Currently Browsing

Fun Facts

Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where, What? (Map)

Click on the image for a printable version of the Solar Eclipse Map.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017A total solar eclipse is perhaps one of the most dramatic astronomical events we may witness during our lifetimes. On August 21, 2017, all of North America, as well as parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will experience either a total or partial solar eclipse. Our printable solar eclipse map shows when and where you can plan on viewing the eclipse in the United States. Here are ten facts to know about this summer’s solar eclipse before heading out with your kids to view this astronomical event.

1. People in fourteen states will experience a total solar eclipse. The path of the total eclipse will trail from Oregon southeast to South Carolina. The rest of North America will experience a partial solar eclipse.

2. Totality is the maximum amount of time the moon completely blocks the sun. The location with the longest duration of totality will be near Carbondale, Illinois, and will last about 2 minutes 40 seconds.

3. The duration of the eclipse will depend upon your location. In most places, the time of first contact, from when the moon first begins to cross the sun, until fourth contact, when it completes the eclipse, lasts two to three hours.

4. During a solar eclipse, the moon aligns perfectly between Earth and the sun. Since the moon’s orbit around Earth is slightly tilted compared to Earth’s orbit, solar eclipses do not occur every month. Our online Solar Eclipse lesson introduces students to the science of eclipses.

5. Although the diameter of the sun is much larger than the diameter of the moon, from Earth, they appear to be the same size. The moon is much closer to Earth and is located at the exact distance needed to completely block the sun during a total eclipse.

6. The moon blocks the bright photosphere of the sun during a total solar eclipse. During totality, the corona, or dim outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere, can be seen.

Solar Eclipse 2017 - Fun Facts and Map
7. The only time you can safely view a solar eclipse without eye protection is during totality. Discuss eye safety with children ahead of time and purchase certified ellipse glasses (not the same as regular sunglasses!). Learn more about ellipse eye safety at NASA.gov.

8. Subtle and not so subtle natural changes can be observed during a solar eclipse. The sky darkens. Air temperature decreases. The stars come out. It has even been reported that animal behavior changes as it would as nighttime falls. Changes will be most dramatic along the path of totality.

9. People have observed solar eclipses throughout human history. Yet, the narrow and seemingly random path of the moon’s shadow across Earth’s surface made it difficult for early astronomers to predict when the next solar eclipse would occur. It’s no wonder ancient cultures considered solar eclipses to be foreboding events. Our worksheet, What Causes a Solar Eclipse?, explores a few of the ancient explanations about solar eclipses.

10. The next total solar eclipse in the continental United States will occur on April 8, 2024. The next time a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. from coast-to-coast will not be until August 12, 2045.

There are many ways to enjoy this spectacular celestial event with your children. Plan a solar eclipse party with friends, make a pinhole camera, or participate in an eclipse citizen science project.

Looking for more fun ways learn about space with your students? Read 5 Stellar Activities for World Space Week or try our astronomy lessons and worksheets.

66 Reasons to Thank Your School Secretary

66 Reasons to Thank Your School Secretary

If you’ve ever worked in a school, you know who’s responsible for keeping everything together. Hint: It’s not the principal. It’s the school secretary. A good secretary has the ability to keep a school running smoothly. From ensuring the copier is always working to checking up on kids who are absent from school, the school secretary plays a very important role in a school community. In honor of Administrative Professionals’ Day, we’ve come up with 66 reasons to thank your school secretary. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a holiday for you to tell your school secretaries how much they mean to your school.

1. The school secretary is often the first person to greet visitors to the school.

2. The school secretary fields phone calls from upset parents.

3. The school secretary has the ability to keep upset parents from visiting your classroom.

4. The school secretary knows how to find an accurate phone number for nearly every student.

5. The school secretary helps manage meeting and conference schedules, which can often be confusing.

6. The school secretary knows when a student is absent and if a student has been absent a lot of days.

7. The school secretary can make last-minute copies for you, even if you’ve exceeded your monthly quota.

8. The school secretary can get the custodian to your classroom in an instant, even though the custodian has been avoiding you for hours.

