by Ashley Mercado, age 13
NASA has finally revealed the first set of beautiful images taken from a new space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope. The first picture from the Space Telescope was a plethora of distant galaxies that go deeper than scientists have ever seen. NASA says the new Webb Telescope will eventually replace the Hubble Telescope. Some of Webb’s images show areas of the universe Hubble has already studied, and some show areas Hubble could not reach.
Webb used infrared light which allowed scientists to obtain a clearer images and show places they have not yet studied. NASA administrator Bill Nelson said, “Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the universe that we’ve never seen before.” [read more]
by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 16
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military proposed the usage of herbicides in wartime to sabotage the living conditions of the enemy. Operation Ranch Hand was a program that created various herbicide compounds to destroy crops and plants in urban and agricultural areas that could benefit Vietnam’s forces.
Several companies, including Monsanto and Dow Chemical, were involved in the production of the herbicide compounds. Multiple mixes were made, such as Agent White, Purple, Orange, Pink, Blue, and Green. Though all of them were deployed, Agent Orange turned out to be the most dangerous. It is a combination of toxic chemicals and herbicide, which contains small amounts of TCDD, a type of dioxin. Even the smallest amounts could be harmful to those exposed, as it is a carcinogen— a cancer factor. Throughout 1962 to 1971, 13 million gallons of Agent Orange were aerially sprayed in regions of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. [read more]
by Makya Rodriguez, age 17
Ernest Shackleton was an Irish-British explorer obsessed with sailing to the South Pole. In 1914, Shackleton set sail from the UK on the HMS Endurance. Due to the harsh conditions, the ship got stuck in impenetrable ice. Although he was close to his destination, Shackelton and his crew were forced to abandon their ship.
They set up a camp on ice floes which took them north to an island where the team split off. Half the team left in search of help while the others stayed on the island. Eventually, all 28 crewmembers were rescued and saved.
A century later, the Endurance was found sunk in the Weddell Sea and remains there to this day. The discovery team consisted of a group of scientists, historians, and filmmakers on board to create a film for National Geographic about the mission to find the Endurance. Mensun Bound, director of the exploration said that “This is by far the finest wooden shipwreck I have ever seen. It is upright in the seabed, intact and in a brilliant state of preservation,” adding “This is a milestone in polar history.” [read more]
by Leilani McNeal, age 17
A recent report shows that students in school districts that relied on remote learning during the pandemic suffered much more learning loss than students who attended school in person. Education researchers say the limited success rates of remote instruction has widened achievement gaps nationwide.
The new study was conducted by the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data and by the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Researchers collected data from over two million students across 49 states. The study will review achievement data until 2024 for follow-up purposes.
The study shows that remote learning, in practice, caused more harm than good—especially in high-poverty schools. Researchers made significant efforts to compare recent results to normal, pre-pandemic in-person teaching styles. [read more]
by Camila Cruz, age 14
Earth’s atmosphere allows us to fly a helicopter. Recently, NASA wanted to know if a helicopter could be flown on a different planet, such as Mars, where its atmosphere is thinner.
A helicopter named Ingenuity was sent by NASA to go to Mars. On July 30th, 2020, Ingenuity was attached to a space rover called Perseverance, which was also sent to Mars by NASA. In February of 2021, Ingenuity safely landed on Mars. It has many different purposes, one of them being to test if a helicopter could take flight on a thin atmosphere like Mars. It also made it easier to take pictures of the Red Planet in previously difficult regions.
Ingenuity was successful in all its early missions. On the first flight, it reached up to ten feet high. The helicopter has taken flight around 28 times since its landing. Ingenuity has exceeded NASA’s expectations. It reached its highest altitude of 39 feet and a max speed of 12.3 mph. The helicopter would attach back to the rover and transfer its data to it. NASA had scheduled communication sessions with Perseverance where it would send its collected data to NASA and receive commands from Earth. [read more]
by Daniel Garduno, age 11
Archaeologists have recently discovered a town in Turkey near Mesopotamia that they believe is the oldest known town in the world.
The old Turkish city is called Catalhoyuk and is about 9,000 years old. From what archeologists estimate, 10,000 people used to live in this region; now the town is a set of decomposing ruins. The town of Catalhoyuk had no front doors, and homes were built right next to each other. Evidence shows that instead of using streets and paths to travel between homes, people usually had to walk across the rooftops. Without any current resources, the town looks prehistoric.
Catalhoyuk is known for various things. A signature of the townsfolk in this area was their talent for art. Their art was mostly creative design that included murals and sculptures. The townsfolk usually put their finished art in interiors and exteriors of the most used room - an ancient equivalent of changing wallpaper every few months. Usually the main room was featured with red painted plaster bull skulls attached to the walls of the room. They also used animal bones and remains which included beaks, teeth, skulls, and tusks. [read more]
by Aissata Bah, age 12
Rhythm and Blues (R&B) is a musical genre that has a lot of important history and began in the mid-twentieth century. It is a genre that grew from the difficulties of young Black people. As told by Mark Puryear, curator for the 2011 Folklife Festival, “It tells a complex story of many strands and experiences.”
Originating in the 1940s, R&B was sparked by the Great Migration, a huge migration of African Americans moving to Northern, Midwestern and Western states, and the Civil Rights Movement. Primarily originating from inner-city ghettos or urban communities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Memphis, and Detroit, R&B began to expand. The term for R&B was originally African American music but started to change its meaning over time. It has many different forms and had grabbed the attention among wide youth audiences after war periods and helped contribute to less racial division. For example, Elvis Presley had covered an R&B song to present to a white audience. The reason was to bring both audiences from different backgrounds together. [read more]
by Gio Tecautl Lopez, age 17
Have you ever thought about how big comets can get? In 2014, the Hubble Space Telescope discovered the largest known comet in our solar system, Bernardinelli-Bernstein.
Comets are sets of rocks and ice that orbit the Sun. These are often enveloped in clouds of gas and dust and are made from frozen chemicals that come off of other comets. As they pass by the Sun, the heat makes the comets release gas, which produce a visible atmosphere that can take the form of a tail. After the 2014 discovery of Bernardinelli-Bernstein, scientists studying its nucleus concluded that it receives only three percent of the light that hits it, making it seem “blacker than coal” according to David Jewitt, an astronomer at the University of California, Los Angeles.
At that time, new data showed the discovery of Bernardinelli-Bernstein, or C/2014 UN271. According to Jewitt and his colleagues, the new images from the Hubble Space Telescope show that “the heart” of this comet is around 120 kilometers (75 miles) across. This is twice as wide as Rhode Island. While conducting studies for comets, astronomers try to figure out the size and location of the icy bodies. In order to compare comet sizes, astronomers focus on their icy cores or nuclei. [read more]
by Mariama Bah, age 15
Once known as "The World's Greatest Weekly," the Chicago Defender newspaper has been publishing news and information for nearly 117 years. Providing dependable and important news to the African American people of Chicago, it remains one of the most influential black weekly newspapers in the nation.
The newspaper was launched by Robert S. Abbott in 1905. Inspired by his beliefs in equal job opportunities and social justice, Abbott published the first issue of the Chicago Defender on May 5th, of that year. By 1910 the Defender began to gain popularity and readership.
The Chicago Defender soon became more than just a newspaper. It was also a beacon, especially for African American readers in the Southern United States. [read more]
by Emily Rodriguez, age 13
Natural icy habitats of polar bears have been destroyed by global warming over the last few decades. However, there has been a group of polar bears that has learned to adapt to these conditions. Surprising scientists, polar bears in Greenland have been resilient to the ever changing climate of their glacial environment.
