Simpson Street Free Press

Why Are Scientists Excited About
these Ancient Footprints?

by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 14

A study published last year in the journal Science suggests that humans reached North America long before prior scientifically-accepted evidence was established, approximately 23,000 thousand years ago. The researchers behind this study came to this conclusion due to recently-discovered human footprints dating back to this time period.

Matthew Bennett, a researcher at Bournemouth University in England, led a group of scientists to investigate these newly-uncovered fossilized footprints. These fossils were found next to a lakebed located in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, an area filled with chalk-colored sand dunes. The team of researchers concluded that these footprints had resulted from mostly children and teenagers walking around this location during a several-thousand-year period. [read more]

Alabama Invests in Summer Literacy and Science of Reading

by Sydney Steidl, age 16

Alabama policymakers, in a state traditionally known for poor education outcomes, are actively working to increase literacy skills—especially in early education.

With Alabama typically falling behind other states in literacy, the pandemic only made matters worse. Research shows students at all grade levels lost ground. For example, in 2021 only about 18% of kindergartners had reached the physical, social-emotional, and literacy standards for their grade, and only two out of every three were assessed as prepared to begin schooling.

The state is currently focused on implementing the Alabama Literacy Act, which was passed in 2019. The goal is to bolster literacy and basic reading skills. The law requires school districts to provide programs and other strategies to raise struggling students to higher levels of literacy. [read more]

$2 Million Project Adds 22 Acres to
Whitetail Ridge Park

by Sol Saray, age 10

Have you heard about the $2 million project in place to expand the parks on Madison's Northside?

The mayor of Madison, Satya Rhodes-Conway, and office officials Syed Abbas and Charles Myadze, are planning to expand Whitetail Ridge Park. They plan to buy 21.7 acres of land that is currently owned by Cherokee Park inc. This purchase will cost the city $2.1 million.

Whitetail Ridge Park is located right off of North Sherman avenue. The 9.55 acre neighborhood park includes a river, playground, basketball court, and a soccer field. The additional land will add new landscape features to the park and will help form a system of parks. “It expands Whitetail Ridge Park in an area of growing population, and protects 20 acres of high-quality urban forest, in close proximity to Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park and will offer future recreation opportunities for trails, hiking, bird-watching and nature enjoyment,” said Eric Knepp, park superintendent. [read more]

Rising College Debt and the “Parent Plus” School Loan Program

by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 15

Baylor University, based in central Texas, is one of the many institutions that uses a federal loan program called Parent Plus. Among private schools with a minimum of $1 billion endowment, Baylor also had the lowest repayment rate for this particular type of loan.

The Parent Plus program offers federal loans to parents and allows them to help pay for their children’s tuition. Before the introduction of this program, undergraduate students were the largest demographic taking out college loans requiring payment. Now, in the Parent Plus era, parents and graduate students take out the most loans.

The fast-growing Parent Plus program does not have income limits or a cap on the amount of money parents can borrow, unlike other undergraduate loan programs. This makes Parent Plus appealing and accessible to parents, especially to those who want to send their children to the best ranking schools. They often hastily agree to take out these loans without realizing the magnitude and future impact of their debt. [read more]

NASA Launches Newest Telescope

by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 14

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA, launched their newest invention, the James Webb Space Telescope in December of 2021. It was intended to replace its predecessor: the Hubble Space Telescope. The new telescope took flight from a launch site in French Guiana, located in South America. An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launched the telescope into space.

The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s biggest and most powerful space science telescope yet. It is one of NASA’s huge space instruments and it is similar to the Hubble but with improvements that will reveal new details. It took the new telescope 30 days to travel about a million miles and reach its destination, a stable gravitational location in space also known as a Lagrange point, or L2.

The telescope arrived at L2 on January 24, 2022. L2 is a spot in space near the Earth that lies opposite from the sun. The orbit will allow the telescope to stay in line with Earth as it orbits the sun. According to NASA, this new telescope will focus on four main areas: first light in the universe, birth of stars, protoplanetary systems and planets. [read more]

Newly Discovered Saber-tooth Reveals Unknown Species

by Tierra Flowers, age 14

Scientists have found a new species of mammal— Diegoaelurus Vanvalkenburghae . It was a hypercarnivore which means that it exclusively ate meat. This saber-tooth tiger belonged to the animal family Machaeroidine as one of the first animals to have saber-like fangs. This sabertooth lived 42 million years ago in the tropical rainforest. [read more]

The Nile: Egypt's Most Important River

by Sol Saray, age 10

Did you know that the Nile River is allegedly the longest river on Earth? Historically, the Nile River was considered the longest river in the world, however, Brazilian scientists recently discovered that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile by 284 kilometers. [read more]

What Does the Term “Big Cat” Really Mean?

by Santiago Rosero Perea, age 11

The term big cat is used to describe the largest wild cats in the world.

