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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Tag: Science!

Te Taiao Needs Our Help: Recycling Week 2021

Did you know that Aotearoa has a week dedicated to recycling? Of course we should be recycling all the time, but it’s good to have a reminder about what we can do to care for the taiao. Recycling Week runs from the 18th-24th of October, with each day being dedicated to challenges to encourage us to re-think our waste minimization and recycling behaviours. To get us inspired, here are some awesome recycling initiatives from around the world!

There are machines in Colombia where you can recycle your tin, glass and plastic bottles in exchange for public transit credits. Imagine paying for the bus with bottles! You could literally collect other people’s littering and profit from it. Then you’d be both a tidy kiwi, and a kiwi with a topped up Snapper card, Incredible!

Barcelona had a issues with cooking oil being poured down the drain and clogging the pipes (sound familiar?). City officials tackled this problem by giving away free “Olipots” for people to collect their used oil in, while also setting up collection spots for people to dispose of their oil around the city. The collected oils are then recycled into a biodiesel.

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, in Sweden, is the world’s first recycling mall! Here, old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled, reused or has been organically or sustainably produced. Visitors to the mall can also easily drop off donations, which are then sorted into what can be repaired and resold or donated to somewhere the item will be useful.

Scientists in South Korea have invented a t-shirt that could be used to charge your phone! Specifically, the fabric of the t-shirt generates electricity as it bends and flexes and “a person wearing a shirt tailored from the material only has to move around to power a small screen or other electronic devices” .  This process is possible through the utilising of Triboelectricity, electricity generated by friction. If you want to know more, click through to the article because this goes over my head very quickly. It has been a minute/decade since I did NCEA Physics. Most importantly, this invention would be very handy for long Pokémon GO missions (is Pokémon GO still relevant and cool? Please let it still be relevant and cool. I need this). 

Keen to take the next step in your recycling? Here’s a little book list to send you on your way. 🙂

My zero-waste kitchen : easy ways to eat waste free / O’Rourke-Jones, Ruth
“Looking to live sustainably without overhauling your life? My Zero-Waste Kitchen shows you how to put the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – into practice in the kitchen.  (Adapted from Catalogue)

Make & mend : a guide to recycling clothes and fabrics / Peacock, Rebecca
“Welcome to Make & Mend! This book shows how, with a little knowledge and a little creativity, you can make a wide range of fantastic items from those old clothes and fabrics you can’t bear to throw away. Full of projects, from aprons to curtains, bags to jewellery, we show you how to turn a bag of scraps into wearable, beautiful and personalised items.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remade vintage jewelry : 35 step-by-step projects inspired by lost, found, and recycled treasures / Bush, *Co-Co Nichole
“Transform vintage finds and broken objects into pieces to treasure with Remade Vintage Jewelry.” (Catalogue)

A little bit crafty
“A little bit crafty is a nifty collection of 39 DIY ideas from creative types across Australia and New Zealand. With an emphasis on recycling, cheap and easy materials, and projects that can be done in an afternoon, it’s chock full of sweet, clever and slightly oddball crafts that’ll make you smile and keep your hands happy, too.” (Catalogue)

ReadyMade : how to make (almost) everything : a do-it-yourself primer / Berger, Shoshana
“For people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects, this quirky ‘how-to’ volume contains design projects ranging from water-bottle lounge chairs and ladder shelving to shopping bag rugs and denim dog beds.” (Catalogue)

The upcycled T-shirt : 28 easy-to-make projects that save the planet – clothing, accessories, home decor & gifts / Montilone, Jenelle
“Did you know the average American throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing each year? Join the revolution to reduce your carbon footprint—one T-shirt at a time! Widely known for her recycling efforts, environmental crafter Jenelle Montilone will show you how to upcycle tees into fun and fanciful quilts, accessories, toys, and gifts for the whole family. (Adapted from Catalogue)

50 fantastic ideas for sustainability / O’Sullivan, June
“Teach children to reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and be respectful with 50 fun activities for encouraging environmental sustainability. From creating butterfly feeders with food scraps, to turning old kitchen equipment into beautiful planters or bringing broken crayons back to life, these original ideas encourage practitioners to see the potential for creativity and fun using and reusing everyday, easy-to-source items, some of which might have otherwise gone to waste. Enhance children’s creativity, cognitive development and motor skills through indoor and outdoor activities that are enjoyable, educational and environmentally friendly. (Adapted from Catalogue)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsQueen of air and darkness, Cassandra Clare

