Wednesday, July 30, 2014

City Science Kids is Off to the Bay of Fundy!

That's right, for the next 9 days we'll be vacationing—and looking for science—in Canada's Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. It shouldn't be too hard to find cool stories, since the Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides in the world! (Although it's shown in the photo below at LOW tide.) Be sure to check back with us soon for our stories from the road!
xxx Lela & Ada

Saturday, July 26, 2014

City Science Kids Presents: How Manhattan Looked 400 Years Ago

In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed into New York Harbor. He found an island that the native Lenni Lenape called Manahatta, which means Island of Many Hills. It was covered in pitch pine forest that was filled with wildlife like black bears and wolves and mountain lions! On Manahatta alone there were 55 different ecosystems!

Today, Manhattan is dense with tall buildings, and overrun with pigeons and squirrels. To find out what it looked like 400 years ago, Eric Sanderson started the Manahatta project. It's become an even bigger project, called Welikilia—he went from figuring out what Manhattan used to look like, to figuring out what Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island looked like, too. Sanderson took old maps that were made during the Revolutionary War in the 18th century. Using computers, he laid them over existing maps of the city. In this way he was able to figure out where hills and streams and wetlands and salt marshes used to be. Then he used that information to figure out what plants and animals used to live there. If you visit his website, you can see how every block in the city used to look—before we even had cameras!

For this episode, we visited Washington Square Park in Manhattan's West Village. The land is flat now, and covered in paving stones and concrete. Watch and find out what used to be here!

Special thanks to Eric Sanderson for lending his time and expertise.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Brooklyn Sycamore Trees in Dead-Summer

As a follow-up to our mini-episode 2 weeks ago, here's a photo showing just how much Brooklyn sycamores are apt to shed their bark in the hot months. This tree is almost all yellow—it must really be GROWING!!

Be sure to watch the episode and to write in with your questions, comments & observations. Have you noticed any shedding trees near you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Lake Minnewaska in the Catskills Mountains in New York State is infested with leeches!
Leeches are worm-like parasites that live in lakes, marshes and streams. They can grow to over 2 inches long and have 5 pairs of eyes. They also have suckers on both ends that are filled with teeth. That's how they clamp on to snails, snapping turtles and even unlucky humans to suck their blood!

How leeches got into Lake Minnewaska is a big mystery—especially since none of the other lakes nearby have leeches. What scientists do know is that over the past few years, the lake has gone from having a lot of acid in it; this made it inhospitable not only for leeches, but for fish, too. To having very little acid; now there are two kinds of fish living in the lake, plus lots of leeches. Recently, the lake was treated with a pesticide called copper sulfate. But it didn't kill the leeches. Swim here at your own risk!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

City Science Kids Presents: London plane trees are shedding! (A mini-episode)

London plane trees are shedding their bark all over Brooklyn this month. Find out why in this mini-episode (while we continue to procrastinate in getting out our next full episode)!