Earth is one planet in an 8-planet solar system, and all these planets orbit the sun. In addition to this, we know there are endless numbers of celestial bodies in space, with thousands of different systems, stars and galaxies. Recently, however, NASA’S Kepler space telescope made some monumental discoveries — there are three super-Earth-size planets in the Milky Way galaxy that lie in a “habitable zone.”
The reason why this specific Kepler spacecraft discovery is so important is because it signifies that scientists are closer than ever before to finding other Earth-like planets. These recently discovered planets are rocky in composition, and have a size relatively similar to Earth’s. Also, these planets orbit around a star in a “habitable zone.” By this, scientists mean that the planets orbit far away enough from its central star to have a lower surface temperature. This could even mean that water may be found on the planets’ surfaces.
There are a variety of ways to get your child’s imagination engaged in these current events. As scientists draw closer and closer to finding out more about the intricacies of the depths of space, what types of questions is your child asking?
During these times, perhaps you could take the opportunity to have your child express their imagination through creative means such as drawings and paintings. Pose hypothetical questions to them, such as “If there was a new planet just like Earth, what would it look like?” Have your child draw out a creative design, and engage them in conversations about these recent, exciting scientific discoveries.
Also, as you discuss these recent scientific breakthroughs, you can also challenge your child to extend their critical thinking with different activities. Continue to stay on the lookout for the latest and greatest science and Math Blaster updates here.
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Scientists have found that humans are not the only mammals that can keep a beat. Studies have been conducted at the University of California, Santa Cruz by researchers and have discovered that sea lions possess the capability to conduct certain actions that were quite unexpected.
The University of California, Santa Cruz Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory team have been particularly studying one sea lion named Ronan. Ronan was born in the wild in 2008 and was discovered to not be capable of living in the wild. Rescuers had to save this animal from being stranded three times and was finally taken into captivity after its third. In 2010, Ronan joined the UC Santa Cruz’s Cognition and Sensory Systems Laboratory and was used for control studies that focused on the effects of a natural neurotoxin produced by algae on the California coast.
Currently, Ronan is being used for another study. This particular project is run by Peter Cook, a graduate student in psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz. Initially, this study was noted as a simple side project and was not to be highly publicized. However, the findings proved otherwise. Researchers on the team spent several months training Ronan to listen to musical beats.
According to the NBC news article “This Sea Lion Grooves to a Disco Beat”, Cook and the team started out with a simple rhythm track and used food as a reward for Ronan to follow through with the proper head-bobbing behavior. Eventually, Ronan was able to bob her head in time with a variety of tunes, including some that she was hearing for the first time. After observing that Ronan was capable of doing such a task, researchers’ now believe that other mammals out in the wild are also capable of performing at the same level as Ronan.
According to Cook, this study challenges scientists’ previous assumption that “the ability to move in time with a beat was connected to the ability for vocal learning and vocal mimicry.” Before this study, these skills seemed only possible by humans, cockatoos, parrots and budgies. This recent study has placed a new beginning for further studies on comparative psychology.
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On Tuesday, March 19, the Herschel Space Observatory discovered some of the youngest stars scientists had ever witnessed. Thanks to NASA JPL’s Herschel Project Office, a European Space Agency mission, astronomers were able to view one of the largest sets of stars in a single-star forming region. Because of these results, scientists are now one step closer to discovering the formation of a star in its initial phase.
Scientists utilized the Herschel Photo detector Array Camera and Spectrometer instrument to collect infrared light at 70 and 160 micrometers in wavelength. This allowed them to compare precious scans of the star-forming in Orion. According to NASA JPL:
“Herschel spied the protostars in far-infrared, or long-wavelength, light, which can shine through the dense clouds around burgeoning stars that block out higher-energy, shorter wavelengths, including the light our eyes see.”
These observations made recently are able to provide a one of a kind observation that will provide scientists to build on from previous observations. Their discoveries on Tuesday included things no other space agency had ever seen. These gas-like, dust particles that surrounded the stars always challenged scientists from the beginning. Previous studies were not able to detect these protostars due to its cold and dense environment. Therefore, it had been difficult to observe some of the earlier star formations due to its physical conditions. However, these newly observed protostars came as a shock and turned out to be the initial starting point of star formations near the constellation, Orion. Now, scientists are able to dig deep into the earlier phases of star formation.
Among the 15 newly discovered protostars, 11 are colored red. What this means is that their light output trends toward the low-energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. These stars are considered to be at a very young stage in life; something scientists have not been able to observe until this recent discovery.
With this new finding, researchers are now aiming to record every stage of a star’s development. If your child is interested in science, have them check out some of our math activities. Encourage your children to exercise their scientific and mathematical minds every day.
Have you seen this week’s screenshot of the week? The spectacular shot has been up on the Math Blaster homepage and has been featured in game on one of our very own loading screens. Max wanted to take some time to congratulate the winner, Jasmine RicketyMillion, and thank all of you Blasters and your parents for sending in the great screenshots! Check out her winning shot, featuring the our popular Red Alert game:
Looks like Jasmine is always ready to take on new challenges around the Space Station. After all, you never really know when a Red Alert alarm will sound. With the help of Blasters like you and Jasmine RicketyMillion the Space Station has remained safe from even the most sudden of attacks.
