11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… China just returned a 116 million-ton problem to the rest of the world.

The U.S. and other nations might need to find a home for more than 122 million tons of plastic by 2030.
Photograph by Gary Miller, Environmental Protection Agency, courtesy the National Archives

Planet or plastic? Take the pledge.



… rising bedrock may delay the collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet.

As ice melts and the load on the crust lightens, the bedrock beneath West Antarctica is rising rapidly—potentially protecting the ice from the warm seawater that is melting it from below.
Photograph by Maria Stenzel, National Geographic

How does ice “melt from below”?



… every day, coastal condors soar more than 100 kilometers—and over the Andes.

The depletion of marine mammals means that Andean condors are now forced to make 150-kilometer-long flights inland to find food on the eastern side of the mountain range.
Photograph by Pedro Szekely, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-2.0

How far do California condors fly for food?



… our universe is greasy and smells like mothballs.

Interstellar space is filled with grease, dust, soot, and sand. Most of the carbon comes in the form of greasy aliphatic carbon or gaseous naphthalene, the stuff used in mothballs.
Photograph by ESA/Gaia/DPAC

Use our activity to construct a comet and deal with greasy (interstellar) kid stuff.



… how to cook (and eat) like ancient Babylonians.

So, the Babylonians developed a “proto-borscht.” Did they develop proto-trigonometry, too?



… scientists and librarians are working with antique wax cylinders to save Native American voices.

How are Native Americans saving their living languages?



tropical forests suffered near-record tree losses in 2017, but urban forests are storing almost as much carbon.

Urban forests don’t get much prettier than Central Park, New York.
Photograph by Simon Roberts, National Geographic

Find ideas for enjoying urban forests and other big-city nature spots with our idea set.



… where the most sustainable country in the world is.

Spoiler: It’s Slovenia. Color it green.

Learn how students are combining sustainability and innovation in projects all over the world.



… most people can tell a real laugh from a fake one.

Can your students pick up on unspoken social and emotional learning cues?



… the empty significance of the straw.

Consider the straw: “The straw has always been dragged along by the currents of history, soaking up the era, shaping not its direction, but its texture.”
Photograph by rkit, courtesy Pixabay. Public domain

Join the One Less Straw campaign.



… where the 11 most endangered historic places in the U.S. are.

In Puerto Rico, historic buildings and infrastructure were devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Photograph by Dr. Michael Izard-Carroll, courtesy U.S. Army

Where were the most endangered places last year?

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