Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Where does a flower get its smell?

Most flowers, as we know, are the brightly colored blossoms of plants.  Many  flowers have very pleasing odors.  The flower gets its smell from a fragrant oil that the petals produce. As the smell-producing oil evaporates into the air around the flower we can smell the sweet fragrance it gives off.  While the sweet smell …

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What is a Minotaur?

The Minotaur of Greek legend was a man-eating monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The Minotaur (pronounced MIN O TAWR) was a mythical monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. One of the myths of ancient Greece told that King Minos of …

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Who invented roller skates?

No one really knows who invented roller skates or even when they first used.  They were probably invented by ice skaters in Europe, some 200 years ago, who wanted to skate when there was no ice. Roller skating is the popular sports of skating on wheeled skates.  People were roller skating on the roads of …

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What is a fable?

A fable is a special kind of short story made up to teach a lesson.  Fables are often about animals who can talk and act like people. The lesson to be learned is usually made clear in the end by what one of the animals wisely says. Many fables are many hundreds of years old. Among …

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How did February get its name?

February gets its name from the Latin word “februare,” which means “to purify” (in English, it became February).  The early Romans devoted this month to ceremonies of purification. February is the second month of the year—and the shortest.  February has 28 days, except in “leap years,” when it has 29 years. In the early Roman …

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What is a ballad?

A ballad is a simple song or poem that tells a romantic or sentimental story.  When you sing a song such as “Casey Jones” or “John Henry,” you are signing a ballad. A ballad is a simple song or poem that tells a story.  Ballads are often songs of romance and songs of praise about …

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How does a skywriter write in the sky?

To skywrite, the pilot releases smoke-making chemicals into the airplane’s exhaust pipe.  The trail of smoke they produce traces the letters. Skywriting is a method of writing in the sky with an airplane.  A trail of smoke traces the letters.  Most skywriting message are advertisements that promote products advertisers want to sell. The smoke used …

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How did coats of arm originate?

Coats of arms developed from the designs used on the coats and shields of knights for identification during battle. Perhaps you know a family that has a coat of arms—a special emblem or design that distinguishes that particular family. In the Middle Ages knights wore suits of armor that covered their bodies from head to …

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Why does the Panama Canal have locks?

The Panama Canal locks are a series of water “steps” which lift ships 85 feet above sea level, and then lower them back down to the ocean at the other end of the canal. The Panama Canal is a kind of water “stairway” that crosses the isthmus of Panama and connects the Atlantic and Pacific …

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What is a puffball?

A puffball is a ball-shaped mushroom that gives off a puff of powdery spores when pinched.  It is a kind of mushroom growing in a field that looks very much like a round ball. Anyone who has kicked a ripe puffball and watched the cloud of “smoke” puff out knows how the puffball gets its …

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