Although most cats are similar in behavior and body structure, they vary in size and they live in different places around the world. [read more]

Exploring the Largest Lake in Africa: Lake Victoria

by Juan Esteban Palma Zuluaga, age 10

Africa is known for its many beautiful landscapes, animals, and lakes, one being Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is known to be the biggest tropical lake on Earth, and is the second largest freshwater lake on Earth by land area, following only Lake Superior. [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. [read more]

New Fossil Discovery Sheds Light on a Mesozoic Species

by Chelsea Zheng, age 9

The Ichthyosaur is well known by the name “sea dragon.” In February 2021, a 32 foot long Ichthyosaur fossil from 180 million years ago was found in England. This was the largest and most complete skeleton of its kind. [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]

Dane County Pursues New Solar Projects

by Yani Thoronka, age 16

In November of 2020, County Executive Joe Parisi announced new efforts regarding conservation and sustainability. The goal is for Dane County-owned facilities to run solely on renewable energy. [read more]

Barn Owl Sightings Increase, but the Future Is Uncertain

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]

How a Rare Asian Bird Found a Home in Nevada

by Camila Cruz, age 14

The Himalayan range in Asia is home to the largest and highest peaked mountains, including Mount Everest, where a rare bird species called the snowcock is found. Additionally, snowcock birds can be found in the Ruby Mountain range in the state of Nevada. Now, how did this rare bird species arrive from Asia to the United States? [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]

How Does a Boa
Constrictor Hunt?

by Aloniab Gezae, age 7

Boa constrictors are big and dangerous. They eat mice, rats, lizards, and birds. The lifespan of a boa constrictor in captivity can be up to 40 years! That’s a long time! Boa constrictors can swim and like living near rivers and lakes, specifically inside rainforests in South and Central America. [read more]

Tiger Wandering: Scientists Have Important Questions About Unusual Spider

by Dani Garduno, age 10

Researchers have taken a big interest in learning about a species of spider called the Tiger Wandering. This spider’s features include very unusual legs. [read more]

Why Do Butterflies Migrate?

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. [read more]

The Steam Deck Portable Gaming System

by Amare Smith, age 17

The Steam Deck is a handheld similar to the Nintendo Switch. The screen is nearly identical in size to the Nintendo Switch OLED. You can hook it up to either a TV or a PC. Feel free to play on your Steam Deck however you desire. [read more]

Disgusting Animals Play an Important Part in the Ecosystem

by Sol-Saray, age 9

All animals are built differently, some are cute or scary looking, and others are just ugly and disgusting. Some of these ugly creatures may have skinny crooked legs or are covered in little bumps. Most fish and flies have huge eyes that do not blink or move. Ugly animals have similarities and differences, however, to humans many are smelly, scary, or disgusting. [read more]

Annual Martin Luther King, Jr “I Have a Dream” Event Supports Local Scholarships

by Josepha Da Costa, age 16

The annual “I Have a Dream” Ball is scheduled for January 15, 2022. This year’s event will again take place virtually. As always, the I Have Dream Ball will raise money to fund scholarships for local high school seniors and college students. And, as always, this cherished Madison tradition is organized and sponsored by the dedicated volunteers of Women in Focus. [read more]

Deadly Piranhas Stalk the Amazon River in Large Groups

by Max Moreno Lopez, age 9

Did you know that a piranha's sharp and pointy teeth help them bite off chunks of flesh from their prey? The powerful jaw of the piranha helps it catch and grab onto its prey. These creatures travel in groups called schools, making the piranhas strong attackers and defenders. [read more]

Pluto: Planet or Planetesimal?

by Dulce Maria Vazquez, age 13

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. Pluto was once considered the ninth planet but was demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006.

On June 22nd, 1978, an American astronomer named James Christy discovered that Pluto has a large moon and is very tiny and frosty in comparison to other planets. For this reason, scientists believe Pluto is actually not a planet at all, but a frosty planetesimal. [read more]

Fascinating Facts About Ladybugs

by Penelope Lawson, age 8

Did you know that there are more than 4,000 types of ladybugs in the world? Ladybugs can live in cold and hot places, including the tropics and northern countries. [read more]

My Home: Colombia

by Jeronimo Rosero Perea, age 8

I was born in a beautiful country named Colombia! I want to tell you about my home.

In my country of Colombia, there is a population of about 50 million people. The main language in my country is Spanish. Because this country is so big, there is a Capital city. The Capital of Colombia is Bogotǻ and the main religion practiced there is Christianity. [read more]

Do Sharks Deserve the Scary Reputation?

by Maximiliano Moreno Lopez, age 9

Sharks are well known creatures that live in the oceans. They can appear unexpectedly and cause fear in many. Great white sharks are only one example of ocean animals that can grow up to 15-20 feet long. They also have swimming speeds of 35 miles per hour, which can increase if they feel they are in danger. [read more]

Exploring the History and Symbolism of the Chinese Zodiac

by Chelsea Zheng, age 9

There are 12 animals represented in the Chinese zodiac. These animals are the tiger, ox, rat, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. [read more]

Discover the Elegant Beauty of the Glasswing Butterfly

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 11

Did you know there is a butterfly with see-through wings? If you haven't heard about it yet, then you are about to learn of the glasswing butterfly. [read more]

Investigative Reporter Marvel Jackson Cooke Drove Change in Her Community

by Hanna Eyobed, age 16

Born in 1901, Marvel Jackson Cooke was a pioneer in the world of journalism. As the only African-American woman in most of the positions she held, she broke barriers throughout her life, pushing for radical change and social justice. Cooke drew outside the lines and wasn’t afraid of controversy. She focused on creating jobs for people who were considered different, specifically, Black people, in positions where only White men seemed to belong. [read more]

How Do Plants Defend Themselves?

