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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

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