Dolphin Talk

Dolphin Wikipedia Nov 7Dolphins on Finding Their Food:  DolphIns have approxImaTely 199 TeeTh and are In dIfferenT colors (their body, that is, not their teeth)— WhITe, Black, Grey, Brown, YeLLow and even Pink and Blue!Like human beIngs, DolphIns are MammaLs and Nurse TheIr young wITh TheIr MiLk.  They swIm In “schools”, also called “pods”, doIng some ThIngs on TheIr own, Though mosT ofTen are very socIaL – some havIng a shy characTer, and some beIng ouTward and enTerTaInIng, each wITh a unIque personaLITy.  Schools can be aT Times Found In The hundreds; Though River DolphIns are found only a handful In number.  (SpIlsbury; p. 6)They assIsT each oTher In FIndIng Food, carIng and LookIng ouT For One AnoTher and each oTher’s young.  (p. 7)

DolphIns keep warm because of a layer of Blubber, also called FaT, under The skIn.  In contrast, to stay warm, human beIngs have warm foods lIke gInger, blankeTs, Wood Fires, and each oTher!  InTeresTIngly, The Bones ThaT make up a DolphIn’s skeLeTon, are Filled wITh FaT and Oil, causIng TheIr bones To be boyoanT gIvIng Them an easIer Time To FLoaT.  That is so cool!   They move approxImaTely 10-15 km per hr Through The waTer. 

Range:  Eg. SpoTTed DolphIns  have A few hundred Miles / 400 km DIameTer of a Circular Range, TravelIng ~ 45 mIles / 70 km per day. (SpIlsbury; p. 9)

Their buoyant bones allow them to Stay Under waTer abouT 10 mInuTes aT a Time.  Then They surface To breaThe aIr Through TheIr blowhole, whIch has a muscular skInflap ThaT closes for when underwaTer (SpIlsbury; p.11).  Using EchoLocaTIon for finding Food, they eat SquId, KrIll, anchovIes, and mackeral, (small Fish mosTly).  It is InTeresTIng ThaT They eaT JellyFIsh wIThouT beIng harmed by Them – maybe only The small ones!  Because They have such good hearIng usIng echoLocaTIon, ThIs sense Is used more Than sIghT for FIndIng Food.  RIsso’s eaT mosTly squId.  Other River DolphIns eaT Clams, Crabs and Fish. (SpIlsbury; p. 12)  UsIng The nasal sacs found jusT behInd The BraIn, The dolphIn sends ouT sound waves called “EchoLocaTIon” ThaT surround and sIze up an objecT, fIgurIng ouT ITs generaL weIghT and sIze and shape, deTermInIng IF IT Is a Good Food Source.  (SpIlsbury; pp. 13, 14)  SpiLsbury, RIchard and LouIse; A SchooLoF DoLphIns; Illinois: 2004 HeInemann Library;  www. HeInemannLIbrary .com)  

Q – What is it that causes a Dolphin to have boyount bones?  That is, what elements cause their bones to be this way?  WHat other sea mammals have boyount bones?

Septarian Nodules in The Earth’s Crust

Moeraki Boulders SunriseThis month’s Science focus is about a most interesting phenomena called a Spheroidal Concretion, and the special “animal” (though not an animal – or was it at one time?) is called a Septarian Nodule.  In their raw found forms, one might think that they are eggs, with a living creature inside awaiting to hatch – or that maybe they are sediment space shuttles that came from outer space.  Because of their interesting looks, they are also known as Dragon Eggs.  They formed during the Cretaceous period, about 50-70 million years ago.  Many of these facts, we learned this weekend from a rock show organized by the Victoria Lapidiary Society.  Helpful participants were Fossil Grotto from Duncan, BC, and Stone Haven Gems.  We learned a lot!

