They grow things in graveyards.
Volunteers spiff up cemeteries. They plant flowers by graves. They pull weeds and prune trees. The grave gardeners work hard. Their hard work pays off! The grave gardens are gorgeous. They are full of color and life. People want to spend time there. Jesus used unkept graves as an example in his teaching. He warned the Pharisees in Luke 11:44, “Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Graves are found in cemeteries and graveyards. What is the difference? Graveyards belong to churches. Cemeteries do not. Cemeteries are usually larger than graveyards. Do you know where Jesus was buried? Read Luke 24:1-9.
• “Grave Gardeners” are volunteers. They keep cemeteries tidy. They like to work in dirt. “This was an opportunity to get my hands dirty,” says one volunteer. One large cemetery in Philadelphia has 150 volunteers!
• A cradle grave is a very old grave. It has a stone marker. The stone has a name carved in it. The grave also has a flower box. It looks like a bathtub! Grave gardeners plant flowers in the “bathtubs.”
• People used to spend time in cemeteries. “They were inviting places,” says a history professor. They were the first big parks. People liked to walk and picnic and relax there. Now people garden there. “Working in a cemetery gives you lots of thoughts,” says one volunteer.
• How does a grave gardener tend a cemetery? The grass must be cut. Weeds must be pulled. Trees must be pruned. Flowers must be planted. Do you have a garden? Would you like to be a grave gardener?
Slow down! Whales swim here.
Psalm 95:5 tells us, “The sea is [God’s], for He made it.” There are four marine sanctuaries near San Francisco, California. They are places in the ocean that are for protecting sea creatures and plants. These have what the whales need to feed on before they swim away for the winter. Ships have no speed limits at sea. But 22 shipping firms now have their ships slow down from twenty knots to ten when they pass through those places.
DID YOU KNOW?
• “Nobody in a ship wants to hit a whale,” says John Berge. He is a vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. About 8,000 ships travel through the Golden Gate Bridge every year. Nearly half of them are slowing down.
• Ten gray whales were found dead near San Francisco this year. Ships killed four of them. Gray whales do not usually enter the Bay. But they fed on tiny creatures in the Bay mud this year. That is unusual.
• Gray whales make a very long migration trip each year, between 10,000 and 14,000 miles. They begin to swim south from the Bering Sea near Alaska in November. They have their babies in California waters. It takes two to three months for the babies to build up thick blubber. Then all the whales swim back to Alaska.
• Humpback whales have head-to-tail grooves on the throat. These allow the throat to expand when they feed. Humpbacks have two blowholes on the top of their heads. These whales are known for their moans, cries, and howls, called “songs,” that can be heard for many miles underwater.
• Blue whales might be the largest creatures on Earth. A grown blue whale can weigh as much as 24 grown elephants and be as long as two 18-wheeler trucks end-to-end! But these huge whales eat krill, an animal that’s smaller than an inch long. Blue whales must eat 40 million krill a day to live and grow!
Can you tell what this is?
The Hill Aerospace Museum is in Ogden, Utah. It has a new classroom. It’s a cargo plane that is now connected to the building. The inside looks just like a working C-130 Hercules. Kids—and grownups—interested in weather, astronomy, planes, and other kinds of science can see the inside of this one. Older kids can take a 12-week course in the summer. This plane once flew into the heavens. Psalm 36:5 reminds us, “Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• This old plane got heat and air conditioning. All new gauges and webbed seats were installed. It looks brand-new. But it once carried soldiers and supplies needed for the airmen serving our country in wars.
• Kids around the world have attended school in interesting places. The nation of Bangladesh has lots of heavy rain. Floods happen. Kids can’t get to school. So school comes to them—on a boat!
• The Abo Elementary School in Artesia, New Mexico, was built completely underground. People who built it were worried about enemy nations fighting a war against our country and dropping a bomb on towns like theirs. It also had room and supplies for over two thousand people.
• Some students in Copenhagen, Denmark, attend the Ørestad Gymnasium (a school that prepares students for going to a university). It has no inside walls. And the outside of the building is all glass. There are four floors. Each is shaped like a boomerang. The kids can see all throughout the building.
