What Is Frost? Explaining Icy Winter Patterns

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

Why Does Poison Ivy Itch?

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?

What Happens After You Flush?

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?

Why Is That: Why does snow squeak when it’s cold?

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?

How Do Scientists Count Birds?

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?

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 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