Ms Stevenson's Enrichment Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Current Events'

Mongolia Chooses Addressing System Based on 3-Word Phrases

June 19th, 2016 · No Comments



(From  “…The billions of people on Earth who live in rural areas, slums or sprawling urban areas, [have] difficulties in receiving mail and packages,…opening a bank account, getting electricity or just dealing with government bureaucracies.

Mongolia’s 3 million citizens, a third of whom are nomadic, live in a country that is approximately the size of Western Europe…The country’s postal service, recently adopted an addressing system created by the startup company what3words to help direct mail and parcels to its residents…

Instead of a street names and numbers, what3words divides the entire surface of the Earth into 57 trillion 3-metre by 3-metre squares.  Each square is assigned a three-word phrase… In this system, the White House, for instance, is no longer 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but sult.held.raves; Buckingham Palace is fence.gross.bats; the Taj Mahal is according.gloom.broads.”


What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?  Do you think it is a good choice for Mongolia?

How do you think it differs from latitude and longitude?  

If you could choose a three-word phrase for your home or your bedroom, what would it be?


Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Your Arm Can Be a Touchpad!

June 12th, 2016 · No Comments


Playing Angry Birds (Photo Credit: Carnegie Mellon University/Gierad Laput)

(From DOGONews)  “Controlling… a smartphone or tablet is…relatively easy…, given their large screens. However, the same is not true for smartwatches… Now, a group of researchers from… Carnegie Mellon University is trying to… [use] the arm into a touchpad

SkinTrack, in contrast, requires users to wear just a ring and their favorite smartwatch…

The ring uses high-frequency electrical signals to communicate with the watch and transfer the controls from the tiny screen onto the surface of the arm…

[Read more about how it works HERE.]

Can you think of one advantage and one disadvantage of incorporating a technology like SkinTrack into our daily lives?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Mother Goose asks Police for Help!

June 12th, 2016 · No Comments


(From DOGONews)  “On Monday, May 9, [Officers Givens and Charron] in Cincinnati, Ohio, [were] sitting in [their] cruiser when [they] heard what sounded like a knock. [It was] a goose pecking at the car door. This was highly unusual given that the birds typically preferred to observe humans from a distance.

But on this day, the goose appeared to be determined to get [their] attention and kept pecking until Givens opened the car door and stepped out. The police officer says that though the bird then began to walk away, it kept turning around to make sure he was following. When they finally stopped, Givens realized why the mother goose had been so persistent — She needed help to free her gosling that had managed to get entangled in some balloon string…

The mother goose… watched patiently from a safe distance as the officer untangled the trapped bird. As soon as the little gosling was free, it trotted to its mom, and the duo took off shortly after.”

Watch the video HERE.

Does this incident surprise you?  If so, what surprised you more — how much the mother goose cared or how smart she was? Why?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges

6-Year-Old Spelling Bee Competitor!

June 5th, 2016 · No Comments

Blog - Speller

Akash is spelling the world’s longest word! Image by Johnny Harris and Vesta Partovi

(From Mental Floss)  “When Akash Vukoti was about 1½ years old, he reportedly spelled his first word, “spoon,” after his uncle handed him the utensil. Today, the 6-year-old Texan… most recently competed in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.”

In THIS VIDEO, he gives spelling tips:

  • make sure you are pronouncing the word correctly
  • find out the language of origin, which will help you know how different sounds are spelled:
Speller 2

Johnny Harris and Vesta Partovi

  • find out part of speech (is it a noun ending in ‘us’ or an adjective ending in ‘ous’?)
Speller 3

Johnny Harris and Vesta Partovi

  • get the definition

Tags: Current Events · Games and Contests · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges

Obama becomes first President to visit Hiroshima

June 5th, 2016 · No Comments



(From Time for Kids) “[At the end of May,] President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima, Japan, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site of the world’s first nuclear-bomb attack.

Obama arrived at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park alongside Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. The two leaders laid wreaths in front of a monument for the victims of the bomb.