by Ruben Beceril Gonzalez, age 9

Although plants are seen as simple organisms that grow from the ground, they are very much alive and still require methods of defending themselves. Animals are able to run away or defend themselves with various physical attributes such as their claws, teeth, poison, and sometimes spikes. Plants, however, can't run away. They usually have to stay still and be consumed, but some plants can defend themselves with their special abilities and characteristics. [read more]

Where Can You Find the Elusive Green Anole?

by Sol-Saray, age 9

Did you know that there are over 110 species of anoles? If you are not familiar with the green anole, I will teach you. [read more]

Book Review: Artemis Fowl

reviewed by Theodore B. Morrison, age 13

Artemis Fowl is the first book in the Artemis Fowl book series written by Eoin Colfer. The fantasy novel follows Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old boy prodigy who lives in a fantasy Earth where magical creatures, known as fairies, live underground. [read more]

“Extinct” Tortoise Discovered Alive on Remote Island

by Jessica Lopez, age 12

For nearly 100 years, scientists believed the Fernandina giant tortoise, native to the Galapagos Islands, had gone extinct. That changed when a recent expedition discovered evidence of this mysterious species on a remote island. Now, recent science is exploring how the tortoises’ population could make a comeback. [read more]

Creatures of the Cold: Life in the Arctic

by Maximiliano Moreno Lopez, age 9

Did you know that killer whales will prey on anything that they can catch? Did you know that the classic polar bear doesn’t have white fur and that they knock out seals from under the ice? Similar creatures that live in cold areas such as the North and South Poles must keep warm to survive. To stay warm, these creatures tend to have thick fur like a polar bear or layers of fat like a seal. [read more]

You Won't Believe How this Tiny Lizard Defends Itself!

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 11

Regal horned lizards have a very different look from other lizards. They have horns around their heads and have very small tails. Also, they have bodies that are wider since they have big stomachs. They grow up to five inches and have armored spikes. [read more]

Humans and Horses: Partners Since Ancient Times

by Maya Maclin, age 9

Horses are not like most farm animals. They are used for many things. For thousands of years people rode on horses to deliver mail and visit family members. [read more]

Monarch Populations in Sharp Decline Worldwide

by Francesco Dale, age 13

The monarch butterfly is possibly going to be included on the U.S. government’s endangered species list. This issue stems from global warming, urban development, and herbicides.

[read more]

What Kind of Animal Is a Bilby?

by Melanie Bautista, age 15

Most people know about the koalas and kangaroos in Australia but have you ever heard of the bilby?

If you live in the United States, you may not recognize the bilby. It is an Australian marsupial that looks similar to a rat or rabbit. Bilbies have been endangered for a while, and it is important to recognize the human impact on their environment. [read more]

Book Review: The Book of Three

by Theodore B. Morrison, age 13

The Book of Three is a novel written by Lloyd Alexander. The story is set in a fantasy world where a union of kingdoms has been established to defend against Arawn, the lord of death. The book tells the tale of an Assistant-Pig Keeper named Taran and his introduction to the world of heroics. Now without delay, let’s delve into this tale of heroes. [read more]

Playing Video Games Can Have Surprising Benefits

by Haliah Berkowitz, age 10

Do you like video games? Did you know that people who play video games can be very creative thinkers? In fact, did you know that video games can have huge social benefits? [read more]

Explore the Lussier Family Heritage Center

by Josepha Da Costa, age 16

Looking for fun activities to do this summer? The Lussier Family Heritage Center may have just what you are looking for!

Located just 10 minutes south of downtown Madison in William G. Lunney Lake Farm County Park, the center provides outdoor and environmental learning experiences for children and adults alike. [read more]

Scientists Excavate Ancient Pit Filled with Dinosaur Bones

by Ellie Pleasnick, age 12

Utah is known for its preservation of dinosaur fossils. A particular site that stands out is Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaur quarry, a national landmark that is 148 million years old. For decades, scientists have studied this region to understand the Jurassic dinosaur fossils that have been left behind. In particular, they want to understand why the quarry is so packed with carnivorous bones. [read more]

What Is the Environment Like on the Martian Surface?

by Amare Smith, age 17

As the years pass and technology continues to improve, the possibility of humans one day living on Mars doesn’t seem that far away. [read more]

What Secrets Are Concealed at Area 51?

by Jessica Lopez, age 11

Do you believe that UFOs are real? Have you ever heard of people seeing UFOs near Area 51? Do you wonder what could exist at this location? [read more]

Amur Leopards Stalk Prey in the Cold Russian Wilderness

by Sol-Saray, age 9

Did you know that there are different types of leopards in the world? A really interesting one is called the Amur leopard! These leopards weigh 80 pounds, which is 30 pounds less than the African leopard. They prey on mice, bunnies, boar, and deer. [read more]

The Lunar Rover Helped Apollo Astronauts Get Around on the Moon

by Elim Eyobed, age 9

The Lunar Rover is a vehicle which was designed to help the astronauts from the Apollo Space program explore the Moon. It has no oxygen so the astronauts could only travel a half mile from their spacecraft. But the Lunar Rover allowed them to travel farther and collect samples of rocks and moon dust. It is large enough to hold two astronauts, their equipment, and rocks. [read more]

Book Review:
Lets Talk About It

Reviewed by Yani Thoronka

Following the death of George Floyd and other killings of unarmed black people, artists in the Madison community came together to show their allegiance and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. Their allyship was demonstrated through a series of murals, which lined State Street. These murals were painted on long, wooden boards that covered the windows of shops and other buildings from the State Capitol to Library Mall. [read more]

