Ask Science and Arts Magazine for Kids and Children

Ask Science and Arts Magazine for Kids and Children October 2020

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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9 Números

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2 min.
nosy news

FOSSIL FOOTSTEPS About 11,000 years ago, some ancient humans went for a muddy walk in Africa. They left more than 400 footprints, which became fossils. It’s the largest collection of ancient African footprints ever found. By measuring and following the prints, scientists have learned more about the people who left them. All of the footprints came from bare feet. Among the tracks, scientists found the footsteps of 17 people who were probably walking together. The tracks were all traveling in the same direction and at the same speed. From the size of the footprints, the researchers think the group was mostly adult women. They may have been out gathering food together. Snakes Stick Together Can snakes be friends? Or are they more likely to give other snakes the cold slither? Some curious scientists recently…

6 min.
secrets of the alchemists

An old castle. A small room. Inside, a stone furnace burns brightly. Foul-smelling smoke fills the air. Odd tools, strange glass jars, and small bone cups clutter the table. Two robed figures bend over the fire gazing into a bubbling pot. Is it gold yet? Have they at last found the secret? The year is 1548. All over Europe, alchemists are busy trying to turn ordinary metals into gold. Alas, they are doomed to fail. But along the way, they invent something much more important: the science we call chemistry. But that’s the end of the story. Let’s start at the beginning. Ancient Secrets Alchemy traces its roots back to the metal-smiths and glass-makers of ancient Egypt. Thousands of years ago, these craftsmen mastered the art of getting copper, silver, and gold out of…

1 min.
can we make gold?

Is it possible to turn lead into gold? Could we do it with modern science? Maybe, a little. But mostly, no. Why not? Because both lead and gold are elements. We now know that the real building blocks of the universe are atoms, the smallest bits of matter. About 100 different kinds of atoms combine to make everything in the universe. These atoms are the real elements. Atoms join up to make all kinds of compounds. But atoms themselves do not change, except in huge nuclear reactors or in the fiery hearts of stars. Pure elements are made of only one kind of atom. Pure lead has only lead atoms in it. Pure gold has only gold atoms. To change lead into gold, you’d need to change all of its atoms. And that’s hard…

1 min.
what are you made of?

Alchemists wanted to know, What is everything made of? What are the basic ingredients of the universe? It’s not earth, air, water, and fire. There are about 120 basic kinds of atoms. Each is a different size. And each size is a different element. Hydrogen is an element (size 1); so is oxygen (size 8), and so is gold (79). Atoms are so small that a single cell holds more atoms than there are stars in the sky. But everything you see is made from them. Including you! Attention, alchemists! Everything in the universe is made of atoms. Atoms are tiny particles of matter. They are the smallest bits of something that you can have. Atoms are so tiny they can’t be seen even with a powerful microscope. So it’s no wonder the alchemists missed…

1 min.
sneaky tricks of the alchemists

Most alchemists were serious scientists. But some were not so honest. Fakers claimed to be able to make gold and “proved” it with sneaky tricks. Then they sold the bogus recipe or philosopher’s stone for a high price. Or they quickly left town with the money people gave them to make another one. The Trick Nail Fake alchemists made nails or knives (or plates, or cups, or helmets) half of iron and half of gold. Then they painted the gold half so it all looked like iron. When the trick object was dipped in a "potion" of alcohol, the paint came off, and it would seem to turn to gold! This trick worked embarrassingly often. Gold Seeding Many sneaky alchemists hid gold dust under wax in the bottom of their cauldrons, or inside hollowed-out…

4 min.
the magic of fireworks

Beautiful Bangs Fireworks were invented in China over a thousand years ago. But even scientists today sometimes have no idea why they work the way they do. A firework expert, or pyrotechnician, might say that a firework is a bunch of chemicals arranged so that they explode or burn in a particular order. But “this is one type of chemistry that is not easy to study in the lab,” says David Bickar, a fireworks chemist.“Fireworks are fast and burning and explosive. You also get a different chemical reaction when something is falling through the air than when it’s sitting in a lab.” Inside Fireworks The main ingredient in fireworks is black powder. That’s old-fashioned gunpowder, made from sulfur, charcoal, and a mineral called saltpeter (potassium nitrate). When a spark lights black powder, it burns…