Tuesday, 23 February, 2021

The fight against fake news; French schools ban meat; how to clone a ferret; and Max the Miracle Dog gets a medal.



Cloned ferret:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSvbGGLtJnE

Max the marvelous therapy dog: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-56128405

PDSA Order of Merit list: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/animal-awards-programme/pdsa-order-of-merit


Squiz Kids Instagram:


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Squiz Kids is proudly supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.






You’ve probably heard of fake news, right? It’s when someone tries to tell you something has happened – but it’s not true. Or when they say something didn’t happen – but it did. You get the gist. Well yesterday, some of the biggest tech companies in the world, including Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Google, admitted they had a problem with fake news in Australia – and promised to try and fix it.

It means that you might see more warnings pop up online, indicating that a piece of information that’s being served up to you could be fake news. 

With the explosion of social media and surfing the web – we’re all of us being bombarded every day with more information than ever before. Learning how to work out which sources of information you can trust and which ones you can’t is really important. 

And it’s especially important now, as the world deals with the COVID pandemic. Public health experts are worried that with Australia’s vaccine program starting up, there will be an explosion of vaccine scare stories online – and that’s a risk to everyone’s health. 

A name you’re going to hear a lot in the news this week is that of Prince Philip. He’s the husband of Queen Elizabeth II – and the grandfather of Princes Harry and William. Last week, Prince Philip, who is 99 years old , was admitted to hospital in London. Grandson Prince Harry – who lives in America – is said to be preparing to fly home to England in case his grandad’s condition worsens. Here’s hoping he’s up and at ‘em in no time.




Each day we give the world globe a spin and find a news story from wherever it stops – and today we’ve landed in France – where meat has been taken off the menu at some schools in the south of the country.

Did you know that when French kids go to school – they get served a three course meal every day in their school canteen? And it’s totally gourmet – with a salad for entree, and meat or fish or chicken dishes for main course – and even a dessert every day and cheese. Yum. One school district in a city called Lyon – which is famous for its excellent food – has decided that meat will no longer be on the menu at school. And it’s caused a storm of protest. France is a country that takes its food very seriously. And meat is eaten widely in France, as a glance at any French cookbook will tell you. Even so, meat-free products are becoming more and more popular in France, as they are in lots of countries – and a law was passed in France three years ago to make at least one day a week vegetarian. As long as they don’t take away dessert … 




Moving now to the United States – where an endangered ferret has been cloned – in potentially good news for endangered species everywhere. 

Elizabeth Ann the ferret is a furry little bundle of cuteness. She’s also something of a scientific miracle: in that she was cloned using the DNA from a ferret that died 10 years ago.

If you’ve ever seen Jurassic Park – you’d know what cloned means. It means taking the DNA of an animal – living or dead – and using it to make another identical animal. 

What’s DNA? It’s the material inside every living thing that carries all the information on how that living thing looks and functions. It’s the basic genetic code of living things – and every living thing has a unique genetic code. It’s what makes each one of us different from each other. 

So to be able to take the genetic code of an animal that died a decade ago, and bring into existence an identical animal is a really big deal. And to do it for a species of animal that is endangered means that it’s a process that could be used to help lots of other endangered species. Science. It’s so very, very clever. If you’re keen to see what Elizabeth Ann looks like – there’s a link to a video of her in today’s episode notes.




And today it’s a great big Squiz Kids Salute to Max the therapy dog from England – who’s just become the first pet ever to receive a special award for services to society.

Max is a cute as a button dog who lives in the Lake District in England – a beautiful part of the world with hills and lakes and stunning scenery. During the COVID lockdown in the UK, Max’s owner has been live-streaming their walks in the hills – and so many people in cities, locked in their homes or tower apartment blocks unable to leave – have watched Max’s walks in the country and say that is given them lots of comfort in a difficult time.

And so, Max has received an Order of Merit from an animal charity. It’s an award that is usually given to police dogs or police horses for the work they do helping people in need. So the fact that Max – an ordinary pet – has received the award is a big deal. 

And yes, of course, there’s a link to a video of Max in today’s episode notes. You’re welcome. 




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

  1. In which country has meat been banned in some school canteens?
  2. What sort of animal has just been cloned in the United States?
  3. What’s the name of the pet dog who’s just received an order of merit in the UK?




It’s February 23   … on this day in 1445  … so, almost 600 years ago – the first book ever was printed on a printing press .. an invention that gave rise to books as we know them today. And what book was it? It was the Bible. How about that? 

It’s also a special day for these Squiz Kids celebrating a birthday today … Roman from Edithvale, William from Spreyton and Gwen from Oxford in the UK

And some belated birthday shoutouts… Lily and Rosie from Denistone East, Ryan and Bonnie from Mackay and Josie from Richmond. 

Happy birthday one and all!

And today’s classroom shoutouts go to… Room 4 with the 6/7s from Wallaroo Primary School, Year 5/6K from St Joseph’s in Mernda, Miss Soufan and 5/6S at Upper Plenty Primary School, Miss Allison’s Grade 3/4 at St Francis School in Hughenden, and Miss Sporn’s amazing year 2 class from Craigburn Primary School. 


The S’Quiz Answers:

  1. France
  2. Ferret
  3. Max