Emperor Penguins: Adapted for Life in the Antarctic Wasteland

by Maya Maclin, age 9

Emperor Penguins live in Antarctica. Penguins are birds and have wings, but they swim with their wings instead of fly. [read more]

Apple's Efforts to Curb Child Labor Fall Short

by Yoanna Hoskins, age 15

Apple is a huge multimillion dollar electronics company that sells myriad devices ranging from phones, to Macbooks, to operating systems. Over the years, it has had major partnerships with many different companies. [read more]

Flying Car Prototype Makes Successful Test Flight in Japan

by Amare Smith, age 16

Futuristic movies often feature flying cars, but the cars could become a reality shortly. A Japanese company named SkyDrive has been working to make our dreams come true. [read more]

Dog-Sized Lizards Invade a Delicate Ecosystem

by Ayden Ross, age 14

A dog-sized lizard, the Argentine black-and-white tegu, is rapidly taking over the Everglades National Park. This lizard, native to South America, is spreading throughout South Florida and the southeastern region of the U.S. Biologists are concerned because these lizards will eat almost anything that will fit into their mouths, from berries to small animals such as birds and reptiles, as well as the eggs of animals that nest on the ground such as endangered sea turtles. [read more]

The King Cobra: Terror Slithers in the Heart of the Jungle

by Malaya Lawson, age 9

If you see a king cobra, you should probably run away! King cobras are able to raise their heads off the ground enabling them to look directly at an adult’s eye. This isn't the only frightening fact about them, in fact, the king cobra’s venom is so deadly that it can kill 20 people, or even an animal as big as an elephant with one bite. [read more]

Major US Bat Species at Low Risk of COVID-19 Infection

by Alan Cruz, age 16

According to research at the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) here in Madison, big-brown bats, a species common in North America, are immune to coronavirus infections that cause COVID-19. Although 40 other bat species in North America were not tested, the research alleviates worries that wild bats in the continent may be contaminated by humans or spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to other species. [read more]

NASA Scientists Find New Evidence of Water on the Moon

by Makya Rodriguez, age 15

NASA scientists have now concluded that more water exists on the moon than previously believed. Using a satellite orbiting the moon, NASA has confirmed that there is water on both the sunlit and shadowed parts of the moon.

This information may help advance future lunar missions. “If we're right, water is going to be more accessible for drinking water, for rocket fuel, everything that NASA needs water for” said scientist Paul Hayne, who led the study. [read more]

Wolves: A Species Built for Survival

by Sol-Saray, age 8

Except for humans, wolves (Canis Lupus) are the largest land mammals most commonly found all over the world. Some wolves were tamed for the first time in East Asia 15,000 years ago; they are the ancestors of dogs and are the largest members of the dog family. [read more]

Twenty Years of Scientific Discovery Aboard the International Space Station

by Elim Eyobed, age 9

Did you know that a space station is similar to a house? It has showers, kitchens, and living areas. But it also has a control center where astronauts , or cosmonauts as they’re known in Russia, can work.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest space station that took a team effort to build. Sixteen countries contributed to the effort. Specifically, it took the cooperation of the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada, Brazil, and 11 European countries. The station was built on Earth and sent piece by piece into space and put together by the shuttle’s robot arms. [read more]

The Hair-Raising Science of Static Electricity

by Camila Cruz, age 13

Have you ever rubbed a balloon against your hair, causing it to stand up? This happens because of static electricity. This type of electricity is stationary, meaning it does not flow or move.

Hair has a positive charge. So when a person rubs a balloon on their hair, negative charges transfer to the balloon from the hair, leaving it positively charged and the balloon negatively charged . Because positive and negative charges attract each other, the hair is drawn towards the balloon causing it to look like the hair is standing up. [read more]

Cats Can Bond With People

by Desteny Alvarez, age 14

Although some cats don’t seem to connect with their caregivers, others do bond in some ways, according to a new study. Researchers now believe that this trait doesn’t just belong to dogs, as prior research indicated. [read more]

The Giant Panda Is a Gentle and Shy Creature

by Penelope Lawson, age 7

The giant panda is an endangered animal that lives in bamboo forests in China. There are only about 1,500 giant pandas left in the wild and their natural habitat is getting smaller, since they do not like living around people and there are fewer bamboo species in the forests too. [read more]

Beavers: These Amazing Creatures Are Highly Skilled Engineers

by Aissata Bah, age 10

Beavers live both on land and in water. On land, beavers are very uncomfortable. The front legs of beavers are very short, so they cannot walk fast. They cannot run away from their predators on land, but in water they are excellent swimmers. When in the water, beavers swim beautifully and fast. Wolves and bears are their predators. To keep their families safe, beavers build a small home in the water, which is called a lodge. The only way to get through the lodge is to swim through a tunnel. [read more]

Book Review: The Harry Potter Series

written by Written by J.K. Rowling

reviewed by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 14

I read my first Harry Potter book when I was in fourth grade and I absolutely loved it. The whole series was exciting, interesting, and hard to put down. Now, as a high school student, I realize how much the books taught me to enjoy reading. These books helped me learn to read for pleasure. [read more]

Volcanoes: Why People Live in the Shadow of Devastation

by Ruben Becerril, age 8

Did you know there are about 1900 active volcanoes on Earth and most of them are on the Ring of Fire? The Ring of Fire surrounds the Pacific Ocean and it is a 40,000 kilometer horseshoe shape. [read more]

Bizarre Ocean Creature Steals Power from Its Deadly Prey

by Zale Thoronka, age 11

Have you ever heard of benthic nudibranch animals? If not, continue reading because you are about to learn about one of them.