‘Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed,’ Obama said during his speech at the site…

The U.S. dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, in the final days of World War II. About 140,000 people died… Japan surrendered on August 15. Many Americans believe the bombings helped to end the war.”

There is still a lot of debate about whether dropping the bomb was the best choice.

Some people say that, if the war had continued, more people would have died than the number killed by the bomb.  Others say that dropping the bomb was an immoral act and should not have happened.  

What is your opinion?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions

15-year-old Canadian might have discovered a lost Maya city

May 29th, 2016 · 2 Comments


Credit: Canadian Space Agency

(From ScienceAlert)  “William Gadoury, a 15-year-old school student from Quebec, Canada, has found… what appears to be a lost city of the Maya civilisation, buried deep in the Yucatan jungle of southeastern Mexico…

He discovered the incredible ruins from the comfort of his own home, by figuring out that the ancient cities were built in alignment with the stars above…

‘I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands and in the mountains, [said Gadoury]  ‘They had to have another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis. I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.'”

What do you dream of discovering?

Tags: Current Events · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Optical Illusions and Visual Challenges · Science and Technology

Laugh Every Chance You Get!!

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

Share a good joke, because of the reasons listed below…


(From Psychology Today)  Five ways that laughter makes life better:

  1. “Laughter improves your relationships…. [It] makes you more open to new people and helps you build and strengthen relationships.
  2. Laughter boosts your memory and lowers your stress.
  3. Laughter… may help you regulate your emotions in the face of challenge.
  4. Laughter… lowers stress and inflammation and increases good cholesterol…
  5. Laughter makes you a better learner… A good laugh while learning new material will help you engage with it more.”

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

‘Sign Aloud’ Glove translates ASL to Speech

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

SignAloud gloves (Photo Credit: The University of Washington)


(From DOGONews)  “Hundreds of thousands of hearing-impaired people… rely solely on American Sign Language (ASL) for communication. But… there are millions of people with normal hearing that are unable to decipher the hand and finger gestures. That may change soon thanks to the ingenious “SignAloud” glove that converts sign language into speech.

The gloves are the brainchild of University of Washington sophomores Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi…

The [glove]…is equipped with a series of sensors that measure the movement and position of the hands as a person is signing. [A computer then] ‘speaks’ the relevant words or phrase through a speaker…”

Another student is working on a similar idea: “Hadeel Ayoub, a student [in] London, has been working on a similar idea. Her SignLanguageGlove translates sign language into text that can be transmitted to a smartphone app or tablet device.”

Read more by clicking HERE.

Consider the differences between the two devices.  Which do you think has a greater chance of success?


Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Nano Starships to Search for Aliens

May 22nd, 2016 · No Comments


The tiny nano-spacecraft would take 20 years to reach Alpha Centauri traveling at one-fifth the speed of light (Photo Credit: Breakthrough Starshot)

(From DOGONews)  “On April 12, the 55th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic launch to space, a Russian billionaire along with Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announced “Breakthrough Star shot.” The $100 million USD project aims to build a prototype for a wafer-sized propelled robotic spacecraft that can get to the nearby Alpha Centauri in a mere 20 years.

Though that may appear slow, it is a vast improvement over the current technology that would take a spacecraft between 30,000-40,000 years to cover the 25.67 trillion mile distance between Earth and Alpha Centauri…

The… team envisions a spacecraft the size of a postage stamp with a thin sail attached to it. Aboard the tiny “starchip,”  will be a camera, photon thruster and power supply. It will be launched to space aboard a mother-ship and then propelled to the distant star system with the help of laser lights beamed from a high-altitude area on Earth…

What do you think are some of the challenges to creating a message that can be universally understood by alien civilizations?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Paralyzed Ohio Man Becomes First to Have Movement Restored!

