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Women Pioneers in the STEM Fields

by Devika Pal, age 17

As early as the mid-19th century, women made vast contributions to astronomy. They had to fight for representation and recognition in this field. Pioneers such as Maria Mitchell and a group of women known as the Harvard Computers paved the way for the women who followed. However, even now, many women struggle to receive credit for their work.

Maria Mitchell is recognized as the first professional woman astronomer in the United States. She discovered a comet in 1847 using a small telescope, which was later named after her, Miss Mitchell’s Comet. The discovery was initially credited to Italian astronomer Francesco de Vico even though he discovered it after she did; it was not until later that it was credited to Mitchell. The first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry, even published the comet’s discovery in 1848 without mention of Mitchell’s name. His actions reflect the refusal to credit women astronomers for their achievements, a common tendency at that time. Despite being initially overlooked, she was admitted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1848, becoming the first woman to be recognized by the Academy.

During the early 20th century, Harvard Observatory Director Edward Charles Pickering put together a team of women astronomers who came to be known as the “Harvard Computers.” These women carried out astronomical calculations and invented the Harvard spectral classification, which they used to classify hundreds of stars. Over a century later, this system is still being used by modern astronomers. However, the women worked in substandard conditions, only earning 25 to 50 cents an hour, much less than the men made, while performing a similar wide range of duties. Even Annie Jump Cannon—who was central to development of the Havard classification system—was not credited by name in the title. [Read More]

The Ancient Library of Pergamum

by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14

The ancient library of Pergamum, located in what is now Turkey, was built in the third century B.C. by members of the Attalid dynasty. The library, constructed by a small kingdom that lasted only 150 years, is now one of the most famous libraries in antiquity.

Following the destruction of Alexander the Great’s empire, Lysimachus, a general in Alexander the Great’s army, founded the Monarchy of Pergamum or Attalid kingdom during the Hellenistic period. This kingdom was situated in what is now Turkey, in the western portion of Asia Minor.

Around 130 BC, the Roman Republic acquired the Kingdom of Pergamum. Even though this kingdom only existed for roughly 150 years, they managed to construct one of the greatest libraries ever seen in antiquity and for centuries. The large library of Pergamum remained a significant hub of study. [Read More]

How an Ancient Civilization Thrived and then Collapsed

by Emily Rodriguez, age 13

A mysterious ancient civilization on the island of Malta collapsed within two generations, despite surviving for more than a millennium.

The ancient civilization was known as the Temple Culture, it arose around 6,000 years ago on Malta and other islands in the Mediterranean sea. Groups of scientists analyzed pollen and DNA from skulls and bones that were buried deep in the Earth to find an explanation for the quick collapse. According to a tree ring analysis, the whole region was exposed to horrible climates. This analysis and other research makes up an ongoing investigation into why the civilization collapsed.

Upwards of several thousand people lived on Malta. These people built a strong and successful civilization through collaboration. The people built sacred sites, one of them being Ggantija Temple complex. Their buildings are known as some of the first free-standing buildings. The temples held the people together. Historians assumed the temples honored a mother goddess. However, recents findings led historians to believe the people focused on their worship, feasting, and rituals insteads of on a deity (god or goddess, in ancient Greek). Despite their affective lifestyle, after around 1,500 years, the civilization and its people were gone. [Read More]

Cathedral on a Hill: Ancient Structure in Turkey Might be the Oldest on Planet Earth

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]

How a Library Made Baghdad the World's Most Important Center of Learning

by Mariama Bah, age 15

When hearing about grand libraries, one might think of the Library of Alexandria or the Library of Congress. However a different library was established in the 9th century as one of the world’s greatest centers of science and learning.

The House of Wisdom was founded in the city of Baghdad, Iraq during the Islamic Golden Age, which lasted from the 8th to the 14th century. The Islamic Golden Age was an important period in Islamic history characterized by a series of rapid scientific, cultural, and economic advancements.