Benthic animals live at the lowest levels in a body of water. The benthic zone is the ecological region in the deepest parts of a body of water, such as an ocean, lake, or stream. [read more]

The Science of Antimatter: Matter's Strange Counterpart

by Jules Da Costa, age 12

Have you ever heard of antimatter? Antimatter is composed of antiparticles such as antiprotons, antineutrons and positrons. These particles have the same mass as normal matter but have opposite charge and properties. [read more]

The Boaz Mastodon: Wisconsin’s Famous Fossil

by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

The Boaz mastodon is a 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 the mastodon. They 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.

The fossil of the great mastodon is on display at the University of Wisconsin Geology Museum in Madison. For a long period of time, the mastodon was thought to be a complete individual, but in 2015 it was discovered after much research that two bones from the so-called Boaz mastodon were conjoined together with bones from a different individual. The University of Wisconsin Geology also found a very old handwritten note stating that this might not be a mastodon at all, but a mammoth. After two long years of research it was clear. The Boaz mastodon was a combination of two different animals.

The Boaz mastodon was named after a small village in Richland County. Where young boys found the fossil of the Boaz mastodon in 1897. It was reassembled by scientists later on in 1915. The Boaz mastodon was later named in honor of the boy's village Boaz Wisconsin. [read more]

The Rich Basketball History of
Madison La Follette High School

by Josepha Da Costa, age 16

The 2021-22 Madison La Follette High School basketball team had a very successful season. But this isn’t the first time La Follette has had an excellent team. In fact, the school has a rich basketball history and the Lancers have won three state championships. Many La Follette players have gone on to play college basketball for major programs like the University of Wisconsin and Creighton University.

The rich history of La Follette Basketball began in 1977. They finished 4th in the Big Eight conference that year. While the team finished the regular season with an overall record of 17 wins and 8 losses, they managed only 10 wins against 8 losses during the conference season.

Nonetheless, the Lancers made an electrifying for a run for a state title. Coached by Pete Olsen, they advanced to the finals by beating Milwaukee Tech 55-48 and Neenah 46-43. The state championship game was played against a team that had been to the finals 15 times since the last time a Madison high school made a trip to state. [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 Soxs.

Hank Aaron was a phenomenal MLB player, who went on with his MLB career to have 2,297 runs batted and 3,000 hits. In the 1970 season, Hank became the first player to hit 500 home runs and top it off with 3,000 hits in a single career. He won 3 Golden Glove awards for his outstanding out fielding. In Hank’s 1957 season, he led the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series and took the victory in a thrilling game against the New York Yankees. Hank won the MLB’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 1957 and was an outstanding player for the following seasons.

After Hank’s Milwaukee Braves 1965 MLB season, he switched teams to play for the Atlanta Braves located in Atlanta, Georgia. Hank was having an outstanding season as usual, but once he relocated, many people began to hate Hank because he broke so many all time records in the MLB. Racist people began to threaten Hank with harmful letters. Hank overcame all the hate and pressure and broke a record to end off his season by hitting 755 home runs. In 1975 Hank would return to the Milwaukee Braves. He spent his last two seasons with the Milwaukee Braves. Hank made baseball more popular for people of color. [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.

In March 1976, the Argentine military junta forcefully removed President Isabel Peron from office and took over the government. Many changes quickly followed Peron’s removal. Those who did not agree with the new policies and politics were suspected and targeted as “leftists” and “socialists.” The junta (military leaders) established hundreds of secret detention camps throughout Argentina. The camps were so secret that many people thought the camps were just rumors used to intimidate. [read more]

To Address COVID Learning Loss, Arizona Plans Robust Summer School Options

by Dyami Rodriguez, age 17

Educators and literacy experts in Wisconsin are sounding the alarm about academic learning loss amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows many students have fallen behind in subjects such as reading and math. One state, however, is planning to take action during 2022 by doing some rework on their summer school curriculum.

The state of Arizona will offer new opportunities for students in summer learning programs. The plan will focus on reading, math and American civics. Arizona has set aside $100 million of federal COVID relief funds to pay for the new plan. The state anticipates that approximately 250,000 students will enroll in the eight-week long summer programs.

Program organizers are collaborating with the Boys and Girl Scouts to help students achieve crucial learning goals. This will be done by reimagining summer school to consistently keep students focused and committed to learning. Gov. Doug Ducey mentioned that if the $100 million isn't enough due to a surplus of applicants, he will gather more money. [read more]

The International Space Station Is Retiring, What Does this Mean for Space Exploration?

by Theodore Morrison, age 14

The International Space Station is considered a constant symbol of humanity's achievements in the fields of space science and diplomacy. Many will be shocked to learn that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has plans to retire and crash the station straight into the ocean in 2031.

According to The International Space Station Report, NASA is aiming to crash the ISS into the Pacific Ocean at a location called Point Nemo, the farthest point at sea from any landmass. To put the distance in perspective, it is 2,000 miles North of Antarctica and 3,000 miles East of New Zealand. The ISS will, probably, rest forever at a point known as the spacecraft graveyard.