Concretions are rounded rocks embedded in layers of stone in sedimentary rocks, often they are harder than the surrounding stone, and whether out of the host rock;  They are a hard mass of sedimentary rocked compacted tightly at one time, by way of the precipitation of mineral cement, that has grown spaces between the sediment grains – outward in 7 directions.  The sedimentary rock nodules are kind of mineralized calcified encased “mud”, made up of calcite and ironstone.  There are 2 basic stages of development that are shown in the photos here:(; Moeraki Boulders; Septarian Nodule; photos drawn March 17, 2014 ) caused by networks of cracks in which the minerals, usually calcite (CaCo3 – Calcium Carbonite – in the Periodic Table, Calcium, Carbon and Oxygen) been deposited into the solution before hardening.  Prior to the depositing of minerals, the cavities are filled with ironstone; (Melody, EARTH-LOVE Publishing House; Love is In The Earth – Kaleidoscope pictorial, 1998; pp. 282-283).

Septarian NoduleOn a metaphysical level, these beauties are said to filter dreams and keep only good ones around a person, such as is with dream catchers, and thus good to keep near a sleep space.   Also used to facilitate neuro-linguistic programming, instilling patience, endurance and tolerance to a person; freedom of body movement supporting the body’s self-healing abilities.  (Melody; 1998). Melody, a most fantastic source in the world of minerals and crystals, says it can be placed in the centre of Medicine Circles, facilitating Connection and Harmony.

Questions to ask Learners in your Classroom:  What causes minerals to migrate to a centre and become harder?  What are their true origins?  Can you find septarian nodules in your backyard?  Or are they only in one part area of the Earth?

For Fun Learning and Teaching activities and games, feel free to visit here:

Interesting links from the Victoria Lapidiary Rock Show we visited:

Victoria Lapidiary and Mineral Society:

Fossil Grotto:

Stone Haven Gems:






How Do Boats Float?

A boat is able to float based on the amount of water it displaces or moves out of the way. When a boat pushes against the water, the water pushes back with an equal amount of force. Therefore, a wider boat is able to carry a heavier load than a long, narrow boat. Wider boats displace more water and therefore are held up by a greater water force, enabling them to carry heavier loads.

In this activity students will experiment with how much weight a boat can hold depending on the size of the boat.


Large pan with water
Toy boats (various sizes)
Pennies (or other coins)


  1. Place the boat in the water. Allow students to interact with the boat, seeing that it floats when placed in the water.
  2. Add pennies to the boat, counting how many are added before the boat sinks.
  3. Repeat this with each type of boat and compare how the boats differ in size, shape, and the amount of pennies they can hold.

Discussion Questions to Ask:

  • What did the boats do when placed in the water?
  • How many pennies do you think each boat can hold? Which boat held more pennies?
  • If you had to make a boat to carry a heavy load, what shape and size boat would you make?

When teaching concepts related to density, it is best practice to allow students to experiment with different shapes and sizes of objects. Encourage students to explore how long objects can float before sinking, or how long it takes an object to sink when placed in the water. Finding ways to connect the activity to the students’ current interests is a great way to keep young students especially interested in the topic. Additionally, finding ways that this activity relates to the real-world is a great way to extend the science learning beyond the classroom. Looking at how large ships carry cargo, or how small ships can zip through the water very quickly, are easy ways to show how this lesson of buoyancy is applied in everyday life. For more fun buoyancy teaching tips, visit:

For Our Fun Learning Games about other great science activities, you can visit here!


Love Chemistry: Liquids and Solids

Furthering and expanding our discussion on solubles, the in between liquid and physical state, here is another fun activity to try in the classroom.  Solids and liquids are generally easy to recognize. For example, slippery and wet items are usually liquids, like water, liquid soap, even blood. Solids are usually hard and easy to hold like a bowl, spoon, or even dirt. Solids have strong attractions between their molecules that keep them stuck together whereas liquids have some attraction between their particles, but the attraction is more flexible, allowing the particles to slide across each other. It is not always that easy to identify a liquid and a solid when they are happening at the same time. What happens if something is both a liquid and a solid?

In this activity students will explore the differences between a liquid and a solid.




Large Mixing Bowl

Measuring cups (1 cup and ½ cup)


  1. Pour the cornstarch (1 cup) into the bowl. Identify that it is a solid.
  2. Add ½ cup water to the bowl with the cornstarch. Identify that it is a solid.
  3. Mix the mixture, either with a large spoon, but fingers work great too.
  4. Let students explore the texture, grabbing handfuls and squeezing the mixture and then releasing.

