Robert Koch


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Did you know that Robert Heinrich Hermann Koch was born today in 1843? He was a physician and microbiologist. He is also known as the founder of bacteriology; bacteriology is the study of bacteria. Robert Koch conducted experiments that supported the idea of infection as the method for spreading disease. Previously, people thought that diseases were caused by ‘bad air’, imbalances in blood, or just suddenly appeared. Robert Koch was able to identify the bacteria that caused the diseases anthrax, cholera, and tuberculosis. In 1905 Robert Koch received the Nobel Prize for his research on tuberculosis.

We hope that you find and recognize something that causes you to be happy today! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Robert Koch developed what are now known as Koch’s postulates, or requirements for identifying a bacteria as the cause of a disease or condition.

  1. The organism must always be present in all cases of the disease
  2. The organism must be isolated from a host infected with the disease and be grown in a pure culture
  3. The organism grown from the culture must cause the same disease when used to infect a healthy test animal
  4. The organism must be collected and isolated from the test animal, and then identified as the same organism that was collected from the original infected host

Robert Koch also improved laboratory technology and techniques used in microbiology. For example, he developed the technique of growing bacteria cultures in agar gelatin. He also developed the procedure for isolating and growing specific kinds of bacteria.

The Robert Koch Institute, a German agency responsible for disease control and prevention, was founded by Robert Koch in 1891 and in named after him in his honor.


Word day – ‘vac’



Did you know that the word root ‘vac’ comes from the Latin words vacare or vaco, which mean ‘unoccupied’, ‘idle’ or ‘void’?  Many English words with this root are related to the idea of ’emptiness’.    Something that is vaccant is empty or unoccupied.  To vacate is to leave an area or to make something unoccupied.  A vacuum is a space that does not have any gas, liquid, or solid matter in it; or a space that is not filled.  A vacation can be filled with free, idle, or unoccupied time.  Can you think of any other ‘vac’ words?

We hope that you don’t have another fire drill have to evacuate!  Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things.  We Love You.


Bonus Facts:

A vacuum cleaner works by using a fan to create a partial vacuum inside the machine.  Since the air pressure in the machine is lower than the air pressure outside of the machine, ambient air flows into the vacuum cleaner.  Loose dust and debris is carried into the vacuum cleaner and trapped by filters or other air pressure changes.  The rotating brushes in a vacuum help to dislodge dirt and dust so it can be caught up by the air stream.

Galileo Spacecraft


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Did you know that in 1995 the spacecraft Galileo arrived at the planet Jupiter? Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It took 6 years to travel from Earth and spent 8 years studying Jupiter and its moons. Some of the observations Galileo made include: clouds made of ammonia on Jupiter; faint rings of dust and rock around Jupiter; a magnetic field around the Jovian moon Ganymede; and the possibility of liquid oceans under the surfaces of Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. In 1994, Galileo observed the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 as it crashed into Jupiter.

We hope that you have a great day of discovery today! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Galileo was launched on October 18, 1989. It was carried into space by the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

During its mission, Galileo travelled 4,631,778,000 km. It orbited Jupiter 34 times.

The Galileo spaceprobe weighed 2,23 kg and was about 5.3 meters high.

En route, Galileo also completed the first flyby of an asteroid, 951 Gaspra. Galileo discovered the first asteroid moon, Dactyl, orbiting the asteroid 243 Ida.

On September 21, 2003 Galileo ended its exploration of the Jovian system. To eliminate the possibility of contaminating Jupiter’s moons with bacteria from Earth (or debris from Galileo), Galileo was programmed to crash into Jupiter.

For more information about Galileo, click here.

Niccolo Zucchi


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Did you know that the Niccolo Zucchi was born today in 1586? He was an astronomer and physicist. He studied optics and light, magnetism, barometers, and phosphorescent materials. Niccolo Zucchi designed one of the first reflecting telescopes, which uses mirrors instead of lenses to collect light and form an image. Niccolo Zucchi was also the first to see stripes on the planet Jupiter. The bands are caused by ‘streams’ of Jupiter’s atmosphere moving at different speeds. The colors come from the different chemicals found in each ‘stream’.

