Thawing Permafrost Releases ‘Giant Viruses’ Frozen for Millennia

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 13

Permafrost that has been untouched for thousands of years is being melted due to climate change. This could revive ancient viruses and bacteria that were buried deep in the permanently frozen subsoil. The latest discovery of an ancient virus was when French and Russian scientists investigated a 30,000 year old piece of Siberian permafrost.

In 2014, a group of scientists led by Jean-Michel Claverie discovered a new ‘giant virus’. ‘Giant viruses’ are referred to as bigger than average viruses. For example, Pithovirus sibercum is the biggest ‘giant virus’ ever found in permafrost. Measuring 1,500 nanometers across, this virus is ten times bigger than the HIV virus. [Read More]

NASA's Cassini Probe Revolutionized our Understanding of Saturn's Moons

by Makya Rodriguez, age 14

One of NASA’s greatest space missions was the launching of the Cassini spacecraft. Starting on June 30, 2004 and ending on September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft overcame several challenges in order to enter Saturn’s atmosphere. It traveled a complicated path to gain speed from other planets’ gravity. The cost of the mission totaled approximately 3.26 billion dollars.

Cassini settled in Saturn’s orbit on July 1, 2004. Its main mission was to find more of Saturn’s moons and gather more information about Saturn’s rings. Cassini’s most important task was to release the Huygen Lander on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. [Read More]

The Tragedy of the Potomac River

by Giovanni Tecautl, age 14

On January 13, 1982, a flight attendant named Kelly Duncan was seen trying to grasp a lifeline from a helicopter. The cold river made her fingers go numb, and she was unable to hold on any longer. As she slipped under the cold river, the helicopter crew frantically risked their lives to save her.

Earlier that afternoon, the Air Florida flight 90 that Duncan was on had been delayed for two hours at Washington D.C.’s National airport due to snowstorms. Soon after the plane took off, it started to shake and move, and passengers could hear the captain saying, “Come on, forward, forward, just barely climb.“ The other officer shouted, “Larry, we‘re going down!“ “I know it,“ yelled back the captain. [Read More]

Another Lost Decade: Madison's
Reading Crisis Continues

by SSFP Editors

On the wall at Simpson Street is a feature editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal.The headline reads “Support State Reading Initiatives” and announces the launch of a bipartisan effort co-chaired by Tony Evers and Scott Walker. The editorial is dated September 12, 2012.

Recent reports by Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Times, Channel 3 News, Isthmus, and other news outlets paint a new, more tragic picture. Nothing has changed. Achievement gaps are worse. [Read More]

Editorial: Follow the Money: A Call for More Local Investigative Reporting

It’s an infamous scene in a famous movie about journalism. Playing Deep Throat, Hal Holbrook tells The Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, played by Robert Redford, to “follow the money” to discover who planned the Watergate break in.

Across the country in 2018, journalists and media experts are calling for more local reporting that follows the money.

Read Mckenna's Editorial and More: Click Here

New Methane Plant a Win for Dane County and Environment

by Christy Zheng, age 16

One man’s trash will be converted into another man’s fuel in a recently completed $29 million landfill biogas facility at the Dane County Landfill. The County works with a local contractor, BioFerm Energy Systems.

The new facility converts gas from the Dane County Landfill into compressed natural gas (CNG), which is then sold as transportation fuel at Kwik Trip gas stations.

CNG is an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline and diesel. Cars and other vehicles running on CNG burn methane, a notorious greenhouse gas, but then release the less-harmful carbon dioxide in its place. Cutting down on gasoline and diesel use reduces greenhouse emissions and helps the environment. [Read More]

Dogs Help Researchers Save Box Turtle Populations

by Moises A. Hernandez, age 14

Out in the fields of thick sandhill wire grass—also called pineland threeawn—just outside of the town of Cheraw in South Carolina, a 65-year-old retired English teacher and self-taught naturalist, is America’s Turtle Whisperer.

When John Rucker was ten years old, he was in a similar field near the Black River in North Carolina, hunting coveys of bobwhite quail with his father and a dog handler named Frank Simpson. Simpson’s dogs were Boykin Spaniels, which is the State Dog of South Carolina. While searching for birds, one of the dogs showed interest in a specific area of grass, all of a sudden. [Read More]

The Life of Artist Georgia O'Keeffe

by Hanna Eyobed, age 14

When Georgia O’Keeffe finished eight grade she decided she wanted to be an artist. She had this epiphany after seeing a drawing in one of her mothers’ books depicting a girl that she thought was beautiful. She said, “that picture started something in me that kept on going and has had something to do with the everlasting urge that makes me keep painting.”

O’Keeffe was born on a farm around Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in 1887. She said, “I always feel I was very fortunate to have grown up on a farm. I had a very pleasant childhood, though I was somewhat of a rebel.” When O’Keeffe was 13, she attended Sacred Heart Academy, which was a boarding school just outside of Madison. It is now known as Edgewood High School.She spent the next year at Central High School in Madison, where she began taking art classes. At first the teacher scolded her for only drawing heavy black lines. The same teacher however, encouraged her to use the natural colors of her subject. [Read More]

That's a Good Word: “Orange”

by Eva Stouffer, age 14

The word “orange” describes both a color and a fruit. Which one came first might be surprising.

“Orange” when used as the name of the fruit came before “orange” as a word to describe color. While the shade itself existed before the fruit, there was not a name in the English language for the color. Before the introduction of the fruit to English-speaking countries, the color was usually described as a shade of red or yellow. [Read More]

Nintendo Switch vs Nintendo Switch Lite

by Amare Smith, age 15

Hey, guys. This is Amare and I’m gonna talk about the difference between Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The Nintendo Switch Lite releases on September 20th. It costs $200, but the original Nintendo Switch costs $300. Since the Nintendo Switch Lite costs less, why would you ever buy the original?

Even though there are differences between the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite, they are very similar consoles. The key difference is that the Nintendo Switch has detachable controllers and the Switch Lite has built-in controllers that can’t be detached. Also, the Switch can be connected to a TV and has a kickstand, but the Switch Lite doesn’t have these features. [Read More]

Watch Out For These Deadly Sea Creatures!

by Melanie Sanchez, age 11, James Wright Free Press

Ever wondered why someone says “that’s just a tempest in a teapot” over an event that has nothing to do with tea? This expression is often a response to an overblown situation.

The expression “a storm in a teacup” is believed to derive from a passage in De Legibus written by Cicero, a renowned Roman philosopher, and writer who influenced future Latin prose. His “excitable fluctus in simpulo” translates to “he was stirring up billows in a ladle.” [Read More]

The Loneliest Road in America

by Desteny Alvarez, age 14

In America, “the loneliest road” is located in Nevada on U.S. Route 50. It’s the opposite of Las Vegas, with no big casinos or bright lights. Route 50 is a long road and a quiet place.

We live on an industrial and busy planet. Our cities are usually crowded with people and cars that create noise and light pollution. Even some of our national parks have become overpopulated and less peaceful than expected. Route 50, however, is just mountains and clear land. [Read More]