Thursday, June 24, 2021

Sydney on COVID red alert; Kashmir’s classroom in the clouds; Scientists baffled by China’s wandering elephants; and stinky undies in space.   



Classroom in the clouds

Elephant calves playfighting


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School holiday plans have once again been thrown into limbo as state borders around the country closed yesterday. What’s limbo? It’s a state of being neither here nor there … where everything is uncertain.

The state border shutdowns came as COVID cases in several Sydney clusters continued to rise and the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian introduced a new set of social distancing measures for large parts of our nation’s biggest city.

Masks are now mandatory for all indoor settings outside of the home for people who live in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and down to Wollongong and Shellharbour on the south coast. Visitors to your home will be limited to five, singing and dancing at venues or churches is out and there will be limits on public transport.

Oh dear. 

It’s not a complete lockdown .. but the Premier yesterday said the situation was fluid – which means it’s changing all the time – and that she was not ruling out further action. 

Hold on to your hats Sydney. 

It’s thrown school holiday plans for many into chaos, as states including Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia closed their borders to many Sydney residents. 

Even the travel bubble with New Zealand was paused yesterday, as health authories in NSW tried to get on top of the fast spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus

Meanwhile , down south, restrictions were beginning to ease for Victorians following their own recent lockdown. From midnight tonight, crowds will be allowed back at AFL and A-League games, and Victorians will be allowed to have up to 15 visitors per day to their home. Who has that many friends? 




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops. And today we’ve landed in Kashmir – in the mountains between the countries of India and Pakistan … where school students are walking five kilometres a day, high up into the mountains and sometimes among the clouds – to get enough mobile reception to attend school.

Villages in Kashmir were already isolated before the pandemic. But then COVID hit and schools closed and students were left with no option but to take online classes. But because phone lines and internet connections are either really bad or non-existent in this part of the world, students have been forced to walk to neighbouring villages – or even halfway up mountain sides to get enough mobile phone reception to be able to download or stream online classes. Many clamber up a mountain side, and sit in the rain under an umbrella with their mobile phone just to take part in a lesson.

So next time you complain about having to go to school … maybe spare a thought for those who are climbing mountains to get an education. That’s what we call food for thought … 

There’s a link to video of the kids up a mountain in today’s episode notes.




Remember the story from a few weeks back about the herd of elephants walking across China? And how their journey through towns and villages and across highways and by-ways has captivated the world’s attention? Well – they’re still walking. And scientists cannot work out why.

This herd of elephants have been on the march for almost a year – and have covered almost 500 kilometres in the process. And that’s not so unusual – because elephants are known to wander. But what’s baffling scientists is what is driving them and where they are going. 

You’ll remember the photo of the herd all lying down asleep in a forest? That has confused scientists too – because normally elephants sleep standing up. The theory is that they are so exhausted from their trek that they’ve taken to sleeping lying down. Scientists also think that because elephants communicate with something called infrasonic sound – very low pitch noises that only they can hear and which can travel across many kilometres – the elephants have become disoriented with all the noise of cars and traffic and general hubbub in nearby towns and cities. 

On the upside: all of China is fascinated with the herd and follows their travels daily on social media – and that’s doing wonders for efforts to conserve elephants in the wild. 

There’s a link to video of two of the calves playfighting in today’s episode notes. It’s dead cute.




Do you ever get tired of your parents telling you to pick up your dirty underwear off the floor or – even worse – change your clothes and your undies when you’ve only been wearing them for five days straight? It’s a drag, right? Then you need to become an astronaut. Because yesterday we learned that because they have no washing machines or any real way to clean their clothes, astronauts aboard the International Space Station don’t wash or change their clothes – sometimes for weeks at a time. And because they have to go to the gym at least once a day and for two hours each day, to keep their muscles healthy in zero gravity, those clothes can get molto stinky. I have a teenage son … I think I might know what they’re talking about … 

Which is why a clothes washing detergent company will conduct experiments on the space station to hopefully develop a way to wash and clean astronauts stinky undies.  

As more and more human missions to space and the Moon and Mars are planned and take place, working out how to clean clothes and stay fresh smelling is going to become a really big challenge.  

Because even in zero gravity, stinky undies still smell. 




A cheeky reminder to subscribe to Squiz Kids on your preferred podcasting app to make sure you don’t miss out on the school holiday quizzes we’re going to be serving up. 

Plus — if you’ve got a birthday coming up over the school holidays – be sure to tune in tomorrow – our last day of Squiz Kids for a couple of weeks – as we do a great big massive pre-holiday birthday shout out. I have my larynx in training as we speak … 




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

  1. In which country is a herd of elephants continuing their year long trek across the countryside? 
  2. Kashmir, where school students are climbing mountains to do online classes, is a place wedged between Pakistan and which other country?
  3. How many hours working out in the gym each day do astronauts on the International Space Station need to do?




It’s June 24 … birthday of football superstar Lionel Messi .. and on this day eleven years ago, Julia Gillard became Australia’s first ever female Prime Minister. 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today… Hayden from Atwell, Destiny from Dubbo, David from Hughenden, Ruzgar from Randwick, Alec from Paddington, Cleo from Yarralumla, Jette and Megan from Brisbane, Harley from Albany Hill, Micah from Perth, Jasmine from Glen Innes, Julia and Michael from Kensington and Zac from Cronulla. And a special shoutout to Sam from Uriarra Village, who’s celebrating a birthday tomorrow.

Belated birthday shout outs to… Hannah from Upper Mount Gravatt, Josephine from Oran Park, and Lara, Ava, Archie and Emerson from Orange

Classroom shoutouts … Mr Kenny’s year 5 class at Cronulla Public School, Mr Packham’s class at St Ives North Public school, who is celebrating a birthday today, class 2/3/4 at Millfield Public School, whose prac student, Mr Robinson, is finishing up tomorrow, and to Exeter Primary School’s prac student Miss Hogg, who also finishes up tomorrow. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Two