Monday 24 August, 2020

Fire and ice: a tale of two countries; Panda baby mania; Aussie golfer Minjee Lee hits the heights; and Earth on asteroid alert.



Panda Cam:

How To Spot a Near Earth Asteroid:






It was a case of fire and ice on separate sides of the planet yesterday, as California battled wildfires while the east coast of Australia shivered under the effect of an Antarctic blob.

Temperatures plummeted and snow fell in Tasmania, Victoria,NSW and the ACT over the weekend as winter reminded us it had not quite finished with us yet. 

Meanwhile, firefighters from NSW were on standby to fly out to the United States where wildfires have burned more than 1 million acres in the state of California.

More than 100 homes have been lost and 100,000 residents have been forced to evacuate their houses after 585 blazes were sparked by dry lightning and fanned by gusty winds in heatwave conditions last week.

Forests  around San Francisco are said to be most severely affected as the state’s third-worst fire on record tore through the countryside.  



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops .. and today, we find ourselves in Washington DC, the capital city of the United States of America – where Wei the panda has given birth to a cub.

You’ll remember last week we spoke about the webcam trained on Mei going into meltdown as people all over the world logged in to see if the 22-year-old resident of the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington was about to give birth.

Well, she did – and is now the doting mum of a teensy, tiny little hairless panda cub. 

It’s going to take several days before zookeepers go anywhere near Mei and her newborn – wanting to leave the new mum and her bub in peace. Panda cubs are especially vulnerable when they are first born – they weigh about the same as a baseball – and are generally 1/900th the size of their mum. Compare that to human babies, which are generally 1/20th the size of their mum. There you go – there’s some fractions exercises for  you right there. You’re welcome. Otherwise, check out the link in today’s episode notes for panda webcam, and you might just see Mei and her baby performing for the cameras. 




And it’s a big Squiz Kids round of applause to Minjee Lee – the 24yo women’s golf sensation from Perth – who finished third in the British Open overnight in Scotland. The world #8 went into the final round equal second, and she recorded a pretty good round of 2-under-par to finish 4 shots behind the winner. Taking out the title was German Sophia Popov with her first professional win. And get this: it was only  Popov’s 4th appearance at a major tournament, and just three weeks ago she was ranked #390 in the world. Proof, if ever there was any, that it’s never too late to come from behind and make a play for first place. She won $950,000 – which is more than six times the amount she’s earned in her entire career. Suspect the celebrations will be going on for some time..




Just when you thought this year couldn’t get any more rubbish – comes news that we’re on a collision course with an asteroid. Brilliant ..

A bunch of clever scientists in the United States, whose job it is to monitor massive chunks of space rock hurtling towards Earth, yesterday reported that sometime around the start of November an asteroid about the size of an adult human could collide with Earth. But it’s not time to put on the bicycle helmet just yet. Those same clever scientists reckon the chances of the asteroid hitting Earth is less than 1 percent. So very, very unlikely. And anyway – an asteroid of that size, even if it did enter the Earth’s atmosphere would burn up and disintegrate in a great big ball of light, before it got anywhere near us. As you were people. 

There’s a link in today’s episode notes to a cool video explaining how astronomers monitor outer space for asteroids heading our way. 




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

  1. Which state of the United States is fighting back wildfires?
  2. What sort of animal has just given birth to a cub in a Washington zoo?
  3. According to scientists, what is hurtling towards us from outer space?




It’s August 24 ….. 167 years ago today, the potato chip was invented in New York City – and the world immediately became a better place. Not quite as many years ago, I was born. Meaning today is my birthday. All gifts, cards and money orders can be sent to Squiz Kids HQ. Ha!

Squiz Kids lucky enough to share this auspicious date for a birthday include …. Haadiya from Newcastle, Emma from Abbotsford, Ayala from Kelmscott, Matthew from Moss Vale, Evelyn from Herberton, Alex from Craigburn, Anuskha from Glendenning, Ray from Northmead, Amitya from Carlingford, Jacob from Roseville, Aylaa and Sonia from Perth, Marc from Sydney and Alex from Newtown. 

And some belated birthday shoutouts… Catarica and Katie from Abbotsford, Jackson from Brisbane, Benji from Highton, Jason from Oran Park, Asma from Greenacre, Ella from Perth and Hayden – who’s listening all the way over there in Hong Kong. 

Happy birthday one and all!

Today’s classroom shoutouts…5M at Marrickville West Public School, 4N at Turramurra Public School with Miss Nolan who celebrated a birthday on the weekend. And a special shoutout to Fish Creek Primary in South Gippsland and Grade 5/6 at Meredith Primary School, who, their teachers tell me, have all been doing so well with home learning. Well done guys – we know it can’t be easy for you Squiz Kids down there in Victoria – but just know that the rest of us are thinking of you and sending all our best wishes your way.


  The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. California
  2. Panda
  3. Asteroid