It is not a ski lift.
La Paz is the capital of Bolivia. It is the highest city in the world. It is spread over a deep, wide canyon. The town of El Alto sits on the canyon’s rim. It once took workers from El Alto up to two hours to drive down into the city. Now a system of gondolas can carry workers and visitors up to the top or down to the city in just eleven minutes. The cable cars sweep along high above the Earth. But Psalm 113:4 reminds us that the Lord’s glory is “above the heavens.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• The cable car system in La Paz has 20 miles of cable so far. Nearly 1,400 gondolas travel the cables each day There are plans for more to be added. Mi Teleférico [mee tel-eh-feh-REE-co], or My Cable Car, is the longest and highest city cable car system in the world.
• Bolivia has part of the South America’s biggest lake within its borders. Lake Titicaca [titee-CAH-cah] has more than 25 rivers and many glaciers that flow into it. But only one river flows out of it to the sea. The lake does not overflow because the hot sun and strong winds cause water to evaporate.
• The Uros [year-ohs] people live on this lake. They use the yellow grass reeds that grow along the lake’s shore to weave their homes, furniture, boats, AND the islands they live on! The islands are tied to the lake bottom. The people must keep adding reeds to the top of the islands. The water would rot the reeds away otherwise.
• Bolivia also is home to the world’s largest natural mirror. It is created when the Salar de Uyuni [sahl-AHR day-OO-yoo-nee] salt flats become flooded during the rainy season. This thin layer of water reflects the blue sky above like a mirror.
• The “Palace of Salt” is a hotel on the edge of the salt flats. It was built from one million blocks of salt. These make up the floors, walls, ceiling, and furniture in the hotel.
What kind of fish is that?
Scientists took photos of the fish. People around the world saw the pictures. Someone recognized the fish. It was a hoodwinker! This kind of fish is hard to find. It was a surprise to find a hoodwinker in California. The hoodwinker has a big belly. Jonah fit inside the big belly of a fish. Jonah 2:1 tells us, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Experts worked together to identify the fish. They took photos and shared them. They asked questions and looked for clues. The fish was a mystery to solve!
• The word “hoodwink” means to trick. The hoodwinker is a tricky fish to find. A scientist in Australia saw a photo of the mystery fish. It looked like a “Mola tecta.” That is the official name for a hoodwinker.
• The hoodwinker fish is round. It is seven feet long. It is seven feet wide. It has small fins. It looks like a big sunfish. Have you caught a sunfish?
• Ralph Foster studies fish. He wasn’t sure this was a hoodwinker. Was it a trick? He asked for clear pictures of the fish. “Prove the fish is a hoodwinker, please!”
• Scientists in California went back to the fish. They took better pictures. They took tissue samples. They proved the fish was a hoodwinker. Mr. Foster agreed!
She makes shapes from wood.
Hilda Bell starts with a piece of wood. Her hands and tools bring the wood to life. She has been a woodcarver for 39 years. She worked a nurse. And she wanted to stay busy when she retired. So she took a class on woodcarving. Mrs. Bell loved the class! Now she can take an ordinary piece of wood and make something new out of it. Jesus gives us new life. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• A bust is a carved sculpture of a person’s head, neck, and shoulders. Mrs. Bell carves busts of American Indians and explorers. Her first one was of a family member. She gives her carvings to her daughters and grandchildren.
• Wood carving takes time. Mrs. Bell’s busts take 60 hours to make. First, she spends 20 hours carving the face. How long does it take to finish the bust?
• There are different kinds of wood. Mrs. Bell likes to carve with basswood. It is soft. She uses butternut to carve larger pieces. She doesn’t use pine or cedar. Pine is sticky and cedar is too hard to carve.
• Mrs. Bell’s friends like woodcarving too. They share ideas while they work. Some friends have carved wood for many years. Others are just learning. They encourage each other.
• One friend carves with an electric tool. Mrs. Bell uses only hand tools. Her friend paints his wood carvings. Mrs. Bell doesn’t paint hers. She likes to see the natural wood in her carvings.
What hats can you name?
Just 80 workers make the fedoras by hand. It takes 50 different steps and seven weeks to finish one hat. You can see why the Borsalino Company began to lose money when people stopped wearing hats every day. The company now makes baseball caps and travel hats that can roll up neatly. It has added colors and hats made for women too. Psalm 90:17 reminds us that we may ask God “to establish the work of our hands.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• A fedora is a hat made out of felt. The Borsalino Company uses rabbit and beaver fur, among others, to make felt. The hat’s crown (top) is usually indented and a ribbon wraps around the crown. The hat also has a wide brim. Can you guess who the man in this fedora is?
• Have you ever seen boater hat? It is made of straw, has a small brim, and usually has a two-tone ribbon around the crown. Men in barbershop quartets wear boaters. They are also worn at sailing events.
• Panama hats are made in Ecuador. But people wore them when the Panama Canal was built and the name has stuck. The hats are made from braided leaves of a palm plant.
• Women’s hat styles you may have seen or heard of include big brim or floppy and pillbox hats. Floppy hats have rounded crowns and big brims for shade.