9. The school secretary knows all of the juicy gossip.

10. The school secretary knows and can easily access nearly any form you need to fill out.

11. The school secretary gives students a talking-to while they wait for the principal.

12. The school secretary often gets paid much less than the value she provides to the school.

13. The school secretary often has to work during the summer (and during some school breaks).

14. The school secretary helps make sure every student has a schedule at the beginning of the year.

15. The school secretary makes sure the crossing guard and flag raisers get their job done every day.

16. The school secretary makes sure buses arrive on time and finds out where buses are when they’re late.

17. The school secretary makes sure announcements are delivered at the proper time.

18. The school secretary helps control the fire alarms and announcements during safety drills.

19. The school secretary serves as the PR firm for the entire school.

20. The school secretary comforts kids who are sick, feeling sad, or just having a rough day.

21. The school secretary listens to teachers who just need to vent.

22. The school secretary often puts together and sends out the school newsletter.

23. The school secretary helps ensure a smooth transition for students transferring into the school.

24. The school secretary can answer nearly any question about the school that people call to ask.

25. The school secretary can tell you where your elusive principal is at nearly any given moment.

26. The school secretary knows who’s a walker, bus rider, or going to after-school care.

27. The school secretary takes important messages all day long and knows which ones to mark “urgent.”

28. The school secretary has to listen to the ringing of the phone all day long.

29. The school secretary often has to eat lunch while sitting at her command post.

30. The school secretary is a master multi-tasker.

31. The school secretary makes sure the copier is always working, whether she fixes it herself or calls the repairman.

32. The school secretary has the ability to magically find the supplies you forgot to bring for your classroom.

33. The school secretary keeps the school calendar updated and lets everyone know of any changes.

34. The school secretary schedules substitutes when teachers call in sick or need a day off (and can often get the sub you really want).

35. The school secretary makes sure the vending machines in the teachers’ lounge are working and well-stocked.

36. The school secretary signs for important packages, such as approved grant applications.

37. The school secretary fills teacher mailboxes with important mail and announcements.

38. The school secretary serves as an in-school communication system, passing messages between teachers.

39. The school secretary serves as an in-school postmaster, putting stamps on letters and making sure they get out in the mail.

40. The school secretary often sends around a card or organizes a group gift for birthdays, funerals, and other life events.

41. The school secretary often spends the entire day in the office, rarely getting to move around.

42. The school secretary has access to tons of data on students and teachers and manages to keep it all confidential.

43. The school secretary has the ability to ward off bill collectors and sales people when they call looking for teachers.

44. The school secretary often serves as a mediator in conflicts between staff members.

45. The school secretary is in charge of ordering key supplies for the school.

46. The school secretary often has a stressful, hectic day and still manages to keep a smile on her face.

47. The school secretary helps students get instruments, lunch boxes, and other items their parents drop off because they left them at home.

48. The school secretary knows where every student is supposed to be at a given moment.

49. The school secretary has the ability to determine whether a student really needs to call home or is just trying to get out of class.

50. The school secretary writes late passes for students.

51. The school secretary often serves as the first point of contact during an emergency.

52. The school secretary makes sure all visitors sign in and are issued visitor passes.

53. The school secretary knows when to call 9-1-1 during an emergency.

54. The school secretary is usually one of the first to arrive in the morning and one of the last to leave at night.

55. The school secretary is often responsible for making sure students get medication when the nurse is out.

56. The school secretary helps arrange field trips.

57. The school secretary can often find a lost pair of sneakers or discover which student stole something from a backpack.

58. The school secretary knows how to use Power School or whatever new system the district adopts.

59. The school secretary helps coordinate room assignments for teachers before the school year starts.

60. The school secretary keeps meticulous files of all important paperwork and other key information.

61. The school secretary often helps handle many of the school’s financial accounts.

62. The school secretary helps compile the endless reports and sets of data requested by the district office.

63. The school secretary helps get your money back from the vending machine when it malfunctions.

64. The school secretary helps organize and distribute items related to school fundraisers.

65. The school secretary makes sure everyone gets his/her picture taken on picture day and distributes the pictures when they come in.

66. The school secretary makes everything she does look like a piece of cake.

Do you have more reasons to add to the list? Share why you love your school secretary in the comments.

16 Fun Facts about the 2016 Summer Olympics for Kids

16 Fun Facts about the 2016 Summer Olympics for Kids
Every four years, athletes from around the world gather to compete in the Summer Olympic Games. While the athletes are competing to win gold, the games give kids a chance to learn more about the events the athletes are competing in, as well as the part of the world where the games are held. This year, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are being held in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous municipality in Brazil. Despite the controversy surrounding the games and their location, there are a lot of reasons to get excited. We’ve rounded up some fun facts about the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to help get kids excited too.

1. Rio de Janeiro is the first South American city to host the Olympic Games. For a fun geography activity, look up the locations of previous Olympic games and mark them on a world map.

2. Over 10,000 athletes will compete in the games. The U.S. will bring over 500 of those athletes, which you can learn about on Team USA’s website.

