Thursday, 5 August, 2021

Barbie votes for vaccines; Africa’s grandma giraffes; Peter Bol does us proud; and Yakei the epic girl monkey.



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You know you’ve made it in the world when they make a Barbie in your honour. That’s what has happened to Professor Sarah Gilbert – the inventor of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine that is helping the world in the fight against the coronavirus.

Professor Gilbert – who is a vaccinologist – was at first puzzled when she learned that toymaker Mattel had made a Barbie doll that looks just like her, but then she was a little bit chuffed. Especially, she said, when she stopped to think about how it might inspire little girls to study science and maybe one day grow up to invent something as remarkable as the vaccine she invented. 

In the United Kingdom, where Professor Gilbert is from, she is regarded as a hero, for the many lives her vaccine has helped to save. At a tennis match she attended during the Wimbledon tournament this year, she received a standing ovation .. which is to say everyone stood up and gave her a big round of applause.  

And Professor Gilbert isn’t the only amazing woman in science to be honoured with a Barbie. Closer to home and our very own Dr Kirby White has also had a Barbie made in her honour. Dr White is a Victorian doctor who created a reusable gown for doctors to wear during the pandemic.

Because girls + science equals awesome. 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed on the African savannah … where researchers have discovered that giraffe grandmas are among the most caring, attentive animals on the planet. 

The scientists found that older female giraffes remain within the wider giraffe family group to help care for the baby giraffes and also to add a wise, calming influence to the tower. A tower of giraffes is the collective noun for giraffes … as in the word used to describe a group of giraffes. How cool is that?  

Having a wise old grandma at the head of the pack is a sign of a highly intelligent species, according to researchers. It happens with elephants, killer whales and – to lesser or greater degrees – in humans too.  

And as we’ll hear in Animal Kingdom a bit later, it can even happen among monkeys. Stay tuned … 



For just over a minute and forty seconds last night, the eyes of Australia were trained on the athletics track at the Tokyo Olympics as Perth runner, Peter Bol carried the expectations of a nation as he ran for a medal in the 800m final.

In the end, it wasn’t to be – coming in a very respectable fourth position, beaten to the medals by two Kenyan runners and a runner from Poland. 

Speaking after the race, Peter said he felt the love and support from his home country – not to mention the living room full of family and friends from the Sudanese community in Perth. “I feel like I inspired the whole nation and that was the goal’ he said. Mission accomplished Peter. 

Having more luck in the medal hunt yesterday were Aussies Matthew Belcher and William Ryan who won gold in the 470 class sailing event. And while the Opals – the Australian women’s basketball team went down yesterday to Team USA – there are high hopes the men’s team, the Boomers will beat the Americans when they take them on tonight. Go you good things!

With 15 gold medals, and four days left of competition, Australia is three gold medals away from its best performance ever.  




Today we bring you the story of an extremely tough nine-year-old girl, who has literally fought her way to the top and become boss of her 677-member troop …. of monkeys. Known as Yakei, the macaque monkey lives at a nature reserve on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Her path to dominance started in April, when she beat up her own Mum — don’t try THAT at home! — to become the top female. 

Then, she took the fight to Sanchu, a 31-year-old male macaque who had been head of the troop – known as the alpha – for the past five years. Yakei won. The nature reserve has never had a female alpha in its 70 year history, and surprised workers wanted to test whether Yakei was really in charge. They put peanuts on the ground, knowing that monkeys let the alpha eat first. The 31-year-old Sanchu backed away, and let 9-year-old Yakei tuck in. 

Even though it’s unusual for macaque monkeys to have a girl boss, there are plenty of animal species where females are regularly in charge. Animal behaviour experts … now there’s a cool job… say that hyenas, killer whales, lions,  bonobos, lemurs, and elephants all have female leaders. Now that’s girl power. 




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

  1. Barbie dolls have been made to honour amazing women in science – including the professor who created which COVID vaccine?
  2. Which long-necked animals from the African savannah have been found to honour their grandmothers?
  3. Yakei the all-conquering girl monkey lives on the island of Kyushu in which country? 




It’s August 5 … It’s National Underwear Day in the USA – where New Yorkers are encouraged to wear their undies on the outside of their clothes … let’s hope that’s a holiday that stays in the USA …

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … 

Scarlett from Broken Hill, Zaha from Warragul, Bella from Hawthorne, Sam from Donvale, Lauren from Abbotsford, Ella from Hunters Hill, Ethan from Canterbury, Matthew from Balgowlah Heights, Roza and Liam from Randwick and Eloisa, Aurelia from Sydney, and a special birthday shout out to Andrew from Little River.

Belated birthday shout outs go to …Brady from Gymea and Mahli from Wooli. 

Plus!!  … Because our friends in Greater Sydney and South East Queensland are in lockdown at the moment – we’re sending out Home Learning Herograms …

First one goes to Mr Goldie and Class 5G at Asquith Public School. Also to Class 5B at Wenona School in North Sydney and Happy Birthday to Phoebe and her teacher Mrs Burkett.

Sully in 3W at Mount Terry Public School in Albion Park sends a herogram his classmates and his amazing teacher Miss Wright! 

Mrs Morgan and Mrs Stassen from Macarthur Anglican School in Sydney would like to send a herogram to the students in Year 5 and to let them know they are all doing a great job homeschooling .. and finally a herogram to all the students at Hornsby North Public School with a special mention to Grade 4 and Miss Page. 

Plus a couple of classroom shout outs to those of you not in lockdown …3/4R and Mrs Rees at St Patrick’s Primary School in Bega, Grade 5/6 & Miss Wagner at Jewells Primary School, Newcastle and to Mrs Brady and Class 6B from St Joseph’s Primary in Kempsey.


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. Astra Zeneca
  2. Giraffes
  3. Japan