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Simpson Street Free Press

Key Wisconsin Pollinator Species Lands on Federal Endangered List

by Eleanor Pleasnik, age 13

The humble bumble bee may be small in size but its influence on our environment is huge. But one bee in particular, the rusty patched bumble bee, is now on the federal Endangered Species list. This bee is native to Wisconsin and other areas of the upper Midwest. Over the past two decades, populations of rusty-patched bees have decreased by 90%. Very few of them are found roaming in backyards these days. [Read More]

Student Proficiency in Math and Reading Falls below 40% in Wisconsin

by Sydney Steidl, age 16

During the 2020-21 school year, less than a third of Wisconsin youth were rated as proficient in both math and language arts on the Forward Exam. This is the first time since the exam was implemented seven years ago that student proficiency levels have fallen below 40 percent. Some academic decline can be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to remote learning proved difficult for many students. But these adjustments tended to have a greater impact on lower-income students. [Read More]

Journalists Criticize Madison School District Handling of Open Records

by Yoanna Hoskins, age 17

The second largest school district in Wisconsin, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), which houses 52 schools and over 27,000 students, has been a hot topic of discussion in recent months. And not for good reasons. In recent news reports, many members of the Madison community have come forward with stories about how MMSD hasn’t properly responded to open records requests. Specifically, journalists and community members who have submitted open records requests have yet to receive access to those public documents.

NBC15 Investigates has waited months for requested data. On the 9th of March 2022, they sent an email to MMSD filing an open records request. This request related to student conflicts at Madison East High School, student-led walkouts, and the subsequent reassignment of East’s principal to the central office. [Read More]

Wisconsin Begins PFAS Testing this Fall

by Sandy Flores Ruíz, age 16

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are a family of synthetic chemicals. They are used in everyday household products, carpets, nonstick cookware, plastic packaging, and firefighting foam. The PFAS family of approximately 5,000 chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they last for a long periods of time in the environment and the human body. Research suggests that these chemicals can cause various types of cancers, damage reproductive and immune systems, and alter thyroid hormones. [Read More]

The Boaz Mastodon: Wisconsin’s Famous Fossil

by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

The Boaz mastodon is the fossil of a mastodon discovered near Boaz, Wisconsin in 1897. A mastodon is an elephant but harrier. A spear made of stone found near the Boaz mastodon shows that humans once hunted mastodons. This species lived in North America, Asia, and Africa, during the Ice Age. During the last Ice Age, many giants like the mastodon and mammoth roamed Wisconsin. This particular fossil of a giant mastodon is on display at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum in Madison. [Read More]

¿Qué causa la industria del reciclaje fallida de Estados Unidos?

por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

La pandemia causó muchos cambios en la sociedad, pero también resaltó cuestiones que antes habían pasado desapercibidas. El engaño de la industria del reciclaje de plásticos es solo un ejemplo. En particular, Covid-19 demostró cuán sensible es la industria del reciclaje de plásticos a las variaciones en los precios del petróleo.

La pandemia causó cambios económicos y redujo el consumo de petróleo. Los precios del petróleo cayeron alrededor del mundo. Como resultado, los fabricantes comenzaron a preferir la creación de plástico nuevo y no al reciclaje porque los bajos costos del petróleo hacían que la nueva producción fuera menos costosa. La fabricación de nuevos plásticos sigue aumentando. Los expertos de la industria y los grupos ambientalistas dicen que esto crea un efecto cíclico, aumentando la polución. [Read More]

How the Milwaukee Bucks Won Their First Championship

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 14

The National Basketball Association, informally known as the NBA, has featured lots of fascinating teams and players over the years. Most people know about the Milwaukee Bucks because they won the championship in 2021. But many of the team’s current fans are not familiar with the team’s rich basketball history.

The Milwaukee Bucks started as an expansion franchise in 1968. Like most first-year teams, they were not very good. Then, in 1969, the team drafted a player named Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Kareem went on to average 28.8 points per game, 4.1 assists, 14.5 rebounds and 5 steals per game during his rookie season. [Read More]

State of Wisconsin Issues PFAS Warnings for Dane County Fisheries

by Makaya Rodriguez, age 17

PFAS, also known as poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals. They have been used to make clothing, carpets, cookware, and firefighting foam. Now these so-called 'forever' chemicals are being found in many Wisconsin bodies of water, specifically in Dane County. Anglers are being advised to watch out for certain fish in lakes and rivers around Madison. These waters include Starkweather Creek, Lake Monona, Wingra Creek, and Lake Waubesa. In these particular areas, officials have found dangerous levels of PFAS and recommend against consuming fish caught there. [Read More]

Native Asian Moth Spotted in Washington State

by Justin Medina Ruiz, age 13

In July of 2022, a giant moth with a ten-inch wingspread was discovered in a garage at a home in the state of Washington. Thankfully, the moth species does not pose a public health threat. The Atlas moth originates from the tropical forests of Asia and has not been seen before in the United States. It is not clear how this moth found a way to get to Washington. [Read More]

Megadrought in California Threatens Western Joshua Tree

by Sol-Saray, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Western Joshua Tree? The Western Joshua Tree is known for its spiky branches. It also looks similar to the well-known acacia tree. The Western Joshua Tree is usually spotted in deserts in California. This tree is considered beautiful and valuable, so most places in California the law prevents chopping down Joshua Trees. [Read More]

Why You Should Stay Away From Nile Crocodiles

by Chelsea Zheng, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Nile crocodile? It is a big and dangerous creature, and hundreds of people are killed by it annually. The Nile crocodile is an apex predator, which is defined as the top predator of any given region or ecosystem. Apex predators generally do not fear other predators. Apex predators are also particular about their prey. For crocodiles, prey primarily consists of birds, fish, mammals, and smaller reptiles. [Read More]

1,200 Year Old Canoe Discovered in Lake Mendota

by Desteny Alvarez, age 17

Last summer, Tamara Thomsen, a maritime archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Mallory Dragt discovered a 15-foot-long dugout canoe in Wisconsin’s Lake Mendota. What sets this discovery apart from other sunken boats is its age – the canoe was estimated to be 1,200 years old.

