Monday, June 5, 2023

Operation: Whale rescue; Sandstorm in the Suez; Mega dino find in Victoria; and big wins for teenage chess and spelling bee champs.


Whale rescue off Port Kembla:

Sandstorm at the Suez Canal:

Spelling Bee (including words that eliminated some competitors):


Why isn’t a Pterodactyl a Dinosaur?:


Watch a pterosaur fly:


Squiz Kids Book Club:

Classroom Companion:

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As you listen to the podcast this morning, there’s one very happy whale swimming its way up the east coast of Australia having been saved over the weekend in a dramatic 8-hour rescue operation.


The young whale became entangled in lines and floats and was reported as being in quite a bit of distress in waters off Wollongong, just south of Sydney, early on Saturday morning.

In an operation that would make The Octonauts proud, wildlife officers and marine rescue operatives swung into action after receiving reports the whale was struggling off Five Islands near Port Kembla.


They then spent no fewer than eight hours trying to untangle the whale – to free it from the mess of fishing line and ropes and floats it had accidentally collected while taking part in its annual migration from Antarctica to the Barrier Reef.


Then the weather changed – meaning rough seas – and that complicated the rescue effort. Then there were suddenly other whales in and around the whale in distress – and that too made the rescue more difficult.


Happily though, just as the daylight was fading into night, the whale was disentangled and left to swim off on its merry way. 



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops … and today we’ve landed in Egypt … where a massive sand storm has swept across the Suez Canal and across into the capital of Cairo.

Dramatic video footage has captured the moment the enormous cloud of sand swept across the Suez Canal – engulfing ships as they made their way along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

What’s a shipping lane? It’s a route that lots of big ships travel along, carrying container loads of stuff backwards and forwards between countries. And the Suez Canal is a 193 kilometre long, man-made waterway that connects the Red Sea of Arabia with the Mediterranean Sea of Europe. When it was dug and flooded with water back in 1869, creating a shortcut for ships which previously had to sail all the way around the bottom of Africa – it was a huge deal. 

Anyway: back to the sand storm. The strong winds swept across the desert, collecting sand and dirt and pushing them across the landscape, causing chaos in the city of Cairo. 

I’ve stuck links to video of the sandstorm in today’s episode notes.



Look, there was loads of sport over the weekend. Big results in the AFL, NRL and netball. The French Open tennis tournament, the NBA finals … but it’s the sport of chess and a big ol’ spelling bee that has caught our sporting eye this weekend.

The chess world was all a’twitter over the weekend when a 17 year old took on and defeated the world’s best chess player. 

Indian chess master, Dommaraju Gukesh had a pretty successful 17th birthday weekend after beating world champion chess player, Magnus Carlsen in a warm-up tournament for this week’s Norway chess championships. He was given a cake to celebrate. 

Meanwhile – over in the United States, 14 year-old Dev Shah is $50,000 richer after winning the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dev beat 230 other super spellers to take out the top prize, successfully spelling the word “psammophile,” to win the competition. Psammophile means something that thrives in sandy soils. Yeah- I didn’t know that either. 

How did Shah beat the 230 other spellers? According to his mum – he balanced hard core study of the dictionary with a regular exercise and fitness schedule. Clever kid.   



Dinosaur lovers – are you sitting down for this? Because archeologists are up and about and hopping with excitement at the news that bones from an ancient flying dragon have been found deep in a sea cliff south of Melbourne. 

One hundred million years ago  – which is such a long time ago that it hurts my head a little bit to think about – the skies above Australia were filled with pterosaurs … a massive, sharp-toothed flying reptile. Yikes. 

I’ve stuck a link to drawings of the pterosaur in today’s episode notes. They look pretty scary, if I’m honest. 

Paleontologists in Victoria tunnelled deep into sea cliffs at a place called Dinosaur Cove, 220 kilometres south west of Melbourne – and found the fossilised remains of two pterosaurs … which, at an estimated 107 million years old, are believefd to be the oldest ever found in Australia. 

Boom. That’s the sound of my mind being blown. 


Aha – it’s the Classroom Companion Clarion – letting us know that Christie has made some awesome classroom worksheets tied to this item in the podcast. Teachers, parents – download the Classroom Companion and let your kids have at it. Free, curriculum-aligned literacy worksheets tied to the news. Genius. Sign up if you haven’t already at


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


  1. What’s the name of the famous shipping lane that was swallowed by a sandstorm last week?
  2. What sort of dinosaur fossils have archeologists found in a sea cave south of Melbourne?
  3. Tough one to end on: what was the winning word that 14yo Dev Shah spelt in the spelling bee to win $50,000? psammophile





It’s June 5  – It’s a public holiday today in WA – lucky them! It’s also World Environment Day – the perfect excuse to stop and think about this amazing planet that we live on, the fragile ecosystems that make it up – and what each and every one of us can do to protect and conserve it. 


It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today .. Sophia from Baulkham Hills, Baze from Cronulla, Scarlett from South Ripley, Conrad from Helensvale, Penelope from Busselton, Jacinta from Holsworthy, Bethany from Maidstone, Bronson from Penrith, Anthony from Camden, Freddy from Marrickville, Stella from Matong, Annabelle from Echuca and Hildie from Torquay. 


Belated shout outs go to… Jakob and Luca from Hunters Hill, Brook from Gawler East, Noah from Holsworthy, Amelia from Liverpool, Oliver from Bella Vista, Hillary from Gymea, Valentina from Sydney and Kit listening over in Brunei. 


And today’s Classroom Shoutouts go to … class 3/6M at Bradbury Public School in Campbelltown and happy birthday to their teacher Mrs Graham, class 5A and Mr Grant at the Swiss International School in Qatar, class 5/6 and Miss Liefting at Deniliquin South Public School, class 5/6 and Mr Lester at Anglesea Primary School and classes 2B and 5A with Ms Brewer and Mr Abbott at Rose Bay Public School. 


And finally, a special shout out to Georgie and Class 5KS with Mr Stretton and Ms Kahn at North Ainslie Primary School in Canberra was great to see you on the weekend, and I can’t wait to get you aboard the Squiz Kids Book Club.


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Suez Canal
  2. Pterosaur
  3. Psammophile