How It Works:

This mixture seems to have both properties of a solid and a liquid simultaneously. This is because when pressure is applied, like when it is squeezed, the particles are forced close together. When the particles are closer together they begin to temporarily attract and attach to each other forming what chemists call “weak intermolecular forces”. What happens when the pressure is released? The solid seems to melt right before your eyes. This is because now the particles are not forced so closely together and are not as attracted and attached to each other and are able to flow like a liquid usually does.

Chemistry is an easy topic to teach to students of all ages, especially elementary school students as they are often very curious about how things change over time. Even looking at the leaves change in the Fall is an example of Chemistry. For more science teaching techniques from the National Science Teachers Association, visit:   or

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, We Invite you to visit any of these pages:

Teaching Acids: Shine Your Pennies with Lemon!

Ever had a lemon? Or anything sour? Then you have eaten an acid. Acids can be harmful like battery acid, but most acids are safe to eat like lemons, limes, and vinegar. In this activity students will explore how the properties of acids can be used to help clean objects. When acids are mixed with other compounds like salt, they form special molecules called ions. These ions are able to react with other compound nearby and have chemical reactions that can be used to change other substances, or in this case, clean the penny.

In this experiment students will experiment with the properties of an acid. 


Measuring cup (1/2 cup)


Pennies (dirty and old pennies work best)

Lemon Juice and salt

Taco Sauce


  1. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of lemon juice with a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Take a small amount of taco sauce and begin rubbing the pennies with it. (Use your hands, the more you scrub the better!)
  3. Periodically dip the penny in the lemon juice and salt mixture to help clean the penny even more.
  4. Scrub the penny for about 5-10 minutes until the pennies are nice and shiny.

How It Works: The taco sauce has vinegar and salt in it, which when combined form a super cleaning mixture. When salt is dissolved in vinegar it breaks into two ions (or charged particles), sodium and chloride. These ions are able to then mix with the copper oxide (a.k.a. rust) on the penny and dissolve the rust, leaving the penny shiny like new. The lemon juice and salt mixture does the same, with the salt dissolving in the lemon juice to form the cleaning machines, sodium and chloride.

When teaching Chemistry concepts, it is best to do hands-on activities. There are great vocabulary words that can be reinforced during Chemistry-related activities, like liquid, solid, acid, base, even words like chemical change, and physical change. There are lots of Chemistry topics around us everyday from how we cook foods to how our bodies breakdown the food we eat. For more useful teaching techniques related to acids and to everyday chemistry, you can visit:   or

And for other Fun Learning Science Games, we invite you to visit here:

Automaton: Elementary Science of The Old-Fashioned Robot

This month’s Elementary Science feature is about the very early example in science history of what today we call a sophisticated robot.   An Automaton is basically an old-fashioned robot, or a “non-electronic moving machine “. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes one as:
1. a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially : robot
2. a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions
3. an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion
This photo above from Wikipedia is a beautiful Japanese Tea Making Automaton.

In Jan., 2012, CBS Sunday morning produced a VERY COOL short video clip of Charles Penniman demonstrating Maillardet’s Automaton today home at The Franklin Institute Museum in Philadelphia.  Also known as the “Draughtsman-Writer”, this Automaton was built by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss clock mechanic who worked in London producing clocks and other mechanisms around the year 1800. After going through 2 fires, it eventually was found and donated to the Institute in November of 1928, after which a number of mechanics specialists worked diligently at its restoration. Compared to other old-fashioned mechanical robots through our scientific history, the Maillardet Automaton has the largest “memory”, including the ability to construct with its mechanical pen – 4 drawings and 3 quite lovely poems in both French and English languages. The Franklin Institute explains that his robot doll, as it is sometimes named, was humankind’s “…effort to imitate a living being by mechanical means…intersecting art and science…”.  The Franklin Institute homes objects of invention that tell the history of science and technology, such as Flight, Computing, Electricity, Photography and Instrumentation.

