Thursday, 3 February, 2022

What’s happening in the Ukraine;  America’s record-breaking lightning bolt; the eight year-old secret children’s author; and why baby koalas eat poo.



Big lightning: 

Poo-eating koala joey:

Dylan’s Christmas book:


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A country you will have heard a lot about in the news lately is a place called Ukraine. 

It’s a large country in eastern Europe, just to the south of a much larger country called Russia. 

For the past few weeks, Russia has been sending soldiers to the Ukranian border. The build-up of Russian troops there has the Ukranians very nervous – and many other countries – including the United States, Great Britain, France and even Australia – concerned.

You see: Russia’s President, a man called Vladimir Putin, believes Ukraine belongs to Russia. For a long time last century, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union – controlled for the most part by what is now Russia. 

Ukraine’s government, however, wants the country to be closer to the countries of Western Europe – the Britains, and Frances and Germanys of the world – plus their big ally, The United States – rather than be under the influence of Russia. The Ukraine government also wants to join a club all of these Western countries are in called NATO – a club in which all the countries pledge to look out for one another – and stand up and fight for one another should any one country be threatened. 

I know: it’s a lot to take in on a Thursday. But think of how impressed your folks will be tonight when the topic of Ukraine comes up around the dinner table. You;re welcome. 



Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops … and today we’ve landed in the Americas – that’s North and South America for those playing at home – where two massive bolts of lightning have broken two world records. 

First up, the record for the biggest, furthest travelling bolt of lightning belongs to a bolt that cracked over the southern part of the United States and was so big it stretched across not one but three entire states and measured about 768 kilometres in length …whoa … that’s almost the distance from Melbourne to Sydney!  

Meanwhile, in South America, a lightning bolt has broken the record for the longest-lasting bolt of lightning –  lighting up the sky for a whole 17 seconds. Which, given your average lightning strike only lasts for 0.2 seconds… that’s quite a thing. 

If I pull out my calculator, that means the record breaking megaflash lasted 85 times longer than normal! Yikes. There’s a link in your episode notes to satellite images of the megaflashes…  Louis the wonder-dog would have been cowering under my bed … he hates thunder and lightning ! 




And so to England we go .. the far away country on the other side of the Earth – where the first ever baby koala to be born on the continent of Europe has just been unveiled.

A baby koala is called a joey. And this joey is so cute that all of England is in love with it. Though its safe to say they’re less in love with its eating habits.

Did you know that joeys eat their mum’s poo? No, I didn’t know that either. They eat a special poo called ‘pap’ that’s produced by the mummy koala.

Pap contains special gut bacteria that koala joeys need to survive on their diet of eucalyptus leaves. Because gum leaves are really hard to digest, the joey feeds on pap to get gut bacteria straight from their mum so they can digest gum leaves themselves later in life.

Gross, yes. But genius too ..

There’s a link to video of the joey in today’s episode notes. Prepare yourself for cuteness.




And today it’s a huge Squiz Kids Salute to eight year old Dillon Helbig – who was so determined to share the hand-written and self-illustrated Christmas book he’d written – he snuck it onto the shelves of his local library. 

Dillon’s 81-page book, called ‘The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis’ has sat amongst other graphic novels and comic books in the library since Christmas – and has since proved so popular that it now has 50 people on the waiting list wanting to borrow and read it. 

Dillon says he got the idea from his dad – who, when younger, used to record music and slip copies of it into local music stores. 

That, my friends, is what we call initiative and enterprise .. and for that, Dillon Helbig, Squiz Kids salute you …



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 special poo that koalas produce to help their joeys digest gum leaves? 
  2. What’s the name of the country in Eastern Europe that has Russian troops on its border?
  3. The longest lightning bolt ever recorded recently measured (a) 200kms (b) 4000 kms or c) 768 kms?





It’s February 3 … around the world today is Golden Retriever Day … which is the perfect excuse for me to send a shout out to my two furry nieces in Melbourne, the glorious golden retrievers Lucy and Penny … if you’re lucky enough to own or know a golden retriever, give it a hug today.

A belated birthday shout-out to Jayden from Craigburn who celebrated a birthday over the summer holidays.

And today’s classroom shout outs go to… class F10 at Hammond Park Primary School in WA, Stage 3 at Ellison Public School in Springwood, 

Year 5 at St Christopher’s Primary School in Holsworthy and lastly a shout out to all the students at Padstow Heights Public School. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Pap
  2. Ukraine
  3. c) 768 kms