Strange New Worlds: Discovering and Naming Exoworlds!

Have you ever wanted to have the chance for your thoughts and ideas to be permanently written in the stars? As part of our fabulous series of space-themed events for the October school holidays, we’re excited to announce a collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington which will see you exploring distant space as well as taking the opportunity to make your mark in the field of stellar cartography.

Find out more about these fabulous events below!

On a Planet Far, Far Away: Discovering Exoworlds

When? Friday 14 October, 11.30am – 12.15pm
Where? Karori Library, Ground Floor

In this interactive talk and demonstration, Victoria University of Wellington astrophysicists Dr. Tulasi Parashar and Dr. Yvette Perrott will be pulling back the curtain on the various tools and techniques space scientists use to map distant space, including the discovery of exoworlds — planets and stars that lie beyond our solar system. After the session, you will have the opportunity to chat to Tulasi and Yvette to learn more about their cutting-edge research in outer space.

This talk is open for space enthusiasts of all ages, and there’s no need to register! Find out more on our event calendar.

Making Your Mark: Naming Exoworlds

When? Friday 14 October, 12.30 – 1.30pm
Where? Karori Library, 1st Floor

Following the above talk, Tulasi and Yvette will be leading a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for rangatahi aged 10-15. In this workshop, you will be learning even more about the fascinating science behind the detection of exoworlds, how different cultures assign names to celestial bodies, and then work together to propose an official name for one of twenty recently-discovered exoworlds currently being targeted by the James Webb Space Telescope.

As part of the International Astronomical Union’s NameExoWorlds initiative, the successful name will actually be put forward to the original discoverers of the planet we choose for official inclusion in the stellar charts used by the scientific community worldwide — meaning your thoughts and ideas may well become a permanent feature of the night sky as we understand it.

Because space is limited for this event, registration is essential. Visit our event calendar to register your interest in this event.

Meet the Space Scientists

We are enormously grateful to our friends at Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Physical and Chemical Sciences for providing these opportunities to meet some of the foremost experts in their fields.

Dr. Tulasi Parashar is a space physicist. His interests range from things a few hundred kilometres above Earth to things in the farthest recesses of the universe. He loves chatting with people, grown-up as well as young ones, about all things space. Learn more about Dr. Parashar.
Dr. Yvette Perrott is an astrophysicist and lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. She started off researching exoplanets but now likes to study the biggest things in our Universe using light that we can’t see with our eyes. Learn more about Dr. Perrott.
Keen to learn more about space? Your local library has heaps of books and other resources — check out this blog post to get started!



Germs: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Microscope | Free SVGA germ is a common term for a tiny organism (so tiny that you can only see it through a microscope) that causes a disease in a plant or animal. The term ‘germ’ is a catch-all word for several different kinds of organisms including bacteria, viruses, protozoans and fungi. Check out Encyclopaedia Britannica online for loads more info on these amazing (and sometimes deadly) little beings: Encyclopaedia Britannica | Germs

Covid-19 is a germ called a virus.

Probably the most well-known and infamous germ of modern times is the germ that causes Covid-19! For the past two years, the world has been living with a global pandemic because of Covid-19.

The Covid-19 germ is a virus called a coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that affect animals. Occasionally, coronaviruses have been known to move from animals to humans. The coronavirus we’re talking about today is a new virus, which has caused COVID-19.

On its own, a virus, like coronavirus, is lifeless. However, it becomes active when it infects, or enters, a cell of an animal or a plant. Once inside a cell, a virus can reproduce itself, like living things can.

How can we stop ourselves getting sick?

There will always be times in your life when you get sick – you can’t avoid it! But there are some simple things you can do every day to help you stay healthy and prepare you body to fight the germs:

  1. Eat healthily, with loads of fruit and vegetables, so that you build and maintain a healthy immune system. Your immune system will help you fight off the germs that want to get into your body.
  2. Wash your hands regularly, using soap and water – especially after using the bathroom and before you eat.
  3. Don’t spread the germs amongst your friends by going out when you’re sick, and cough and sneeze into your elbow so that the germs stay off your hands.
  4. If you feel really sick, you should go to your doctor and follow their advice.

Good germs vs. bad germs

Not all germs are bad. Some types of bacteria actually help people’s bodies stay healthy. There are good bacteria that live inside your intestines that help you digest your food so that all the nutrients get to the places they need to get to. Other good bacteria are used to make medicines that fight sicknesses.

Sir Alexander Fleming, Frs, the Discoverer of Penicillin Art.IWMARTLD4217 - PICRYL Public Domain Image

Sir Alexander Fleming working in his lab. Image: Public domain

Did you know? The first anti-bacterial medicine, or antibiotic, was discovered by mistake by a Scottish bacteriologist called Alexander Fleming in 1928. Penicillin was named after the green mould called Pennicilium notatum which had contaminated dishes in Dr Fleming’s lab while he was on holiday. When he got back he found that the penicillin was killing the bacteria he’d been growing! Find out more about Dr. Fleming by borrowing his biography from the library.

Want to do more germ research online?

Any Questions | Epidemics

20 Interesting Activities to Teach Kids about Germs

Awesome 8 Things Living On, In, and With You

Fun Science and Tech for Kids | Biology

Biology for Kids

Want to do more germ research in the library?

The giant book of germs / Hendry, Lorna
“How many germs live on your hand? How do germs make you sick? Do the germs in your gut really keep you healthy? Discover many more surprising facts in The Giant Book of Germs!” (Catalogue)

It’s catching : the infectious world of germs and microbes / Gardy, Jennifer
“Presents general information about different types of germs, as well as the diseases they cause, and how people work to prevent them from spreading.” (Catalogue)

Dirty Bertie : germs / MacDonald, Alan
“Join Bertie as he attempts to catch sister Suzy’s horrible illness, finds himself partnering Gran at a dancing competition and meets his match in the new babysitter who’s even grubbier than he is!” (Catalogue)

Little bunny, big germs / Wells, Rosemary
“Saying nope to soap, little bunny soon learns the importance of protecting himself and others from germs when he catches a cold and is sent home from school.” (Catalogue)

Dr. Dog / Cole, Babette
“Common sense advice with some good rude fun. Both pet and personal physician to the Gumboyle family, Doctor Dog is always on hand with the perfect diagnosis and remedy for every complaint.” (Catalogue)

Wash your hands / McNamara, Margaret
“When everyone in Ms. Connor’s first grade class has a cold, she shows her students how to wash their hands to get rid of germs.” (Catalogue)

Alexander Fleming / Tames, Richard
“Describes the life of Alexander Fleming, his bacteriological research and the importance of the discovery of penicillin.” (Catalogue)

Keep it clean: germ free / Minden, Cecilia
“Level 1 guided reader that teaches students how to prevent the spread of germs by washing hands and the importance of cleanup.” (Catalogue)

What are germs? / Daynes, Katie
“What are germs? How do they spread? And how do medicines help? Curious young children can take a closer look at those mischievous, microscopic bacteria and viruses in this fascinating introduction to germs and hygiene, with 30 flaps to lift and tips on hand-washing and staying healthy.” (Catalogue)