News Wrap: International Women’s Day, McDonalds Goes Virtual, and More

by Elisabeth Morgan

Teaching Science and Social Studies can be tricky because the material is constantly changing! So we like to keep an eye on what’s happening each week in these subject categories. From the discovery of new species to the passing of new laws, our weekly News Wrap will keep you and your students up to date.

 

International Women’s Day Arrives with a Bang #StepItUp

Image c/o unwomen.org

Image c/o unwomen.org

This Tuesday is International Women’s Day, and thousands of events around the country will celebrate the political and economic achievements of women around the world. This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up”. This holiday was first celebrated in 1909, as a new generation of Suffragists hit the streets asking for the right to vote. Women have come a long way since then, but still make up only 19% of Congress, and earn only 79 cents for every dollar that men make.

 

How Did a Year In Space Affect the Human Body? #SpaceScience

Image via NASA

Image via NASA

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko returned last week from a year living in the International Space Station. Their mission was to find out what effects a year in space had on their bodies, in preparation for a trip to Mars in the 2030s. Even near the end of the trip, Kelly said he still didn’t feel totally normal. Zero-gravity causes bones to weaken, and body fluids to rise to the head, causing congestion and vision problems, not to mention the loneliness of isolation. Astronauts can ward off these problems with exercise and therapy, but NASA has a lot of work to do on their vehicles before the human body will be ready for a trip to the red planet.

Watch the historic homecoming here.

 

Maya Civilization May Have Fallen Because of Drought #WorldHistory

From our topic "Chichen Itza and Macchu Pichu"

From our topic “Chichen Itza and Macchu Pichu”

One of the greatest mysteries of ancient history is what caused most of Maya civilization – best known for its magnificent palaces and uncannily accurate calendar – to come to an abrupt end in A.D. 800 after centuries of splendor. After decades of research into weather patterns of that time, one theory is gaining more popularity: severe drought. By studying cave formations, scientists have found that a century of little rain began around A.D. 820. The city of Chichen Itza, one of the New 7 Wonders, continued to flourish though, causing some to doubt the theory.

 

Zombees Spread Across America #LifeScience

Image via John Hafernik/NYTimes

Image via John Hafernik/NYTimes

Zombee Watch, the volunteer group that tracks bees inflicted with a parasitic fly growing inside of them, has recently come to the conclusion that this problem is occurring all across the country, not just in California where their efforts began. Honeybee populations have been on the decline for about a decade now, something that affects the entire country since bees help pollinate our crops. Farmers, professors, and scientists think this has to do with pesticides, viruses, fungi, and climate change, but another factor can’t be ignored… parasitic flies. The flies inject their eggs into the body of a honeybee, and as the maggot grows, the bee starts acting strangely, leaving the hive at night and walking in strange patterns.

If you’d like to be a Zombee Watch Volunteer, you can register here.

 

Happy Meals Move into the Future #Technology

Image c/o McDonald's

Image c/o McDonald’s

Swedish McDonald’s Happy Meals will now come with a box that can be turned into a virtual reality headset. Based on Google Cardboard, kids can fold the box and insert a smartphone for a hands-free immersive experience. McDonald’s has also developed a video game to go along with their “Happy Goggles.” In recent years, the restaurant chain has been criticized for using happy meals to market unhealthy food to children, but others praise the company’s initiative of bringing virtual reality to the masses. What do you think?

Elisabeth Morgan

Elisabeth Morgan manages social media and blogs for Kids Discover. She participated in the Teacher's Assistantship Program in France and was an assistant teacher at the International School of Louisiana in New Orleans before moving to New York to go to Columbia Journalism School.