Although the House of Wisdom was visited by scholars from all around the Middle East, it was owned by the Abbasid Dynasty, which ruled over the Islamic Empire. Details on the library’s founding are debated. Many believe it was started by Abu Ja’far al-Mansur, who collected books on the sciences. What started as one hall became an educational capital. Students regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, or language were welcomed into the House of Wisdom. [Read More]

The Mammal that Helped Take Over the Globe

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 12

Researchers have discovered a prehistoric mammal with a two to five years life cycle that they call the Manbearpig. The mammal’s short lifespan is likely due to their months-long pregnancy, a trait scientists believe helped mammals dominate the world after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The name Manbearpig came from the features it contained: a face like a bear; a body similar to a pig; and five fingered hands. These mammals are also known by their scientific name, Pantolamba bathmodon, and were plant eaters. The Manbearpig lived about 62 million years ago. The Manbearpig was one of the largest mammals of its time and seemed to appear after the dinosaur extinction, which allowed mammals to grow to larger sizes than ever before. It was a member of the placental group of mammals, animals who do their prenatal development in the womb of their mother.

Researchers were able to discover how fast they would grow throughout their life from the enamel of their teeth, which looked different during different life stages. These mammals' lives were short and they died at a younger age than typical animals, between two and five years of life. The Manbearpig had a really short life cycle because it stayed in the womb for about seven months, a pregnancy much longer than is observed in modern marsupials, but similar to extreme modern placentals like giraffes and wildebeests. The most extreme modern placentals are usually walking within hours of birth, and usually only give birth to one baby per litter. This species nursed for one or two months after they were born. In a year, they would reach adulthood. The longest a Manbearpig was found to have lived was 11 years. [Read More]

From Modest Chateau to Palace Fit for Kings

by Ashley Mercado, age 14

King Louis XII originally chose Versailles, an area just outside of Paris, as the site for a modest hunting chateau. However, over the years it developed into something far more elegant.

“Louis” was a commonly chosen name for princes over many generations. To distinguish the different kings, roman numerals would be placed after their name to note who was who in order of their birth. Louis the XIV, also known as the Sun King, wanted to expand the chateau into a grand palace, and began construction on the project in 1661. Versailles became Louis the XIV’s permanent residence in 1682, and later the French court was established there. The heart of the building was the Hall of Mirrors—a big gallery of 17 windows that offered a grand view of the stunning gardens.

Louis XIV directed the architect Gabriel to do further work on the building, such as the addition of an opera salon and an additional palace called the Petit Trianon. Louis XVI added a library, and his wife Marie Antoinette took over the Petit Trianon. Two designers worked on Versailles. The original designer was Louis Le Vau followed by Jules Hardouin Mansart who assumed responsibility and worked on Versailles for 30 years. The one responsible for the landscaping of Versailles was Andrė Le Nȏtre. In October of 1789, revolutionaries angry at the rich due to colossal income inequality went to Versailles and caused great damage to the palace. [Read More]

The Wright Brothers: American Inventors and Pioneers of Aviation

by Max Moreno, age 10

In December 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright, often known as the Wright brothers, built the first successful piloted aircraft. It was a propelled two-seater plane and flew 120 feet, lasting 12 seconds in the air.

As little kids, the two brothers were fascinated by a toy helicopter that functioned on a rubber band. Hoping one day to build a flying machine big enough for both of them, the brothers set out to work. Before they could work on building planes, as young men, they started in business, first at a printing press and then at a bicycle repair shop.

At this time, gliders were around, but they did not have engines. The Wright brothers then decided to start testing different engines for their plane designs. In 1899, they worked on building their planes and a year later moved from Ohio to North Carolina to test their experiments and make new changes to their designs. Finally, in 1903, they crafted a plane called the Wright Flyer 1 that took flight and made history; it was flown a few times afterward. [Read More]

How Codebreakers Turned the Tide at Midway

by Shahad Al Quraishi, age 15

The Battle of Midway was a major turning point during World War II. It was a battle that ultimately altered Japanese plans and the fluctuation of power in the Pacific. The battle took place on a small island named Midway in the Pacific Ocean. At the time, this island was home to a United States base, but it offered the perfect location for Japan to station their own forces for an attack on Pearl Harbor.