The ice in the Arctic is melting bit by bit. As a result, polar bears' food resources are being more scarce and harder to find. Seals are one of their main food sources in the Arctic sea. When they live on land, their other food sources are small birds and plants, which aren’t enough to feed them. Polar bears are now finding alternative ways to hunt seals on glacial ice.
A scientist at the University of Washington, Dr. Kristin Laidre, tracked some glacier-dwelling bears with radio collars. Dr. Laidre and her colleagues studied their DNA. They tranquilized them with darts fired from a helicopter and removed tufts of fur for testing. They collected new data every seven years and also used 30 years of prior information. [read more]
by Eleanor Pleasnik, age 13
The humble bumble bee may be small in size but its influence on our environment is huge. But one bee in particular, the rusty patched bumble bee, is now on the federal Endangered Species list. This bee is native to Wisconsin and other areas of the upper Midwest. Over the past two decades, rusty patched bees have decreased by 90%. Very few of them are found roaming in backyards these days.
The rusty patched bumble bee was once found in over 20 states, but now this species occupies only a small region of Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, Minnesota, and northern Illinois. Among these states, only Minnesota has taken steps to protect this disappearing species.
Bee specialist, Jay Watson, says homeowners can play a big role in maintaining the number of bees. He states that anyone with a yard is “hugely important” especially considering that several yards together are technically an ecosystem. [read more]
by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9
Did you know butterflies have an important role in pollinating flowers? They especially like flowers that have a strong scent, contain certain colors such as red and yellow, or plants with plenty of nectar.
While butterflies can be easily seen in the air, they didn’t always start out this way. Butterflies begin as caterpillars. Over time, these insects undergo metamorphosis, a process in which they create a cocoon to transform into butterflies. Once they come out the cocoons, it takes time to learn and get used to flying.
An important type of butterfly is the Monarch Butterfly, also known as the Painted Lady. It gets its name from its black and orange colors. Monarch butterflies weigh the same as a paper clip and can grow up to four inches. They also have a lifespan for 15 to 29 days. [read more]
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 14
A study published last year in the journal Science suggests that humans reached North America long before prior scientifically-accepted evidence was established, approximately 23,000 thousand years ago. The researchers behind this study came to this conclusion due to recently-discovered human footprints dating back to this time period.
Matthew Bennett, a researcher at Bournemouth University in England, led a group of scientists to investigate these newly-uncovered fossilized footprints. These fossils were found next to a lakebed located in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, an area filled with chalk-colored sand dunes. The team of researchers concluded that these footprints had resulted from mostly children and teenagers walking around this location during a several-thousand-year period. [read more]
by Anissa Attidekou, age 12
The Boaz mastodon is a fossil of a mastodon discovered near Boaz, Wisconsin in 1897. A mastodon is an elephant but harrier. A spear made of stone found near the Boaz mastodon shows that humans once hunted the mastodon. They lived in North America, Asia, and Africa, during the Ice Age. During the last Ice Age, many giants like the mastodon and mammoth roamed Wisconsin.
The fossil of the great mastodon is on display at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum in Madison. For a long period of time, the mastodon was thought to be a complete individual, but in 2015 it was discovered after much research that two bones from the so-called Boaz mastodon were conjoined together with bones from a different individual. [read more]
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14
The Golden State Warriors are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team that is worth 5.3 billion dollars as of 2022. The Warriors rank the third most valuable NBA team and the fifth most valuable sports team in history. The Warriors as a team have set many franchise and league records over the decades.
From 1946 through 1962, the Golden State Warriors were an Eastern Conference team that was named the Philadelphia Warriors. The team was established in 1946 and coached by Eddie Grattlieb, the first ever coach of Warriors basketball. Grattlieb coached for 11 years and retired in 1955, with a championship ring.
In the 1959 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia Warriors selected Wilton Norman Chamberlain, also known as Wilt. He was a 7’1” lengthy center who was phenomenal and knew how to use his body to beat his competition. He had a 7’8” wingspan and a 48 inch vertical. He was a territorial pick from the Kansas Jayhawks who led his team to a 42-8 record and the Final Four. When he was in college, he averaged 29.6 points per game and 18.9 rebounds per game. In his rookie season 1959-60 for the Philadelphia Warriors, he was an explosive center who averaged 37.6 PPG, 27 REB and 2.3 assist per game. He was selected to play in his first NBA All-Star game as a rookie. Wilt won Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the year as a rookie. [read more]
by Sydney Steidl, age 16
Alabama policymakers, in a state traditionally known for poor education outcomes, are actively working to increase literacy skills—especially in early education.
With Alabama typically falling behind other states in literacy, the pandemic only made matters worse. Research shows students at all grade levels lost ground. For example, in 2021 only about 18% of kindergartners had reached the physical, social-emotional, and literacy standards for their grade, and only two out of every three were assessed as prepared to begin schooling.
The state is currently focused on implementing the Alabama Literacy Act, which was passed in 2019. The goal is to bolster literacy and basic reading skills. The law requires school districts to provide programs and other strategies to raise struggling students to higher levels of literacy. [read more]
by Dyami Rodriguez, age 17
Educators and literacy experts in Wisconsin are sounding the alarm about academic learning loss amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows many students have fallen behind in subjects such as reading and math. One state, however, is planning to take action during 2022 by doing some rework on their summer school curriculum.
The state of Arizona will offer new opportunities for students in summer learning programs. The plan will focus on reading, math and American civics. Arizona has set aside $100 million of federal COVID relief funds to pay for the new plan. The state anticipates that approximately 250,000 students will enroll in the eight-week long summer programs. [read more]
by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA, launched their newest invention, the James Webb Space Telescope in December of 2021. It was intended to replace its predecessor: the Hubble Space Telescope. The new telescope took flight from a launch site in French Guiana, located in South America. An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launched the telescope into space.
The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s biggest and most powerful space science telescope yet. It is one of NASA’s huge space instruments and it is similar to the Hubble but with improvements that will reveal new details. It took the new telescope 30 days to travel about a million miles and reach its destination, a stable gravitational location in space also known as a Lagrange point, or L2.
The telescope arrived at L2 on January 24, 2022. L2 is a spot in space near the Earth that lies opposite from the sun. The orbit will allow the telescope to stay in line with Earth as it orbits the sun. According to NASA, this new telescope will focus on four main areas: first light in the universe, birth of stars, protoplanetary systems and planets. [read more]
by Camila Cruz, age 14
In 2022, construction on a $4 million recreation-only bridge, connecting Dane County and Sauk City will begin. This bridge will go over the Wisconsin River, creating a beautiful sight.
This bridge will replace a 100-year-old Sauk City rail bridge. The old bridge was taken down in 2018, because of its little use and problems with spring flooding.
The bridge is designed to be used in all four seasons. It will be a 500-foot bridge that people can walk, ride their bikes, and use snowmobiles on in the winter. The bridge will connect the seven-mile Walking Iron Trail in Dane County with the 13-mile Sauk County Great Sauk State Trail. [read more]
by Sol Saray, age 10
Have you heard about the $2 million project in place to expand the parks on Madison's Northside?
The mayor of Madison, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and office officials Syed Abbas and Charles Myadze, are planning to expand Whitetail Ridge Park. They plan to buy 21.7 acres of land that is currently owned by Cherokee Park inc. This purchase will cost the city $2.1 million. [read more]
by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 15
Baylor University, based in central Texas, is one of the many institutions that uses a federal loan program called Parent Plus. Among private schools with a minimum of $1 billion endowment, Baylor also had the lowest repayment rate for this particular type of loan.