• Many poor people in India live near train platforms. But they can’t afford to send their children to school. One teacher brought school to a train platform. Now there are more than 70 platform schools. Over 4,000 students have been taught on those train platforms.
Visit New York. See the new museum.
The new museum has lots of things to see. It has a huge model of Liberty’s foot! It also has a model of the statue’s face. Visitors learn why the statue was made. They see the city through the statue’s eyes. They think about freedom. Why? The statue stands for freedom. God sent His Son Jesus to free us from sin. John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• The Statue of Liberty has its own island. The island is called Liberty Island. It sits in the New York Harbor. People ride a ferry to visit the island. A ferry is a big boat that takes people from one place to another.
• This is not the first museum on Liberty Island. There was a small museum. It was inside the base of the statue. That museum was too small! The new museum is much bigger. It sits beside the statue.
• What does the museum look like? Its roof is made of copper. It looks as if it has grown right out of the ground. There are glass walls and a giant staircase. It looks like part of the Statue of Liberty.
• What’s inside the museum? There is a movie theater. But it doesn’t have seats! Visitors walk through the movie. The museum has lots of old photos. They show how the statue was built. The museum also has the statue’s first torch.
• People who can’t visit Liberty Island can still see the museum. How? With a phone app. The app takes people on a walk through the statue. It also shows a view of New York City from the statue’s eyes.
It’s all leafy and flowery looking.
“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” asks Job in chapter 12. A sea dragon in the water looks like a branch of kelp. Then an eye moves. Ridges of tiny, see-through fins flutter. The fish glides through the water. You can see why people might like one for a pet. But some people break the law to catch and sell them. Workers at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California, want to see little sea dragon fry swimming in the big tank soon.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Sea dragons like water between 55 and 67 degrees. They hide in sea grass along the southern coast of Australia, where they live. Those that live in shallow water are yellow-brown or greenish. Others can live nearly 80 feet deep. Those are dark brown or burgundy red.
• The body of a sea dragon is covered with hard bony plates that have long sharp spines on them. The fish have small heads; long, thin, pipe-like snouts; and tails that are about half as long as their whole body.
• Male sea dragons brood the eggs under their tails after the females deposit them there. It takes six to eight weeks for the fry to be ready to hatch. They roll out of their egg capsules tail first. And they are ready to start hunting their own food!
• There are only two kinds of sea dragons. But there are 40 known kinds of seahorses. And they are really poor swimmers. One little fin in the middle of the back beats up to 50 times each second. But that doesn’t get a seahorse far. It is in real danger when a strong storm hits the ocean.
• Pipefish are straight, skinny relatives of seahorses and sea dragons. There are about 200 kinds of these fish. Some live in the ocean. Others live in fresh water. The males in all three of these fish kinds are the ones who hatch the babies.
They are no longer in the dark.
The Navajo Nation covers parts of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Thousands of people who live there do not have electricity. A project called “LightUpNavajo” is bringing electricity to hundreds of homes. Volunteer electric workers come from all over the country to help. It will take years until the project is done. Hebrews 13:16 reminds us, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Can you list all of the things you cannot do in your home when the power goes out? Many Navajo families live without bright lights, refrigerators, ovens, televisions, and even running water because there is no electricity.
• The four-man crew that connected electricity to the Haskie-Long’s house had come from Piqua, Ohio. They spent days on the reservation to learn about the people they were helping. Then they installed power poles and miles of electric line to connect homes to electric power.
• The Haskie-Long kids had to do their homework by kerosene lamps or candles before their house had electricity. They had to fire up a gas generator to watch TV for a little while. They went to their grandma’s house to shower—water pumps run on electricity—and to charge their cell phones.
• The Navajo Nation is like a small country. It has its own government, laws, police, and services. But the people are also citizens of the United States. They must obey U.S. laws too.
• The word “Navajo” means “planted fields” or “farmlands.” Long ago Navajos were farmers. But now they have all sorts of jobs, including being farmers and ranchers.
It was a party!
