Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Those questions are the screwdrivers and wrenches and Swiss Army knives in a reporter's tool kit. They are among the most versatile, valuable tools on the planet. A journalist can use them to cut or pry open the answers to nearly everything.
So can a scientist, a naturalist, an anything-ist...and most certainly a kid.
With that in mind—and in the belief that kids and teens might enjoy standing in front of a camera pretending to be a news reporter—The Naturalist's Notebook is launching a fun, free summer program we're calling Earth News.
Anyone between the ages of 8 and 17 can sign up for the Earth News team, which will meet at The Naturalist's Notebook one morning a week starting in the first week of July and continuing through August (additional days and hours may be added as needed). Drawing on my background as a writer and editor at Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated For Kids, and also on the talents of College of the Atlantic students Julie Olbrantz, Eli Mellen and Haley Harwood, we will help team members develop their skills at questioning, thinking, writing, photographing, blogging and on-camera interviewing. The team will produce a newsletter and will conduct "press conferences" with VIPs (very interesting people) from nature, science, art and other fields.
We'll do fun, brain-exercising activities such as playing 20 questions, testing (non-video) games to do reviews of them, and taking turns being the Wacky Weatherman. Every team member will choose one prominent person in the world, figure out how to contact him or her (a basic job of any reporter), and try to get that person to answer a few interview questions by mail or e-mail.
Though we hope team members will come each week all summer, we realize that some kids and teens visit the area only for a week or two. They'll be able to take part while they're up here.
Do you know someone who might enjoy this? Do you have questions about how it will work? Are you eager to sign up?
Answer to the Last Puzzler:
Match the state to its state bird:
West Virginia—Northern cardinal
New Hampshire—purple finch
Let's try some more. Match the state to its state insect:
d) praying mantis
This isn't a quiz, but Pamelia's brother Scott sent along some quirky number facts:
1) This year, July will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. This happens only once every 823 years.
2) This year we will or already have seen these dates: 1/1/11 1/11/11 11/1/11 and 11/11/11
3) This year, if you take the last two digits of your birth year and add the age will be by the end of December, the answer should be 111.
Walt Whitman, the New York-born poet most famous for his brilliant collection Leaves of Grass, would have turned 192 years old on Tuesday. (He looks almost that old in his later-life photos.) Whitman was, you may recall, a journalist; he worked for several newspapers, including the Brooklyn Eagle (of which he was the editor), and the Long-Islander (which he founded). The title of his master work has nothing to do with nature but is instead a term of self-deprecation: In his day publishers used the word leaves to refer to printed pages and grass to describe literary works of little or no value.
James Hutton, the Scottish-born naturalist, scientist and experimental farmer who's known as the father of modern geology, would have been 285 today. Among his many contributions was the theory that the Earth was far older than just a few thousand years, as people thought at the time, and that the planet had a very hot center that helped form various types of rocks; in his day the popular belief was that all rocks had crystalized from minerals in the ocean and were spread around the world in a great flood.
Dennis Gabor, the Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian-born engineer who invented the three-dimensional light projection we call a hologram, would have been 111 on Sunday. Gabor, who was Jewish, was working in Germany in the 1930s when he fled the Nazis and moved to England, where he did his historic work using laser light.