The Parent Plus program offers federal loans to parents and allows them to help pay for their children’s tuition. Before the introduction of this program, undergraduate students were the largest demographic taking out college loans requiring payment. Now, in the Parent Plus era, parents and graduate students take out the most loans.
The fast-growing Parent Plus program does not have income limits or a cap on the amount of money parents can borrow, unlike other undergraduate loan programs. This makes Parent Plus appealing and accessible to parents, especially to those who want to send their children to the best ranking schools. They often hastily agree to take out these loans without realizing the magnitude and future impact of their debt. [read more]
by Theodore Morrison, age 14
The International Space Station is considered a constant symbol of humanity's achievements in the fields of space science and diplomacy. Many will be shocked to learn that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has plans to retire and crash the station straight into the ocean in 2031.
According to The International Space Station Report, NASA is aiming to crash the ISS into the Pacific Ocean at a location called Point Nemo, the farthest point at sea from any landmass. To put the distance in perspective, it is 2,000 miles North of Antarctica and 3,000 miles East of New Zealand. The ISS will, probably, rest forever at a point known as the spacecraft graveyard.
This retirement isn’t without merit, though, as NASA confirms that they intend to use the ISS as an “analog for a Mars transit mission,” according to a NASA report. The ISS was a point for which science could advance, which has included 3D printing an item on the orbiting station, producing the fifth state of matter, growing organic food in space, and sequencing DNA. Though the ISS will no longer be in orbit, the international scientific community will forever reap the information the station provided. [read more]
by Josepha Da Costa, age 16
The 2021-22 Madison La Follette High School basketball team had a very successful season. But this isn’t the first time La Follette has had an excellent team. In fact, the school has a rich basketball history and the Lancers have won three state championships. Many La Follette players have gone on to play college basketball for major programs like the University of Wisconsin and Creighton University.
The rich history of La Follette Basketball began in 1977. They finished 4th in the Big Eight conference that year. While the team finished the regular season with an overall record of 17 wins and 8 losses, they managed only 10 wins against 8 losses during the conference season.
Nonetheless, the Lancers made an electrifying for a run for a state title. Coached by Pete Olsen, they advanced to the finals by beating Milwaukee Tech 55-48 and Neenah 46-43. The state championship game was played against a team that had been to the finals 15 times since the last time a Madison high school made a trip to state. [read more]
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14
Hank Louis Aaron was one of the greatest African-American Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Hank was known for breaking Babe Ruth’s Hall Of Fame and Most Valuable Player (MVP) home run record. He hit 755 career home runs, to Ruth who racked up 714 hits for the Boston Red Soxs.
Hank Aaron was a phenomenal MLB player, who went on with his MLB career to have 2,297 runs batted and 3,000 hits. In the 1970 season, Hank became the first player to hit 500 home runs and top it off with 3,000 hits in a single career. He won 3 Golden Glove awards for his outstanding out fielding. In Hank’s 1957 season, he led the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series and took the victory in a thrilling game against the New York Yankees. Hank won the MLB’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1957 and was an outstanding player for the following seasons. [read more]
by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 15
History classes often overlook the history of Latin countries. Sometimes that’s true no matter how tragic events were.
Nearly five decades ago, Argentina’s military government unleashed a seven-year war against its own people. In what would become known as the Dirty War, thousands of victims mysteriously “disappeared.” Most were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered.
In March 1976, the Argentine military junta forcefully removed President Isabel Peron from office and took over the government. Many changes quickly followed Peron’s removal. Those who did not agree with the new policies and politics were suspected and targeted as “leftists” and “socialists.” The junta (military leaders) established hundreds of secret detention camps throughout Argentina. The camps were so secret that many people thought the camps were just rumors used to intimidate. [read more]
by Sydney Steidl, age 16
News collecting and reporting has changed a lot in the 21st century. American newspapers laid off at least 45% of newsroom staff between 2008 and 2017. About 1,800 print news outlets shut down between 2004 and 2015. It’s an overlooked crisis in modern American news, one that’s resulted in a massive loss of local news outlets.
The general shift to news distribution through the internet makes information more accessible. But it has also contributed to a downward spiral for journalism.
Over the years, consumers have grown to accept news as a free resource because most online outlets don’t require users to pay before reading an article. This has decreased the value of news in the public’s mind, and it is now considered abnormal to pay for news. Ultimately, this leads to news outlet shutdowns and fired news staff. [read more]
by Sol-Saray, age 10
Africa is home to many great rivers. One of them is known as the Congo. In Africa, the Congo is only slightly shorter than the Nile in length, and is just as important to the people who live along the river.
The Congo has been very efficient for the people of Africa when it comes to transporting goods like food, medicine, clothes, and other items to people living along the river. It is also used for fishing and irrigating crops like peanuts, cotton, and sugarcane.
In the river, there are over 30 waterfalls and many other islands. It is near the equator, meaning it can get very hot and wet. The river receives around 90 inches of rain annually. There are 200 species of fish that live on the river. Many animals eat the tall grass that grows along the river, including buffalo, antelopes, zebras, gazelles, and giraffes. [read more]
by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14
A generous gift from a private landowner made 22 years ago is prompting new conservation action in Dane County.
In 1999, 120 acres of Morton Forest were deeded to Dane County by Steve Morton, a retired chemist, and environmentalist. The land is about 2.5 miles south of the Town of Mazomanie. To create better access to Morton Forest, Dane County now plans to purchase 65 acres of land in the Village of Black Earth.
Similar to Morton Forest, this new piece of land in Black Earth has amazing vistas, as well as small farmlands, a stone quarry, and rock outcroppings. [read more]
by Jeremiah Warren, age 11
Can you imagine diving in a lake and finding a shipwreck? It’s estimated that there are 6,000 shipwrecks in the bottom of the great lakes. Bernie Hellstrom, a diver, was one who found two ships – Peshtigo and St. Andrews – in the depths of Lake Michigan. Both of these ships collided more than 140 years ago.
It is believed that these ships sank in 1878 in the east of the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron, but only the Peshtigo ship was found in the accident. St. Andrews' ship was not found until recently.
The Peshtigo ship was 161 feet long, it was used to carry and transport coal to other areas. The St. Andrews' ship was 143 feet long and was used for carrying corn. [read more]
by Makya Rodriguez, age 17
The mighty bald eagle is facing some tough times. In recent years, the population of our national bird has decreased by almost 4%, and lead poisoning is usually the reason.
A new nationwide study has found that up to 33% of examined dead bald eagles contained serious levels of lead poisoning. This clinical poisoning is mainly transmitted from an eagle’s prey such as fish or small animals. After consuming such prey, the eagles’ stomach acids break down neurotoxin and release lead into the bird’s bloodstream. The lead then travels to soft tissues around the body and eventually accumulates within the bird’s bones leading to the death of these beautiful animals.
In colder seasons eagles tend to go from natural hunters to scavengers. Scientists have found that eagles are more likely to get poisoned during the colder months when they depend more on the tainted remains of dead prey. [read more]
by Mariama Bah, age 15
Keep your eye to the ground and be careful when you’re walking in the Arctic Tundra, because you may find a snowy owl nesting site. Treeless, wide, hilly spaces are where snowy owls prefer to nest and hunt. These owls mainly eat small mammals, but their diet can range from rodents and rabbits to ducks and geese.
North of the Arctic Circle is home for snowy owls during most of the year. During a typical winter, small groups of owls migrate into southern Canada and northern Wisconsin. Every handful of years, however, an “interruption” occurs. During those years, large numbers of snowy owls move south as far as the southern United States. Reasons for this odd behavior are unknown.