The Transcontinental Railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. Railroad tracks connected the East Coast and the West Coast of the United States for the very first time. Over 4,000 workers, most of them from China, and some from Ireland and America, had laid tracks over rivers, through mountains, and across the prairie. The work was dangerous. Many died. Remember Exodus 15:2 when you face hard-to-do things: “The Lord is my strength and my song.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• The nation also celebrated the pounding of the final spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was made of gold! The hammer strokes were sent by telegraph to San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Bells, gongs, and train whistles rang in many of those cities.
• Workers for the Union Pacific Railroad began building tracks in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1865. The other group of men worked for the Central Pacific Railroad. They began in Sacramento, California, in 1863.
• Workers had to dig the rail bed and lay wood and rails. They also had to blast 15 tunnels through mountains with dynamite. Cooks, blacksmiths, carpenters, clothing makers, and doctors also were needed.
• Cows and bison on the Great Plains were a problem. They would get in the way of the work. Early train engines were fitted with a pointed wedge of iron bars called a “cow catcher.” These moved the animals off the tracks without harming them.
• It might have taken travelers months to go from New York to San Francisco in the early 1800s. It was a 10-day trip after the Transcontinental Railroad was completed.
He raises “jewels of the rainforest!”
Aren’t the frogs’ colors amazing? God made them bright and covered with poison! The colors warn enemies: “Do not eat me!” It is against the law for people to take these frogs from the wild. But that doesn’t stop some. Iván Lozano lawfully breeds and sells these frogs. He helps others do the same. They want to protect their country’s dazzling frogs. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us that God “has made everything beautiful in its time.” Even frogs!
DID YOU KNOW?
• These brightly colored frogs ooze a poison from their skin. The poison comes from the insects the frogs eat. The frogs aren’t harmed. But the poison tastes bad and might hurt whatever touches these frogs. Mr. Lozano feeds his frogs food that does not make the poison.
• Tiny poison frogs are found in Central and South America. The brighter the color, the more poisonous they are. Most frogs are nocturnal. They come out at night. God created the poison frogs to be active during the day so they can be seen.
• The golden poison dart frog is no larger than a bottle cap. It gives off enough poison to kill ten humans! Some native tribes dipped the tips of their darts in this frog’s poison. They were careful to pick the frogs up by holding large waxy leaves in their hands.
• But mom and dad poison frogs take great care of their eggs. They take turns wetting their own skin and sitting on the eggs to keep them damp. The hatched tadpoles swim up on Dad’s back and head. He carries them to a large bowl-like leaf that can hold water, and Mom brings them food.
• The poison in their skin is good for the frogs. It might also be good for people. Scientists at Abbot Laboratories in Illinois started testing the dart frog poison. It might be very good for easing pain. People are always discovering new ways to use things that God has created!
This park smells good.
People in Cyprus know how to make good perfume. They put rich olive oil in a clay vase. They add herbs to the oil. Then they heat the oil. The herbs make the oil smell good. Perfume often is mentioned in the Bible. Queen Esther used perfume of oil and spices. Mary washed Jesus’ feet with perfume. John 12:3 says, “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” There are more verses about perfume. Read Proverbs 27:9.
DID YOU KNOW?
• A perfumery is a place where perfume is made. The oldest perfumery was discovered in Cyprus. It is thousands of years old! Scientists looked for clues. They found old pots and vases there.
• Perfume makers in Cyprus use good olive oil for their perfume. They add things like oak moss, bergamot, and labdanum or rockrose to the oil to make it smell good. Herbs, flowers, grass, wood, and spices each make different perfume scents. Good perfume hides bad smells!
• A clay perfume pot has a round top. Olive oil and herbs are heated in the pot. The heat creates steam. The steam rises to the top of the pot and turns into liquid. The liquid flows through a bamboo straw into a vase. The vase is filled with sweet smelling perfume.
• People in France make perfume too. A Frenchman named Francois Coty created a perfume that he called “Chypre” [SHEE-preh]. That is French for Cyprus. Why do you think he named it that?
• The Lazarou family has an herb farm in Cyprus. The perfume park is on their land. “We want to show future generations how their ancestors produced fragrances,” says the park’s landowner.