May 22nd, 2016 · No Comments


Ian Burkhart (Photo Credit:

(From DOGONews) “Twenty-four-year-old Ohio resident Ian Burkhart had lost all hope of being able to move his limbs again after a tragic diving accident left him paralyzed, six years ago. But on April 13, doctors from The Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute reported that for the first time in medical history, they had been able to restore movement to the young man’s finger… This means that Ian can now perform tasks like brushing his teeth, pouring water into a glass, and even playing Guitar Hero by just thinking about them. Though these may seem like small feats, they are tremendous achievements for someone whose body has been totally lifeless for many years…

How does this [story] make you rethink… normal everyday movements that you take for granted?

If you want to know more about Ian’s story, click HERE.


Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges

Wear the Planets on Your Wrist!

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments

(From Mental Floss)  “Most watches can tell time, but how many keep track of the planetary orbits?…The ‘Midnight Planetarium Timepiece’ does!…

Each planet is represented with a different coloured stone… Other celestial objects on the watch include a pink gold shooting star and sun…

This watch, made by maker Van Cleef & Arpels, is sold for $225 000.

The planets actually move in time with their real-life depictions… That means it will take your tiny Saturn 29 years to make its way around the watch’s dial, with Jupiter taking about 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, and Mercury 88 days. (Neptune and Uranus aren’t included as their orbits are longer than most human lifetimes at 165 years and 84 years respectively.)”

Can you think of any other cyclical events that could be shown on a watch?

Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

How to Make Yourself Feel Better…

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments

(From Huffington Post)  “When we’re having a rough day, many of us tend to treat ourselves to some form of retail therapy, a favourite dessert or going out with friends in hopes of feeling better.

But a new study…suggests that treating ourselves is no more likely to boost our mood than doing nothing, [whereas] giving to others or practicing acts of kindness can improve our mood and overall well-being…”


Other research backs this up, showing that being kind can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.

I think the most amazing aspect of this story is the fact that doing things for yourself doesn’t make you feel better!

If you were given one day OR $1000 with the condition that you had to use it to help someone else, what would you do?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Boaty McBoatface

May 5th, 2016 · No Comments


Concept art that captures what the new boat may look like. Image: WP:NFCC#4

(From Kids News)  “Recently, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in the UK launched a new, high-tech research ship. The $370-million ship has an important job. It explores the Arctic and conducts scientific experiments to learn more about the environment.

But the new ship didn’t have a name…

So… what name did the public choose?

Boaty McBoatface…

The problem is, while Boaty McBoatface might be a good name as a joke, it doesn’t really reflect the ship’s very important and serious scientific mission.

However, given how popular the name is, [should the council] stick with the popular choice–or choose a more dignified name that better reflects the ship’s serious mission.”

What would you do if you were on the council?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions

The Great Escape – Octopus-Style!

May 5th, 2016 · No Comments


Inky the octopus is about the size of a soccer ball. (National Aquarium of New Zealand)

(From Scholastic)  “In the middle of the night, an escapee pulled off a bold getaway. After wiggling out of a tiny opening, he quietly slipped across the floor. Then he slid down a drainpipe to freedom… The runaway was Inky, an octopus that escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand earlier this year. He hasn’t been seen since…


Inky’s escape route included this opening to a drainpipe that leads to the Pacific Ocean. (National Aquarium of New Zealand)

Inky was given to the aquarium in 2014 by fishermen who had caught him by accident. He impressed the staff with his intelligence, which octopuses are known for. ‘He’d . . . squirt water at you,’ Yarrall told reporters. ‘And he [figured] out how to screw the top off a jar.’

But one morning, workers arrived at the aquarium to find Inky missing from his tank… The watery tracks leading from the tank to the drainpipe showed where he had gone…

It turns out this escape wasn’t that surprising. “Octopuses…have a complex brain… ” They can also squeeze through extremely small spaces—even ones as tiny as coins—since they have no bones in their bodies.”

Click HERE to find out more about Inky’s Great Escape.

Some people think octopuses are so smart that they should have rights.  (Here’s what one person thinks.)  What is your opinion?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Women’s Faces on Currency

May 1st, 2016 · No Comments


(Canadian Press)

“The Bank of Canada has announced a list of 12 iconic Canadian women who could be featured on the first in a new series of bank notes expected in 2018…

[HERE is the Bank of Canada’s full list.]