Wisconsin is seeing its first interruption year since 2018 right now. More than 150 snowy owls have been spotted with reports coming from counties all around the state. [read more]
by Allison Torres, age 13
A new black-footed ferret came into this world on December 10th, 2020. This newborn ferret is named Elizabeth Ann, and she has grown up with lots of energy and curiosity. What Elizabeth Ann doesn’t know is that she could be the key to saving her entire species. This is because her species, the Black-footed ferret, is one of the most endangered animals in North America.
A long time ago, black-footed ferrets lived in many wild areas across North America. When Europeans arrived in areas where ferrets were living they disturbed the natural environment and the food sources ferrets need to survive. This caused the population of black-footed ferrets to rapidly decline. By the late 1970s, the species was thought to be extinct.
Then in 1981, two years after the species was declared extinct, there was “an electrifying announcement.” A Wyoming farmer found a small but thriving community of wild black-footed ferrets. [read more]
by Leilani McNeal, age 16
1.1 billion years ago, a mysterious rift, ranging from the depths of Lake Superior to present-day Iowa appeared. From the cracks of this rift, came oozing lava, hardening into a substance known as basalt. Over the next 500 million years, these natural occurrences worked in tandem with one another to support a sea of water which floored the entirety of this dark, gray material. The deposition of sand and silt from the sea led to the creation of sandstone and shale. Increased global temperatures promoted the shift of myriad glaciers across the state of Wisconsin, carving out the area’s famous potholes that are widely recognized today as the St. Croix Dalles.
As plans to build city roads using crushed rock from the Dalles emerged in the mid 1800s, general public concern rose. From a young age, George Hazzard had developed a profound appreciation for the Dalles. His work as a railroad agent further deepened his love for this area, which prompted him to organize a movement in hopes of preserving the flora and fauna of the St. Croix Dalles. [read more]
by Jules Da Costa, age 13
Have you ever wondered what the world’s oldest structure is? Well, archaeologists have found an answer: Gobekli Tepe.
The Gobekli Tepe, informally known as “Cathedral on a Hill,” is located east of the Mediterranean Sea in the country of Turkey. It was discovered atop a limestone plateau close to Urfa. It currently stands as humanity's oldest known structure, built over 11,000 years ago.
In 1996, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt led an expedition on the mountaintop. After over a decade of excavations, Schmidt concluded that the monument gives further insight on when early humans switched from a nomadic lifestyle to an agricultural lifestyle. He and his team found stone tools and other promising evidence that hunter-gatherers based at the Gobekli Tepe site carved tools and built structures. [read more]
by Desteny Alvarez, age 16
The ongoing pandemic has affected various people in various ways. For example, doctors have noticed a rise in eating disorders among kids and teens. The loss of school activities, and the need to quarantine, as well as the additional time spent on social media are factors in this troubling situation.
There are big increases in anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes people to deprive themselves of food, and bulimia nervosa, where people binge on food and then vomit it. Binge eating, consuming excessive amounts of food in a short period of time is another issue. These disorders mainly affect young white girls but have started to increase in boys and among people of color.
One of the biggest influences on teenagers today is the social media platform, TikTok. Some teens are motivated to be healthier by watching well-known “influencers” on Tiktok and other social media platforms. But others experience a downside. Experts think fear of gaining weight, boredom, and social isolation in quarantine can often lead to unhealthy behaviors. Some medical researchers fear that behaviors like starving themselves to look more like the influencers they see on the internet are becoming more common among kids. [read more]
by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 15
One of the most common questions scientists are asked is will we ever be able to live on a planet other than Earth?
This question remains unanswered, but scientists have identified planets humans could possibly live on. Although they have yet to figure out all the factors that humans would need to survive on another planet, scientists have taken a new approach for evaluating the type of planet that would be survivable for humans.
Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, could possibly be our next home. It might sound crazy; it’s hard to imagine that humans could live any other place than Earth. Temperatures on Titan can reach almost 300 degrees below zero and methane and ethane rain from the sky before flowing into hydrocarbon seas. Titan might be the only orbital system in our solar system (other than Earth) where we would be able to build a permanent, self-sufficient human settlement. [read more]
by Sydney Steidl, age 15
More than 9,000 Wisconsin children were found to have lead poisoning between 2018 and 2020, with nearly two out of three of those children from Milwaukee County.
There are many possible causes for lead exposure and eventual poisoning, including lead-based paints and lead-tainted water, soil, and dust. Lead-based pipes and paints were often used in homes built many decades ago, so it is no surprise that 90% of children with lead poisoning in Wisconsin live in homes built before 1950.
Out of Milwaukee County children tested in 2020, about 5.6% were positive for lead poisoning. Exposure to lead can impair brain and nervous system functions and result in severe learning, behavioral, and growth problems in children. [read more]
by Kadjata Bah, age 16
The Black Panther Party of the late 1960s was revolutionary for a number of reasons—their use of armed resistance, their powerful community programs and campaigns, and overall, their outstanding cry for Black power during a tumultuous time in American history. Emory Douglas, the Black Panthers’ Minister of Culture and Revolutionary Artist, was pivotal in spreading the party’s messages with posters, pamphlets, and newspapers donning striking Black figures calling Black people to join their radical cause.
Douglas was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1943, and later moved to San Francisco with his family in 1951. He first tapped into his artistic side as a teen incarcerated at the Youth Training School, where he learned printmaking. Douglas went on to continue studying art into the 60s, becoming involved in the growing Black Arts Movement and solidifying his passion for activism.
In 1967, Douglas met Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, who had just established the Black Panther Party. The two recruited Douglas to help create The Black Panther, the party’s newspaper, which Douglas led until its final issue in the early 1980s. Douglas’ art focused on Black empowerment and the fight against oppression. Some common subjects were Black people bearing arms, police brutality, and Black children. His art often also included quotes, such as “All power to the people,” and “Revolution in our lifetime.” [read more]
by Sofia Zapata, age 12
Many people know what galaxies are, however, many do not know what makes up a galaxy or what they contain. The galaxy is made up of three main things. Let's begin with stars and gas. Our galaxy has arms made of bright stars and glowing clouds of gas that curl into a spiral shape. Galaxies contain billions of stars, more than we could ever count and between all the stars there is empty space.
Everything within a galaxy creates one of three unique galaxy shapes: spiral, elliptical and irregular. Spiral galaxies look like pinwheels, such as the Milky Way. The middle looks like a disk and the older stars are in the center. The youngest stars are in the arms outside since that’s where gas and dust meet to create new stars.
Elliptical galaxies are shaped like a loaf of bread or football. Did you know that most of the stars are in the middle? There are more elliptical galaxies than the other types of galaxies. Unlike spiral and elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies aren’t formed in any distintable shape. These galaxies seem chaotic in shape since they are created when various galaxies collide with another. Although this sounds scary, it is not a big deal since it is mainly empty space between the stars and planets. Interestingly, our Milky Way galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way’s nearest galactic neighbor, in about five billion years. [read more]
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13
Michael Jeffery Jordan is a former player of The National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls. He is considered the best NBA player of all time by many. He dominated his competition and played through the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to win six NBA championships, he earned five MVP awards and three All-Star MVP awards in his NBA career.
Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan has always been competitive in anything he did. Growing up, he had a good and stable family. His mother, Deloris, was a bank teller and author who has written and published many books in her life. His father was a maintenance manager at a company called General Electric. Jordan has four siblings named Deloris Jr, James Jr, Larry, and Roslyn.