The Maillardet Automaton was a principal inspiration for Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. His book was later in 2001 turned into Hugo, a 2001 film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Hugo is a PG film produced in 2011 about the story of the first automaton. Set in 1930`s Paris, an orphan named Hugo lives in the walls of a train station and is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton. He finds a friend (Asa Butterfield) who helps him solve the puzzle.

This photo is of a Swiss Made Automaton in CIMA museum (Centre International de la Mécanique d’Art).  There is also historical evidence of a very early example of an automaton from ancient China, from the text Lie Zi in 3rd Century BC; and an even earlier meeting and dialogue between King Mu of Zhou (1023-957 BC) and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, noted as an “artificer. The text accounts Yan Shi proudly presenting The King with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his handmade automaton:

The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being. The artificer touched its chin, and it began singing, perfectly in tune. He touched its hand, and it began posturing, keeping perfect time…As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yen Shih executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear, instantly taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it really was. And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood, glue and lacquer, variously colored white, black, red and blue. Examining it closely, the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, gall, heart, lungs, spleen, kidneys, stomach and intestines; and over these again, muscles, bones and limbs with their joints, skin, teeth and hair, all of them artificial…The king tried the effect of taking away the heart, and found that the mouth could no longer speak; he took away the liver and the eyes could no longer see; he took away the kidneys and the legs lost their power of locomotion. The king was delighted. (Needham, Joseph; Science and Civilization in China: Volume 2. Cambridge University Press; 1986)

Another very simplified example of an automaton is that of a cuckoo clock. Once activated, the cuckoo comes out every hour and sounds “cuckoo…cuckoo”. Here is a short video from “How it is Made” showing how a cuckoo clock is made:
For some of our Fun Learning Science games such as How to Become a Teenage Genius by playing Our Learning Brain, you can visit here:


What makes Blue plant Oils Blue?

Answer:  Azulene 

Have a look in your schoolyard and backyards, and see if you can find the Wild Flowers, Stones and/or Marine Life that contain Azulene (the chemical compound that would make them blue). Azulene is an organic compound, an isomer of naphthalene. Even though naphthalene itself has no color, azulene is dark blue, hence the dark color Blue in the essential oils of Yarrow, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, Cypress and Black Spruce.  It is not surprising that the Spanish word for Blue is Azul.  The mushroom Lactarius indigo is blue because of a derivative of azulene.  Azulene is also found in some marine invertebrates, and in Lapis Lazuli stones found in Middle Eastern Persia.

The compound azulene has a long history, dating back to the 15th century as the azure-blue chromophore was first obtained through steam distillation of the German Chamomile flower.  This azure-blue chromophore was later discovered in Wild Yarrow flowers and named in 1863 by Septimus Piesse.  Its structure was first reported by Lavoslav Ruzicka in1937. With anti-inflammatory, skin healing properties, it is often in skincare products.

Even though Wild Yarrow flowers, Achillea millefolium, grow in colors of bright yellow, white, pink, orange, salmon and purple, the oil of the Yarrow flower is azure blue.  Blue Yarrow oil is what is termed as volatile as it has “proazulenes”, making it blue.

Yarrow oil is both a sweet and spicy smell, and is watery in its constitution.  Yarrow is Sacred, Holy, Healing and Spiritually Protective for many First Nations Peoples.  Thank you Mother Earth for these healing flowers, stones and marine life – and for Azulene and the color Blue!

Blue Tansy essential oil also is a vivid deep blue color due to its azulene content.  It is wildccrafted from common wildflowers grown in Morroco and North Africa from thee daisy family.  The Latin name is Tanacetum Annuum.  Health benefits include natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.  Herbalist Peter Holmes says it as also a “qi” or energy regulator for the body.





Keeping Warm in Winter

Over The Decades, we have watched many students come and go, both the young and the elderly, who had a tough time getting warm and staying warm in the winter, especially the international students.  This article is to say Thank you to and share some of The Wisdom of our Northern Elders who taught us many things in our early youth of how to survive in winter – Our Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers, Fathers,  and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Dr.’s, and Phys. Ed. Teachers! – Thank You! Thank you!

