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 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 Kelly Vazquez, age 16
Since the late 1930s, cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, has been a topic of great debate in the United States. Currently, many states have legalized marijuana or decriminalized it for recreational and medical use. Despite the growing movement to legalize recreational use for adults, Matthew Albaugh, professor at University of Vermont, explains that it can still be harmful for young users. He stated,“Brain areas that change the most during adolescence may be especially vulnerable to cannabis exposure.” There have been significant studies that indicate cannabis having brain altering effects on humans.
Albaugh and his team conducted a study with 799 14-year-olds throughout four European countries: Germany, France, Ireland, and England. The kids received MRI scans and five years later, the study was repeated with the same kids. During the second MRI, 46% of them said they had tried cannabis; approximately 75% said they had used the substance 10 or more times. The study showed that there was quite a contrast between the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for decisions, impulses, and focus) of those who used cannabis and those who didn’t. The prefrontal cortex had thinned faster for those who used cannabis than those who didn’t, even more so for those who used it frequently. These results have been somewhat inconsistent since researchers can’t experiment with real teenagers. However, results do add to the existing data that supports the claim that cannabis affects the brain's development.
Jacqueline-Marie Ferland, brain researcher at Icahn School of Medicine, explains that the thinning of the prefrontal cortex is often connected to maturing, decision making, rationality, and managing impulsivity; a properly matured prefrontal cortex can perform these functions. However, another study on young animals shows that thinning too early can cause long term problems with behavior and memory. [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 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 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 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 Theodore Morrison, age 13
Did you know that when cows burp or fart they release a gas called methane that is toxic for our atmosphere? When scientists added seaweed in small amounts to the diet of a group of cows, the cows showed a reduction in the release of methane.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is slowly destroying our planet. It does this by trapping heat inside our atmosphere. Methane stays in the atmosphere for less time than carbon dioxide, but is 30 times more effective at trapping heat.
According to a study reported by the Guardian, the current emissions of greenhouse gasses in agriculture make up 10 percent of all emissions in the United States. Climate activists have responded by campaigning for a reduction in meat products. Scientists from UC Davis think that the process used to produce meat could be improved if we were able to obtain enough Asparagopsis taxiformis, a type of seaweed. [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]
by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13
You may not be able to walk on it, but scientists believe that sometime in the future, it may be possible for life of some kind to exist on one of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, which also happens to be the largest moon in the solar system.
Satellite images from NASA’s Galileo and Voyager probes show that Ganymede is icy and cratered with both light and dark patches across the surface. The dark regions cover 40% of Ganymede and could be at least three billion years old. The light regions are believed to be younger and contain ridges that are up to 2,000 feet high expanding across the surface. There are multiple hypotheses about how the darker and lighter regions appeared on the moon; most of them suggest that it had to come from some movement and freezing of water. When it comes to the composition of Ganymede, probes from the Galileo mission detected that it has a magnetic field, suggesting that Ganymede has metal somewhere in its core. Specifically, Ganymede could have an iron core that is surrounded by layers of ice and rock.
Although Ganymede has potential for life if it warms up, it lacks an atmosphere and remains cold even with direct sunlight. Compared to the Earth, Ganymede receives only four percent as much of the Sun’s brightness. This is why space probes that go to this moon, such as Galileo and Voyager, need nuclear generators for energy rather than solar panels. [read more]
by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 15
In 1943, protests coined the Zoot Suit Riots (named after the outfits worn by young Latinos and minority groups) took hold of Los Angeles in the wake of swelling racial tensions and prejudice.
The outfit that became the namesake of the protests, the zoot suit, was a popular outfit in the 1930s. The style consisted of loose baggy clothing, jackets, shoulder pads, lapels, leg pants and accessories like chains, watches, and a variety of hats. For example, many Harlem dancers wore these types of clothing and their popularity spread across the country, specifically among Latin American, African American, and other minority groups. Over time, zoot suits evolved to be used to scapegoat minority groups. People who wore these outfits were seen as street thugs, gang members, and rebellious delinquents.
During World War 2, the zoot suits gained an even more malicious reputation as many service men viewed them as an unpatriotic waste of resources since the U.S. needed silks, wools and other fabrics to support war time efforts. Nonetheless tailors across the U.S in places like Los Angeles and New York continued to make zoot suits. As summer 1943 approached, tensions started to rise between white members of the military and zoot suiters, most notably in Los Angeles. [read more]
by Hanna Eyobed, age 15
Ebony Magazine has been creating safe and productive spaces for Black/African American people for over 75 years. While existing as paper copy for the entirety of its existence, Ebony has decided to rebrand itself to a solely online platform. This shift was executed because CEO of the magazine, Michele Ghee, thought it better suited the current times.
Ebony was the first Black magazine in America, dating all the way back to 1945. Its early issues sparked popularity with stories about Martin Luther King Jr. The magazine also documented many historic moments in the civil rights movement including the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and the Selma march in 1965. In the 1960’s the magazine covered the death of Martin Luther King Jr. In recent years, Ebony has shared inspiring stories of the Black community as well as highlighting the lives of Black celebrities like Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, and Michelle Obama.