Jordan’s father, James, introduced Michael to baseball and later to basketball. He learned from his father during the summer of 1993. Tragically, that same summer, his father was shot and killed during a bank robbery by two teenagers. His body went missing for 11 days until his remains were found in a swamp in McColl, South Carolina. [read more]
by Devika Pal, age 16
The Yahara river, located in Southern Wisconsin, flows through and connects Lakes Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegnosa. These lakes are central to life in Madison and Dane County. Early Madison residents built villages and farms surrounding the lakes, and now Madison, with a population of 269,840, is closely linked with these bodies of water.
As Madison has expanded over the years, the lakes have experienced build up due to continual urban runoff. This build up has made it difficult for water to circulate between the lakes. It is estimated that every year about 8.5 million pounds of runoff sediment goes into the Yahara river. After heavy rainfalls, the lake water levels have nowhere else to go except up, causing flooding and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Emily Stanley, a UW-Madison professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and Center for Limnology, described the lake flow like “bathtubs.” They have narrow exit points and the sediment from runoff clogs up the low points and prevents effective drainage. Aquatic vegetation and the area’s flat landscape can also cause disruption of water flow. [read more]
by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16
On August 24th 1970, a bomb went off outside Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a result of the attack, a university researcher was killed and others were injured. The cost of the bombing was 6 million dollars and years worth of research.
The people behind the bombing were a group called “The New Year’s Gang.” The group consisted of four people: David Fine, Leo Burt, Dwight Armstrong, and Karl Armstrong. The bomb attack on Sterling Hall occurred in the context of protests against the Vietnam war.
Members of The New Year’s Gang believed that research at UW-Madison’s Army Math Research Center was supporting the U.S. war effort and that this research helped kill innocent people in Southeast Asia. Many of the group’s ideas stemmed from the Anti-war Movement that took place during the 1960s and 70s. [read more]
by Dulce Maria Vazquez, age 13
Surprisingly, the Bubonic plague, known to cause one of the deadliest disease outbreaks in history, only lasted for only four years. During those four years, two million people died in the country of England alone. In total, the plague killed over 20 million people worldwide. Due to the large death poll, the Bubonic plague is commonly known as the Black Death.
The pandemic started in Italy around the year 1346 and rapidly spread through the continent of Europe. Many decided to leave everything they owned behind just to flee the plague. Others decided to stay in their homes, which usually resulted in their death. In 1349. The disease left victims with painful boils on their bodies gave them high fever, nausea, and delirium. Various villages and towns were nearly wiped out by the Black Death.
Very little was known about medicine during the Middle Ages, leading doctors at the time to be incapable of fighting the disease. Rumors began to spread just as quickly as the plague, numerous people believed that the Black Death was a punishment sent from God. Although many thought that the plague affected only sinners, major fear and panic continued when people realized that the disease affected everyone alike. [read more]
by Allison Torres, age 13
During 2019 and 2020, the new Hubble space telescope helped scientists gain new understanding about the mysteries of Jupiter. Best known as the planet with the Great Red Spot, Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. The Hubble telescope is now sending fascinating images to researchers here on Earth.
Jupiter gained its name years ago as a tribute to the king of the gods in Roman mythology. In ancient Greece, they named the planet after Zeus, the king of the Greek pantheon. In 1610, the astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which are known as the Galilean moons.
Today we know that Jupiter has 79 moons in total, all named after figures in Roman mythology. Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system, having a magnetic field and being bigger than both Mercury and Pluto. This moon has at least one ocean between layers of ice. [read more]
by Haliah Berkowitz, age 10
Scientists have recently discovered a white dwarf star, the smallest to ever be found. A white dwarf star is formed when a star runs out of fuel and collapses in on itself, but is not heavy enough to collapse into a black hole.
An astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, Ilaria Caiazzo and her scientific team discovered this dwarf star. Caiazzo found the star using the ZTF (Zwicky transient facility) which is only used at the Palomar Observatory of California. The ZTF finds objects in space by looking at how they change in brightness. After their discovery, these astrophysicists gave the star its scientific name, J1901+1458.
The white dwarf star is the smallest star known in space. The star is about 130 light years away from Earth. The star’s average radius is about 2,140 kilometers, just slightly bigger than the Moon, and much smaller than the Earth. Despite being so tiny, this star is very heavy. Its mass is about 1.3 times the mass of our Sun. [read more]
by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13
The summer is filled with tons of bees everywhere. This means there will be lots of good and sweet honey for people to enjoy.
Although bees produce honey, they tend to struggle doing so. As bees move and collect honey, their outer skeleton, the cuticle, allows them to pass each other smoothly in their hives. Studies have shown that there are tiny hairs located on the cuticle that act like a lubricant known as the “fuzz”.
Jieliang Zhao, the head mechanical engineer at Beijing Institute of Technology in China, believes the fuzz has potential in creating stronger materials. Zhao suspects that most bees are always squirming their body even when they are collecting pollen or laying down. Their legs sweep the pollen out of the flower and empty its debris away from the body. Since bee communities are in constant motion, this fuzz could be needed as a way to avoid friction and protect their bodies. [read more]
by Camila Cruz, age 14
You should consider yourself lucky if you see a hummingbird, and especially lucky if they are close enough for you to hear them.
The noise of a hummingbird comes from its wings, which move very fast. A hummingbird’s wings move about 75 times per second.
Cynthia Bridge, founder of the Western Great Lakes Hummingbird Project, is one of three hummingbird banders in Wisconsin. “They are the most incredible to experience when they hover near your head in the garden, where you can hear the humming of their wings,” she said. [read more]
by Abigail Gezae, age 9
Have you seen a big group of butterflies flying around? Do you know why? It might be because they are migrating.
Butterflies are beautiful insects. Many tropical butterflies have very large wings. All butterfly species have three body parts that include a head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have three pairs of legs and one pair of wings.
There are more than 165,000 kinds of butterflies and caterpillars. They use camouflage to defend themselves from birds and other animals that want to eat them. For example, the Indian Leaf Butterfly makes itself look like a real leaf. Butterflies are known to have bright colors and fly by day. [read more]
by Devika Pal, age 16
Olympia Brown, a leader in the women's suffrage movement, was born on January 15th, 1835, in Prairie Ronde, Michigan. She was raised in a home where education was vital and she was the oldest of four children. Her dad built a schoolhouse in order for his children to receive an education.
Brown convinced her father to let her attend college. In 1860, she graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with a Bachelor of Arts. She was one of the few women who graduated at that time. Two years later, in 1862, she went on to graduate from the St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and became the first woman to graduate from the theological school.
Brown’s family commitment to the Universalist Church greatly impacted her life growing up. In 1863, she became the first woman to be ordained as a minister, despite the lack of support from the church. In the coming years, Brown’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement grew. She worked with Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and other suffragists. [read more]
by Jordan Banks, age 14
Did you know that many different types of animals and the food you eat are affected by artificial selection? The meat you consume and maybe even your household pet are the products of centuries or even millennia artificial selection.
The definition of artificial selection is 'breeding to produce desired characteristics in animal or plant offspring.' Natural selection, in contrast, is when an organism independently adapts to their environment to survive. Humans cause artificial selection when they mold the organisms to what people desire.
Many animals are a product of artificial selection. For example, dogs go through artificial selection by dog breeding. The dog originally comes from the wolf, but with thousands of years of breeding we have many different types of dogs. Today we have dogs such as goldendoodles and french bulldogs, both of which were artificially selected. [read more]
by Desteny Alvarez, age 16
A copy of a map from the early 14th century hints that Chinese explorer and diplomat Zheng He discovered America before Christopher Columbus. This discovery has caused polarization between historians.
In 2001, Lui Gang, a partner at a Beijing law firm, bought a map from a bookstore in Shanghai, which was replicated in 1763 from an alleged 1418 original. He recognized the map’s historic value, and started researching it before showing it to the public in 2006. The name of the map was “General chart of the integrated world map,” and it showed two hemispheres of the globe. It also included longitude and latitude lines. According to Lui Gang, the discovery would change history.