It’s a beetle comeback!
The American burying beetle once was found in 35 states and three provinces in Canada. Only eastern Oklahoma and Rhode Island had any of these beetles left thirty years ago. Now the bugs have been found in seven different U.S. states. Scientists are thankful these insect helpers are no longer in danger. Psalm 104:20 says, “You make the darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• This beetle is a carnivore. It eats only meat. It is nocturnal, or busy at night. And it works only when it is 60 degrees or warmer outside. So what does it do?
• A burying beetle’s antennae detect dead creatures. Insects, mice, voles, opossums, birds, snakes, fish all show up on the beetle’s menu. Many beetles fight each other for a carcass. The winners are a male and female pair. They move and bury it.
• The beetles remove hair or feathers from their prize. They mate, and the female lays her eggs near the dead animal. Both parents feed the hatched larvae the meat for six to 12 days. Then the young crawl into the soil to develop into adults.
• What these beetles do might seem gross. But God created them perfectly. We need such creatures to break down dead animal bodies that then will improve the soil.
• Burying beetles are about as long as a large paper clip. But they aren’t so hard to look at. Their bodies are shiny black. You will recognize them when you see the orange-red markings on their wing coverings, behind their heads, and on their faces and tips of their antennae.
Whose seaweed is it?
“Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with living things, both great and small,” says Psalm 104:25. The seaweed business in Maine is booming. Companies harvest it for food for humans and animals or use in fertilizer and mulch. The state’s Supreme Court has now said that companies must get permission from landowners to harvest the seaweed. Company officials ask, “Who owns the land in the mud flats?” Landowners worry that rockweed might disappear.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Some seaweeds are tiny, like phytoplankton. Giant kelp towers underwater like redwood trees. But all seaweed needs sunlight to grow. So it lives mostly in shallow water.
• People today are eating lots of seaweed. It has vitamins C, B, A, and E. Some say seaweed can help control diabetes, cholesterol, and weight. Do you know anyone who eats seaweed?
• Companies harvest other kinds of seaweed besides rockweed. One is dulse. It looks like leafy red lettuce when it is fresh, and it turns green with heat. It is very salty. And some people say it tastes like bacon.
• You might find sugar kelp washed up on the beach after rough seas. It has one long ribbon-like frond that is crinkled and wavy on the edges. A sweet white powder rises to the frond’s surface as it dries.
• Irish moss grows about seven inches high. It can be greenish-yellow, red, or even purple in color. It becomes like jelly when it is boiled. It is used to thicken smoothies or milks. What an amazing kind of plant seaweed is!
Mr. Jones knows tea!
Clint Jones lives in Pennsylvania. No tea is grown there. He orders most of his tea from Asia. His dining room is filled with pots from every country tea comes from. He has also taken classes. He has learned where many teas are grown, how the leaves are plucked, dried, and rolled, and how to prepare each tea too. Tea first was used as medicine. Ezekiel 47:12 tells of a river where all kinds of trees will grow. It says, “Their leaves shall be for healing.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• Tea is made from the leaves of an evergreen tree called camellia sinensis. The tree may grow up to 20 feet high. But growers cut the plants back to only two to three feet tall. This makes it easy for people to pluck its leaves.
• It takes three years for a tea seedling to be ready for plucking. Only two leaves and the bud at the top of each young shoot are plucked. This is done every ten days during growing season.
• Clint Jones says that loose-leaf teas are probably better tasting than those in tea bags. Sometimes he pours hot water over the tea leaves, and then pours that water out to rinse the leaves. Debris and dust might have been left on the leaves when they were packaged.
• The Chinese are the first people known to drink tea. Tea ceremonies are popular in both China and Japan. Green tea is used. Three glasses of very sweet green tea with mint leaves are served to guests in Morocco. It is impolite to refuse to drink them.
• A tall urn called a samovar boils water for Russian tea. Black tea brews all day in a zavarka on the top. A person takes a small amount of the tea, adds boiling water from below, and flavors the tea with lemon, sugar, or honey. And Americans seem to like to drink all kinds of teas for health reasons.