Burmese Pythons Stalk Asia, and Florida!

by Zale Thoronka, age 12

Burmese pythons are truly a fascinating and interesting species. Their eating habits and the incredible size of these snakes are remarkable. These are some of the wonders of the Burmese python.

Did you know that the Burmese python can stretch its jaw to consume prey five times the size of its head? This reptile is one of the world’s largest snakes and is capable of eating an alligator.

The Burmese python is a species that is native to the jungles and grassy marshes of Southeast Asia. It can also be found in the Florida Everglades, where it has been categorized as an invasive species, with tens of thousands of snakes living there by estimates from the National Park Service. These snakes live for 20-25 years, weigh up to 200 pounds (90kg), and reach a length of 16-23 feet. [read more]

Historic Public-Private Partnership Launches Astronauts to ISS

by Jordan Banks, age 13

On November 15, 2020, NASA made history by launching the first full flight in partnership with a private American space company, SpaceX, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule carried three American astronauts and one Japanese astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule were built by SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturing company founded by Elon Musk. NASA has been paying Russia to fly American astronauts into space via the Russian Soyuz capsule since 2011. Since the Crew Dragon is able to carry one more passenger than the Russian capsule, seven astronauts will be able to stay on the ISS.

The Crew Dragon will remain attach to the ISS until its return voyage to Earth. The ISS currently has only enough space for six astronauts to sleep, so the Crew Dragon will be used as a temporary bunk for the seventh astronaut. [read more]

Newly Discovered 'Skyscraper' Reef Towers Over the Ocean Floor

by Nevaeh Powell, age 13

Near the end of October while observing an area near the Great Barrier Reef, scientists found one of the largest underwater structures discovered in over a century: a reef structure made of coral.

The scientists that found the reef were on a year long expedition surveying the seabed around Australia. As the researchers were traveling on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research ship, the Falkor, they were using an subaquatic robot called SuBastian. SuBastian used technology that allowed the scientists to explore and create 3D maps of the ocean. As the group was on their journey, they discovered the tower or “detached reef.'' A detached reef is a structure, or tower in this case, that isn't attached to a larger nearby reef but sits alone at the bottom of the sea floor.

The tower is 1,640 feet above the sea floor at its highest point and nearly a mile wide at the bottom. The tower is taller than the Empire State Building, and it's top is just 130 feet below sea level. [read more]

The Impact of Pop Art in Art Culture Today

by Mariama Bah, age 12

Pop art is art that is bright, fun, and different. Instead of art about mortality or history, pop art is about everyday life. Television sets, newspapers, and movie theaters were themes in pop art.

There is a fine line between fine art and popular culture. Pop artists were looking to cross that line to create something different. The artists used mechanically made prints as their medium. Pop art emerged in the 1950s, where positivity and optimism flourished in post-war America and Britain. But in the 1960s, the popular culture shifted to appeal to teenagers and young adults who were more interested in music and fashion. The mainstream culture was filled with actors, musicians, and artists from different social classes; they were the social elite at the time. As a result, pop artists also changed their focus to the popular culture by using common images of the time.

Pop art originated in the 1950s in post-war Britain. British artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Alan Jones all influenced pop art to become what it is today. In the 1960s, pop art made its way to America, focusing on technology and mass production. Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were American artists who made iconic pieces of pop art. [read more]

Plastic Pollution Is a Global Crisis

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 13

The amount of plastic pollution in our oceans has grown rapidly over the last 40 years. At this rate, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the oceans by the year 2050.

Plastic pollution has very direct and deadly effects on sea life, killing thousands of marine animals each year. Around 700 species eat and get caught in plastic waste. Fish in the North Pacific Ocean ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic annually, which leads to intestinal damage and death. Scientists estimate that half of the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic. Sixty percent of all seabird species have ingested plastic and that number is predicted to climb to 90% in the next 20 years. Marine mammals can also die from getting caught in plastic, packing bands being the most common entangling material.

Plastic accumulation on the ocean surface is becoming a global crisis. Plastic is used everywhere and is very durable. It’s made to last for hundreds of years, which is why 40% of the Earth’s oceans are now covered in plastic. Not one square mile of the ocean’s surface is free from plastic pollution. One of the five gyres on Earth that has the largest amount of plastic is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located in the North Pacific Ocean. Scientists estimate that there are currently 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. [read more]

Proposal to Rename 'Bloody Sunday' Civil Rights Landmark Garners a Half-Million Signatures

by Sandy Flores, age 14

Michael Starr Hopkins is currently circulating a petition he created to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. To date, over 500,000 have signed the petition.

The newly proposed namesake, John Lewis, was an American politician and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives from Georgia. He recently passed away on July 17, 2020. He was known as one of the “big six” leaders who organized the 1963 march on Washington during which Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement, which fought to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

The Pettus bridge was the scene of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” march for Civil Rights. On that Sunday, March 7th, 1965, many brothers and sisters came together to march along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery. Many people were almost beaten to death while others suffered severe injuries. John Lewis had his skull fractured by police during the first of three scheduled marches from Selma to Montgomery. [read more]