Monday 17 May, 2021

Trouble in the Middle East; Saving the slow loris; China’s rover on Mars; and here comes the snow!



Saving Indonesia’s slow loris:

Chinese rover on Mars:


Swysh: personalised video messages from your favourite sports stars:


Squiz Kids Instagram:


Got a birthday coming up and you want a shout-out? Send us an email at [email protected]


Squiz Kids is proudly supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.






A region of the world you will have heard a lot in the news this past week – and will hear a whole lot more about in the week to come – is a part of the world often referred to as the Middle East. It’s an area that takes in a place called Israel and a place called Palestine. And while they are neighbours, they disagree about who is the rightful owner of the land they share. And in the past week, and over the weekend, they’ve been firing missiles at one another. You may have seen footage on the news of buildings collapsing after being hit by rockets? That was part of the fighting between the neighbours. Things have been tense between Israel and Palestine for many decades. But this is the worst violence the region has seen for about seven years. Because it’s a disagreement that effects lots of people in lots of countries around the world, there was a big meeting of a group called the United Nations Security Council – a collection of countries who will hopefully manage to convince the neighbours to stop fighting.

Closer to home … and the south eastern states of Australia have shivered through a crazy cold weekend with snow falling on the Aussie Alps and across many parts of Victoria, Melbourne recording it’s coldest day of the year so far, Tassie waking to snow in the highlands and the mercury in Canberra dipping at one point almost down to minus 5 degrees. Brrrr.

What does it mean when people say, ‘the mercury dipped’? Thermometers to measure temperature used to have the liquid metal mercury in them .. So there you are.

The ski fields of Perisher Valley recorded their coldest May night since records began 12 years, shivering through minus 9 degrees. Good news for skiers with almost 10cm being dumped on the slopes. Now where did I put my electric blanket?




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story wherever it stops – and today we’ve landed in Indonesia … and the island of Java. Where local conservationists have come up with a genius plan to protect the slow loris – AND help out local farmers.

The slow loris is probably the cutest animal you are going to clap eyes on this week. It lives in the treetops of the jungles of Java – and searches for food at night by clambering from one tree to another.

Local farmers have cleared some of the forest to grow crops. And that means the slow loris has had to come down to the ground to move around its territory – and sometimes they run into dogs – and did I mention they are slow? And not built for running on land? So it doesn’t always end well for them.

But conservationists have built a highway of pipes – strung from one tree to the next – so that the loris can move across the landscape without having to touch the ground. And cleverly: the pipes also carry water – which farmers can use to water their crops.

That’s what we call a win-win. I’ve stuck a link to video of it in today’s episode notes. Because, did I mention how cute the slow loris is?




And it’s back to Mars we go – with news over the weekend that China has successfully landed its very own rover on the red planet.

Remember how we talked earlier this year about the the United States’ successful mission to land the rover Perseverance – or Percy to his friends – on Mars? Well a bunch of very clever scientists from China have managed to do the same thing.

The Chinese rover is called Zhurong – which means God of Fire – and it’s a six-wheeled robot that parachuted to the surface of Mars on Saturday.

As with Perseverance, the Chinese mission has been many years in the planning – and the rover took seven months to fly through space from Earth and reach Mars. That’s because it’s 320 million km to Mars.

Zhurong landed not far from Perseverance – in Martian terms that is. But still a long, long way way. Too far away for them to hang out with each other while they conduct their experiments.

China is the only other country other than the US to successfully land a spacecraft on Mars.

And yes: there’s a link in today’s episode notes to video of the rover.




Quick update on the tiger that was on the loose and running around the Texas city of Houston last week. It has been found safe, recaptured and will now go to live in an animal sanctuary.

Strangely enough, thousands of tigers are kept as pets in the United States – even though it is illegal in many states.

Think I’ll stick to my border collie.




(whistle) … Time is almost up, footy fans … today is your last day to send in a question for AFL star Josh Dunkley – who’s bravely agreed to take the hotseat and answer your questions in a special Squiz Kids Q+A.

Why is it so special? Because as well as being a Western Bulldogs midfielder – Josh is a proud member of the Swysh community – a great new service providing everyday Aussies with personalised video messages from their favourite sports stars. It’s an awesome gift, for birthdays and big celebrations, and every Swysh video raises money for charity. 

Right now, Josh is on the bench with a shoulder injury – which means he has plenty of time to dedicate to answering your questions. How did he crack the big time? What job would he have done if footy hadn’t worked out? What’s the best part about playing footy for a living?

Send through any questions you have for Josh to [email protected] … and for more info about Swysh, check out  – that’s swish with a y – or see the link in today’s episode notes. Oh — and the best question gets a free, personalised video message from Josh himself. Because Josh just gives and gives..




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

  1. What’s the region of the world called where Israel and Palestine are located?
  2. What’s the name of the animal in Indonesia that conservationists and farmers are working together to help?
  3. Which country has just landed a rover on Mars?




It’s May 17… on this day in 1859 – the first laws of Australian Rules Football – aka AFL – were published. 

Birthdays… Phoenix from Kalgoorlie, Amalia from Ashmont, Alice from Inverloch, Amalia from Ashmont, Sam from Mansfield, Dakota from Jugiong, Blake from Turramurra, Anya from Sydney, Alara from Cranbourne, Austin from Shellharbour, Dakota from Harden, Lachlan from Lake Munmorah, Ryan from Denmark in WA, and Alice from Lane Cove.

And some belated birthday shoutouts to…Billie from Bridgetown, Declan from Surrey Hills, William from Coburg, Ryan from Glen Innes, Merv from Denmark in WA, Jasmine from Essendon, Annie from Sydney, and Harrison who’s listening in from Germany.

Classroom shoutouts… Year 3 at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Greystanes, Stage 3 at Peakhurst South Public School, and classes 3/4J and 5/6P Abbotsford Public School, with a special shoutout to classes 1C and 3/4B whose teachers Ms Cromack and Mrs Boyle are celebrating birthdays this week. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Middle East
  2. Slow Loris
  3. China