A British author and lieutenant-commander named Gavin Menzies argues in his book, 1421: The Year China Discovered The World, that Zheng He found America before Columbus. Menzies says that in 1421, Zheng He sailed the east coast of North America and started settlements in South America. The Chinese explorer may have circumnavigated the globe, which is a controversy among scholars. Indeed, some historians say that the map is too detailed for the time it was said to be created. [read more]
America's Red Scare: Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy Used Fear and Intimidation to Hunt Communists and Subvert Civil Liberties
by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 15
Joseph McCarthy was one of the most controversial politicians in American history. He served as a Republican Senator from Wisconsin, from when he was first elected in 1947 until his death in 1957. He is known for declaring that communist spies and sympathizers had penetrated the U.S. federal government and for launching anti-communist investigations that polarized the country.
The events that took place after World War II convinced many Americans that the “Red menace” was real. For example, in 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its first atomic bomb. In the same year, communists declared victory in the Chinese Civil War. And in 1950, Soviet-backed forces in North Korea invaded their pro-Western neighbors in the South starting the bitter Korean War. The United States quickly joined the fight on the side of the South Koreans.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the prospect of communist subversion at home and in other places around the world caused concern for many in the U.S. The fear of communism corroded the political culture, creating a lack of trust among Americans. Joe McCarthy was seen by many Americans as a savior during this “Red Scare''. He spent most of his time trying to expose communists and other left-wing loyalists within the U.S. government. Few people dared to speak out against McCarthy because his accusations were so intimidating. For those who did criticize McCarthy, the consequences were often dire. He would dramatically denounce them and accuse that person of being a communist. Jobs were lost and reputations were ruined. [read more]
by Sofia Zapata, age 12
Have you seen any Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying in your neighborhood recently? They are commonly seen in Wisconsin, but usually only during the warmer months. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in eastern North America. In the bright sun, these beautiful, tiny, precision-flying birds sparkle like gems, then dart away to their next food source.
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird has fascinating attributes that make their tiny physical futures unique. Their wings flap up to 55 times a second at a relaxed pace. However, when a hummingbird increases their speed while moving forward, they flap 75 times a second. The wings of this hummingbird aren’t the only things that go at a fast pace. The tiny hearts of these birds beat 225 times per minute and can increase to 1,250 beats per minute. Compared to hummingbirds, the human heart averages from 60-100 bpm. This is to put the physical abilities of the ruby-throated hummingbirds into perspective. [read more]
by Sydney Steidl, age 15
In 2020 alone, 93,331 people in the United States died from drug overdoses, a 30% increase from the previous year and the highest number on record.
“I can remember thinking 30,000 was an astounding number, now we’re three times that. It’s crazy,” says Dr. Robert Anderson with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
One cause for this escalation in overdoses is a recent spike in the availability and use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times the strength of heroin. Use of the drug was on the rise in 2019, partly from increasingly being laced into other drugs sold to unaware users. Deaths from overdoses increased again in 2020, with many experts citing the Covid-19 pandemic. [read more]
by Mariama Bah, age 14
Schuster’s Farm in Deerfield, Wisconsin is nothing if not family friendly. In fact, this farm and the Schuster family have been providing fall fun for people of all ages in Dane County for many years.
Don and Theresa Schuster, owners of the farm, bought the property in 1990. According to Theresa, Don was a fifth-generation farmer who loved farms and loved what he did. Three years into their marriage, their search for land began. Theresa would drive past and admire the Gangstad farm as she drove to work each morning. At the time, she worked as an occupational therapist for the Madison Metropolitan School District.
That was until one day she saw a “For Sale” sign on the property. Things changed quickly after that. Theresa and Don wasted little time in making a decision. Three days later, the property became Schuster’s Farm. [read more]
by Gabriella Shell, age 15
Throughout the past couple decades, women have slowly begun achieving equality in the STEM fields. While these male-dominated industries are by no means perfect, there are more opportunities than ever before for women who want to pursue a career in science. However, this battle is by no means a recent one. In fact, women have been fighting for equality and recognition in STEM for centuries.
Maria Mitchell, born in 1818 to a progressive, American family, made giant leaps for women in astronomy. As the daughter of an amateur astronomer, she learned at a young age how to operate sextants, telescopes, and could even predict precise planetary and solar positions by her teenage years. Although she was a prodigal astronomer, she spent most of her early adulthood teaching. Like her father, astronomy was only a side hobby.
However, she soon propelled to professional astronomer status after making a revolutionary discovery: a newly-discovered comet. This led to massive publicity, and she became not only a renowned astronomer, but a feminist icon. Her monumental discovery in an almost entirely male-dominated field challenged the idea of innate male superiority, and she was invited to speak at the women’s rights conference in Seneca Falls in 1848. [read more]
by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 15
One of the worst economic crises in American history began almost 100 years ago. On October 29, 1929, called “Black Tuesday,” the stock market crashed and led to approximately 10 years of economic failure and psychological trauma known as the Great Depression.
Before the Great Depression, people enjoyed lively and wild lifestyles over the decade of the 1920s. Known as the “Roaring 20s,” this was a time when many Americans lived carefree and the economy grew quickly, changing the lives of citizens. Automobiles, radios, telephones, and such were sold and bought; clubs and exclusive parties with jazz music became popular; women abandoned conservative fashions; and the country’s economic prosperity shone brightly. Life was good. Until investors, who had built their wealth by purchasing shares of companies in the stock market, panicked on Black Tuesday.
The stock market crash in October 1929 took many people by surprise. It was caused by a combination of factors, such as rising interest rates, declining consumer spending, and overproduction of homes, which led to a decrease in housing construction. Some investors took notice of these trends, and began to sell their stocks. As more and more investors followed suit, the stock prices plummeted. Eventually, the stock market crashed completely, losing 11% of its value in one day, and 90% in a year. [read more]
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 14
Recycling plastic has become a big issue in today’s world. Millions of tons of plastics enter landfills while few are recycled. In fact, there are only two kinds of plastics that are commonly recycled in the United States. These plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which are the main components of soda bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers. Due to limited recycling capabilities and low recycling rates, scientists are developing new technologies to improve recycling in the future.
The main issue in recycling involves processing and sorting the material. Typically, plastics are sorted at a recovering facility where they are shredded, melted and remolded. However, this only works well for products such as bottles and containers while other packaging or plastic film materials take more effort. There are several types of plastic being used in the production of such material..
Geoffrey Coates, a chemist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., states, “Most plastics are like oil and water.” Plastics don’t easily combine and some objects are made of multiple types of plastic. This makes separating the different plastics in products very difficult. [read more]
by Dani Garduno, age 10
People are familiar with the asteroid that killed off dinosaurs; however, that asteroid also killed 75 percent of life on Earth, including many trees. The forests eventually transformed into the rainforests we see today.
Before the asteroid, there were a lot of different plant species populating the Earth. Half of the plants were conifers and ferns, while the other half were flowering trees and shrubs. When it rained, nutrients flowed out of the soil. The conifers could grow despite the lack of nutrients. These trees had the unique ability of being able to grow with very little food, which was helpful for survival. Herbivores, specifically sauropods, the largest animals ever to walk our planet, helped prevent the trees from over expanding by opening gaps in the top of the forests. Insects also lived in the forests. Some insects only ate one type of plant leaf and other insects were generalists, which meant they ate many types of plants and were able to survive after the impact.
