Smore Science Digest

A biweekly science newsletter for kids
Edition 10 | Sep 15,2022 – Sep 30,2022

Trending News

Food Crops Could Now Use the Sun’s Energy 20% More Efficiently!

Soybean Plant, Credit: H. Zell, Wikimedia Commons

Photosynthesis is the natural process used by plants to produce their food using the energy from sunlight. The food, or the sugars, formed in plants fuel their growth. Recently, scientists from the UK and the US found a way to make photosynthesis much more efficient. Their experiments involved genetically modifying soybean plants. The scientists used a genetic approach to increase the time the plants devote to photosynthesis.

First Native American Woman to Travel to Space

Nicole_Mann
Nicole Aunapu Mann, Credit: NASA, Norah Moran, Flickr

Next month, NASA will send a new crew of astronauts to the International Space Station. However, this time, for the first time in history, this group team will include a Native American woman. Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes will serve as the mission commander. As the mission commander, Mann will be in charge of all stages of the flight. Originally from California, Mann studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University.

Science Experiment

Red cabbage indicator to classify liquids into acids and bases

An indicator reveals if a substance is acidic or basic. In solutions, acidic components release hydrogen ions, while basic one’s release hydroxide (OH-) ions. The indicator changes color according to the solution’s nature.

Materials Needed:

• Red cabbage
• Knife (Use only under adult supervision;, preferably let the adult do the chopping)
• Blender
• Strainer
• Bowl
• Clear cups or glasses
• Household liquids to test
• Dropper
Instructions:
Prepare the Red Cabbage Juice

1. Ask an adult or someone who is supervising to chop up the head of a red cabbage into small pieces. About 2 cups of chopped cabbage should be enough for this experiment

Futoshiki

Can you do a Futoshiki?

futukshi

Rules:  

  1. Fill in the 5 x 5 grid with numbers from 1 to 5, such that no number is repeated twice in a row or column.
  2. Place numbers according to the greater than and lesser than signs wherever applicable.

Previous edition’s answer: 

futukshi

STEM Around Us

What does a dog’s breed say about its personality?

Dog_(Canis_lupus_familiaris)
Credit: Ken Billington

A big myth about dogs is that their personality has a lot to do with their breed. In reality, all dogs can be good dogs, and we have the science to back that up!
Scientists turned to dog-owners to answer questions about their pup’s’ behaviour. The questions were ranged from whether their dogs were friendly to strangers to little things like whether they saw their dogs circle before pooping.! In total, researchers got help from owners of 18,385 dogs, and processed the DNA of nearly 2,155  pups!

Science Video

How Do Snowflakes Form?

What do humans and snowflakes have in common? Just like every person has a unique fingerprint, every snowflake has a different geometry and shape. When an extremely cold droplet of water freezes over a speck of dust or pollen in the sky, it forms an ice crystal, which serves as a base for the rest of the snowflake to grow upon. As the crystal falls towards the ground, water vapor in the atmosphere freezes onto it. The ice crystal grows six ‘arms’ as it grows to form a snowflake. The uniqueness of snowflake geometry can be attributed to slight changes in temperature, humidity, and pressure.

Brain Teaser

You are in a room that has three switches and a closed door. The switches control three light bulbs on the other side of the door. Once you open the door, you may never touch the switches again. How can you definitively tell which switch is connected to each of the light bulbs?

(Hint: Think about how the bulbs can get heated after some time in use.)

Previous edition’s answer:

Answer: 10

STEM Careers

Rosalind Franklin: British Chemist and Crystallographer

Rosalind Franklin

Let’s travel back in time to the year 1952. On that fateful day, something extraordinary happened. It was so groundbreaking, so earth-shattering that it completely changed the face of science! What was it, you may ask?

It was none other than a photo. it was called “Photo 51,” to be exact. You may be wondering how a photo could have such a big impact. Well, let’s take it from the beginning. It all started with a young Rosalind Franklin.

Did you know?

Apart from humans, dolphins are one of the animals best at communication. They use clicking noises and whistles to ‘talk.’ They even use various vocal tones, and dolphins can perceive which one of them is whistling from differences in the tones.

Science In Depth

Guarding Cells – The Role Of Stomata Against Pathogens

Guarding Cells

When plants are under attack from pathogens, they use tiny pores called stomata as their first line of defense.

Microbes are tiny organisms that can be found nearly everywhere – from ocean floors to the soil under your feet. They are even found inside you! They do a range of tasks that make life possible. They help recycle nutrients and dead matter, breakdown rocks, and can keep your gut health in check too.

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