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pretty brilliant experiment book, Jade Hemsworth

Inspired by Netflix’s original series, Project Mc2 (TM), The Pretty Brilliant Experiment book has over 20 experiments introduced by our favorite Nov8 (that’s Innovate) agents: McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth, and Camryn Coyle. Learn about electricity, chemical reactions, physics, and biology while crafting an hour glass, creating crystals, and making ice cream! Then record your own observations after reading the scientific analysis accompanying each activity. The ingredients are affordable and easy-to-find, and each DIY experiment can be completed safely at home with parents and friends. (Amazon.com)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA daring sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she’s come to despise. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSoulbinder, Sebastien De Castell

A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. For Kellen, the only way to survive is to hide. His curse is growing stronger, bringing dark and violent visions, and the bounty hunters dogging his heels get closer every day. Desperate, he searches for a mysterious order of monks rumored to have a cure. But salvation comes with a high price. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTrans Teen Survival Guide, Owl and Fox Fisher

Frank, friendly and funny, the Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen. Wondering how to come out to your family and friends, what it’s like to go through cross hormonal therapy or how to put on a packer? Trans youth activists Fox and Owl have stepped in to answer everything that trans teens and their families need to know. With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFinding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen

You think you know this story. You do not. A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack rabbit summer, Kevin Brooks

Pete Boland was busy doing nothing that SUMMER. Long, stiflingly hot, lazy days stretched ahead of him. THEN SHE CALLED. It was Nicole. ‘Listen, Pete . . . you know that funfair, up at the recreation ground . . . I thought we could all meet up . . . You know, for old times’ sake. BUT, where there are old times there are old tensions. And as secrets, bitterness and jealousies resurface, five old friends are plunged into the worst night of their lives . . .(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe tomorrow code, Brian Falkner

When Tane and Rebecca receive digital messages warning of the impending disaster, there is a chance to alleviate the threat. As they piece the clues together, they discover that the messages are being sent by their future selves, and they must stop The Chimera Project – a devastating apocalyptic plague – from being released. But they soon discover that changing the past in order to protect the future will be more difficult than they first thought. As a strange white cloud begins to move across New Zealand – and people start disappearing – Tane and Rebecca find that, not only may they be too late, but it may be impossible to stop at all. The cloud is made up of antibodies designed to attack human beings and has been created by Mother Nature herself as an antidote to the destructive human race. As the mist devours everyone and everything in its wake, Tane and Rebecca realize there is no way out – this plague is going to destroy the earth and their only hope is to take refuge from impending doom. As the end of the world begins, Tane stumbles on a way to prevent this from happening – they will send new messages to themselves from the future and change the course of history. Only this time they will get it right. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dark intercept, Julia Keller

The earth is in ruins. Years of warfare, plague, and disaster have ravaged the planet and driven its people into despair. The powerful and wealthy have abandoned Earth and created New Earth, a utopia in the sky where the last of the elite can start fresh. On New Earth, citizens are free from danger thanks to a surveillance device that lives beneath their skin. A device that keeps their new home crime-free through meticulous emotional surveillance. A device called the Intercept.Violet Crowley has never gone hungry. She’s endured neither violence nor fear. As the only daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, Violet has spent her entire life in comfort and safety. That is, until her friend, colleague, and long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a deadly altercation on the streets of Old Earth. In an instant, Violet risks her father’s fury and intercedes to rescue Danny. When Danny can’t explain his actions, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDamsel, Elana K. Arnold

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been. When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale. As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not summer without you, Jenny Han

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonsters of virtue, L.J Ritchie

Eugenics: noun. The science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. New Zealand, 1932. The height of the Great Depression. In the wilds of the Ōtaki River Gorge, the newly-formed Eugenics Department gathers the best and brightest in an attempt to create perfection.… But what makes a perfect person? Fifteen-year-old Eve knows she’s not one – but with her sister’s life on the line, she’d better convince her new classmates that she could be. Together with uneasy allies Orion and Nyx, she’ll pry into the dark heart of this fledgling utopia. Will the future that awaits them there be one worth fighting for? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGiant days, Non Pratt

Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the publisher behind Lumberjanes, Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key–something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere . . .), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSwing, Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hesse

Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they’ve got to find cool. Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt’s Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt’s “Hug Life” mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out? At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can’t shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast pick [1], Jason Walz

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat–until now. Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game. In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLost soul, be at peace, Maggie Thrash

Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope. A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tille Walden

Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love–only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBanana Sunday, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Kirby is about to start a new school with three talking primates in tow. Unlike other students, Kirby Steinberg begins her time at Forest Edge school with a speech to the entire student body introducing her unusual entourage that’s composed of three talking simians: eggheaded orangutan Chuck; Go-Go the gorilla, who is hungry and tired in equal measure ; and spider monkey Knobby, who has a fondness for romance. Although Kirby claims the simians were secret experiments of her scientist father, school reporter Nickels smells something deeper to this story and decides to investigate. Meanwhile, Kirby’s new school is filled with human drama, including mean girl Skye’s relentless bullying and gentle romantic tension with lovably goofy Martin. Will Kirby be able to navigate all these pitfalls and look after her rascally primate posse? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe complete Angel Catbird, story by Margaret Atwood and art by Johnnie Christmas

A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp- inspired superhero adventure–with a lot of cat puns. (Publisher summary)


Science: it’s not just a subject at school. It’s what makes the world what it is. The books below explore stories using experimental sciences we’re perhaps less familiar with right now, but could perhaps plausibly be present in the near future. Cryogenic freezing, internet implants, DNA harvesting – see for yourself whether you think it could happen (or just accept it and go OOH COOL! SCIENCE!)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhen We Wake, Karen Healey

Sixteen year-old Tegan has been cryogenically frozen, but her jump to the future was not planned, and she wakes up 100 years past her former present-time of 2027. She discovers she is the first unknowing government test subject to be frozen and successfully revived. Tegan’s not so sure about the benefits of her unique situation, and things get even more complicated when she discovers appalling secrets about her new world. Tegan faces a choice: keep her head down and live her second chance at life, or help fight for a better future.

When We Wake is the first in a series (the sequel is called While We Run) and it is a finalist in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards 2014!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFeed, M.T. Anderson

Titus and his friends thought this trip was going to be just like any other trip to the moon. That is, a chance to party hard over spring break. But that was until the hacker got into their brain-implanted internet feeds and caused them all to malfunction, sending Titus and his friends into hospital with an eerie nothingness in their heads. It is especially strange in contrast to the 24/7 bombardment of consumer customised broadcasts and advertisements which normally stream directly into their brains. And then Titus meets beautiful and brainy Violet, who is determined to fight the omnipresent feed before it destroys everyone.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOrigin, Jessica Khoury

Pia has spent her whole life so far in a secret laboratory in the Amazon rainforest, raised by a team of scientists as the first of a new immortal race of people. But on the night of her 17th birthday, Pia finds a way to escape, and she leaves the compound for the first time. Outside, she meets a village boy named Eio, and together they race against time to find the deadly truth about Pia’s origin.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson

In the near future, 17 year old Jenna Fox has just woken up from a coma caused by a terrible accident a year ago. At least, that’s what they tell her, but what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life, and what she does remember she can’t even be sure is real. Jenna must seek out the truth of her mysterious past and learn to live with the implications it may have for her future.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer

“Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested with the DNA from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium. Can a boy who was bred to guarantee another’s survival find his own purpose in life? And can he ever be free?” (Goodreads)

Winging Your Way Through The Weekend, 27-28/4

Kia ora!

Welcome to the weekend. What to do, what to do?

If you find yourself wandering about Newtown this weekend why not check out Wellington Festival Of Circus? If having clowning & cabaret up in your face isn’t doing it for you maybe Darren Shan could keep you in theme but through the safety of bound text?

If you’re more of a performer then a watcher have you considered entering this years Smokefree Rockquest? It’s the 25th year this right-of-passage is running and man has it fostered all sorts of household name kiwi musicians. Need some inspiration? Here’s a surface scratching list of previous contestants including Kimbra and last years winners New Vinyl. Take yourself on a journey through our CD collection.