Warming Herbs to Cook With and/or Make Steeped Tea: Ginger, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper (Red), and Black Tea  – Grated Fresh Ginger – (powder if you’ve no access to fresh) is essential in cooking or tea for Keeping your Hara (Belly) and Bones warm.  Ginger is also a balancer for all other elements.  It is why sailors make homemade fresh ginger soda if on the water as it strengthens the stomach and keeps one’s balance strong, preventing any kind of nausea or seasickness. Cinnamon – is usually used with cooking in the a.m. but can be used anytime or even made with tea.  It is another blood, bone and body warmer.  When making oatmeal or other hot cereals. Cayenne Pepper (Red) – If you can handle a bit of hot spice, Red Cayenne Pepper, just a sprinkle is great raw over your plate of dinner or while cooking.  Cayenne is one of the spices that will draw heat from your body center out to the body’s extremities such as your nose, ears, hands and feet.  Vigorous exercise will also do this, if you don’t like cayenne pepper!  B3 is Niacin, though if used, only in minute amounts, especially at first, as it can cause the heart to palpitate….though, this vitamin can also, like cayenne pepper, draw heat into areas of the body where the blood has been stagnant or muscles have been dense and there is “stuck” energy or chi.

Black Teas – In general, even though Green teas have caffeine, they are “cooling” when it comes to body elements, and not warming.  Black teas, especially Aged Fermented Black Teas like “Purh” Tea have warming effects to the body.  And if you strain with hot water a few times before drinking, much caffeine can be removed. Here is a list of more “warming” foods:

Slowcooking – Slowcooking stews, soups, and casseroles, with covered oven dishes or pots, (we usuallyslowcook 4-12 hrs at 220 degrees – 24 hrs for chili) – with a Tblspoon of lemon juice or vinegar in the beginning, will draw out essential minerals such as blood-warming iron, from the Bones (if not vegetarian).  Otherwise, you are eating some minerals, but not all of them or the best and most essential of them).  The best for meats and fish are organic fresh wild game as they are devoid of pesticides and growth hormones (that are in general, strength, mineral and marrow stealers).  Always add grated or chopped ginger!

Several Types of Warming Wool! Thank you The Blessed Lambs and Sheep – Read The Labels! – We are amazed at the numbers of people who buy “winter” clothes and wonder why they are not still not warm.  LOOK and READ the tags on your clothing – both the ones you own and wear now, and the ones you buy in the future.  If any of the tags say “acrylic” or “polyester”, or other “non-natural material, in general, put them all into storage until spring or summer, as in the winter months, they are close to useless when it comes to staying warm. Instead, only wear clothes made of 100% Wool (Cashmere and Merino Wool are the is softest against the skin).  If the wool is not soft, you can soak the wool in baking soda and water and dry wrapped in towels.  The baking soda/water solution will soften the wool so it is not itchy against the skin.  If wool is too itchy for you, or if you have allergy to them, then find vests and other pieces that are wool inside of the padding.  There is another reason to better use natural materials rather than non-naturals and it is because they are very much slower to burn, if there was ever a flame around to have to deal with.  This is especially important for night/sleep clothing, but all clothing in general.

First Layer and Thermal Underwear: Layers, Layers, Layers – When dressing for winter, the FIRST LAYER is MOST  IMPORTANT as it traps a layer of air to the body, which is thermalized as you add other layers, and remains warm through the day.  If you have a loose sweater on as your first layer, the air simply will not be “trapped” and the cold air somehow still finds its way in.  Thus, undershirt and pants are a must.  The first layer should be wool, or even silk as silk draws moisture away.  But cotton is a cool fabric and it will trap cool air.  This is okay, though  in general, this is what you do not want.  There are thermal / merino or silk undershirts you find these days.  The more Layers of Clothing, the more layers of air you have trapped for staying warm – but the first one MUST be snug to the skin! Flannel-Lined  Jeans and Pants – can be found at Eddie Bauer’s Clothing, LLBean, and other outdoor outfitter stores.  Or, you can wear thermal underwear.  The best thermal underwear is made of soft Merino Wool (made to protect from –33 degree weather) and can be found at Capitol Iron or other outdoor outfitter stores.  Make sure the material is wool and NOT acrylic or polyester.

