Benjamin Franklin and Lightning


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Did you know that June 15, 1752 is the traditional date for when Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning is electricity? His experiments involved flying a kite in a lightning storm. The kite had two strings: a dry, insulated string was used to control the kite; a wet string connected the kite near the clouds to a metal key near the ground and conducted collected electricity to a Leyden jar. During the experiment Benjamin Franklin moved his hand near the metal key and observed an electric spark. Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with lighting led him to invent the lightning rod which protects buildings from lightning strikes.

We hope that you find something that sparks your imagination today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
The exact date of Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with lightning are not known.

Benjamin Franklin was aware of the dangers associated with his kite experiment. He took precautions such as sheltering in dry and insulated places, using silk strings, and collecting electricity from a storm cloud instead of an actual lighting strike. Other scientists, such as Professor George Wilhelm Richmann, were not so cautious and were electrocuted while trying to perform the experiment.

Benjamin Franklin started studying electricity in 1746. During Benjamin Franklin’s time, electricity was called ‘electrical fluid’.

A Leyden jar was an early form of a capacitor. It can store a high-voltage electrical charge.

After a fire destroyed some of Harvard University’s lab equipment, Benjamin Franklin advised the University regarding new electrical laboratory equipment. The collection of equipment is now a part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and is on display in the Science Center.


Karl Landsteiner



Did you know that Karl Landsteiner was born today in 1868? He was an Austrian biologist, physician and immunologist. In 1930 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of blood groups or types. Although blood looks the same, there are actually 8 different blood types. Only certain combinations of blood types can be mixed or transferred from one person to another. Receiving the wrong type of blood is a life-threatening event. Blood transfusions save millions of lives each year. Karl Landsteiner’s discovery made these blood transfusions a possibility.

We hope that you find something that matches and satisfies your curiosity today. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Karl Landsteiner is known as the father of transfusion medicine. Without his discovery of blood groups blood transfusions would be nearly impossible.

There 8 common blood types, but also many other rare types of blood. A blood type is determined by the mix of antibodies and antigens present in the blood.

A person’s blood type is an inherited trait. Two parents with Group A blood, will not have a child with Group B blood.

In 1909, with Constantin Levaditi and Erwin Popper, Karl Landsteiner discovered the virus responsible for polio.

In 1937, Karl Landsteiner and Alexander S. Wiener identified and discovered the Rhesus factor. The Rhesus factor is very important for pregnant women and treating Rh disease.

Click here for more information about Karl Landsteiner.

Click here for more information about blood types.

word root – onym



Did you know that the word root ‘onym’ comes from the Greek word ‘onuma’ (ὄνυμα), which means ‘name’? Some English words that use this root include acronym, which is a set of letters that represent a name of an organization, for example NASA. A pseudonym is a fictious name used to conceal an identity. A cryptonym is a secret name or code word. An eponym is a descriptive word that is created from the name of a person, for example ‘Victorian’ which describes something from the reign of Queen Victoria of England. Can you think of any other ‘onym’ words?

We hope that some punny work with homonyms makes you smile. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
An exonym or xenonym is the name of geographical place that comes from outside of that country or group of people. For example, “Germany” is the English word and “Allemagne” is the French word for the country. The opposite of xenonym is endonym. Following this example, the endonym is “Deutschland”.

Homonyms are words that have the same spelling, but different meanings. They can be used when making puns. For example:

  • He often broke into song because he could not find the key
  • He had a photogenic memory that was never developed.
  • To write with a broken pencil is pointless
  • A thief fell into cement and became a hardened criminal.
  • We may never run out of math worksheets because they multiply

The Laufmaschine or Dandy Horse



Did you know that the first recorded trip for the Laufmaschine took place on June 12, 1817? The Laufmaschine was also called the ‘running machine’, velocipede, Draisine, or ‘dandy horse’. It was the one of the earliest forms of the bicycle, and one of the first forms of horseless transportation. It had two wheels, but no pedals. A rider pushed the vehicle along with their feet and turned the front wheel to steer. At the time roads were very bumpy and rough so riders would use the smoother sidewalks instead, endangering pedestrians. Many cities banned the machines for decades.

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

Bonus Facts:
Karl Drais invented the Laufmaschine.  His trip was between Mannheim and an inn in Rheinau, about 7 kilometers. The trip took about an hour. It started interest in horseless transportation.

One of the drawbacks to the Laufmaschine was that it had to be custom made to match the height and stride of the rider.

The Laufmaschine has been revived in modern days for children in the form of balance or push bikes.