This retirement isn’t without merit, though, as NASA confirms that they intend to use the ISS as an “analog for a Mars transit mission,” according to a NASA report. The ISS was a point for which science could advance, which has included 3D printing an item on the orbiting station, producing the fifth state of matter, growing organic food in space, and sequencing DNA. Though the ISS will no longer be in orbit, the international scientific community will forever reap the information the station provided. [read more]

New Wisconsin River Bridge Will Improve Local Recreation

by Camila Cruz, age 14

In 2022, construction on a $4 million recreation-only bridge, connecting Dane County and Sauk City will begin. This bridge will go over the Wisconsin River, creating a beautiful sight.

This bridge will replace a 100-year-old Sauk City rail bridge. The old bridge was taken down in 2018, because of its little use and problems with spring flooding.

The bridge is designed to be used in all four seasons. It will be a 500-foot bridge that people can walk, ride their bikes, and use snowmobiles on in the winter. The bridge will connect the seven-mile Walking Iron Trail in Dane County with the 13-mile Sauk County Great Sauk State Trail. [read more]

Declining Newspaper Subscriptions
Hamper Good Journalism

by Sydney Steidl, age 16

News collecting and reporting has changed a lot in the 21st century. American newspapers laid off at least 45% of newsroom staff between 2008 and 2017. About 1,800 print news outlets shut down between 2004 and 2015. It’s an overlooked crisis in modern American news, one that’s resulted in a massive loss of local news outlets.

The general shift to news distribution through the internet makes information more accessible. But it has also contributed to a downward spiral for journalism.

Over the years, consumers have grown to accept news as a free resource because most online outlets don’t require users to pay before reading an article. This has decreased the value of news in the public’s mind, and it is now considered abnormal to pay for news. Ultimately, this leads to news outlet shutdowns and fired news staff. [read more]

Explore the Mighty Congo River
in the Heart of Africa

by Sol-Saray, age 10

Africa is home to many great rivers. One of them is known as the Congo. In Africa, the Congo is only slightly shorter than the Nile in length, and is just as important to the people who live along the river.

The Congo has been very efficient for the people of Africa when it comes to transporting goods like food, medicine, clothes, and other items to people living along the river. It is also used for fishing and irrigating crops like peanuts, cotton, and sugarcane.

In the river, there are over 30 waterfalls and many other islands. It is near the equator, meaning it can get very hot and wet. The river receives around 90 inches of rain annually. There are 200 species of fish that live on the river. Many animals eat the tall grass that grows along the river, including buffalo, antelopes, zebras, gazelles, and giraffes. [read more]

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

by Hiba Al-Quraishi, age 14

A generous gift from a private landowner made 22 years ago is prompting new conservation action in Dane County.

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]

Two Lost Ships Discovered in 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.

It is believed that these ships sank in 1878 in the east of the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron, but only the Peshtigo ship was found in the accident. St. Andrews' ship was not found until recently.

The Peshtigo ship was 161 feet long, it was used to carry and transport coal to other areas. The St. Andrews' ship was 143 feet long and was used for carrying corn. [read more]

Lead Poisoning Hinders the
Recovery of Bald Eagles

by Makya Rodriguez, age 17

The mighty bald eagle is facing some tough times. In recent years, the population of our national bird has decreased by almost 4%, and lead poisoning is usually the reason.

A new nationwide study has found that up to 33% of examined dead bald eagles contained serious levels of lead poisoning. This clinical poisoning is mainly transmitted from an eagle’s prey such as fish or small animals. After consuming such prey, the eagles’ stomach acids break down neurotoxin and release lead into the bird’s bloodstream. The lead then travels to soft tissues around the body and eventually accumulates within the bird’s bones leading to the death of these beautiful animals.

In colder seasons eagles tend to go from natural hunters to scavengers. Scientists have found that eagles are more likely to get poisoned during the colder months when they depend more on the tainted remains of dead prey. [read more]

It’s an “Interruption Year” in Wisconsin:
Snowy Owls Are Moving South

by Mariama Bah, age 15

Keep your eye to the ground and be careful when you’re walking in the Arctic Tundra, because you may find a snowy owl nesting site. Treeless, wide, hilly spaces are where snowy owls prefer to nest and hunt. These owls mainly eat small mammals, but their diet can range from rodents and rabbits to ducks and geese.

North of the Arctic Circle is home for snowy owls during most of the year. During a typical winter, small groups of owls migrate into southern Canada and northern Wisconsin. Every handful of years, however, an “interruption” occurs. During those years, large numbers of snowy owls move south as far as the southern United States. Reasons for this odd behavior are unknown.

Wisconsin is seeing its first interruption year since 2018 right now. More than 150 snowy owls have been spotted with reports coming from counties all around the state. [read more]

New Cloning Technology Offers Hope
for Endangered Species

by Allison Torres, age 13

A new black-footed ferret came into this world on December 10th, 2020. This newborn ferret is named Elizabeth Ann, and she has grown up with lots of energy and curiosity. What Elizabeth Ann doesn’t know is that she could be the key to saving her entire species. This is because her species, the Black-footed ferret, is one of the most endangered animals in North America.

A long time ago, black-footed ferrets lived in many wild areas across North America. When Europeans arrived in areas where ferrets were living they disturbed the natural environment and the food sources ferrets need to survive. This caused the population of black-footed ferrets to rapidly decline. By the late 1970s, the species was thought to be extinct.