• Jackie Kennedy made pillbox hats famous. She was the wife of our 36th President, John F. Kennedy. The hats were small and round with straight sides, a flat crown, and no brim.
What was T. rex like?
The American Museum of Natural History has had displays of T. rex and its relatives for over 100 years. This exhibit shows what scientists have learned about the dinosaur. It has reconstructions of a baby, a young dino’, and an adult T. rex. You can see real dino’ fossils and look through microscopes. All of these things give us an idea of what the T. rex might have been like. Genesis 1:25 tells us that “God made the beasts of the Earth according to their kinds.” The T. rex was among those beasts.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Tyrannosaurus rex is the full name of this dinosaur. It means “tyrant lizard king.” (A tyrant is someone who is cruel.) It got its name because it was huge and it attacked smaller dinosaurs.
• T. rex might have weighed as much as 280 second graders—about 14,000 pounds. It might have been about as long as nine second graders lying end-to-end!
• Velociraptor and allosaurus dinosaurs probably lived at the same time as the T. rex. The velociraptor was only two feet high and weighed 30 pounds. It is pictured with feathers because quill knobs were found on its bones.
• Allosaurus dinosaurs had short necks and big skulls. Their teeth were like steak knives. But they might have used their big heads like hatchets to kill their prey.
• All animals ate only plants before Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Perhaps T. rex dinosaurs still ate grasses and leaves after God placed a curse on all creation. But T. rex teeth have been found stuck in parts of other dinosaur bones. So we know they attacked animals too.
This teen ties flies for fishing poles.
Fishermen use bait to catch fish. A fly lure is fake fishing bait. It isn’t easy to tie a fly lure. It takes practice. Courtney Walls has practiced tying flies for years. Her dad taught her what to do. Now she shows people her skill. She loves to give her colorful flies away. “I’ve given away too many to count,” she says. Some of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen. Jesus asked some to leave their fishing boats and follow him. Matthew 4:19 tells us that He said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Fly tying is a skill. It takes lots of practice. A fly lure is tiny and colorful. It looks like a real insect. Bright thread is used to tie a fly.
• There are different kinds of fly lures. Dry flies look like adult insects. Wet flies don’t float. Nymph flies look like worms. Streamer flies look like insects that swim under water.
• Miss Walls is left-handed. Her dad is right-handed. This made it tricky to teach her how to tie a fly. Her dad carefully showed her what to do. She watched closely and practiced hard.
• Courtney has been tying flies for eight years. She’s ready to learn more. Her dad wants her to make old-fashioned winged wet flies. Why? Many people don’t make them anymore.
• The Walls family has a part-time fishing business in West Virginia. Miss Walls is a busy teenager in college. But she’s not too busy to tie flies! She says, “I really like to tie. I’ll find the time.”
What’s this unusual animal?
Pangolins are among the most trafficked animals in the world. People break laws to catch and kill them. They sell the animals for food and for their scales. People in South Africa use dogs to catch pangolin smugglers. They also want to build a “pangalorium” to protect live animals. Over one million of the world’s pangolins have been stolen from their homes in the last 20 years. People protect animals in danger because God created us to do that work. See Psalm 8:6-8.
DID YOU KNOW?
• The word “pangolin” comes from a Malay word that means “rolling up.” Four kinds of pangolins live in Asia: the Thick-tailed, Philippine, Sunda, and Chinese. Four other kinds live in Africa: the Tree, Giant Ground, Cape, and Long-tailed.
• A pangolin tongue is attached deep in the animal’s chest. It is covered with sticky saliva to catch termites, ants, and other insects. The pangolin has no teeth. So small pebbles and spines in the pangolin’s stomach crush the insects.
• Pangolin scales are made of the same material that is in our nails. It is called “keratin.” The animals can roll into such hard, tight balls that even tigers cannot bite through the scales.
• The pangolins of Africa usually are trapped and killed for their meat. People in China and Vietnam also like pangolin meat. But they use other parts of the body for traditional Chinese medicines, called “tonics.”
• One pangolin might eat more than seven million insects each year! Most of them are ants and termites. There are more of these two kinds of insects than anyone can number.
Tom Stack began to volunteer at Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania about two years ago. He noticed bumps on some flat rocks on a trail in the park. They were dinosaur footprints. Park rangers will not say where the fossils are. They do not want anyone to steal them. Imagine what stories the fossil rocks might tell about when dinosaurs lived. Then remember 1 Samuel 2:2. “There is no rock like our God.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Park visitors might think the fossils are just bumps on a rock. But there are dozens of the dino’ fossils in flat rocks along a paved part of a hiking trail. The rocks are argillite [ar-jeh-lite]. These rocks are found in many parts of North America.
• Argillite is a grayish-black, slate-like stone. The Native Americans who live on the islands of Haida [HIGH-dah] Gwaii [GWHY-ee] between Alaska and British Columbia carve jewelry from this rock. It becomes shiny black when the oils on a person’s hands touch it.
• Haida Gwaii has forests of giant cedar trees. The Haida Gwaii black bear catches and eats crabs and salmon. Sitka black-tailed deer and gray minke whales also live there.