Prior to the battle, U.S. Navy cryptanalysts had been working on cracking the Japanese communication codes. The cryptanalysts, who were stationed in Hawaii, known as Station Hypo, successfully broke the Japanese codes right before the battle. The success of the cryptanalysts not only confirmed the location but also gave them the exact date of the attack.

The Japanese attacked and severely damaged the U.S. base at Midway, using four aircrafts. However thanks to the work of the cryptanalysts, the U.S. carrier forces were already stationed and ready for battle on the island’s east side. Attacks from the U.S. forces continued for two days, forcing Japan to retreat and leading the U.S. to victory. This derailed the Japanese plans to take over the Pacific because winning the battle of Midway was a significant part of taking over the Pacific. [Read More]

Behind the Deadly Hiroshima Bombing

by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14

On August 9, 1945, the United States ended World War II at a terrible human cost by dropping the “Fat Man” nuclear implosive bomb in Nagasaki. This was three days after the atomic uranium bomb named “Little Boy” had decimated Hiroshima.

As a part of the Manhattan Project, the United States created the atomic bomb. The United States’ decision to deploy an atomic weapon was seen as an alternative to its planned invasion of Japan in November 1945. The uranium bomb left Alamogordo, New Mexico, for Hiroshima on July 14, 1945, after undergoing a successful test.

The Potsdam Declaration was issued on July 26, 1945. The declaration stated that if Japan didn’t surrender, they’d face immediate and total annihilation. This declaration was formulated by President Truman of the United States, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and Prime Minister Clement Attlee of Great Britain. U.S. military leaders debated whether or not to inform the Japanese about the deadly weapon they held in their possession. In the end, it was deemed too risky to let them know in advance. Japan refused the terms of the Potsdam Declaration on July 29, 1945. [Read More]

How Early Jazz Developed in New Orleans

by Aissata Bah, age 12

There are many opinions of what is important in jazz history, specifically in New Orleans. The musical genre contains history that takes roots in colonization, slavery and much more.

New Orleans was founded as part of the French Louisiana colony in 1718. The territories were given up to Spain, but returned back to France in 1803. At the same time they were returned, Thomas Jefferson bought the territory in the Louisiana Purchase, meaning that New Orleans became part of the United States. People who could speak English began migrating to the area and extended the boundaries of the city. The massive amount of free and enslaved Black people in the area had brought elements of the blues, spirituals and rural dances to the rise of jazz music, since the early 18th century.

The region had a mix of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultural heritage. The residents had an appreciation of good food, wine, music, dance, and also celebrating the many cultures and languages within the city. [Read More]

Local Observatory Renamed For STEM Pioneer Jocelyn Bell Burnell

by Mariah Justice, age 17

“Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another,” said Greek philosopher Plato. With the renaming event on September 7 for the Bell Burnell Observatory— previously the Oscar Mayer Observatory—Madison has a new facility for cultivating the exploration of astronomy.

The history of the Bell Burnell Observatory dates back to 1880, when the director of the Washburn Observatory, located on University of Wisconsin-Madison's (UW) campus, felt there was too much student traffic for the University to only have one observatory. This notion spurred him to personally fund the construction of the student observatory, which was then called the Student Observatory. However, as Madison grew, light pollution obstructed both the Student and Washburn observatories, rendering the facilities obsolete.

In 1959, the UW offered to gift the Student Observatory to the Madison Astronomical Society (MAS) on the condition that MAS was able to finance a move to a different site. A year later, the observatory was officially relocated to its current location on the Promega Campus, and renamed the Oscar Mayer Observatory after the astronomer who funded its move. The observatory was in use for over two decades until light pollution resulting from Madison’s growth once again caused it to be inactive. [Read More]

The Fire that Reached From Alberta to Pennsylvania

by Dyanara Flores-Gomez, age 14

In early June of 1950, a fire started in northern Alberta, Canada, and spread through northeastern British Columbia. It burned four million acres of land. This fire became the largest fire in North America and was named the Chinchaga fire. It was also known as the Wisp fire or Fire 19.

