Imagine you’re a frog. Because you’re cold-blooded, your body is the same temperature as your surroundings. So as the temperature around you drops, your body also gets colder and colder, and you move slower and slower. You don’t have clothes or a furnace to keep you warm. You don’t even have fur! So what do … Continue reading Why Is That?How Do Frozen Frogs Survive the Winter?
Lumber companies set their eyes on the Chippewa Valley in the 1850s as a prime spot for business, with impressive riverways and ample pine in the northwoods. Soon, workers from all over the country and the world immigrated here, often as lumberjacks or farmers. At first, everyone lived simply. They built log cabins and then … Continue reading Why Is That? Why are there huge, ornate houses downtown?
More than 800 years ago, Norway was caught in a civil war. Two groups fought over who should rule the country. The ruling party made fun of the rebels by calling them Birkebeiner (“Birchbarkleggers”), because they wrapped bark around their legs to stay warm and protect them in battle. In the winter of 1206, the 18-month-old prince … Continue reading Famous Wisconsin Ski Race Has Origins in Norwegian History
Brrrr … it’s getting chilly out there! It’s fun to walk out in the mornings and see that lovely coating of white frost. But what is frost, anyway? There are different kinds of frost, depending on how they were formed. Radiation frost is the most common and is what accumulates on windshields in the morning. … Continue reading What Is Frost? Explaining Icy Winter Patterns
You’re in the woods, building a fort or exploring, and having a great time. A few hours later, you get a horrible, itchy rash. Argh, poison ivy! Despite the name, poison ivy does not make poison. Instead, every part of the poison ivy plant – leaves, stem, vine, berries, roots – makes an oil called … Continue reading Why Does Poison Ivy Itch?
My husband paused halfway between the trashcan and kitchen sink, clutching an apple core. “Tell me again what I do with this?” “Compost.” I pointed to the green compost bin, courtesy of our new trash haulers, Earthbound Environmental Solutions. He paused. “Why is that better than the garbage disposal?” “Climate change.” He paused. He pauses … Continue reading Waste Not, Want Not?: a deep dive into the wonderful, wacky world of organic waste disposal
Originally appeared in Chippewa Valley Family Magazine. Birch bark can be so tempting to peeeel off. But wait! Is that a good idea? Why is the bark coming off, anyway? Is the birch sick? Let’s look at the layers of a tree. Bark is made of two layers, outer and inner bark. Outer bark is … Continue reading Why is That? Why Does Birch Tree Bark Peel Off?
Ever wonder what happens to poop and toilet paper after you flush the potty? All your house’s drains empty into the same outgoing sewer pipes. Water (and other things) from your toilet mixes with the water from your shower and your sinks. Any food chopped up with your garbage disposal goes into the sewer, too. … Continue reading What Happens After You Flush?
Have you ever noticed that early in the winter, snow is almost silent when you step on it, but as the temperatures drop, snow squeaks? Molecules in ice crystals, even snowflakes, line up stiffly in a strong structure, held together by hydrogen bonds. It looks almost like the steel frame of a skyscraper. However, all … Continue reading Why Is That: Why does snow squeak when it’s cold?
Get some binoculars and try counting the birds outside your home sometime. It might seem easy at first. You might see a couple of cardinals, maybe a crow. But then those birds fly away, and you see another cardinal. Is that the same cardinal as before, or is it a new one? Now try to … Continue reading How Do Scientists Count Birds?