Then in 1981, two years after the species was declared extinct, there was “an electrifying announcement.” A Wyoming farmer found a small but thriving community of wild black-footed ferrets. [read more]

Wisconsin’s First State Park: Interstate
Park at the St. Croix Dalles

by Leilani McNeal, age 16

1.1 billion years ago, a mysterious rift, ranging from the depths of Lake Superior to present-day Iowa appeared. From the cracks of this rift, came oozing lava, hardening into a substance known as basalt. Over the next 500 million years, these natural occurrences worked in tandem with one another to support a sea of water which floored the entirety of this dark, gray material. The deposition of sand and silt from the sea led to the creation of sandstone and shale. Increased global temperatures promoted the shift of myriad glaciers across the state of Wisconsin, carving out the area’s famous potholes that are widely recognized today as the St. Croix Dalles.

As plans to build city roads using crushed rock from the Dalles emerged in the mid 1800s, general public concern rose. From a young age, George Hazzard had developed a profound appreciation for the Dalles. His work as a railroad agent further deepened his love for this area, which prompted him to organize a movement in hopes of preserving the flora and fauna of the St. Croix Dalles. [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]

Healthcare Professionals Worried About
Sharp Increase in Teen Eating Disorders

by Desteny Alvarez, age 16

The ongoing pandemic has affected various people in various ways. For example, doctors have noticed a rise in eating disorders among kids and teens. The loss of school activities, and the need to quarantine, as well as the additional time spent on social media are factors in this troubling situation.

There are big increases in anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes people to deprive themselves of food, and bulimia nervosa, where people binge on food and then vomit it. Binge eating, consuming excessive amounts of food in a short period of time is another issue. These disorders mainly affect young white girls but have started to increase in boys and among people of color.

One of the biggest influences on teenagers today is the social media platform, TikTok. Some teens are motivated to be healthier by watching well-known “influencers” on Tiktok and other social media platforms. But others experience a downside. Experts think fear of gaining weight, boredom, and social isolation in quarantine can often lead to unhealthy behaviors. Some medical researchers fear that behaviors like starving themselves to look more like the influencers they see on the internet are becoming more common among kids. [read more]

Saturn’s Moon Titan Might Be a
Landing Site for Humans from Earth

by Sandy Flores Ruiz, age 15

One of the most common questions scientists are asked is will we ever be able to live on a planet other than Earth?

This question remains unanswered, but scientists have identified planets humans could possibly live on. Although they have yet to figure out all the factors that humans would need to survive on another planet, scientists have taken a new approach for evaluating the type of planet that would be survivable for humans.

Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, could possibly be our next home. It might sound crazy; it’s hard to imagine that humans could live any other place than Earth. Temperatures on Titan can reach almost 300 degrees below zero and methane and ethane rain from the sky before flowing into hydrocarbon seas. Titan might be the only orbital system in our solar system (other than Earth) where we would be able to build a permanent, self-sufficient human settlement. [read more]

Thousands of Sick Kids Linked to
Lead Pipes in Milwaukee County

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]

Emory Douglas, the Artistic Visionary of the Black Panthers

by Kadjata Bah, age 16

The Black Panther Party of the late 1960s was revolutionary for a number of reasons—their use of armed resistance, their powerful community programs and campaigns, and overall, their outstanding cry for Black power during a tumultuous time in American history. Emory Douglas, the Black Panthers’ Minister of Culture and Revolutionary Artist, was pivotal in spreading the party’s messages with posters, pamphlets, and newspapers donning striking Black figures calling Black people to join their radical cause.

Douglas was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1943, and later moved to San Francisco with his family in 1951. He first tapped into his artistic side as a teen incarcerated at the Youth Training School, where he learned printmaking. Douglas went on to continue studying art into the 60s, becoming involved in the growing Black Arts Movement and solidifying his passion for activism.

In 1967, Douglas met Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, who had just established the Black Panther Party. The two recruited Douglas to help create The Black Panther , the party’s newspaper, which Douglas led until its final issue in the early 1980s. Douglas’ art focused on Black empowerment and the fight against oppression. Some common subjects were Black people bearing arms, police brutality, and Black children. His art often also included quotes, such as “All power to the people,” and “Revolution in our lifetime.” [read more]

Galaxies: Islands in the Vast Ocean of Space

by Sofia Zapata, age 12

Many people know what galaxies are, however, many do not know what makes up a galaxy or what they contain. The galaxy is made up of three main things. Let's begin with stars and gas. Our galaxy has arms made of bright stars and glowing clouds of gas that curl into a spiral shape. Galaxies contain billions of stars, more than we could ever count and between all the stars there is empty space.

Everything within a galaxy creates one of three unique galaxy shapes: spiral, elliptical and irregular. Spiral galaxies look like pinwheels, such as the Milky Way. The middle looks like a disk and the older stars are in the center. The youngest stars are in the arms outside since that’s where gas and dust meet to create new stars.