The curtain falls on Game Masters at Te Papa this weekend. The amazing exhibition that caters to almost every level of gamer was borrowed from the incredible ACMI in Melbourne’s Federation Square and includes Pacman, Space Invaders and Sonic!

New music on the playlist shelf this week includes ex-Wellingtonian Willy Moon and half New Zealand alt-indie darlings The Veils with their fourth album.

Ever wondered what happens when you wring a soggy towel out in space? Here’s the answer:

– Physics, fascinating!

That’s what’s a going down.

Fowler out.

New Books

Viva Jacquelina!, by L. A. Meyer (360 pages) – The full title for this entry in the continuing tale (this is the tenth!) of Jacky Faber, cabin boy/girl and spy for the Crown, is Viva Jacquelina! Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away. She’s off to Spain in this adventure, meeting Goya, the Inquisition, and battling Napoleon’s army – among other similar adventures.

First lines: ‘“It is time to cut it off, Higgins,” I announce firmly, seating myself in front of my mirror. “If you would be so good. I do not think it would serve me well here in Portugal.”

Agent 21 : Reloaded, by Chris Ryan (341 pages) – This is the second Agent 21 book. Zak Darke is the agent, and with a name like that you would probably have to be some sort of action hero. Zak has snuck on board an enemy ship to gather information and then to sink it.  It seem pretty straight-forward. How could that go wrong? WELL, you see, GUNS probably

First lines: ‘There are good times and bad times to do almost everything in life. Everything, that is, except visit a grave.

The Far West, by Patricia C. Wrede (378 pages) – Eff is keen to go to the unexplored Far West with her twin, her best friend, and other scientiests, magicians, and soldiers. There she encounters new magical creatures, develops her own magical skills, and uncover a major, serious threat to the rest of the continent. Not too different to travelling west from Wellington, haha. Just joking

First lines: ‘It is a true thing that the Far West is a strange and dangerous place. Everybody knows that, which is a little odd. In my experience, the things everybody knows are just exactly the ones that are most likely to be mistaken in some important way or other, if they’re not flat-out wrong right from the start.

Feedback, by Robison Wells (312 pages) – This is the sequel to Variant, a sci-fi thriller (with a super twist) about Benson Fisher, who was trapped in a brutal academy/prison. Now he’s escaped but he finds himself in a new kind of weird prison; outside the walls, in a town that may also be under the control of the academy he’d just escaped from.

First lines: ‘Jane stared back at me, motionless. She was older than I remembered – older than the Jane I knew.

Breathe, by Sarah Crossan (370 pages) – All the trees have gone, and since trees make oxygen (it is SCIENCE) the world is slowly suffocating. Everyone will die, except for the lucky few who are able to live in the Pod, where there’s air. However, not everyone can afford enough oxygen to live a normal life, and those who rebel against the authority are thrown out of the Pod. Alina, a rebel, to flee her captors escapes (with a little help) from the Pod with only two days of oxygen. A nail-biting dystopic yarn!

First lines: ‘I squeeze Abel’s hand and he looks at me. ‘Now?’ he asks. He puts his other hand in his pocket.

Task Force, by Brian Falkner (355 pages) – This is the second Recon Team Angel book (the other is Assault). The world is at war with an alien race, and humanity’s fate depends on Recon Team Angel, a group of teens who have learnt the alien language, familiarised themselves with their weaponry, and now have to infiltrate behind enemy lines.

First lines: ‘The army camped on the Chukchi Peninsula in far north-east Russia was the largest assembled in the Bzadian War, poised for the greatest invasion in Earth’s history.

Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up, by Mark Peter Hughes (291 pages) – This is the continuing tale of the band Lemonade Mouth, who were once high school nobodies but are now household names. This is how it all happened! How they became the world’s most famous (fictional in case you wondered) band from Rhode Island. There is a Disney film as well, based on the first book.

First lines: ‘Dear Naomi, Looking back, I can honestly say that I felt the trouble coming before it even arrived. As you know, I sometimes get feelings about these things, and I guess a part of me realised that summer vacation was starting off too well.