Mittens and Gloves – should be lined with wool and best if also water proof.  Mittens generally keep fingers and hands warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers huddled together, but if you need finger access for dexterity, then make sure the lining is wool.  Acrylic will freeze your little phalanges (fingers). Hats – the same – wool or down is best and the snugger the better as the snugness traps warm air to your head like thermal undershirts.  This is particularly important as an exposed head can lose a lot of valuable body heat.  And it is important to especially have ears covered from wind as wind there drops one’s immune system to be susceptible then to catching colds. Creepers – are great for preventing iceslips, especially for the elderly.  These are metal braids that are easily stretched over the bottom of boots.  They give boots treads if your boots do not already have treads.  Outfitter stores often have these.

Lambskins are a Blessing! (If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can always say Gratitude Prayers to Mother Earth for the life of the animal for helping you stay warm as She Loves All Creatures of the Earth – even us.  Lambskins  – sleeping on them, sitting on them or keeping them under your feet will greatly assist you in retaining your heat, especially those healing from injury or the elderly.  It is important NOT to wash them.  If you do, you must use very gentle soap.  It is better to just brush them with a wire brush and rub essential oils into them.  The Lanolin in the lambskin, or any animal for that matter,  is a key element to the retaining of heat of the body, and if you wash them with harsh soaps or too often, the lanolin will be stripped and they will not be as strong for retaining heat.  You can also rub beeswax into the underside to stop water from coming in.  This can especially be helpful if you are camping or living outdoors.   As much as some people do not want animals to be used for clothing, in the North, it has been essential for a very long time.

Animal Fur around the collars of Hoods, especially the long kind, is the only hood lining that will 100% protect the face from winter winds that cause frostbite.  We tested it!  Don’t chance frostbite in experimenting with this!  But be sure and Give Great Gratitude and Grace to Mother Earth and Her animals for the Blessing of protection from the elements.  We have tried many “non-fur” alternatives, and none of them protected us from frostbite like that the animal fur.  Thank you God and Mother Earth and these animals for Protecting us.  Down Feathers are another big positive for staying warm, but it must be kept dry or weather proofed, as when they are wet, they no  longer keep you warm, and will be very difficult to make it dry again. So make sure if your coat or vest is down feathered, or sleeping bag if outdoors, have a water protective coating.  Flannel Sheets for bed and/or Flannel Jammies are great!  And so are hot-water bottles at the feet under the sheets especially, before you go to bed.  Go to bed already warm! Warm up by taking jumping around, doing some jumping jacks, or dancing. If you wrap a frozen salmon in a sleeping bag, will it stay frozen? Yes, because your sleeping bag will insulate cold or heat, just like a Thermos.  Thus, you must be warm BEFORE you get into your bed.  In your emergency travel kit, especially if you have a car, you should have: Warm Buddies, Weather Proof Matches, and Warm Wool BlanketsWarm Buddies – are plastic hand-size packs you can reuse, with boiling water, and put them into your boots and mitts.  Canadian Tire and Home Hardware carries them.  They are also good to keep in your emergency car kit, in case you are stuck in winter snow somewhere. The other kind of Warm Buddy is a close friend or a pet.  When people huddle together, they stay warmer!  Body warmth, increased by the number of people, increases exponentially.  Ever go into a cold room at an event, and as the numbers of people enter, the temperature goes up and up?  It is the collective warm blooded people huddled together that drives the temperature up. Plastic on Windows and Door Weather Stripping – With a hair dryer and plastic and tape, you can dramatically reduce heat loss and drafts from your home.  Best to do BEFORE winter comes, but never too late.  Large rolls of this can be bought at the Home Depot or Hardware store.  Much less costly than the packages you can buy.  Also, weather stripping in crevices of doorways and leaky windows also greatly reduces loss of heat. Not only do these tips keep you warm, but they also save you lots of heat, electricity and money – especially over the long run.

Have a Great Winter – Stay Warm! Then, you can have Fun!  If you want to stay in on a cold winter day, you may want to play one of our Fun Learning Science Games!