Alberta, Canada was a hot and dry place before the fire began. The fire was thought to be started by humans, and officials left it unattended when they noticed it, which allowed it to spread. The fire expanded due to the wind and cold air. The smoke passed through the eastern seaboard of Canada and landed in Pennsylvania.

Witnesses in Pennsylvania noticed that the sky was different colors, and within 30 minutes it turned dark. The smoke particles in the air spread, which made the sky turn dark blue. This led to people thinking there had been a nuclear attack. [Read More]

The Viking Tale of Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir

by Aissata Bah, age 12

If you know who Vikings were, you might think that the men were stronger, more courageous and adventurous than the women, but that is not the case. There is evidence that suggests Viking women were just as brave and capable as the men. One of those women was Gudrid.

More than 1000 years ago, there lived a woman, Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, who sailed to Vinland, now known as Canada, with her husband and crew. They lived there and explored the area for three years. All together, she made eight crossings on the North Atlantic Sea and traveled farther than any other Viking.

Not surprisingly, this story is perhaps just a tale. People do not know for sure if Gudrid really existed or if she actually “found” America 500 years before Christopher Columbus. But, this is what scientists and historians are still researching and debating. [Read More]

2.5-Yard Elephant Tusk Fossil Discovered in Israel

Researchers in Israel recently found a 2.5-yard-long fossil that belonged to a long-extinct straight-tusked elephant. It is believed to be the largest fossil ever found at a prehistoric site in the country.

This amazing fossil was discovered near a piece of land called a kibbutz on the central plain running parallel to the Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The discovery was made by researchers from Israel Antiquites Authority (IAA) in a joint excavation from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University. Avi Levy, lead researcher of the find, called this fossil, “The largest complete fossil tusk ever found at a prehistoric site in Israel or the Near East.” This site is at least 500,000 years old based on the stone tools recovered from the area, the antiquites authorities said.

“Very puzzling, very enigmatic,” said Omry Barzilai, an IAA archaeologist also in the discovery, because it was not known whether ancient people hunted the behemoth on the spot or they brought the animal’s tusk to this spot. [Read More]

Germany's Fairytale Castle Come to Life

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

Neuschwanstein is a castle that is located in Germany, which took 17 years to construct. It took 15 men to carve the king's bed and it took them 4 ½ years to finish. Neuschwanstein was a fairytale brought to life.

King Ludwig, who was known as “the Mad King”, developed an obsession with German mythology. In 1861, a performance by Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin left the King enchanted. When he succeeded to the throne three years later at the age of 18, his first act was to summon Wagner. Once Wagner made money, Ludwig would become his patron.

Meanwhile, King Ludwig would create fancy fairy tales with the everyday story of ancient German knights and make money out of them. Wagner recreated the German legend on stage and showed the struggles of God between good and evil. Ludwig was named Mad King because he was seen as a man with no reality. [Read More]

Science Fiction Writer, Octavia Butler, Recognized by NASA — by Elim Eyobed, age 11

Who is your favorite writer? Hemingway? Shakespeare? Well, one great writer you may have never heard of is Octavia E. Butler. Butler was an esteemed African American author who was recently recognized by NASA for her groundbreaking talents. NASA scientists even named a Mars landing site after her. [Read More]

From Water to Land Back to Water Again: the Evolution of the Qikitania — by Giovanni Tecuatl Lopez, age 17

There are many speculations regarding evolution and how it took place. Many think of evolution as a linear timeline; but this is not always the case and such can be seen in creatures like the Qikitania and Tiktaalik. [Read More]

The Greatness of Hank Aaron — 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 Sox. [Read More]

The Surprising History Behind Tulips — by Abigail Gezae, age 10

Tulips are popular flowers that come in several types, 75 to be exact. If you were wondering, the name tulip comes from the Turkish language. [Read More]

