Writing A Science Column

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Writing A Science Column

We have a new book, I’ve Always Wondered About That, published by Tumblehome Learning, coming out this Fall.

It is a Question and Answer format. Some of the questions are; Why is there a big E at the top of the eye chart? Why are some dogs afraid of thunderstorms? Do horses sleep standing up? If a person eats one pound of food, do they gain a pound of weight? Why don’t microwaves leak out through the holes in the microwave door? Who was the greatest scientist of all time? Why is the sky blue? If you hit a golf ball on the moon, how far will it go? How do airbags activate? What is an atomic clock? Is time travel possible? Do divining rods or dowsing rods actually find water or underground pipes? What happens when you split an atom? Why does hot water freeze faster that cold water? If you are in a falling elevator, can you save yourself by jumping up just before it hits ground level? Why is Chicago known as the Windy City?

It requires considerable time and yes, some effort, to write a science column. No one has expertise in every conceivable subject area. My background is in the physical sciences of chemistry and physics. When I receive questions from kids and adults about the biological sciences, about living things and the human body, I have to look stuff up. I run medical questions past several doctors before submitting to the newspapers.

I check things with a nutritionist, a dentist, an engineer, and a university professor. Several questions verging on religion and theology have been reviewed by a “man of the cloth.”

At the present time I am working on these questions: How come I can see lightning a long time before I hear the thunder? Why does Earth have air, or an atmosphere, but other planets don’t? What are the health benefits of eating alkaline foods and their effects on cancer and diseased cells? Why do giraffes have long necks? Why doesn’t the Earth have more craters, like the Moon? Can a hole be drilled all the way through the Earth?

If you have a question of any kind, email me at lscheckel@charter.net.

 

 

 

 

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New Book Coming Out

The science column Ask Your Science Teacher has appeared weekly in the Tomah Journal since 1993. A similar column, Science Made Easy, has been published in the Monroe County Herald for the last two…

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New Book Coming Out

The science column Ask Your Science Teacher has appeared weekly in the Tomah Journal since 1993. A similar column, Science Made Easy, has been published in the Monroe County Herald for the last two years.

It is a Question and Answer format. The questions come from both school children and adults. Students receive a coupon from McDonalds and Pizza Hut if their question is chosen to be in the newspaper. Past questions have been formatted for a book Ask Your Science Teacher published in 2011 and another book from Experiment Publishing entitled Ask A Science Teacher, which came out in 2013.

A new book, I’ve Always Wondered About That, by Tumblehome Learning, from the Boston area, is due out this Fall 2017.askascienceteacher-cover

I’ve included a column below from 1994.

Question: If you are in an elevator that is falling, can you save yourself by jumping up just before the elevator hits ground level?

Answer: A fine question and one that people have debated for many years. Good luck, but if the elevator falls any significant distance, jumping up will not make much of a difference. First of all, if a cable broke, you would be in free fall and floating around inside the elevator. The astronauts in the space shuttle are really in the same situation. They are in constant free fall.  There is only a slight chance your feet will be in contact with the floor when the elevator runs out of shaft. But let’s say your feet are ‘velcroed’ to the floor and you can somehow tell the proper time to jump upward. Pretend the elevator falls 10 floors, or about 120 feet. You would be going about 88 ft/sec or 60 mph. Let’s pretend you can jump up in the air a distance of 4 feet. (Only a few basketball players have a 4 foot standing jump). You would jump upward at 16 ft/sec or about 10 mph. So, if you subtract the 10 mph from the 60 mph, you’re still slamming into the ground at 50 mph. Now remember, most of us can’t jump up a distance of 4 feet. We’re lucky to do 2 feet.

Not to worry. If the elevator cable breaks, safety devices will stop the elevator from falling. Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator in 1885 for the ten story Home Insurance Company skyscraper in Chicago.

 

 

 

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First Signs of Spring

We Wisconsinites always look forward to the first signs of Spring. I suppose those signs are unique and different for each of us. One of the first signs for me is baseball Spring Training, when pit…

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First Signs of Spring

We Wisconsinites always look forward to the first signs of Spring. I suppose those signs are unique and different for each of us. One of the first signs for me is baseball Spring Training, when pitchers and catchers report to their team’s training facilities, either in Florida or Arizona.

For this year, 2017, it was Tuesday and Wednesday Feb 14 and Feb 15. Tsk-40-softball-batterhe rest of the rosters will report next week, starting on Monday Feb 20. I believe the Dodgers will go to the World Series this year.

A sure sign of Spring is the maple trees. I look for the swelling of the buds. They don’t leaf out ‘till much later, but the buds swell in response to the longer daylight hours. We have 2 big maples in the back yard. The sap is running, but I’ve never got into the collecting of sap and boiling it down to syrup. You do know that there is some little sap in every family tree!

Of course, we do see the daylight hours increase, the Sun coming up a bit earlier and setting a bit later each day. As a kid on the farm, we noticed the Sun came up in the morning over Stovey’s farm buildings in the summer, but in the winter the Sun came up over Kuntz’s place. Stovey’s farm was to the northeast, and Kuntz’s to the southeast. Never understood why until much later.

Which reminds me of the story of my brother Bob and Gene Ingham who teamed up to play a bit of a prank on Willie Knutz. Willie raised goats and one or two of them were frequently tethered out by Oak Grove Ridge Road.  They were staked out so they could graze on the fresh grass.  We would see those goats each time we passed the Kuntz roadway, whether we were in the Scheckel car or on the school bus.

Bob and Gene, only a rumor you understand, removed the tether rope from the stake in the ground and they tied the end of the rope to the electric fence.  We don’t know if Willie ever determined who pulled this hoax. The goat came to no harm. But the deed lives on in Scheckel folklore and the tale is embellished at each family reunion. At last telling, the goat was fried!

Other signs of Spring in the past: breaking out the softball and bat at Oak Grove school, watching the snow melt go through the culver under the road by the Ingham farm, the V formation of flocks of geese heading north, Valentines Day at Oak Grove school, Ground Hogs Day, the first robins in the lawn, mourning doves, swallows returning and building their mud nests in the Small Barn, and seed catalogs arriving in the mail.

 

 

 

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Paul Scheckel’s Gifts

Our son, Paul Scheckel, passed away on Tuesday, January 24, due to pneumonia. He was 50 years old. Paul was in the hospital for 10 days, the last 4 on life support. Ann and I were with him at the e…

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