Elliptical galaxies are shaped like a loaf of bread or football. Did you know that most of the stars are in the middle? There are more elliptical galaxies than the other types of galaxies. Unlike spiral and elliptical galaxies, irregular galaxies aren’t formed in any distintable shape. These galaxies seem chaotic in shape since they are created when various galaxies collide with another. Although this sounds scary, it is not a big deal since it is mainly empty space between the stars and planets. Interestingly, our Milky Way galaxy will collide with the Andromeda galaxy, the Milky Way’s nearest galactic neighbor, in about five billion years. [read more]

Michael Jordan's Multi-Decade Career
Changed Basketball Forever

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13

Michael Jeffery Jordan is a former player of The National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls. He is considered the best NBA player of all time by many. He dominated his competition and played through the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to win six NBA championships, he earned five MVP awards and three All-Star MVP awards in his NBA career.

Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. Jordan was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan has always been competitive in anything he did. Growing up, he had a good and stable family. His mother, Deloris, was a bank teller and author who has written and published many books in her life. His father was a maintenance manager at a company called General Electric. Jordan has four siblings named Deloris Jr, James Jr, Larry, and Roslyn.

Jordan’s father, James, introduced Michael to baseball and later to basketball. He learned from his father during the summer of 1993. Tragically, that same summer, his father was shot and killed during a bank robbery by two teenagers. His body went missing for 11 days until his remains were found in a swamp in McColl, South Carolina. [read more]

Dane County Explores Multiple Strategies
for Flood Prevention in the Yahara Lakes

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]

How the Bombing of UW’s Sterling Hall
Changed the Anti-war Movement

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]

The Worst Plague in European History
Killed Millions in Just Four Years

by Dulce Maria Vazquez, age 13

Surprisingly, the Bubonic plague, known to cause one of the deadliest disease outbreaks in history, only lasted for only four years. During those four years, two million people died in the country of England alone. In total, the plague killed over 20 million people worldwide. Due to the large death poll, the Bubonic plague is commonly known as the Black Death.

The pandemic started in Italy around the year 1346 and rapidly spread through the continent of Europe. Many decided to leave everything they owned behind just to flee the plague. Others decided to stay in their homes, which usually resulted in their death. In 1349. The disease left victims with painful boils on their bodies gave them high fever, nausea, and delirium. Various villages and towns were nearly wiped out by the Black Death.

Very little was known about medicine during the Middle Ages, leading doctors at the time to be incapable of fighting the disease. Rumors began to spread just as quickly as the plague, numerous people believed that the Black Death was a punishment sent from God. Although many thought that the plague affected only sinners, major fear and panic continued when people realized that the disease affected everyone alike. [read more]

Here’s what the Hubble Telescope Learned About Jupiter

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]

Astronomers Discover Moon-Sized Star

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]

Bee Fuzz Makes an Amazing Lubricant

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]

Citizen Scientists Track Hummingbirds in Wisconsin

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]

Why Do Butterflies Migrate?

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]

Writer, Minister and Teacher Olympia Brown Dedicated her Career to Women’s Suffrage

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]

Humans Have Deliberately Shaped the Genetics of Living Things for Thousands of Years

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]

Did Chinese Sailors Reach America First?

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]

You Can Find the Beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird in Your Own Backyard

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]

An Epidemic of Overdoses: Synthetic Fentanyl Causes Dramatic Increase in Opioid Addiction

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]

I Had a Blast Exploring Schuster’s Farm,
Here's How You Can Visit Too!

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]

Astronomer Maria Mitchell Blazed a Trail for Women in the STEM Fields

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]

The Great Depression: America's Biggest Economic Disaster

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]

New Recycling Technologies Needed to Combat Plastic Pollution

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]

What Else Died When the Asteroid Hit
66 Million Years Ago?

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]

Evelyn Cunningham was a True Trailblazer in the Field of Journalism

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]

Exploring the Life and Legacy of Frida Kahlo

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]

Mysterious Ancient Symbol Discovered
in South African Cave

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]

Mysterious Stone Ruins Stand Watch
at Indian Lake Park

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]

Book Review: Akata Witch -- Written by Nnedi Okorafor

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]

Measuring the Devastating Impact of Ocean Trash

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]

Massive Ship Catches Fire in Sri Lanka!

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]

Mary Ann Shadd Cary: Radical
Abolitionist Reporter

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]

Mysterious Collapse of an Ancient Civilization

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]

Girl Scout Cookies Contain
Ingredients Linked to Child Labor

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]

Deidre Green Hired as Assistant Principal at Local High School

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]

The Macabre Dissections of Andreas Vesalius Revolutionized Medical Science

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]

News from the Nest: Three New Peregrine Falcons Hatch in Madison

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]

Era Bell Thompson: An Influential Force in Journalism

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]

Wisconsin Oil Pipeline Leak Went
Unreported for Over a Year

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]

Crab Shell Bandages: the Future of Medicine?

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]

What Gave the T-Rex its Powerful Bite?

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]

Feeding Cows Seaweed Could Reduce Methane Emissions

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]

The Public’s Right to Know: Fewer Beat Reporters Covering Education Issues

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]

Ganymede: A Frozen World of Wonder

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]

Looking Back in History: The Zoot Suit Riots

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]

Ebony Relaunches as Online-Only Magazine

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]

Freedom of the Press Advocates Mobilize in Countries Around the World

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]

The Queen of Soul: Aretha Franklin Remains an American Music Pioneer

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]

Mysterious Extinction of an Ancient Predator

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]

A Land and a Culture:
Why I Love Eritrea

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]

PFAS Contaminate Groundwater Near Dane County Airport

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]

Wisconsin Mink Ranches Battle Coronavirus Outbreak

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]