We hope that you reflect and focus on something new you’ve learned today! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Niccolo Zucchis’ book, Optica philosophia experimentalis et ratione a fundamentis constituta, inspired other scientist such as Isaac Newton.

A crater on the moon, Zucchius, is named in honor of Niccolo Zucchi.

The dark stripes on Jupiter are called ‘belts’. The lighter stripes are called zones. Stripes have appeared and disappeared from Jupiter.

Niccolo Zucchi demonstrated that phosphorescent materials emit light instead of storing it.

World Soil Day


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Did you know that today is World Soil Day? Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, and liquids. Sometimes soil is called ‘dirt’ or ‘earth’. World Soil Day was created to help highlight the importance of soil on Earth. Soil provides a place and nutrients needed for plants, some animals, and microorganisms to grow. Soil also helps to purify and store water and air. Pollution, erosion, over-use, and droughts are serious threats to the soil. Plants cannot grow in unhealthy soil. This leads to problems like famines and dust bowls.

We hope that you have a great day learning and growing at school. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
World Soil Day was established on December 20, 2013.

Soil on Earth is called the pedosphere.

The texture of soil is determined by the mixture, proportions, and density of minerals and organic matter in the soil. The average soil is 5 % organic matter, 45% mineral, and 50% ‘voids’. The voids are filled with gases and water.

There are two main soil sciences. Edaphology is the study of how soil influences living things such as plants or humans that depend on the plants that grow in soil. Pedology is the study of how soil is formed and classified.

Alfred Hershey


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Did you know that Alfred Hershey was born today in 1908? He was a bacteriologist; a scientist that studies bacteria. He was awarded the1969 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering the structure of viruses and how viruses replicate. Viruses cannot replicate or produce more copies of the virus by themselves. To create more viruses, they attach themselves to a plant, animal, or microorganism cell; break through the cell’s wall and inject their virus DNA into that cell. The infected cell then follows the instructions in the viruses’ DNA to make more viruses.

We hope that you ‘infect’ others with the desire to be kind and friendly today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
The experiment led by Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in 1952 also provided strong evidence that DNA carried genetic information, not protein.

The 1969 Nobel Prize was also shared with Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück.



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Did you know that the name of the month of December comes from the Latin word ‘decem’, meaning ten? Originally December was the 10th (and last) month of the Roman calendar. The first month was March. The 51 days between the end of December (which only had 30 days then) and the beginning of March were not assigned to a month! Eventually, January and February were created from these unassigned days, pushing December from the 10th month, to its current position of the 12th month of the year.

We hope that you find the time to learn something new today; to try something that’s difficult for you to do. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Here’s a list of the months in the first Roman Calendar. Some Roman historians credited the creation of this calendar to Romulus, the first leader of Rome.

March (31 days)
April (30 days)
May (31 days)
June (30 days)
Quintilis (31 days)
Sextilis (30 days)
September (30 days)
October (31) days
November (30 days)
December 30 days)

With the 10-month calendar, the seasons would quickly become out of sync with calendar days. Some historical documents allude that when the seasons and calendars became too unmatched, random days would be inserted into the calendar until it seemed like the calendar once again matched the seasons.

Other revisions of the calendar inserted ‘intercalary months’ or additional months that would be included periodically to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons (like leap days). These intercalary months eventually became January and February.

Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens


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Did you know that Mark Twain was born today in 1835? His name is actually Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Mark Twain is his pen name (mark twain is a phrase used by riverboat crews to indicate the water is deep enough for a boat to travel). Mark Twain was a famous journalist and author. Some of his most famous works are the novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain also wrote poetry, newspaper articles, short stories, humorous stories, and non-fiction stories about his world-wide journeys and adventures. He is known as ‘the father of American literature’.

We hope that you keep up the hard work today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Mark Twain was born after the appearance of Halley’s Comet. He once said that he would ‘go out with it’. Amazingly enough, he passed away the day before Halley’s Comet returned.

Mark Twain has been called the “greatest humorist this country has produced” as well as “the father of American literature”.

Mark Twain is just one of Samuel Clemens’ pen names. Another is Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass.