3. It will cost Rio de Janeiro over $9.5 billion to host the Summer Olympic games.

4. Golf will be played at the 2016 Olympics. The sport has not been part of the Summer Games for over 100 years.

5. In many countries, the competition just to make the Olympic team was tough. Queen Harrison, a hurdler, missed qualifying for the U.S. team by two one-hundredths of a second.

6. Over 45% of the athletes in Rio will be female. That’s a higher percentage of females than ever before.

7. Dipa Karmakar will compete as the first Indian female gymnast in 52 years to qualify for the Olympic games.

8. Yusra Mardini, an 18-year-old swimmer, will compete under the Olympic flag as part of the first team of refugee athletes.

9. Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik will be the first set of triplets to compete in the same Olympic sport. They are marathon runners from Estonia.

10. Simone Biles, the most decorated female gymnast in history, is the shortest member of Team USA at 4’8″ tall.

11. To prepare for the Olympics, workers in Rio de Janeiro built 43 miles of new roads and planted thousands of trees.

12. Canadian horse-jumper, Ian Miller, will compete in his 11th Olympic Games. He’s 69 years old.

13. Michael Phelps, the most-decorated Olympian of all time, will attempt to increase his medal count at the 2016 Games. He currently has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold.

14. The country of Kosovo will compete in its first Olympics this year, sending eight athletes to the Games.

15. Nino Salukvadze and Tsotne Machavariani, shooters from the country of Georgia, are the first mother-son duo to compete at the Games.

16. Singer Katy Perry released her first single in two years, a song called “Rise,” which will be used as an anthem for the Olympic Games.

Want to learn more about the Olympics? Work with your kids to complete our Summer Olympics Scavenger Hunt or one of our other Olympics-themed worksheets found on our seasonal worksheets page.

10 Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week

10 Fun Facts for Geography Awareness Week

November 15-21 is Geography Awareness Week.

Geography is an integral part of any Social Studies class. Making connections between a region’s geographic features and their history and culture can broaden students’ understanding of history. Some facts about geography will not only add flavor to a social studies unit, but will also wow the students with unexpected answers and fun visuals.

Did you know…

#1. The smallest country in the world is Vatican City at only .2 square miles. The headquarters of the Catholic Church is located entirely in the city of Rome. Vatican City isn’t just the smallest country in land area, it is also the smallest country by population. Only about 600 people live there permanently, almost all of whom are clergy or members of the Swiss Guard, responsible for protecting the Pope.

#2. Unsurprisingly, the largest country in the world is Russia. What you may not know is Russia, with an area of 6,592,735 square miles, is almost twice the size of the second largest country in the world Canada, that comes in at 3,855,081 square miles. Over 60% of the land in Russia is forest, while over 4000 miles of the nation is tundra.

#3. Brazil is 11% larger than the contiguous 48 states of the United States of America. As a matter of fact, Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. It is so big, that all of non-Russian Europe could fit inside of its borders!

#4. Asia is the largest continent in land area in the world. It is larger than North and South America combined! More people live in Asia (over 4 billion) than the rest of the world’s continents combined (almost 3 billion).

#5. The most common city name in the United States is Franklin, with 31. There are 26 cities in the world with a single letter as its name, two of which are located in America: B, Ohio and Y, Alaska. The original name of Los Angeles was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula. Transllated in English it means The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River.

#6. Africa includes 54 countries and over 2000 languages spoken. There are over 500 languages in Nigeria alone! The most widely spoken language is Hausa, which is the first language to over 35 million Africans and another 15 million people in other parts of the world.

#7. Canada contains over 300,000 islands, some of which are available for purchase for less than $1 million. The largest of these islands include Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.

#8. About 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere. The only Southern Hemisphere nations that contain more than 50 million people are Indonesia and Brazil, at 227 million and 192 million, respectively.

#9. The Amazon rainforest represents more than half of the world’s rainforests and produces more than 20% the world’s oxygen supply, contains 20% of all of the world’s plant and birds, and 10% of the world’s mammal species. 10% of the forest has been lost to agriculture in the last 50 years, with some forecasting the loss of the entire rain forest by 2030.

#10. The color red appears on the most national flags with 155. White is a close second with 144, and green is a distant third with 97. Purple appears in only six flags. Some national flags are almost identical due to a shared history. For example, blue, white, and red are common color combinations in Slavic nations, and many African nations use red, yellow, and green.

Use these facts as an introduction to a fun Geography Awareness Week lesson that can include a Fun Fact Scavenger Hunt. Ask your students to locate silly and surprising facts about each continent.

What other fun geography facts do you know? Leave them in the comments section! Be sure to visit HelpTeaching.com and try our free geography worksheets.