Keep up the great work Blasters. Max loves seeing Blasters like you show off your skills when he is picking the Screenshot of the Week.
Although its origin is backed by a variety of stories and legends, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that celebrates the spirit of love. Whatever stories you have already heard about this special day, modern-day tradition often includes sharing a delicious meal with the people you care about most. During the holidays, food seems to take a life of its own, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. This year, be sure to share some of our favorite food ideas for Valentine’s Day.
If you want to prepare a meal for that special someone or you want to create a fun and festive Valentine’s Day snack for your little ones, try out these lovely and delicious ideas:
Pancakes and Hearts
One can always mix and match with how they make their pancakes. You can use regular flour, whole wheat flour, blueberries, chocolate, and other types of ingredients. Have you ever used food coloring in any of your pancakes before? Make a batch with red food coloring, and another batch without it. Once you have made your pancakes, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a heart shape from the center of a red pancake and regular pancake. Swap the centers of these pancakes to create a two-toned, delicious breakfast creation.
If you are looking for something more savory to make, how about making a pizza? You can make a pizza fit for the Valentine’s Day season by doing a variety of things, including making heart-shaped pepperoni, arranging toppings in a Valentine’s Day-themed design, or even shaping the pizza itself into a giant heart. Celebrate the holiday even as you eat a delicious pizza.
Kids can participate in creating this festive and sweet Valentine’s Day treat. Take some jumbo marshmallows, some type of syrup or stick spread, and sprinkles. Have your children decorate the marshmallows with their favorite designs with the broad end of a toothpick, and then spread the sprinkles on top. Perhaps you can even push lollipop sticks through the marshmallows to make marshmallow pops.
Not-so-traditional Chocolate-covered Strawberries
Chocolate-covered strawberries are a classic snack that blends both fruits and sweets into one delicious creation. However, why not consider changing the way you make this timeless treat? Try blending a strawberry smoothie and drizzle chocolate on it, or perhaps you can make strawberry-shaped and colored cookies and dip those in chocolate. Be free to use your imagination and entertain yourself and your loved ones with some interesting inventions.
Whatever you choose to make or do for the Valentine’s Day holiday, use your imagination. There is a plethora of recipes and activities to choose from when celebrating this love-inspired holiday. Let us know about your favorite meals and things to do for Valentine’s Day, and comment below.
Filed under: Family Fun, holidays, Just for Fun, Newsletter, Parents and Kids, Uncategorized, What's New | Tagged: hearts, Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day food, Valentine's Day holiday, Valentine's Day ideas | 4 Comments »
We all know that our solar system is composed of our sun, eight different planets, their moons, and other objects such as asteroids. Scientists’ views of the solar system have not changed in any monumental way in the past years, aside from when Pluto ceased to be considered an official planet in 2006. However, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has found a great discovery — the Milky Way galaxy, which is home to our solar system, contains at least 100 billion alien planets.
This number seems very large, and questions may arise as to how this estimation ever came to be. Scientists calculated this number after studying a system called the Kepler-32, which is a system containing five planets that is around 915 light-years from Earth. The Kepler Space Telescope’s job is to notice the small declines in a star’s brightness. This miniscule decline is an indication of a planet crossing the star’s face, which is how the Kepler Space Telescope found the five planets in the Kepler-32.
The Kepler-32 planets orbit around a star called an M dwarf, which is the most common type of star in the Milky Way. In fact, M dwarfs make up about 75 percent of the Milky Way’s stars. Kepler-32 has also served as a type of benchmark for the other systems orbiting around M dwarfs in the Milky Way. Specifically, the Kepler Space Telescope has observed planets around different M dwarf stars behaving in the same manner as the planets in Kepler-32.
In short, scientists created a calculation based on the types of planetary systems that the Kepler can detect; these celestial systems can only be detected by the Kepler if they are oriented in a specific way for the telescope to see. Because of this, scientists have calculated the statistical likelihood that an M dwarf system in the Milky Way would be in the specific position for the telescope to detect, and then combined this figure with the number of systems that the Kepler could actually detect. These calculations lead to our big number — 100 billion alien planets.
The extraordinary part about space is that this calculation may be a modest estimate — scientists recognize that they are only theorizing about planets orbiting around M dwarf stars, but are not considering planets that could be orbiting around other stars. As such, the number mentioned previously could be easily doubled. Whatever the case, the simple truth is that our galaxy, let alone the millions of other galaxies that exist beyond the Milky Way, is very vast. Scientists are still experimenting and researching to find out more about it, but in the meantime, we can all continue to use our imaginations. Encourage your Blasters to think about what could be out in space, and maybe you can engage them in fun activities that will get their creativity flowing. Let us know about any ideas you have! Comment below, because we cannot wait to hear from you.
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