While living in Hartford, Conneticut, Mark Twain was the neighbor of Harriet Beecher Stowe. His house in Hartford has been restored and is now the Mark Twain House and Museum.

Madeleine L’Engle


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Did you know that Madeleine L’Engle was born today in 1918? She was an author and wrote over 60 books and once said, “I’ve been a writer ever since I could hold a pencil.” Madeleine L’Engle created her first story when she was five years old and started writing a journal when she was eight. When she finished writing A Wrinkle in Time, she tried to publish the book and it was rejected more than 30 times because it was too different. However, she kept on trying and it was finally published, and has been consistently listed as one of the best children’s novels written!

We hope that you work hard at something that is difficult for you today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Some of the awards Madeleine L’Engle has received include the Margaret A Edwards Award from the American Library Associate in 1998 for her significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. In 2004 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, but could not accept the award in person from President George W. Bush.

A Wrinkle in Time won the prestigious Newberry Award. Some of the reasons it was possibly rejected by publishers include that it dealt with the problem of evil too directly; it could not be easily categorized as a children’s or adult book; it had a female protagonist, but it was a science fiction novel.

Madeleine L’Engle said of her childhood and writing, “Their lives were very full and they didn’t really have time for a child … so I turned to writing to amuse myself.” She was often sent to boarding schools where she earned poor grades, but often because she was reading what she wanted to read and writing her own stories, poems, and journals.

As a child, Madeleine travelled extensively. She was born in New York City, but also lived in the French Alps, Switzerland, Florida, and South Carolina.

Although she always wanted to be a writer, after graduating college, Madeleine L’Engle worked as a theater actress. The more flexible working schedule gave L’Engle the time to write and work on her novels. She also met her husband, Hugh Franklin, while performing in the play The Cherry Orchard.

A crater on Mercury was named after Madeleine L’Engle.

Many of Madeleine L’Engle’s papers, manuscripts, and working documents are maintained at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Chicago Times-Herald Race


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Did you know that the first automobile race in the United States was sponsored by the newspaper, the Chicago Times-Herald, and took place in 1895? The first gasoline-powered American car was built just 2 years before in 1893. Since cars were so new, they did not have an official word for this new machine; they finally decided to call it a ‘moto cycle’ race. The race course was 54 miles long. Frank Duryea’s car finished the race first in 10 hours and 23 minutes. The race inspired automobile designers and jump started the age of automobiles in the United States.

We hope that you race to find inspiration today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Moto cycle was an early term for an automobile. ‘Horseless carriage’ was another term, but the editors of the Chicago Times-Herald were looking for a better word to describe these new machines and settled on ‘moto cycle’.

The first gasoline-powered American car was built by the Duryea brothers in 1893. It was tested in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 21, 1893.

Prizes for the race totaled up to $5000, about $144,000 currently.

The original race course was supposed to stretch from Chicago to Milwaukee, but these early models of cars could not travel on the rough condition of the roads. So the course was shortened to a stretch between Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.

83 cars entered the race, but only 6 competed. Some cars were not completely built in time for the race, others broke down or were damaged en route to the race. 3 of the vehicles were made by Karl Benz. 2 vehicles were two-wheeled automobiles. 1 was made by Frank Duryea. 1 was electric powered (but it’s battery did not work in the cold weather).

Some of the cars that did arrive on time were stopped by police as they drove into the city. The police said they did not have permission to drive on city streets. They had to procure horses to pull the cars through town until the race organizers could convince city leaders to give the vehicles the right to drive on city streets.

The day of the race was cold (38 F), snowy, wet, and muddy.

The only two vehicles to finish were Frank Duryea’s car and the Benz vehicle entered by H. Mueller & Co. At the end of the race, the judged declared that none of the entrants had finished the race according to the rules. None of the vehicles kept to the course. Some of the cars broke down during the race and had to be repaired by a blacksmith. Others got stuck and had to be pushed by spectators. The prize money was awarded to all of the vehicles that participated in the race.

The Duryea car was destroyed at some point, but the second car to complete the race is on display in the Mueller Museum in Decatur, Illinois.

The race also inspired the creation of the first American automotive club, the American Motor League and a trade publication, Motocycle.