News Wrap: Week of January 11th

by Elisabeth Morgan

Throughout the week we like to tweet #ShareWithKids when we find news that we think will interest your students (follow us on Twitter @Kids_Discover)! Here’s a recap of what’s going on now. Check back each week for more news in science and social studies, tailored for kids.


4 Elements Added to the Periodic Table #Chemistry

period table_cnn

Getty Images photo via

Another name for water is H2O because it’s composed of two hydrogen particles and one oxygen particle. Hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) are elements, the substances that make up our material world, and the list of elements that scientists have discovered or created are all organized on the periodic table. Last week, four new man-made elements were added to the table— numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118. But what will we call them? The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry says that they’ll draw inspiration from mythological concepts, places or scientists to give them names.


New Rules About Buying Guns #Government

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama made an order to tighten the government’s control of gun sales last week. Part of the plan is to require gun-sellers to be licensed and conduct background checks on anyone who wants to buy one. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has created a new investigation center to keep track of people trying to sell guns illegally. Some people don’t agree with the new rules, because the right to own a gun is written into the Constitution.


Oculus Rift On the Market #Technology

Image by Oculus via Wired

Image via Oculus

Big news for video-gamers came in the form of virtual reality last week, when Oculus Rift announced the release of their virtual reality headset for $599. Some complained about the price, saying that it’s not affordable for the general public. But others think that package, which includes a headset, headphones, controllers and remote, is well worth it to be able to enter “the age of VR.”


A New Way to Use Solar Power #Energy

sunlight  4FR


Researchers at MIT have developed a material that’s able to essentially save the warmth of sunlight to use at a later time. Chemical reactions within the material “lock” into place while they’re in the sun, and can later be activated to release as heat. The transparent polymer could be used to coat car windows to melt ice, or make your clothes warm on cold days. While the team is still working out the kinks on this technology, BMW, who has expressed interest in this line of research in the past, is one company in line to use the potential product in future car models.


A Big Year for Bird Watching #Birds

Corey Arnold Audubon org

Photo by Corey Arnold via

A man from Oregon broke the record for the most birds seen in a single year after catching glimpses of over 6,000 of the estimated 10,200 bird species. Noah Stryker traveled across 7 continents and 41 countries over 2015 as part of an international Big Year, which he blogged about for the Audubon Society. He said it was his 5th-grade teacher who triggered his passion for bird-watching.

A bonus Crested Shrike-Tit photographed by Stryker

A bonus Crested Shrike-Tit photographed by Stryker