A World Between Us, by Lydia Syson (272 pages) – During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Felix, a nurse (and a she!) travels from England to aid the Republicans (and also to follow a young guy named Nat). George also comes along behind in pursuit of Felix, for whom he holds a candle. A war of the heart + an actual war = epic historical drama.

First lines: ‘Crowds had never bothered Felix before, so she was surprised to find herself shaking. She really shouldn’t have come this way, not when the Fascists were marching.

The Rosie Black Chronicles : Dark Star, by Lara Morgan (393 pages) – This is the third and final book in a series about Rosie Black. Rosie lives 500 years in the future, in an Earth that has beem overwhelmed by centuries of global warming and rising oceans, and the inevitable conflicts between the rich and the poor. DO have a look at the official website, where there’s an outline of the series and a book trailer.

First lines: ‘It was night and moonlight came through the high slit windows, lighting the corridor with pale rectangles like stepping stones in the dark. The air reeked of lemon antiseptic.

Google Global (!) Youth Science Fair

Google is running a Global Science Fair for teens. As it is global, anyone in the world can enter. Even a NZer. Especially a NZer, since we’re quite good at innovation and science. Entrants (i.e. everyone reading this I hope*) need to be between the ages of 13 and 18, and can work solo or in groups of up to three. You enter it online obviously! 

*The prizes are beyond awesome. They are actually epic. Guys you need to win this.

Across the universe

The Scale of the Universe – from the very largest (i.e the universe) to the very smallest (Quantum foam! for real!). Presented so that you get a sense of scale. We are so small. So very, very small.

What isn’t depicted is the resulting existential void you may find yourself in. See you there!


Are you curious about science? Or do you love filmmaking but aren’t too keen on science?


ReelScience is a competition for senior secondary school students (Yr 11 – Yr13) that starts on February 10th. To enter you’ll have to make a 2min short film on any aspect of science. There are cool prizes up for grabs like a Mac and film courses. This here clip tells you all about it (or check out their website).

Documentary Madness

Well, as long as five new DVDs is considered mad it’s madness. All kinds of bases are covered by this selection, and here they are…

brady barrBest of Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr follows a reptile expert as he does all sorts of silly things in the name of science.  My favourite bit is when he wears a 200 pound kevlar suit covered in hippo dung to extract sweat from a hippo.

The Most Extreme is a series that follows all sorts of extreme behaviour in the animal kingdom. Fighters, Stinkers, Gluttons and many more are looked at in these fantastically shot episodes originally made for Animal Planet.

Sticking with the extreme, Gravity Games H2O is a four disc box set filled with wakeboarding, tow-in surfing, motorcross, kite surfing and other assorted watery hijinks. Except for the motorcross, I can’t explain it’s inclusion unless they somehow ride on water. Now that’d be extreme.

Ultimate Factories is a National Geographic series that goes to, well, ultimate factories. In this one they go see how Ferraris and M1 Tanks are produced. So if you’ve ever wondered how they put them together, now you can find out.

Naked Science: Surviving nature’s fury is a three disc set in the excellent National Geographic Naked Science series. These episodes look at asteroids, the Bermuda Triangle, alien contact and other popular and controversial scientific topics.

See Leonardo’s Gadgets

The Leonardo da Vinci Machines Exhibition is on at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Art until 15 February. A collection of over sixty machines based on his sketches, this exhibition looks pretty cool. The website says that it’s interactive, so you get to pick up some of the models to get a better look (although I suspect you probably don’t get to have a go with his hangglider).

Prices are $10.00 for students and $12.00 for adults (children under 13 get in for $8.00), but from the looks of the photo gallery it’s worth it.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Cellphones: not just a replacement for the megaphone, these handy devices are now fashion statements in themselves. But nothing turns your phone-bling into a pocket albatross like a bad ringtone. Maybe you’ve just never gotten around to changing it from the “Nokia tune” (which is a phrase from Gran Vals, by Francisco Tárrega, an early 20th century classical guitar piece). Or have you (wrongly, oh so wrongly) chosen to have Slipknot or Rihanna blasting out every time someone calls? Shame on you.