In 1923, Buster Keaton’s film Our Hospitality featured a dandy horse. They could not find a vintage dandy horse, so they built one using drawings and prints. The prop was later donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Race


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Did you know that the first motor car race took place in 1895? The race course was a round-trip between Paris and Bordeax in France, for a total distance of 1,178 km. The fastest car in the race was driven by Emile Levassor, he finished the race in 48 hours. The same trip today might take about 14 hours. Levassor’s car showcased many new designs such as manual transmission so the car could run at different speeds, and the engine being mounted in front of the driver instead of under or behind the driver.

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

Bonus Facts
There were 46 entries for the race. Technically Paul Koechlin won the race with a race time of 59 hours. Emile Levassor, who finished the race 11 hours before Koechlin, did not technically win the race because he was driving a two-seat car, when the race was designed for a four-seat car.

Emile Levassor and his partner Rene Panhard managed a large machine shop in Paris. They had just designed and manufactured a new high-speed engine, which was on display in 1889. The new engine configuration (in front of the driver instead of behind or under) and the manual transmission with a clutch became known as the System Panhard and became the main model for all automobiles.

The race was planned and spearheaded by journalists, automotive builders, and bicycle makers to capture and support public enthusiasm for automobiles.

The Antiquities Act


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Did you know that in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, making it a law? The Antiquities Act gives the President of the United States the authority to create national monuments from federal land to preserve and protect natural, scientific, historical, or cultural places. There are currently 129 National Monuments. Some national monuments are as small as a building or are large enough to include ocean reefs. Some National Parks, such as the Grand Canyon, started out as National Monuments.

We hope that find time to learn about and appreciate the many places set aside as National Monuments! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
In the early 1900’s ‘pot hunting’ or removing archeological artifacts from prehistoric ruins had become a serious problem. Congressman John F. Lacey and anthropologist Edgar Lee Hewett researched and provided the information to convince Congress to pass the Antiquities Act, that would protect these irreplaceable ruins and artifacts.

The first National Monument created was Devils Tower National Monument on September 24, 1906.

With 18, Arizona has the highest number of National Monuments. California has 17 and New Mexico has 14.

The largest National Monument created is Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which includes the ocean waters northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. It encompasses 583,000 square miles. The smallest National Monument is the Father Millet Cross National Monument, which only encompasses 30 square meters.

Since the Antiquities Act was passed, it has been used more than a hundred times. Only 4 Presidents have not created or enlarged National Monuments while in office. As of 2018, President Trump is looking to review and revise the use of the Antiquities Act, and in some cases calling to dismantle some of the National Monuments that have been created.

Brooks Stevens / Wienermobile


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Did you know that Brooks Stevens was born today in 1911? He was an American industrial designer. An industrial designer helps to decide and plan what products look and what materials they are made of. Brooks Stevens designed automobiles, furniture, appliances, and more. One of his most memorable designs was for the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. It is a vehicle that is shaped like the food it is trying to advertise – a giant hot dog. There are currently 11 active Wienermobiles; the full-sized vehicles are 27 feet long and 11 feet high, about the size of a school bus! Drivers for the Wienermobile are called ‘hotdoggers’.

We hope that you continue to use your creativity to think of new designs! Be caring and helpful. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
When Clifford Brooks Stevens was a child he contracted polio. While he was bed-ridden, his father encouraged him to practice drawing.

Brooks Stevens also designed the Jeep Wagoneer, 1962 Studebaker Hawk Grand Turismo and the 1949 Harley Davidson FL Hydra-Glide motorcycle.

Oscar Mayer’s nephew, Carl Mayer, designed the first Wienermobile in 1936.

US College seniors, who are about to graduate are can apply to drive the Wienermobile. On average Oscar Mayer receives 2000 applications each year; only 12 hotdoggers are chosen.

In addition to driving the Wienermobile, hotdoggers also hand out toy whistles shaped like the Wienermobile. They are called Wienerwhistles.

Drive-in theaters


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Did you know that the first drive-in theater opened in 1933? A drive-in theater has a large screen, projector and parking spots so you can drive in and watch the movie from your car. The idea was very popular and by the 1950’s there were at least 4,000 drive-in theaters across the United States. However, in the 1970’s interest in drive-in theaters started to decline. With new technology, such as color television sets and movie rentals, families could watch movies at home. Daylights Savings Time caused movies to start later, which also made drive-ins less popular with families. As of 2017, only 330 drive-in theaters are still in operation across the United States.