• The Haida people used the giant cedar trees that grow on their islands to build houses, canoes, and totem poles. The poles often had carvings of the animals that lived on the islands. Houses had a carved totem pole on the front.
• The Haida people pass all names, titles, and property from one generation to the next. They are passed down through the mother’s side. Haida divide themselves into two groups, either Eagle or Raven. A baby becomes what his or her mother is.
Watch that squeeze.
The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “You are God’s temple, and God’s Spirit dwells in you.” A survey by the Centers for Disease Control showed that many kids use way too much toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral found in water and soil. It helps prevent cavities. So people added fluoride to toothpaste, mouthwash, and tap water. But too much fluoride might make your teeth streaky or pitted when you get older. Don’t eat toothpaste like food. Use just a little dab each time you brush.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Not everyone agrees that fluoride is helpful to people. But most people do agree that we should be careful with everything in our lives. Good things can become not-so-good things if used too much.
• Your teeth formed in your mouth about three months before you were born! You had 20 perfect little teeth hidden in your gums when you were a tiny baby. It just took a while for them to pop out.
• You might not like it. But Mom or Dad should put the toothpaste onto your brush until you are about eight years old! You will learn from them the right amount to use.
• You know to brush your teeth two times every day. But do you also rinse your mouth or brush after you eat sugary foods or candy, or when you have to take sweet liquid medicine?
• Take care of your teeth. But do not do what Arnold Lobel writes in this poem: Although he didn’t like the taste, George brushed his teeth with pickle paste. Not ever was his mouth so clean, Not ever were his teeth so green!
People in Key West have held a Conch Shell Blowing Contest for 57 years. About 50 people took part this year. Winner David Masterson says that he taught himself how to blow a conch shell while he lived on a sailboat. This tradition came about nearly 200 years ago. Sailors blew piercing blasts on the shells to signal others in the water. Psalm 98:6 tells us to “make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Conchs are a kind of sea snail. The most well known kind is called the “queen conch.” People say you can hear the sound of ocean waves if you put a conch to your ear. It actually is the sound of your own pulse.
• Ships often wrecked near Key West 200 years ago. Many people who lived there worked to recover items from the ships. They blew on conch shells to signal to one another.
• Key West is at the most southern tip of Florida. Its original name was “Cayo Hueso [KY-oh WHAY-so].” It means “Island of Bones.” It once was a mass graveyard.
• A highway was built to connect Key West to the rest of Florida. It has only two lanes. Ocean waters are on both sides of the highway. It is beautiful—and a little scary!
• People who are born in Key West call themselves “Saltwater Conchs.” You may call yourself a “Freshwater Conch” if you have lived on the island for more than seven years.
Dogs do their best at the dog show.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is held every year. Three thousand dogs compete in the show. Judges look closely at the dogs. They want to pick the dog that looks and acts the very best. It is hard to choose a winner. Only one dog is crowned the “Best in Show.” Colossians 3:23 reminds us to do our very best always. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• There are many different dog breeds. Can you name some of them? A Wire Fox Terrier named “King” won the show this year. A Bichon Frise named “Flynn” was the big winner last year.
• What do dogs do after they win the biggest dog show? Some become stars. Flynn became an actor in a Broadway play. He also visited the New York Stock Exchange. Other winners retire from show business to have puppies.
• Show dogs aren’t different from other dogs. They like belly scratches. They enjoy treats. Some of their favorites are hot dogs, chicken, cheese, and donuts.
• A Dalmatian named Hunter likes winning ribbons. “His favorite thing is to carry the ribbon out of the ring,” says his owner. That is a big reward for him.
• The very best dogs in the world come to the show. They walk calmly and stand quietly. They try to smile. (Can dogs smile?) They like hearing people clap for them. They want to make people happy.
It was a toy fair!
It might be hard to believe. Birthdays and Christmas will come again this year. Toymakers start getting ready in February with a huge toy fair in New York City. Which ones will kids like best? Which ones might Grandma and Grandpa buy as gifts? The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was the place to find out. Which ones will be on toy store shelves soon? Toys and games are fun gifts to receive. But God gives us the most perfect gift of all. Read John 3:16.
DID YOU KNOW?
• People believe that the ball, kite, and yo-yo are the oldest objects made to be toys. Balls long ago were made of small stones or clay. A child’s grave from 4,000 years before Jesus was born had marbles in it.
• Objects with human and animal shapes were found in what is now Iraq about 2,600 years before Jesus lived. And yo-yos made from wood and metal might have been played with in China that long ago.
• Most children played with dolls, stick horses, kites and puzzles about 300 years ago. Jigsaw puzzles were made to teach children history lessons. Toy trains became popular when people began to ride trains in their own countries. What kinds of moving toys do you play with today?
• Children in Africa and Asia might play with toys similar to yours. But they might also have clay monkeys that climb strings or paper snakes fastened to wood, or clay elephants that drink water.
• Cat’s cradle is a game played in many cultures. The Inuit people tell a story while they make string figures like birds, kayaks, sleds, bears and foxes. Children learn the tale by remembering the figures that are made. Navajos in the southwestern United States play the same game. But their string figures are of tents, rabbits, coyotes, or constellations of stars.