66 million years ago, the fireball hit overnight and triggered a massive extinction event. Plants, animals, and the soil were changed into present day Colombia. Woodlands were changed into rainforests like the Amazon. It took six million years for the rich diversity to return. The woodlands were replaced by dark, moist, green trees and shrubs. Many of these types of trees are seen today. When the asteroid hit, ash from the fires fertilized the soil and grew flowering trees and shrubs. These species evolved to create canopies, which blocked sunlight from the forest floor. [read more]
by Yoanna Hoskins, age 16
Evelyn Cunningham was in her lifetime a well-known journalist, civil rights activist, women's rights activist, and an inspiration for many. However, she is not well known today.
Evelyn Cunningham was born on January 2, 1916. When she was young, she moved with her family from Elizabeth City, North Carolina to New York City. She attended public schools in New York, graduating from Hunter High School in 1934. She attended four universities including the Columbia University School of Journalism, and received her Bachelor’s degree in social science from Long Island University in 1943.
Evelyn’s professional journalism career started when she wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier, a well-known Black newspaper, from the 1940’s until the 1960’s. During that time, she reported about social justice issues and the Civil Rights Movement. She documented many lynchings, which earned her the name, “the lynching editor.” In 1961, she hosted her own radio show, titled At Home with Evelyn Cunningham, aired on WLIB Radio. On the show, she spoke about social and racial issues with well-known leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. [read more]
by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 15
The famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, is known for her original and symbolic self-portraits and paintings. A new and important Frida Kahlo exhibit opened recently in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The exhibit is titled "Frida Kahlo: Timeless" and opened on July 31 at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art at the College of DuPage.
“Timeless” showcases Kahlo’s life story and includes 26 original works. Most of the pieces in the show were inspired by events in Frida’s life.
Early on a Saturday morning, a group of seven Simpson Street students met at our South Towne newsroom for a Frida Kahlo exhibit field trip. As we excitedly arrived at the College of Dupage, large posters with Kahlo’s face and name decorated the entrance, welcoming us. Before getting into the actual exhibit, museum workers checked and confirmed our tickets. [read more]
by Makya Rodriguez, age 16
In the Blombos Cave of South Africa, scientists have discovered markings that show a hashtag-shaped marking. These markings date back to around 72,000 years ago. The hashtag symbol is used in a different manner in our modern world; it’s used to symbolize feelings, protest and it’s a way to organize and find content on social media.
The hashtag-like symbol in the Blombos Cave was discovered in 2011 on silcrete flakes. Although the markings on these flakes don’t have the same meaning as today’s hashtags, they are believed to be a form of ancient abstract art.
Ever since the start of excavations in 1991, scientists have made continuous discoveries in the Blombos Cave. The discoveries and artifacts are from various periods, and so are the silcrete flakes with the “hashtag” markings. After further research, scientists concluded that ochre, a natural pigment, was used to draw the hashtag-like markings. Additionally, ochre was used in other forms of art such as tattoos, paint for clay, and perhaps in medicine. [read more]
by Desteny Alvarez, age 16
The historic Matz Farmhouse is located in the Halfway Prairie Wildlife Area, across the road from Indian Lake County Park in the Town of Berry in Dane County. A visit to Indian Lake County Park isn’t complete without stopping to view this landmark. History comes alive here and it’s easy to imagine what life was like for the pioneer homesteaders who settled in the area during the 1850s and 1860s.
Friedrich Matz, an immigrant from Germany, established the family farm at this site in 1852. Near the ruins of the farmhouse is a stone barn, which is in much better shape than the house itself. This structure looked to us like it would last a long time. The barn, like the house, was built by hand using local stone.
Dane County’s Indian Lake County Park and the Matz Farmhouse ruins are located on Wisconsin Highway 19, about two miles west of Highway 12. When visiting, we suggest taking time to read the historical marker located here. Across the road from these fascinating stone remnants are the main areas of Indian Lake County Park, which offer facilities and amenities for visitors. [read more]
reviewed by Kadjata Bah, age 16
The book Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is perfect for fantasy and coming-of-age fans. Akata Witch centers on Sunny Nwazue, a young girl living in Nigeria who discovers a secret, lush world of juju. Reminiscent of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, Okorafor brings a fun, rare, and unapologetically African perspective to the fantasy realm.
Sunny was born in America but lives in Nigeria with her family, where she is ridiculed for being an albino. However, behind her condition are magical powers that deem her a “free agent.” Sunny’s friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha—all graced with their own abilities—introduce Sunny to a strange world within her own, hidden from normal society. Sunny finally finds a place where she feels she belongs, but it isn’t long until she uncovers a much darker side to her new life as a free agent. Sunny must not only become familiar with her abilities and surroundings, but find and defeat a cold-blooded serial killer before a dangerous prophecy comes true. [read more]
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13
Did you know that over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic exist in the ocean today? More surprisingly, there are four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer beneath the surface, and nearly 269,000 tons of microfibers litter the surface. Ocean trash is a major environmental concern that scientists have only begun to understand.
For years, scientists have studied the amount of ocean trash and its escalating effects on marine life. While studies date back decades, it was not until recently that certain small regions in the Southern hemisphere were analyzed. These remote regions were challenging to sample in the past; however, recent technology has made it possible to study them. This is an important development for understanding how plastic pollutes the world’s oceans.
Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said, “The first piece is to understand where [ocean debris] is.” Scientists are working to understand the full extent of plastic pollution in the ocean. Studying how much plastic is in the ocean is the first step in figuring out how to solve the problem. [read more]
by Allison Torres, age 12
Recently, a large container ship, the X-Press Pearl, caught on fire and sank off the coast of Sri Lanka and filled its west coast beaches with oil and plastic debris. The ship, based in Singapore, was carrying cosmetics and chemicals, including some substances that are very harmful to the environment.
The ship contained tons of oil and tiny plastic pellets, which are harmful to marine life because they release microplastic fragments into the water. When the ship caught on fire and remained on fire for multiple days, it released these substances into the water and onto nearby beaches. Chemicals and cosmetics are washing up onto the beach of Negombo, a place with a lot of tourism.
The navy of Sri Lanka and the Indian navy along with other experts tried to clean the waters near the ship. The navy wanted to move the ship further into the sea so it didn’t affect the fishing in the town, as it is their main source of food. Soldiers started cleaning operations on the beaches, but, unfortunately the ship sank as it was being towed out to sea, which makes the ongoing cleanup efforts more difficult. [read more]
by Hanna Eyobed, age 16
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born on October 9th, 1823, in Wilmington, Delaware. She attended a quaker school in Pennsylvania and was the eldest of 13 children. Her father worked for a newspaper run by a famous abolitionist named William Lloyd Garrison, called the Liberator. Shadd Cary’s father was a radical, and she followed right in his footsteps.
The “Fugitive Slave Law,” which stated that previously enslaved peoples were to be returned to their former owners, even if they were in a free state, caused outrage. This led Shadd Cary to move to Canada with one of her brothers, and soon after, the rest of her family followed. In hopes to save other black people from this fate, Shadd Cary wrote a report in 1852 to let others know of the freedom that lay in Canada.
Inspired by her father, Shadd Cary decided to start her own newspaper. She titled it The Provincial Freemen, and wrote most of the articles herself. Her newspaper was mostly directed towards black communities and was being distributed once a week. Shadd Cary devoted her life to “antislavery, temperance and general literature.” Along with the paper, Shadd Cary decided to open up a Canadian school focused on diversity and inclusion. She was dedicated to new ideas and changing the status quo. [read more]
by Katina Maclin, age 15
Imagine going to college, though being denied housing (in the dorm). Or, imagine cleaning toilets for a living even though you have earned a college degree. Or, just imagine graduating from college as a black woman just two generations away from slavery.