We hope that you project kindness at school today! Be caring and helpful. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Richard Hollingshead, Jr. developed and fine-tuned the idea for the Drive-In theater at his home. He applied for a patent on August 6, 1932, received the patent on May 16, 1933, and opened the first drive-in theater on June 6, 1933. The theater was located in Camden, New Jersey close to Cooper River Park. It had a 40 ft x 50 ft screen and could hold 400 cars.

One of the largest drive-in theaters in history was the Johnny All-Weather Drive-In in Copiague, New York. The theater covered 29 acres. It had space for 2,500 vehicles. Instead of just a concession stand there was a full-service restaurant with roof-top seating. The drive-in also had a playground for children and an indoor theater incase patrons wished to watch the feature in air-conditioned comfort.

The Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop is the world’s largest drive-in theater. There are 14-screens! During the day it doubles as the grounds for the world’s largest flea market.

Other events that led to the decline of drive-in theaters include the 1970’s energy crisis – gasoline for cars was scarce and drive-ins felt uneconomical and extravagant. The implementation of Daylights Savings Time also led to the decline of drive-in theaters. With the shift in time, drive-ins had to start shows later in the evening, which made them less appealing to families.

Elena Cornaro Piscopia


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Did you know that Elena Cornaro Piscopia was born today in 1646? She was one of the first women in the world to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree from an academic university. Noticing her intelligence and curiosity, a friend of her father encouraged him to give Elena the opportunity to study and gain an education. She leaned how to speak, read, and write in Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, Hebrew, and Arabic. In addition, she studied mathematics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, and theology. Elena Cornaro Piscopia was also a master musician and could play the harpsicord, clavichord, harp, and violin.

We hope that you have a brilliant day at school today! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Elena was born in Venice to an influential nobleman. However, her mother was not married to the nobleman, Gianbattista Cornaro-Piscopia at the time. As a result, she was not officially part of the Cornaro family and was barred from noble privilege.

Elena was seven years old when she became proficient in Latin, Greek, French and Spanish.

Elena Cornaro Piscopia also composed music.

Elena Cornaro Piscopia’s accomplishments were acknowledged across Europe. She was invited to be part of or lead many scholarly societies including the Venetian Society Accademia dei Pacifici (Academy of the Peaceful).

When Elena Cornaro Piscopia’s tutor, Felice Rotondi, initially petitioned the University of Padua to grant Elena a Doctor of Theology. The Bishop of Padua, denied that request since Elena Cornaro Piscopia was a woman, but he did allow her to pursue a Doctorate of Philosophy degree.

When her degree was conferred on June 25, 1678, the ceremony was held at the Padua Cathedra instead of the University. Aside from University authorities, professors, and students, Venetian senators and guests from other Universities at Bologna, Perugia, Rome, and Naples also attended. When she passed away, memorial services were held in Venice, Pauda, Siena, and Rome.

After obtaining her Doctorate of Philosophy degree, Elena Cornaro Piscopia divided her time between further studies and tending to and caring for the poor.

Christopher Cockerell


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Did you know that Christopher Cockerell was born today in 1910? He was an English engineer and inventor. He is best known for inventing the hovercraft, a vehicle that can travel easily over many surfaces including land, water, mud, and ice because they ‘float’ or ‘hover’ on a cushion of air created by huge fans underneath the craft. They can have different shapes, but many look like boats with a rubber ‘curtain’ draped on the edges, which helps to contain the cushion of air. Hovercraft are used during disaster relief, military, coast guard, and transport to areas that are easier to access by water.

We hope that you have an adaptable day today! Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.

Bonus Facts:
Christopher Cockerell studied radio and electronics at Cambridge University. He worked for the Marconi Company on projects such as radar, radio location technology, and broadcasting equipment.

After Christopher Cockerell left his job with the Marconi Company he purchased a boat company and started to investigate how the boats could be made to move more quickly. After lots of study he theorized that if the craft were lifted out of the water, by a cushion of air, it would have no drag.

In 1955, Cockerell built a working model out of balsa wood. He filed a patent for the idea, but no shipbuilding companies were interested in the idea. Cockerell approached the government, who although were not interested at the time, put his idea on the ‘secret list’, which made it classified and prevented him from being able to make his design public. It was not declassified until 1958. Later in 1959 the first full-sized hovercraft was built and shown to the public.

Although hovercraft is now a generic term, Hovercraft was a trademark of many companies. Alternate names used to describe the vehicles include air-cushion vehicle.