Wednesday, October 4, 2023

School’s back with wild weather welcome; meet Japan’s robo-wolf; online gamers win gold; and it’s Fat Bear Week!



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As if the start of a new school term wasn’t dramatic enough, large parts of the country were grappling with wild weather yesterday as fires burned in Victoria, storms surged in South Australia, Sydney sweltered in record heat and flooding rains were predicted for the country’s south-east corner – with experts warning we’re in for another summer of crazy weather.

Strong winds in Victoria’s Gippsland were fanning the flames of several blazes yesterday, forcing hundreds to evacuate as the summer bushfire season got off to an early start. 

Some 25,000 people in Adelaide, meanwhile, were without power yesterday morning after wild winds caused widespread damage there. 

And Sydney recorded its hottest October 3 in over a decade as the mercury there climbed to 35 degrees.

And while to the north of the city fires burned at Cessnock, on the south coast residents of Bermagui were being advised to take shelter as a bushfire burned there too. 

Stay safe out there people ..


(ticking sound effect) Did you get the memo people? That daylight savings is back? It means your clocks will have gone forward by an hour on Sunday – and it now stays lighter later and longer if you live in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tassie and the ACT … but no change for those of us in Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory. You know … just to make things extra confusing …



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops, and today we’ve landed in Japan where the big bad wolf has become the unlikely good guy in the fight against bears.

Did you know that Japan has a growing population of both brown and black bears? Once upon a time, the aggressive brown bears lived mainly in the wild mountainous regions of Hokkaido, away from residential areas which were occupied by humans.

But, as Japan’s population ages and more young people move from regional areas to cities, the bears are wandering into places that they used to avoid. And, due to climate change, the bears’ main food source, acorns, are becoming scarce. So, dangerous encounters between humans and bears are becoming more frequent as the bears look to fill their bellies before winter.

[SUPER HERO MUSIC] Enter robo-wolf to the rescue! [Howl] With menacing red eyes, very sharp teeth and a blood curdling howl, Japanese authorities are using a robotised wolf to try and scare bears away from towns and farmland where humans live. They’re the bear-ers of bad news. [Dad Joke Alarm] A pun on day one! I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.




It’s not just robotic wolves making headlines this week … big fat bears in the US state of Alaska are also making waves as the world settles in for another exciting edition of Fat Bear Week.

Long-time listeners of the podcast will know that Fat Bear Week is a highlight of my Squiz Kids year. 

What’s Fat Bear Week, I hear you ask? It’s when the grizzly bears of Katmai National Park are assessed to see which one has put on the most weight over the northern summer period.

You see: when bears come out of winter hibernation – they spend their summer getting as fat as possible to prepare for the long, cold winter ahead. 

And in Katmai, that means prowling the waters of Brooks Falls and eating as many juicy salmon as they can stuff into their snouts.

Each year, the park rangers take photos of the fattest bears and invite the world to cast a vote to see which bear has gotten the chunkiest in the shortest amount of time. It’s a full-blown celebration of animal kingdom gluttony – and I love it. The online voting starts today and goes all week – and yes – I’ve stuck links in today’s episode notes to the voting web page – and also to a cool hype video showcasing this year’s contenders. My money is on Walker this year. He’s positively packed it on …  



Sooooo much has happened in the sporting world since we last spoke – it’s hard to know where to start. The Panthers are three-peaters, the Pies are AFL champions and the Aussie women’s cricket team are taking it to the Windies as we speak .. but it’s the Asian Games in China that have captured our attention today – as athletes from all over the world gather to compete in hundreds of sporting events. 

One that perhaps is the most surprising – and encouraging for those of you who like your sports of the armchair variety – is the battle for gold that’s taken place in the esports event. 

What are esports? Video games, my friends. And I know a bunch of you know what they are …

Yes, that’s right: amid the athletics and swimming and basketball and gymnastics: there are teams of gamers playing for their country at this year’s Asian Games. 

And who was this year’s gold winning team? That would be South Korea – whose team of online gamers beat Taiwan in an epic League of Legends face off. Game on. 


Alright funsters … it might be the first day back at school for many of you – but it’s time to get your party on as the Squiz Kids podcast hits the road ..

I’m talking about the Squiz Kids LIVE show – all the best bits of your favourite podcast brought to life on stage – by me – and a bunch of special guests.

We’re talking a Spaced Out segment with a real life astrophysicist, a Weird Science segment with experiments live on stage, and a visit from a couple of slithery, scaly friends from the zoo. Plus of course, a day time disco with DJ Kenkensuprem.

It’s all happening in Canberra on Saturday October 14. Tickets are on sale now – but hurry so you don’t miss out. 

Tickets available via our website: Can’t wait to see you there .. 


It’s almost time for the S’quiz, but first, I just wanted to say how much I’ve missed you all over the break. If you’ve been missing the podcast, why not show us some love and give us five stars or write us a glowing review on your podcasting app. It really helps other kids, parents and teachers to find us. And make sure that you’re subscribed so that you never miss an episode.


This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening …

  1. What sort of fanged, forest predator has been made into robot version in Japan?
  2. Which country won gold in esports at this year’s Asian Games?
  3. In which American state, starting with A, is the Katmai National Park, home of Fat Bear Week?





It’s October 4 .. today marks the start of World Space Week – how cool – and of course, as we’ve already heard, Fat Bear Week – which is easily my favourite week of the year. More favourite even than Christmas … uh-huh.


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… Nawa and Peter from Cronulla, Leo from Paraburdoo, Chase from Gundagai, Siddhanth from The Ponds, Chloe from Munno Para, Desi  from Altona Meadows and Ethan from Sandhurst. 


And quite a few of you celebrated a birthday during the school holidays and we don’t want you to miss out on a shout out, we’re going to spend this week so working our way through the long list of belated shoutouts – for which I reckon we ought to crack out the ol’ birthday reggae tune …  hit it …. And it’s a belated happy birthday to… Sienna and Frankie from Junee, Posie from Townsville, Annelise from Moorooka, Abhinav from Quakers Hill, Krishna from Holsworthy, Ari from North Epping, Ned from Maitland, Logan from Bridgewater, Minnie from Petrie, Rumbler from Dalkeith, Ryder from Summer Hill, Sophia and Zoe from Middle Harbour, Elijah from Wood Park, Anush and Nittin from Greystanes, Ollie from Woongarrah, Satyam from Wentworthville, Chloe from Oyster Bay, Murrielle  from Gerringong, Jackson from Munno Para, Carlos from Gordon, Faiz from Queanbeyan, Eva from Oyster Bay, Hayden from Flagstaff Hill, Diyar  from Rydalmere, William from Orange, Xavier from Crackenback, Harrison from Pitt Town and twins – Teddy and Henry from Ballarat. 


Classroom shoutouts will be back next week ..


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Wolf
  2. South Korea
  3. Alaska