Plants and Ants: Who Used Who First?

by Camila Cruz, age 13

Many ant species form symbiotic relationships with plants. Symbiotic means that both the plant and the ant benefit from being together.

These plants make nectar for ants to eat, and grow hollow thorns for the insects to live in. This proves beneficial to the plant, because ants eat the plant’s fruit and spit the seeds somewhere else so they can grow. So, the plants grow and the cycle continues. But, scientists are not sure how or when this relationship between plants and ants first began.

The relationship between plants and ants goes all the way back to prehistoric times, when dinosaurs lived. That is why it is hard to tell if plants started using ants or if ants started using plants. All the evidence that scientists have is fossils, and those are few and hard to find. [read more]

The One-of-a-Kind Cape Porcupine

by Destiny Flowers , age 13

Roaming around the boarder of the Kalahari Desert in the South of Africa lives the Cape Porcupine. In underground burrows, unless scavenging for food, it enjoys relief of the scorching hot sun and the protection of predators.

This Porcupine is a rodent, so its two front teeth are constantly growing. In order to keep its front teeth a reasonable size, it feeds on roots, bark, herbs and fruit. In order to find these foods, it uses its keen sense of smell. This porcupine needs water like any other living thing, so it gets it from a succulent plant.

A mother porcupine usually has one or two babies. Newborns are usually 12 ounces and are very energetic. Their quills are still soft and not fully developed. They stay in the burrow under their parents’ protection. The parents groom the young porcupines by licking them and escort them to feeding in a single-file line. The young stay suckling to six to eight weeks before they are able to find their own food. They are able to eat hard solid food at two or three weeks after birth. [read more]

Butterflies and Moths: The Sky's Most Beautiful Creatures

by Zaniya Richardson, age 12

Butterflies and are some of the sky's most beautiful and colorful creatures, and although they might not seem all that special, they are. People are often surprised by the secrets these tiny insects hold.

During their earlier stages, butterflies and moths are caterpillars. Some caterpillars are poisonous, similar to how their older selves can be. Caterpillars build cocoons around themselves and then turn into butterflies and moths inside. This process is called metamorphosis.

Butterflies and moths do not have mouths to eat. Instead they have tubes. The tube is called a proboscis. These tubes are flexible allowing them to move to the blossom. The butterflies and moths extend their feeding tubes into the blossoms and extract the nectar. This is their food source. To these insects, blossoms are sweet and delicious, even though to humans nectar is bitter. [read more]

How Climate Change Affects the Poles

by Felix Berkelman, age 14

Although one might think the Arctic and Antarctic seem basically the same climate wise, they are actually noticeably different. Likewise, they are also affected differently by climate change. Both areas have melting ice, however the two poles have it for a different reason.

The main reason for the difference in climate is the positioning of land around the poles. The North Pole consists of an ocean surrounded by land, while the South Pole is the opposite, a land mass surrounded by ocean. Although this detail may seem meaningless, it actually has a drastic effect on the temperature of the poles.

The Southern Ocean is the only place where there is a ring of ocean, unbroken by land, surrounding the earth. This causes ocean currents to circle Antarctica in what is known as the Circumpolar Current. This current is one of the strongest in the world, and causes massive waves in the Southern Ocean. These waves make countries like South Africa and New Zealand ideal for surfing, but make reaching Antarctica a difficult ordeal. The Circumpolar Current also insulates the continent from warmer air farther north, making it much colder than the Arctic. [read more]

The Last Pharaoh of Egypt: Cleopatra

by Jada Matson, age 13

Cleopatra VII ruled as co-regent of Egypt for almost three decades. She was the last in a dynasty of Macedonian rulers founded by Ptolemy, whose family ruled Egypt for 300 years. Cleopatra is best known for being the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.

Cleopatra was born in 69 BC to the Pharoah Ptolemy XII and an unknown mother. During her childhood, she was brought up in the palace of Alexandria in Egypt and received a Greek education, as her family was of Greek descent. But she knew quite a few different languages; some of them being, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Hebrew, and Arabic. Cleopatra's family can be traced back to the Macedonian house of the Ptolemies, who took the throne after the death of Alexander the Great.

When she was eighteen years old, Cleopatra's father passed away, leaving his throne to her and her youngest brother, Ptolemy XIII. Right away, Cleopatra and her ten-year-old brother were married and began to co-rule Egypt. Since Cleopatra was much older than her brother, she took control as the main ruler; but once Ptolemy XIII was older, he wanted more power. Soon, he kicked Cleopatra out of the palace and took over as Pharaoh. [read more]

What You Have to Know About GMO's

by Sanaai Brazil-Broach , age 12

Are genetically modified foods safe to consume?

Over the last two decades, food that consumers have eaten contains genes from other plants that make them either grow faster, taste better or stay fresher for a longer period of time. Foods that have been altered this way are called “genetically modified foods.”

Some reasons companies may modify food is because they want it to look more appealing, or they are trying to give people the vitamins that their bodies need. Each year, for example, around half of a million children go blind, and one or two million children die from the lack of vitamin A. So scientists have developed vitamin A in rice and put it in other foods to help solve this problem. [read more]

New Technology Allows Archaeologists to Uncover Hidden Cities

by Sarah Thomson, age 13

Recently, a huge prehistoric Mayan city was uncovered using a revolutionary technology called LiDAR. This discovery may change the way that archeologists look at ancient Mayan civilization. LiDAR is a tool that can help archeologists map out areas and discover previously unnoticed ruins or structures; it helped a team of Mayan civilization experts uncover a huge Mayan city.

The city that they discovered, called the Megalopolis of the Mayan Snake Kings, stretches over an area twice the size of medieval England. It includes over 60,000 stone structures, hidden by the thick Guatemalan jungle, which were previously overlooked. The city was once filled with interconnected palaces, houses, highways, and temples.

This discovery means that archeologists will have to change their viewpoint on ancient Mayan civilization. With such a huge city having existed, the Mayan population must have been much larger than formerly thought: around 10 or 15 million, instead of the five million previously estimated. [read more]