Mount Everest: The Colossal Climb — by Aarosh Subedi, age 10

Mount Everest is one of the Himalayas' tallest mountains in the world and lies in the continent of Asia. [Read More]

The Deadliest Hurricane in Honduras' History — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

Striking in 1974, Hurricane Fifi was one of the largest and most dangerous hurricanes in Honduras’ History. Hurricane Fifi swept through more than half of the people’s homes and left more than 100,000 to 150,000 people homeless. When the hurricane struck, thousands were left without food and shelter. [Read More]

How Submarines Sparked Arctic Exploration — by Daniel Li, age 14

Built-in 1952, the USS Nautilus was the first submarine ever powered by a nuclear reactor and, coincidentally, also the first to ever reach the North Pole by traveling under ice. William Anderson, the commander of the Nautilus, wrote in his logbook, “Embarked following personage at North Pole: Santa Claus, affiliation: Christmas.” Spending multiple days underwater had not seemed to affect the commander’s sense of humor. [Read More]

History of Argentina’s “Dirty War” Era — 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. [Read More]

The Mysterious Story Behind America's Lost Snow Cruiser — by Jazmin Becerril, age 14

During the United States Antarctic Expedition Service of 1939, an amazing new vehicle – unlike any other – was used. The creator, Thomas Poulter, came up with the idea for a huge mobile vehicle base after experiencing a near-death situation in which he was stuck at an Antarctic base due to the weather. He sold his idea to the Research Foundation of the Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois in the mid-1930s which agreed to design the vehicle under Poulter’s supervision. [Read More]

Two Lost Ships Discovered at the Bottom of Lake Michigan — 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. [Read More]

Historians Study in Planet Earth’s Oldest Library — by Shahad Al Quraishi, age 15

The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, also referred to by many as the first library in the world, is considered one of the most important creations in human history. The library, which is located in present-day Iraq near Mosul, was created and built by the sixth Neo-Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal. [Read More]

Learn the Tragic Story Behind the Monstrous Medusa — by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

Medusa: the most common thought would be a hideous woman with snakes for hair. Believe it or not, Medusa was not always like this. Her story is a long and heartbreaking one. [Read More]

What Life Was Like for Wisconsin's Early People — by Max Moreno, age 9

It is challenging to think about what life was like a thousand years ago. However, how about thinking all the way back to 10,000 years ago, when Wisconsin Natives were constructing living areas, tools, and mounds. [read more]

The Life of a Young Egypt King: King Tutankhamun — by Justin Medina, age 13

King Tutankhamun, better known as King Tut, was ancient Egypt’s youngest Pharaoh being only nine years old. He was largely erased from history until his tomb was discovered in the early 1900s. His tomb and mummy continue to be studied today using high-tech tools. [Read More]

The Tragic Story of Beautiful Egyptian Goddess Isis — by Emily Rodriguez Lima, age 13

Hieroglyphics depict tragically beautiful tales of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt such as Isis, whose myth brims with mystical magic, selfless healing, lethal wars, and even brooding beheadings. Historians uncovered her story through pyramid stones that date back to the 2350 and 2100 BCE period. [Read More]

Researchers Discover Secrets Within Ancient Library — by Ashley Mercado, age 13

We are still finding long-lost languages thanks to discoveries of researchers at ancient libraries. One of the world’s oldest libraries, Saint Catherine’s Monastery, is still in use today. Here, thousands of ancient texts were found. [Read More]

The History Behind Zodiac Signs — by Emily Bautista, age 13

Zodiac signs are a topic of mystery for many people. Many people do not know how they came to be or what they are used for. [Read More]

Behind Prince, the Dynamic Pop Legend — by Elim Eyobed, age 11

If you live and breathe air, you have definitely heard of Prince. His album, “1999”, almost singled him out as one of the greatest musicians of all time. Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958. His father, John Nelson, was a jazz pianist, and Mattie Nelson, his mother, was a vocalist. His life at home was not stable, so at the age of 12, he left and was adopted by the Anderson family. [Read More]