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Ask Science and Arts Magazine for Kids and Children

Ask Science and Arts Magazine for Kids and Children

May/June 2021
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Each themed issue of ASK invites newly independent readers to explore the world of science and ideas with topics that really appeal to kids: What makes wind? Where do colors come from? Were pirates real? Filled with lively, well-written articles, vivid graphics, activities, cartoons, and plenty of humor, ASK is science kids demand to read! Grades 3-5

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United States
Cricket Media, Inc.
9 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
nosy news

Panda Poop Bath Wild pandas are shy animals. There’s still a lot we don’t know about them. Including, why do they like to roll in horse poop? Scientists studying wild pandas first noticed this odd behavior many years ago. So they set up cameras in the woods to spy on the reclusive bears. They filmed them for many years. And they saw that in winter, pandas often liked to roll in fresh horse dung. After a horse passes through the woods, pandas come down to the trail to check out the pile of poop the horse leaves behind. Usually, animals avoid each other’s poop. But these pandas sniff the dung, and sometimes roll in it. Then they use their paws to rub it all over their bodies. Why do the pandas do this?…

7 min.

You can call me Blockhead. Everyone else does. One day when I was just a boy, Maestro wrote out a math problem and gave us 10 minutes to solve it. I solved it in two seconds. That’s the way I am with numbers. I have loved them since I was very little. Everywhere I looked in my parents’ home, there was something to count. That day in class, the other students did their math on abacuses and wrote out their answers in Roman numerals. It was time-consuming, but that’s how we did our math back then. As I waited for them to finish, I got bored. I counted 12 birds in a tree outside. How many legs did all those birds have? I wondered. How many eyes? How many wings? And if each…

5 min.
who needs numbers?

Long ago, people didn’t need a lot of fancy numbers. After all, you know who your children are; why would you need to know that there are “4” of them? But when small villages grew into big cities, people started to need bigger numbers to count sacks of grain, make trades, and collect taxes. The First Counters 35,000–20,000 BCE Tally marks—making a single line for each object counted—were probably the earliest numbers. Ancient animal bones scratched with tally marks have been found in Africa and Europe. This 25,000-year-old bone, called the Ishango bone, is from the Congo. Regular groups of marks on each side show that someone was counting—though we don’t know what. Antelopes killed? Days gone by? Pies? Body Counting Some Pacific Island cultures count using the whole body. Different body parts are assigned…

3 min.
the wheat on the chessboard

Long ago in India, there was a wise mathematician called Sessa. He invented a new game to amuse his friend, the king. He called it “chess.” The king loved chess and told Sessa to name anything he liked as his reward. Anything! The king enjoyed boasting of his limitless wealth. But instead of gold, jewels, or elephants, after much thought Sessa told the king that he wished only some grains of wheat. “What?!?” exclaimed the king, greatly astonished. “I am a simple man,” replied Sessa, “and my wants are few. But since you enjoy my chessboard so much, give me a single grain of wheat on the first square, two grains on the second square, four for the third, and so on. For each square double the last, as each day of…

4 min.
can animals count?

Unless you don’t like cookies, you’ll pick the plate with three—and so would a monkey, a bird, or a dog. Animals don’t have to know the words one, two, and three, or 1, 2, and 3, to know that three cookies are yummier than one. How Much? Being able to tell more from less is one of the most basic math talents. And it’s one that a surprising number of animals have. A robin will pick the log with more mealworms. A salamander will pick the container with more fruit flies. Animals will even pick more of something when it means they get less overall. Horses, for example, will go for three tiny apples over two much larger ones. But animals don’t have math class—why would they need to count? Being able to spot the…

1 min.
math tests for animals

There are different ways scientists can test animals’ counting ability. Some set up tasks, like choosing the correct door based on the number of spots above it, or the number of bells they hear. Scientists also study whether animals (and babies) can count by secretly changing the number of objects and seeing whether the animals notice. In one experiment, scientists placed mealworms one by one into a covered hole in a log while a New Zealand robin watched. But sometimes they sneaked a few out again. When the robin was allowed to get the worms, it looked around for the “missing” ones if the number in the log didn’t match what it saw go in—though only if at least half were missing. This shows that the robin was counting.…