However, it has not been an easy road to success. In 2016, Ebony struggled as the digital world grew, and was sold to its sister publication, Jet. It did not flourish and was sold again and incurred many lawsuits over underpaid writers. Ebony owners filed for bankruptcy after failing to repay 10 million dollars in loans, and by the spring of 2019 had ceased to print. [read more]
by Josepha Da Costa, age 16
Egyptian authorities have released two journalists who spent more than a year in pre-trial detention. Defense attorneys told Associated Press reporters that Solafa Magdy and her husband Hossam el-Sayyad are staying with family members at their home in Cairo. Magdy is a multimedia reporter and el-Sayyad is a photographer.
Egyptian government officials are investigating whether the two journalists misused social media platforms, disseminated false news, or joined an outlawed group, according to the couple’s lawyer Khaled Ali.
The Egyptian government has drawn criticism in recent years for its wide-scale suppression of dissent. Thousands of people, mainly Islamists but also well-known secular activists, have been jailed. [read more]
by Katina Maclin, age 15
Aretha Franklin made a significant mark in the history of American vocal music. For example, she sang at the inauguration of the very first African American president Barack Obama. And she was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha Franklin was popular and accomplished across musical genres.
Most people are aware that Aretha Franklin was crowned the Queen of Soul. Though the question still may linger as to why and what makes her immortal status beyond Rihanna's, Tina Turner’s, or Jennifer Lopez’s. Was it because she won many awards? Because she could sing so well? Or perhaps something else? Franklin was the Queen of Soul because she rose through adversity, she persevered, and because of her undeniable talent. [read more]
by Aissata Bah, age 10
Although saber-tooth tigers have been extinct for around 12,000 years, long-held beliefs that they died out due to hunger, climate change, and human hunting are turning out to be incorrect.
In an attempt to find the real reason, researchers have studied the fossil teeth of 15 saber-tooth tigers and 15 American lions that were recovered at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. These animal fossils ranged from about 11,500 to 35,000 years in age.
Scientists used a dental microwear analyzer to examine these fossils. The tool was developed by anthropologist Peter Ungar at the University of Arkansas. It generates three-dimensional pictures of the surface of a tooth. Eating red meat creates a parallel set of small scratches, but biting bones leaves larger and deeper pits. The investigation found a pattern of wear on the saber-tooth tiger teeth, and it looks similar to the pattern on the present-day African lion teeth. [read more]
by Hanna Eyobed, age 15
If it is true, that home is where the heart is, then Eritrea is my rightful home. Eritrea is located on the Horn of Africa, along the Red Sea, and it neighbors Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Sudan. Eritrea became a sovereign country only in 1993, after a 30-year war for independence.
When referring to incredible places, many people tend to speak of big bustling cities or spectacular landscapes. I think of the interconnected community, the unseen martyrs who fought for our independence and the beautiful traditions and sacred entities that inhabit the country. Both my parents, Asmeret and Eyobed, are from Asmara, the capital and largest city in Eritrea. So, my family’s link to our home country is strong. [read more]
by Gabriella Shell, age 14
Recent tests have revealed extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants called PFAS in the groundwater near former firefighting training grounds at the Dane County Regional Airport.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in drinking water, an environmental contractor hired by the Dane County Airport found an excess of 68,000 ppt in groundwater at a site along Darwin Road. Another site, near Pearson Street, had PFAS levels over 20,000 ppt.
These two sites were used as firefighter training grounds in the 1950s through the 1980s, and are known as “burn pits.” The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attributed the contamination at these sites to Dane County, the City of Madison, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard. [read more]
by Dyami Rodriguez, age 15
COVID-19 is not just a human problem. Recently, at a farm in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, over 3,400 mink died from coronavirus in a one month period.
These deaths were confirmed beginning early October of 2020, when Wisconsin State Veterinarian Dr. Darlene Konkle reported that a couple hundred mink on the farm had died from the virus. Much like humans, the mink were immediately quarantined to try to contain the spread.
Months later they are still in quarantine and they are constantly tested to determine when it can end. [read more]
Wisconsin Wolves Removed from Endangered Species List, but Controversial Hunt Leaves Future Uncertain
by Moises A. Hernandez, age 16
Wisconsin’s gray wolf population increased by 13 percent in one year according to a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) between April 2019 and April 2020. This growth is attributed to the protections put in place by the federal Endangered Species Act in 1974. That rapid growth led to gray wolves being removed from the federal endangered species list in late 2020.
In 1985, the wolf population was as low as 14. Between 1990 and 1995, it rose from 34 to 83. It then increased from 248 to 815 in a matter of only 12 years. As a result of the protections under the law, the DNR’s overwinter wolf count rose from about 914 to 978 in 2018-2019 to 1,034 to 1,057 in 2019-2020.
“Wolves have a place in Wisconsin and the DNR is committed to keeping wolves on the landscape at biologically and socially-acceptable levels,” Randy Johnson, a large carnivore specialist at the Wisconsin DNR. [read more]