The trendiest people in Wellington have natural or everyday sounds for their ringtones. Check out the tones here, and have a tui in your pocket! Or for the more adventurous and avant-garde of you, why not formulate your own ringtone using a whole computational universe (for bonus points you can even read about the new scientific paradigm behind your catchy ring). Just remember though: no matter how catchy and stylish your ringtone is, we still don’t want to hear it at the movies …

The moon is bright and milky white

NASA has created a video from stills taken in deep space that show the moon moving around Earth. This is very rare footage as, well, it’s not everyday photos are taken in deep space.

During a full Earth rotation, images obtained by Deep Impact at a 15-minute cadence have been combined to make a color video. During the video, the moon enters the frame (because of its orbital motion) and transits Earth, then leaves the frame. Other spacecraft have imaged Earth and the moon from space, but Deep Impact is the first to show a transit of Earth with enough detail to see large craters on the moon and oceans and continents on Earth.

Watch it here, or watch it below …

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What lovely altocumulus castelanus

Wellington is famous for its umbrella-unfriendly gusts of wind. It’s something to be proud of, in much the same way that Rotorua smells of hydrogen sulphide, or Auckland sits amidst a gazillion volcanoes. The next time you’re looking at the sky, watching the clouds race past at galeforce speeds, keep watch for rare clouds. Yes! Rare clouds! Who knew?


Zon is “an unique interactive massively multiplayer online role playing game for learning Mandarin Chinese.” It’s browser-based, so you don’t need to download anything (maybe Flash). You can design your avatar (mine is the height of style), become a citizen of Zon and eventually begin your own business and add content to the world. Which is very cool, especially as you learn about Chinese language and culture while playing!


Wikipedia is an amazing resource, and although anyone can edit it, many of the entries are fairly reliable (though probably shouldn’t be used as the final word on a topic). I enjoy reading articles on Wikipedia that introduce new and interesting things to me; peoples, places, and events that I hadn’t heard of before.

Everyone like a good mystery, and here are some of the weirder & spookier articles/lists:

  • List of Cryptids – Cryptids are creatures whose existence is a mystery, either because they’re recently exinct, or fictitious, or just unknown. The Caspian Tiger, the yeti, and creepy Mothman are examples.
  • The Bloop – in 1997, underwater monitors detected an immense ‘bloop’ sound that originated near South America. The sound was similar to the sound a living creature would make … a HUGE living creature.
  • Uncontacted People – Incredibly there are still groups of people in the world who have very little or even no contact with the rest of the planet. Most are in the South American rainforests, but there are also some off the coast of India.
  • List of Mysterious People – They are people. They are mysterious.
  • List of Ghost Towns – Sometimes towns and cities are abandoned (usually when something bad happens), leaving what’s left to deteriorate and be spooky. Disappointingly, there aren’t any listed in New Zealand.
  • Hatepe Eruption – One of the largest volcanic eruptions in recent times (well, 1900 years ago) was in New Zealand, when Lake Taupo erupted. The sky turned red in Rome! Chillingly, Lake Taupo is dormant and not extinct. The mystery is when it will erupt next. Hopefully not when I’m visiting, I tell you what.

Your questions answered

Will a boomerang thrown in space return to the person who threw it?

Yes, it will.

Have yourself a whale of a time, all expenses paid…

Get yourself down to Te Papa and tohora for free!  No, tohora is not really a verb but the Maori word for whale.  Wellington City Council is paying for residents of Wellington to see  ‘Whale: Tohora’, an exciting cetacean exhibition at Te Papa.  This one day offer is only available May 8, 10.00am – 9.00pm.  You will need to prove that you live in Wellington, so dive into your wallets and make sure you have your library card handy (Of course you do! You use it all the time to access our amazing services) before heading out.

Terror From The Deep II

The giant squid that was caught last year is currently being defrosted at Te Papa. Excitingly, you can watch it defrost in real-time here from cameras in the ‘tank and dissection room’. There is also a blog detailing the event. Eventually the squid will be put on display. Awesome.

A virtual world

Otago Museum’s SciCity is an interactive website that is laden with games. What’s notable is that you can create your own avatar, earn SciCity dollars that you can spend on technology, and chat with other users! It’s pretty addictive, but in the good, educational way. Otago Museum also produces the Cosmix Comic books, which are all online. We often have free copies in the library as well.