What happens to my recycling?

Trash haulers must accept items that counties decide should be recycled. In Eau Claire County, that’s clean glass jars, aluminum, steel, paper, cardboard, and all plastics except those labeled No. 6 (which is very hard to recycle). When the garbage trucks pick up your garbage, they flip a switch and put your recycling in a … Continue reading What happens to my recycling?

Why Is That? How Do They Predict Tornadoes?

Spring is often a time of confused weather: warm one day, chilly the next. This kind of unsettled weather can sometimes develop into strong storms, like thunderstorms or tornadoes. Although tornadoes are not as common in the Chippewa Valley as they are in other parts of the Midwest, they do occasionally develop in the area. … Continue reading Why Is That? How Do They Predict Tornadoes?

Why Are Some Squirrels White?

The next time you’re looking out your window, pay attention to the squirrels in your yard. It may be hard to see grey squirrels against tree trunks or shadows on the ground. However, the white squirrels stand out clearly. White squirrels are rare in other parts of North America. White and grey squirrels belong to … Continue reading Why Are Some Squirrels White?

How Does Salt Melt All That Ice?

Brrr, it’s cold outside! Those trucks are out salting the roads again, making them safe to drive on. But how does salt melt ice? Salty water freezes at a lower temperature than pure water. Water on a road will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but salt lowers water’s freezing temperature to 20 or even 15 … Continue reading How Does Salt Melt All That Ice?

What was the biggest animal to live in Wisconsin?

One day when you’re rambling on outcrops on Mt. Washington, you may find some clues to Wisconsin’s rich Paleolithic history. Mt. Washington is a great place to find fossils of brachiopod and trilobites, animals that lived millions of years ago. Both trilobites and brachiopods lived in the ancient seas that used to cover Wisconsin. Larger … Continue reading What was the biggest animal to live in Wisconsin?

Rain Gardens Keep Green Water Away

Last fall, a rain garden was planted along the banks of Lake Menomin in Menomonie. The people who planted it hope that it will show their neighbors a way to help prevent blooms of cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) in Lake Menomin. Cyanobacteria blooms are a big problem. They make people sick and turn lakes … Continue reading Rain Gardens Keep Green Water Away

Summertime Blues: Why Do Some Lakes Turn Bluish-Green in the Summer?

During the hottest time of the year, you may notice that some of your favorite lakes turn blueish green and murky. You might not be allowed to swim in them. This happens because of cyanobacteria, which is sometimes also called blue-green algae (“cyanobacteria” means “blue bacteria”). Cyanobacteria is different from the green algae that you … Continue reading Summertime Blues: Why Do Some Lakes Turn Bluish-Green in the Summer?

Squeaky Cheese Curds: The Science Behind Wisconsin’s Favorite Snack

Spring means fresh cheese curds at the farmers market. There’s nothing like picking up a fresh, warm bag and getting that first squeaky bite. That squeak comes from a special way that long protein molecules in fresh cheese curds rub against your teeth. To make cheese curds, milk is warmed and a culture with bacteria … Continue reading Squeaky Cheese Curds: The Science Behind Wisconsin’s Favorite Snack

Why is That?: Neat-o Mosquito

Neat-o Mosquito is the first of my regular columns in Chippewa Valley Family Magazine. I've always enjoyed science and have long wanted to be a science writer. I've also enjoyed writing for my children, so a science column for kids seemed like a perfect fit. I've long wondered how insects survive the winter, so this … Continue reading Why is That?: Neat-o Mosquito