Thomsen and Dragt work together at Divisions Scuba, and they discovered the boat in 27 feet of water near Shorewood Hills while testing some scuba equipment. The canoe was brought to shore by a team of divers near the Spring Harbor Neighborhood. For the next two years, the canoe is set to undergo a series of preservation treatments so it can safely be put on display at the Wisconsin Historical Society. [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 science fiction author who was recently recognized by NASA for her groundbreaking talents. NASA scientists even named a Mars landing site after her. [Read More]

Land Purchase in Western Dane County Provides Public Access to Morton Forest

by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14

In 1999, 120 acres of Morton Forest were deeded to Dane County by Steve Morton, a retired chemist, and environmentalist. The land is about 2.5 miles south of the Town of Mazomanie. To create better access to Morton Forest, Dane County now plans to purchase 65 acres of land in the Village of Black Earth. Similar to Morton Forest, this new piece of land in Black Earth has amazing vistas, as well as small farmlands, a stone quarry, and rock outcroppings. [Read More]

New Transfer Options Available for Wisconsin Nursing Students

by Melanie Bautista, age 16

Madison Area Technical College (MATC) and the University of Wisconsin - Madison have come to an agreement to let transfer students from MATC with earned associates in nursing to earn a bachelor's degree at UW-Madison. [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. [Read More]

Learn the Difference Between a Cheetah and a Leopard

by Max Moreno, age 9

People may easily mistake a cheetah for a leopard. However, there are many differences to look for that can help you tell these two species apart. [Read More]

Nigerian Music Makes its Way to American Mainstream

by Aissata Bah, age 12

A new musical genre, Afrobeat, is reaching the music charts. Making its way from Lagos, Nigeria, it continues growing off its successes. [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. [Read More]

Webb Space Telescope Sends New Images to Planet Earth

by Ashley Mercado, age 13

NASA has finally revealed the first set of beautiful images taken from a new space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope. The first picture from the Space Telescope was a plethora of distant galaxies that go deeper than scientists have ever seen. NASA says the new Webb Telescope will eventually replace the Hubble Telescope. Some of Webb’s images show areas of the universe Hubble has already studied, and some show areas Hubble could not reach. [Read More]

Watch Out for Poison Hemlock in Wisconsin

by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

There are a wide variety of poisonous plants that are toxic to humans and animals. Some can lead to extreme pain and others can even be deadly. One of these deadly plants is named the poison hemlock. [Read More]

The Great Lakes of Africa: Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika

by Sofia Zapata, age 13

There are many lakes in the world, but do people know the important things about some of the African continental lakes? Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika are lakes located in Africa and they are two of the largest and deepest in the world. [Read More]

World’s Smallest Sea Turtles Found Alive in Gulf of Mexico

by Jason Medina Ruiz, age 11

The world's smallest sea turtle, known as Kemp's ridley, lives in the Gulf of Mexico. In the past 75 years, the population has diminished to the point that they are now the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Recently, the sea turtle population has increased off the coast of Louisiana. [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]

Study Shows Cannabis May Damage Teen Brains

by Kelly Vazquez, age 16

Since the late 1930s, cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, has been a topic of debate in the United States. Currently, many states have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use. Other states and cities have decriminalized Cannabis. But despite a growing movement to legalize recreational use for adults, a new study from the University of Vermont, explains that it can still be harmful for young users. [Read More]

A Star is Born: The Life Cycle of Stars

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 16

Every single birth of a star in the sky begins in an immense cloud of gas, dust, and debris. These colorful clouds are called nebulae, cosmic wonders that swirl around space undisturbed for millions of years. [Read More]

Barn Owl Sightings Increase in Wisconsin, but the Future Remains in Doubt

by Juanes Palma, age 9

In 2018, a unique species of barn owls were reported for the first time in over two decades in Wisconsin by The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The owls were spotted in September of 2018 as a pair of these birds were found in the cavity of a dead tree. Recently, there has been an increase in barn owl sightings in Wisconsin and other near states. [Read More]

Book Review: Front Desk

reviewed by Aissata Bah, age 11

I recently read Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, a book that won the 2019 Asia/Pacific American Award for Literature. Front Desk is a story about Mia Tang, a 10-year-old girl whose family immigrated from China to America, and the challenges that come with living in a new country. Aspiring to be a writer and even a motel owner, Mia wants to feel like she belongs. She experiences many difficulties including navigating a new school and environment, being stereotyped, and feeling the need to hide her immigration status. But that isn't even half of it, there are even more! With all these challenges, will she do it all? [Read More]

Canada’s Great Northern Lake

by Ruben Becerril Gonzalez, age 10

Did you know that the Great Bear Lake is one of the coldest lakes on the planet? Also known as Sahtu, this lake was named by native people living in the area. [Read More]

Learn About the World's Smallest Elephants

by Ashley Mercado, age 13

The Bornean elephant is the largest mammal on the huge island of Borneo. These elephants are also known as Borneo pygmy elephants because of their size. Compared to other elephants, Bornean elephants have larger ears, straighter tusks, and are smaller. [Read More]