Era Bell Thompson had to face each of those challenges on her way to becoming an acclaimed journalist and author. She made history with her outstanding writing, journalism, and eventually earned global recognition. Her journey meant overcoming obstacles on her path to success, which made her an inspiring public figure.
Era Bell Thompson was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1905. She and family moved back and forth between Iowa and North Dakota during her youth. The challenges she faced during this period helped build her character. She had a difficult time in school because she was one of the few black children in the schools she attended. Her mother’s death while she was a student and dealing with racial prejudice and bullying were additional challenges. Despite this adversity and oppression, she persisted and graduated from Bismarck Highschool in North Dakota in 1924. [read more]
by Camila Cruz, age 13
Many know about the Maya and the Aztecs, but have you ever heard about the lost city of Cahokia? Not many people know about the people who lived in Cahokia. Archaeologists do not know much about them either.
Although we know this ancient Native American civilization as the Cahokians, the name is a misnomer. Cahokia was named after a sub-tribe from Illinois that did not reach the area until the 1600s, long after the fall of the ancient civilization. The Illini did not know the people who lived in the city, so there is no connection between the two groups. Archaeologists still do not know the ancient group’s ethnicity, language, or exactly how they disappeared.
Cahokians lived in the area now known as Illinois and spread over six miles at its peak. Archaeologists believe the population of Cahokia was between 10,000 and 20,000 people. [read more]
by Yoanna Hoskins, age 16
One might wonder what possible connections there could be between child labor, Girl Scout cookies, and two girls on opposite sides of the world. The connection, as it turns out, is palm oil.
Palm oil is important in the gobal food industry. It makes up 85% of the world's most consumed food oil. It is cheap, low in trans-fat, and has a long shelf life. Unfortunately palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation in countries like Indonesia, and child labor has long been a glaring issue in the industry. [read more]
by Samuel Garduno, age 14
The Madison Metropolitan School District has appointed four new assistant principals at schools around the city. Among the four new assistant principals is Deidre Green, a former student and managing editor at Simpson Street Free Press. Green was recently hired at Capital High School.
In the sixth grade, Deidre Green began writing at Simpson Street. During her years at the Free Press, she worked her way up the ranks to become managing editor. As a student writer, Green recalled the most impactful experiences being the teaching she received from editors, especially Betty Kramer, a local volunteer. [read more]
by Devika Pal, age 16
Before the 16th century, there was little to no knowledge on human anatomy. Most of the information came from centuries prior and was largely incorrect. This changed in the 16th century with the anatomical discoveries of Andreas Vesalius. His works on dissecting and studying bodies helped greatly to expand the knowledge of human anatomy.
Vesalius was born in 1514 in Brussels into a Flemish family. His dad and grandfather were court officials to the Holy Roman Empire. As a young student, he developed an obsessive fascination with human anatomy. In fact, Vesalius started stealing and dissecting corpses at the age of 16. He studied medicine at Louvain University. In the 1530s, he left Belgium to study in Paris where he went out at night to graveyards, stole fresh bodies, took them back to his bedroom, dissected them, and slept next to them.
His works on human anatomy caught the attention of European anatomists Hacob Sylvius and John Grunter who invited him to teach at the University of Padua, Italy. At the age of 23, Vesalius became the head of the Department of Surgery and Anatomy at the university. [read more]
by Mariama Bah, age 14
Since 2015, peregrine falcons Trudy and Melvin have been nesting at the Blount Generating Center owned by Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). Three chicks hatched in May and were named and banded on June 3rd. MGE decided to name them after the neighborhoods that surrounded them when they were born. The male falcon was named Willy, after Williamson Street. Willy’s sisters, Jennifer and Brearly, were named after Jennifer Street and Brearly Street.
In the 1950s, peregrine falcons were a fairly common species in North America. But by the 1960s, their population was declining quickly. Scientists discovered this decline was due to the widespread use of DDT, an effective yet harmful insecticide used in gardens and on farms. The DDT directly affected the food-chain and falcon physiology. Specifically, it caused the birds to lay fragile eggs and ignore their young.
In 1971, Wisconsin was the first state to ban DDT, but by that time, peregrine falcons were considered extinct in the state. Recovery has been slow, with biologists breeding them in captivity, but they are hopeful. [read more]
by Sydney Steidl, age 15
Over 1,200 gallons of petroleum were spilled from an underground pipeline leak near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, in Spring of 2019, yet regulators were not notified for nearly a year and a half.
Workers for Enbridge Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, first noticed an odd smell during a routine visit to the site on April 26, 2019. A loose joint in the pipes was found on May 4, a temporary fix was made on May 17, and the pipe was permanently fixed a few weeks later. However, the spill went unreported to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) until July 13 of 2020, more than one year later.
When Enbridge first informed the DNR, they stated that 1.35 gallons of diluent, a petroleum material used for thinning crude oil, had leaked into the soil. This estimate proved to be greatly inaccurate, as the amount was later reported to be 1,225 to 1,386 gallons. Toxic chemicals contaminated at least 130 tons of soil, affecting about 3.5 acres of farmland about half a mile from the Rock River. [read more]
by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16
Scientists at the University of Wuhan in China have discovered that shells from crabs, shrimps, and lobsters can help heal wounds faster, as well as reduce the chance of infection. The shells contain a material called chitin (Ky-tin), which have powerful healing properties. Scientists are testing ways to make chitin into gauzes and bandages to accelerate the healing process.
Jinping Zhou, a chemist at the University of Wuhan, wanted to verify that chitin would help wounds heal, so he and his team decided to perform tests on rats. The experiments consisted of three groups of rats and three different gauzes: a chitin gauze, a cellulose gauze, and another similar gauze. The team of scientists made four millimeter cuts on each rat and applied the gauze. After twelve days, the gauze made with 71 percent chitin showed the most improvement.
The steps to make chitin gauze are simple but time consuming. First, the shells of the lobsters, crabs, and shrimps are ground into tiny little pieces. Afterwards, they are submerged in a special solvent for 12 hours. Next, the product is heated and bleached, transforming into fabric fibers. Finally, the material is spun into a gauze and the process is complete. [read more]
by Jules Da Costa, age 13
Scientists always knew the Tyrannosaurus Rex (T - Rex) had a powerful bite but they were unsure why. Now, new research explains the science behind why the bite had such tremendous power.
Scientists have recently gathered data about the T- Rex’s bite. They discovered that the bone-crushing bite was powered by a stiff lower jaw. The stiffness came from a small boomerang-shaped bone called the prearticular. A study presented in April 2021 shows that this bone was what gave the T- Rex its flexible lower jaw. A flexible lower jaw allowed them to open their mouth wider than most reptiles to bite larger prey. Like all reptiles, T-Rex had a joint in their lower jawbone called the intramandibular joint. Scientists have shown that with a bone spanning this intramandibular joint, the T-Rex could produce a bite force of more than six metric tons of power, which is the weight of an average delivery truck. [read more]
by Moises A. Hernandez, age 16
The number of professional journalists covering the education beat has gone down. Across the United States more education reporters are retiring, taking buyouts, or being terminated.
The reshuffling of education journalists is not new and is often a natural progression of the news and media business. Some beat reporters join investigative teams, move to education-specific platforms, or change their reporting focus. It’s fairly common for smaller media platforms, born in the last decade or so, to attract veteran journalists. And of course, some employees move to journalism jobs outside of traditional newsrooms.
Notable departures from the education beat include Ann Doss Helms, an education reporter for the Charlotte Observer. Helms recently announced she would take a buyout after 16 years on the beat. [read more]