said that the diagonal line has a storied history of superiority—consider the Great Pyramids. And as the mathematician explained, it's all in the numbers.
Activity Ideas - Problem-Solving Use the following numbers to solve these sandwich problems: your bread is square; each side is 4 inches long.
FIND the total inches of crust on your bread. (16 inches)
HOW MANY inches of crust-free surface will you have if you cut the sandwich down the middle? (8 inches)
HOW MANY inches of crustless surface will you have if you cut the sandwich into diagonal halves? (11 inches)
Have your child write the formulas (algebraic expressions) that he or she used to calculate the surface area of the rectangular vs. triangular halves.