[The next step is a] formal public opinion survey [which will survey] a sample of Canadians regarding the 12 nominees.”


(From DOGOnews)  Meanwhile, it has just been announced “…that Harriet Tubman will [be featured] on the [American] $20 bill. The former slave and abolitionist is the first African-American, and the first woman in over a century, to be featured on the face of U.S. currency…

Born a slave in 1820 in Maryland, Tubman managed to escape while in her 20’s. She then dedicated her life to helping others achieve their freedom through the Underground Railroad...”

What is your opinion of these decisions to change the people featured on Canadian and American currency?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions

FREE Comic Book Day!

May 1st, 2016 · No Comments


(From DOGOnews)  “Saturday, May 7 will be like Christmas for comic book lovers…

The annual event that takes place on the first Saturday of Mays… Over six million comic books are handed out to fans each year…”

Do you think giving away free comic books is a good marketing strategy? Why or why not?

Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Current Events · Good Reads · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges

Japan’s New ‘Invisible’ Train!

May 1st, 2016 · No Comments


A rendering of architect Kazuyo Sejima’s design for a new express train in Japan (Photo Credit SANAA architects)

(From DOGOnews)  “Japan is famous for its state-of-the-art high-speed railway system. In 2015, its Magnetic Levitation or Maglev train, which gets its name because it hovers 10 cm above the tracks, set a new speed world record of 375 mph (603km/hr). Now the innovative island nation wants to build a train that features a mirror-like exterior and blends in so well with the environment, that it will be practically “invisible.”…

Do you think high-speed railways could replace domestic air travel in the future? Why or why not?” 

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Phone-Charging Coffee Mug was Invented by a Teenager!

April 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Popular Science has named Ann Makosinski their young inventor of the year.

Phone-Charging Coffee Mug

(From Mental Floss)  The university student’s invention of a phone-charging mug “is a layer of peltier tiles that use the temperature differences between their two sides to generate electricity. Users can harness this energy by plugging their phones into the USB port on the bottom of the cup and sip their coffee as it charges. eDrink produces enough electricity to charge a phone for 30 minutes at a time.

Makosinski was inspired to invent the high-tech mug after noticing her friends were always low on phone power. She also noticed that their coffee was taking too long to cool down, so she decided to solve both problems with one innovative solution.”

Can you think of two problems that could be solved together with one invention?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

3-D Printed Jacket with NO SEAMS!

April 17th, 2016 · No Comments


(From Mental Floss)  The clothing company ‘Ministry of Supply’ has made a jacket that is different than any other.  “It’s manufactured through a “3D Robotic Knitting” method that produces a single, seamless garment. The whole process takes around 1.5 hours, and supposedly results in a better-fitting jacket.”

The company says that “customers could have a body scanner take their measurements right in the store and then order an item that’s unique to them. And because 3D knitting machines know the precise amount of material to use, the rate of fabric waste drops down to zero.”

Would you wear 3D printed clothing?  Or do you prefer traditional methods, or natural materials?  Why?

Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Your New Local Library

April 17th, 2016 · No Comments

Little Free Library2

(From Little Free Library) “In the beginning—2009–Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, built a model of a one room schoolhouse… He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard… He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS…

By January of 2015, the total number of registered Little Free Libraries in the world was conservatively estimated to be nearly 25,000. By January of 2016, the total number reached over 36,000.”

There are 4 Little Free Libraries registered in Cambridge.  Have you seen any of them?  If not, try to find one of them.

Little Free Library

Now, the idea is really ‘on the move’.  In London (England), New York City and Chicago, the newest libraries are on subway trains.  The program only asks that patrons “take it, read it, return it”.

Library Train

What do you think of the idea of making books available for free?  How great is the risk of the books being damaged?  Does it matter?



Tags: Current Events · Good Reads · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions