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“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink the wild air.” 

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

There isn’t much that a stay on a tropical island cannot cure. To feel the salty ocean breeze on your suntanned skin, to lie on the warm sand and sip from a coconut, are some of life’s greatest sensations. So, where in the tropics should one visit? Leave it to Spartan and the Green Egg for all your tropical wanderlust. 

“The tropics are regions of the Earth that lie roughly in the middle of the globe. The tropics between the latitude lines of the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.” This means that there’s more sunshine in the tropics than in other places, and the climate is warmer and more humid. The tropics are known for being a sort of paradise filled with rainforests, ripe fruits, colorful flowers, all sorts of birds, insects, reptiles, and stunning beaches. What’s not to love?

Spartan and the Green Egg, Tropical Destinations: 

(And don’t forget to collect your explorer pins, stickers, and lanyards!)

Kiribati, Micronesia: “Kiribati is part of Micronesia, located in the Pacific Ocean. Kiribati is home to many beautiful islands, like Line, Gilbert, and the Phoenix Islands. All of the islands have a beautiful tropical climate since they are located right along the Equator. Some of the most popular activities for tourists include swimming, snorkeling, and fishing in the gorgeous island waters.” Did you know that Kiribati is also known for its incredible and diverse wildlife, especially the sea birds? 

“This island is part of the group of islands that used to be called the New Hebrides. They are located not too far from the Solomon Islands. Captain Cook landed on the island in 1774 and asked the natives what the island was called. Misunderstanding what he was asking, they replied that the island was called “ground.” The word for ground in the Kwamera language is Tanna. The island is considered a tropical forest surrounded by mountains that are almost 1,000 meters high. One of those mountains is still an active volcano.” Yasur, the volcano, has been “erupting almost continuously since the 18th century”! Located in the South Pacific, Tanna is the most fertile island in Vanuatu and produces coffee and copra (“dried sections of the meat of a coconut”).

Tanna Island, Vanuatu

“This island is part of the group of islands that used to be called the New Hebrides. They are located not too far from the Solomon Islands. Captain Cook landed on the island in 1774 and asked the natives what the island was called. Misunderstanding what he was asking, they replied that the island was called “ground.” The word for ground in the Kwamera language is Tanna. The island is considered a tropical forest surrounded by mountains that are almost 1,000 meters high. One of those mountains is still an active volcano.” Yasur, the volcano, has been “erupting almost continuously since the 18th century”! Located in the South Pacific, Tanna is the most fertile island in Vanuatu and produces coffee and copra (“dried sections of the meat of a coconut”).

Daintree Rainforest – Queensland: “The Daintree Rainforest is considered the most complex tropical ecosystem on Earth. It is the last remaining tropical rainforest refuge in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is located to the east of the rainforest. The plants and animals in this rainforest are diverse, hosting 90% of Australia’s butterfly and bat population.” Daintree is actually the oldest rainforest in the world and has been growing for “over 180 million years.” There are over 3,000 different types of plant species growing here along with 12,000 different species of insect!

For more information on all your travel-related needs, check out Spartan and the Green Egg, the series of books, and the links below:

For more information on the tropical destinations mentioned in this blog, consult the links below:

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Learn About Cenotes

Have you ever heard of a cenote? You may not have because the word “cenote” is most often used in Mexico and other Spanish countries. In fact, Mexico is one of the most popular places tourists go to see cenotes. They are pretty, natural wonders made from rock and water. Here are some questions and answers to help you learn more about cenotes.

  1. What Are Cenotes?

The word “Cenote” is a Spanish word that was made up from a Mayan word meaning “a source of groundwater.” Cenotes are special types of sinkholes in the ground. They are also sometimes called natural wells. That is because every cenote has some amount of water at the bottom. Some have a lot of deep water, and some have much less. Most cenotes also have very clear water because it is filtered through the stone around it. Cenotes are popular tourist attractions all over Mexico and in some other parts of the world. They are also very important to people who study history.

  1. Why Are Cenotes Important in Mexico?

Cenotes are important to the Mexican people and to historians around the world because the Mayan people used them for rituals. The Mayan people lived for about 1200 years in Central America. While there, they built many temples. Today, a lot of those temple ruins are still explored by archaeologists and other scientists. They can teach the Mexican people and visitors a lot about the history of the area, and so can the many cenotes around them. Cenotes provided important water sources for the Mayan people. Without cenotes, the Mayans could not have survived for as long as they did.

  1. How Do Cenotes Form?

The Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico mostly have limestone walls. Limestone changes as water flows through or under it. When the limestone shifts, it makes holes in the ground. From the tops of those holes, people can sometimes look down and see the cenotes below. Sometimes, if the cenotes are deep, people have to climb down into the holes to see the water.

  1. What Are Some Types of Cenotes?

Not every cenote is the same. Many have limestone walls, at least in Mexico. Water is also part of every cenote, but other features are different. Every cenote has different walls, water colors, and other features, like rock formations. Here are some types of cenotes:

  • Cylinder cenotes have walls that go almost straight down and surround the opening of the water totally.
  • Pit cenotes are small holes that lead to wider areas of water below. They are caverns without straight walls.
  • Basin cenotes are like cylinder and pit cenotes, except they contain shallow water. Many cenotes are much deeper.
  • Cave cenotes are cenotes visitors can walk to through cave entrances instead of climbing down shafts from the top.
  1. Who Visits Cenotes?

Many cave cenotes are places you can enjoy visiting with your family. In fact, there are lists of family-friendly cave cenotes across Mexico that are popular with tourists. The top-access-only cenotes are often too dangerous for kids. Adult climbing experts explore them because they have to use ropes or other ways to drop down to and climb up from the water. Many trained scuba divers also enjoy exploring the deeper cenotes in Mexico. Sometimes, they even find items used by the ancient Mayans deep in the waters of the cenotes they explore.

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, as well as a UNESCO world heritage site. It makes up about “ten per cent of the world’s coral reef ecosystems.”

  • With 3000 separate reefs and over 900 continental islands and coral cays, the Great Barrier Reef offers some of the most beautiful and exciting spots for snorkeling, swimming, and diving.  It is also the most extensive and diverse underwater ecosystem in the world.
  • What is a “coral cay”? It’s a tiny island on a coral reef.
  • The marine life is truly something to behold (and many species are threatened with extinction). There are thousands of species of fish, mollusk, and hundreds of species of tropical birds and coral, along with anemones, sponges, and crustaceans (such as crabs, shrimps, and barnacles).

Why it’s so important: Discover with Spartan and the Green Egg

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

-Jacques Cousteau

The Great Barrier Reef is considered the largest living thing on earth, as well as the largest coral reef system. It’s even possible to see the reef from outer space. It stretches over fourteen hundred miles and is home to many types of aquatic species. It is located in the Coral Sea, right off the coast of Queensland, Australia.” Collect your Spartan and the Green Egg Great Barrier Reef explorer pin today!

Fun Facts: 


  • The Great Barrier Reef contains “the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish, and 4,000 types of mollusks.” 
  • One of the largest continental islands of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is over 1,000 meters above sea level.
  • The ecosystem of the GBR covers almost 350,000 square kilometers. 

Awesome Adventures: 


There is an astonishing amount of flora, fauna (including the manatee, also known as the “dugong” or “sea cow” and the large green turtle), and islands with sun-drenched sandy beaches. Some of the sea turtles and clams are over one hundred and twenty years old! There are a myriad of exciting exploratory activities on these islands, including:

  • Snorkeling: Imagine the amazing wilderness beneath the sea, complete with colorful fish of all shapes and sizes and fantastic coral reef systems.
  • Scuba diving
  • With its kaleidoscopic beauty of colors that only nature can provide, helicopter tours above the GBR are very popular.
  • Tours on glass-bottomed boats
  • Whale watching
  • Swimming with dolphins!

Save the Reef


The Great Barrier Reef is in danger. Because of global warming, many of the coral reef systems have been compromised and bleached, while pollution is a threat to all sorts of marine life. Much of the reef has deteriorated, so conservation efforts are extremely important. To learn more about threats to the GBR and what you can do, check out this website.

For more information on Spartan and the Green Egg and the collectible Explorer Pins, visit the link below:

For more information on the Great Barrier Reef, consult the links below:

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“Don’t worry about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

 –Charles M. Schulz

Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia is a magical place filled with Indigenous peoples, sacred monoliths, and all types of landscapes—from the hot arid desert, outback, and bush to the Great Barrier Reef (one of the world’s largest ecosystems), and the architectural marvel, The Sydney Opera House. You may think of an outdoorsman with a delightful accent saying “G’day mate” or some of Australia’s most famous animals, such as koalas munching on bamboo or a mother kangaroo with a baby tucked in her pouch. 

There’s the Murray River (Australia’s longest) in the Southeast, which is one of the most navigable in the world, and, of course, the Great Barrier Reef (the world’s largest coral reef system, complete with thousands of species of fish and mollusks). 

Australia has an interesting history: Beginning in 1788, New South Wales, Australia, was used as a penal colony for convicts sent from England, Ireland, and Scotland. It is also a land known for extremes: severe heat and all sorts of rare, exotic animals. Some cultural highlights of Australia include the traditional music with instruments like the didgeridoo or “yidaki,” clapstick, bullroarer, and gum-leaf.

Animals of Australia

Koalas, wombats, crocodiles, and kangaroos all make up the exotic animal population in Australia. Some are cuddlier and cuter than others but remember, these are all wild creatures, and in the wild is exactly where they need to be: in their unbothered, natural habitat. Because of deforestation, many koalas lost their homes and ended up stranded in cities without food or shelter. 

Most Spectacular Destinations

Come to a world of adventure and exploration with Spartan and the Green Egg! Our explorer pins illuminate some of the world’s most impressive landmarks and wonders to inspire education and curiosity. 

Uluru (also known as “Ayers Rock”) is found in the northern part of Australia. It is a gigantic sandstone formation that has great spiritual meaning to the Aboriginal tribes in the area. Uluru is filled with different springs, water holes, rock caves, and tons of ancient paintings. All of the branching paths give tourists plenty of locations to explore.” 

This amazing monolith is a sacred monolith to the Anangu people; this means that it’s incredibly disrespectful to climb Uluru; it is not a tourist destination as much as a special site to be admired. It is a resting place for the past spirits and ancestors of Indigenous peoples, namely the Mala men who used it as a travel route. Because of these beliefs, Uluru is a UNESCO World Heritage site and protected by law. While base walks are still permitted, one cannot climb the rock. It is even frowned upon to take photographs of certain areas of the formation. 

  • Lake Hillier is located on an island off Australia’s coast and its special color has been puzzling scientists for centuries. This lake is completely pink! Scientists believe that the pink color is caused by a type of red algae or by the presence of a high number of bacteria in the salt crusts. Unlike other pink lakes in the world, when you pour Lake Hillier’s water into a glass, it stays pink. Lake Hillier is only 250 meters wide and is an important place for many migrating and native birds.” The only living organisms in the lake are the red algae and microorganisms such as Dunaliella saline. 

 “The Great Barrier Reef is considered the largest living thing on earth, and the largest coral reef system. It’s even possible to see the reef from outer space. It stretches over fourteen hundred miles and is home to many types of aquatic species. It is located in the Coral Sea, right off the coast of Queensland, Australia.” 

The Whitsunday Islands are found along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland. With seventy-four islands in total, most remain uninhabited by people. Complete with rain forests and white sandy beaches, the islands are picturesque and ideal for snorkeling, diving, and observing marine wildlife.

To learn more about these sites mentioned, the animals that live there, and ways to help protect these precious environments, visit the UNESCO World Heritage website and the links below:

For more information about Spartan and the Green Egg and the destinations mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:

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The Amazing Azores 

(Flores, an island in the Azores:

Located in Portugal, the Azores are an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic. They are a series of islands (three of which have been designated as biospheres by UNESCO) known for their underwater mountains, volcanoes (mostly dormant), grottoes, caverns, hot springs, lakes, green pastures, and forests. This is truly a land of extremes and a dream destination! The Azores are known for their amazing wildlife and sheer beauty. One of the most common activities on the islands is whale watching. Some of the most common whales to spot are sperm, mink, fin, and pilot whales. There are also lots of dolphins!

Spartan and the Green Egg

(SGE explorer pin)

The Azores are made up of nine different volcanic islands in the Portugal region. The islands are part of the North Atlantic Ocean. While all of the islands are volcanic, many of them have not had an eruption in recent years. The islands have a relaxing tropical climate and feature many beautiful forests. One of the islands, Pico, is home to Mount Pico. The top of Mount Pico is the tallest location within Portugal.”


(Gruta das Torres,

“Geotourism” is a term that relates to geology and those who seek out destinations with awesome geological sights. The mountains, volcanoes, and craters are part of what makes the Azores a famous place for explorers and adventure, but that’s not all. There’s also lava tubes, patches of land covered in lava known as “mistérios,” rock formations, cliffs, and fumaroles. 

  • What’s a fumarole?  A fumarole is an opening in the earth (near or in a volcano) that releases gases and steam.
  • How about a lava tube? Lava tubes are caves formed from volcanic vents and resemble tunnels or channels. A tube develops when a lava flow crusts over and is emptied of lava.
  • And a “mudpot”? A mudpot is a shallow pool of acidic bubbling water. It’s sort of like a hot spring. They are fascinating to watch and actually can dissolve rock.

The Gruta das Torres or “Grotto of Towers,” is the largest and most famous lava cave in the Azores. Filled with stalactites and stalagmites, the cave is over 5,000 meters long.

Lakes, Pools and Waterfalls


Did you know that the most fertile land on earth was built by volcanoes? After the lava flows and cools, the soil is filled with nutrients. 

The Azores are known for their breathtaking botanical gardens, lush forests, and abundance of water. Waterfalls, thermal pools, lakes, and hot springs are just a few things to see in the Azores, and they make for wonderful adventures and sports. Swimming, kayaking, surfing, fishing, and whale watching are just a handful of things to do! One can even swim in a volcanic crater filled with cool water. 

For more information on the Azores, collectible explorer pins, and more, visit Spartan and the Green Egg’s website along with the link below:

For more information cited in this blog, check out the sites below:

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Otherworldly, Celestial Sights

Are you interested in outer space, other planets, and, possibly, extraterrestrial life? What about the stars, moon, and sun? There are lots of sights to behold this year, and new, exciting discoveries are arising every day! 

  • Ice volcanoes on Pluto; “Signs of cryovolcanic activity on the dwarf planet in the recent geological past must be driven by an underground body of water, a study suggests.” According to the New York Times and a NASA spacecraft that was sent to outer space, there are ice volcanoes on Pluto! Instead of molten lava, these mountains emit ice. Pluto may also be home to some sort of ocean; even though Pluto is basically a ball of ice, new evidence suggests that there may be wonders lurking beneath its surface that we’ve only begun to explore.
  • There are so many exciting celestial Wonders to see this year, so get your telescope and look to the sky for heavenly sights! Watch out for a total eclipse of the moon in mid-May, a possible meteor shower at the end of May (slow-moving so they’ll be quite visible to the naked eye), the alignment of five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) in June, an enormous full moon (the biggest of the year) in July, more meteor showers, a possible eclipse of the sun in October and a total lunar eclipse in November! 
  • “Otherworldly wreckage on Mars”: The “landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet in February 2021” left a bit of a component behind, a wreckage that looked alien but is not. Don’t be disappointed, though, because, while this is not evidence of interplanetary life, it is a piece of impressive technology used to study rocks inside a crater. The rocks found are very different from each other in their composition, meaning that some are made from magma that probably came from a lava lake and the other rocks are comprised of something called basaltic lava flows. The Perseverance rover also captured images of a small moon on Mars called “Phobos.”

It’s Really, Really, Really Old!

Are you an aspiring paleontologist or simply into fossils and evolution? 

  • Flowers recently found petrified in amber are estimated to be 99 million years old! These ancient flowers were discovered in what is now Myanmar (formerly Burma). It is extremely rare for flowers to become fossilized and to remain virtually unchanged for such a vast period of time as they are so fragile. Most flowers wilt and die before they are preserved, so to find these plants intact is amazing.  The researchers studying the plants have called one of the persevered flowers “Eophylica priscatellata” and the other “Phylica piloburmensis,” the latter being a genus native to present-day South Africa. Finding these flowers is significant because it helps to “shed light on ancient mystery of evolution.”

Strange and Amazing Animals

Are you an animal lover?

A Wolverine was spotted at Yellow Stone National Park! “There are only seven documented wolverines in Yellowstone,” so actually spotting a wolverine is an extremely rare occurrence, and this was caught on camera! Such a sighting is beyond exciting as wolverines are an endangered species and are very rarely seen by humans. 

  • Sea anemones are incredible because, well, they’re absolutely beautiful and strange and, according to recent studies, share a genetic link with humans. “A gene linked to the development of hearing in humans has just been linked to sensory development in sea anemones, too.” The gene “pou-iv” “can be found in the tentacles of the starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis), where it plays a crucial role in the animal’s sense of touch.” So, sea anemones can feel thanks to the same gene that helps us humans hear. How wild is that?!

For more information on the topics mentioned in this blog, check out the links below: 

(And for more information on all sorts of exciting and stimulating educational materials, games, puzzles, and travel-related paraphernalia galore, check out Spartan and the Green Egg.),%2C%20he%20told%20Travel%20%2B%20Leisure.

Photo credits: 

  • Image via NASA/ JHUAPL/ SwRI/ Isaac Herrera/ Kelsi Singer.
  • Ancient flowers preserved in amber were found in present-day Myanmar, photo credit: Shuo Wang
  • MacNeil Lyons/Yellowstone Insight

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Angry weather is also sometimes called severe weather. It happens in nature often. In fact, there are parts of the world where bad weather seasons happen every year. One place that happens is in the southern United States. States like Florida and Louisiana go through hurricane season each year. 

Tornadoes, dust storms, and blizzards are other types of angry weather. It is important to know about those types of storms. That way, you can stay safe when they happen. You can also read about angry weather events from years ago if you love history. It can teach you how bad weather changed people and places. Here are some angry weather events from history to get you started. 

A picture showing a orbital shot of a hurricane over the ocean.

The Galveston Hurricane

A hurricane is a big rainstorm that also comes with strong winds. The winds swirl around in a circle as the hurricane moves. Hurricanes start over water, but they can move onto land. Today, weather experts can track hurricanes. Then they can warn people to get to safe places early before the hurricanes hit. That was not always true, though. Sometimes our ancestors were surprised by hurricanes.

One of the most famous hurricanes struck Galveston, Texas. It happened on September 8, 1900. Before the hurricane, Galveston was one of the most popular Texas cities. After, most of the buildings were destroyed. People later rebuilt in Galveston, but Houston, Texas, became more popular in the meantime. Today, Houston is still one of the biggest Texas cities. 

The Dust Bowl

Another historic storm was the Dust Bowl. When there is no rain for a long time, everything gets very dry. That is called a drought. Then windy storms come through. They swirl a lot of sand and dirt into the air. Back in the 1930s, there were wide-open spaces in states like Kansas, Texas, and Colorado. They were part of the Dust Bowl. That was an area where those wind and sandstorms happened often. When those storms came through, they caused a lot of problems for farmers. Crops were destroyed, so some farmers lost a lot of money. Some even lost their farms. 

Today, dust storms still happen in some parts of the United States sometimes. They are just not as big. The states in the Dust Bowl have higher populations now. Construction has made the wide-open spaces smaller. That gives big dust storms less of a chance to form.

The Blizzard of ’78

The Blizzard of ’78 was a huge snowstorm that struck New England. It started on February 5, 1978, and ended on February 7. In Boston, Massachusetts, 27.1 inches of snow fell during the storm. 

A person walking on a snowy road during a blizzard.

The storm came as a surprise to many people. In fact, some people had to spend days in their cars trapped on roads. It stopped airplanes and all other forms of travel in most New England states for days. Many people were also trapped in the buildings where they worked or in their homes. Power outages and flooding along the coast also caused problems, but most people survived the storm. Today, people are more ready for blizzards because experts learned from the Blizzard of ’78.

The 1974 Tanner, Alabama Tornadoes

A tornado is a swirling air column connected to a thunderstorm. Sometimes, it creates a funnel-shaped cloud you can see. As it moves, it picks up items in its path, like trees and road signs. Strong tornadoes can even pick up cars or roofs of houses. Tornado strength is measured using a scale. An F1 is mild, and an F5 is very strong.

Some people travel to find excitement, but sometimes the excitement comes to them instead. That is what happened to the people who lived in Tanner, Alabama, in 1974. They got an exciting shock when two F5 tornadoes hit near their town 30 minutes apart. The tornadoes caused a lot of damage, and many people were killed. Some of those who survived resettled the area, but many moved away. Two tornadoes hitting in the same spot is an angry weather event that almost never happens. Both being F5 tornadoes created a weather event that put the town of Tanner permanently in the record books.

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There’s nothing more majestic than a mighty waterfall. Let’s discover, with the help of Spartan and the Green Egg, the cause and characteristics of these fantastic formations.

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

Basics: The Who, What, When and Where of Waterfalls 

Waterfalls are some of the most splendid sights in all of nature.  A waterfall is created when a river or other moving body of water flows over a rocky cliff into a pool below. Rushing water comes from rivers that flow over rocky ledges into what is known as a “plunge pool” beneath. This is usually caused by erosion—but not always—and more wearing away of the earth’s surface takes place as the force of water crashes, carrying pebbles, rocks, sediment, etc. 

 “A stream’s velocity increases as it nears a waterfall, increasing the amount of erosion taking place. The crashing flow of the water may also create powerful whirlpools that erode the rock of the plunge pool beneath them. The resulting erosion at the base of a waterfall can be very dramatic, and cause the waterfall to actually ‘recede.’” 

  • Volcanoes, glaciers, earthquakes, and landslides also create waterfalls. 
  • The tallest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls (over 3,200 feet high), located near the jungle in Venezuela. With a plunge of over 800 meters, these cascades are truly extraordinary. Where does the water come from? Mostly from the Atlantic Ocean. “Northeasterly trade winds” blow from the Sahara Desert, bringing along dry masses of air that “evaporate water from the ocean surface and carry it towards South America.” How incredible is that?!

Spartan and the Green Egg Sights/Explorer Pin Destinations

Join Spartan and the Green Egg and discover some of the most amazing waterfalls on the globe. With the help of SGE’s explorer pin collection, you can learn about geography and keep a bright and colorful souvenir depicting your favorite destination. 

“Water is the driver of nature.” –Leonardo Da Vinci

“The Paílón del Diablo is a large waterfall in Ecuador. The Spanish name translates to “Devil’s Cauldron.” To reach the trail to the waterfalls, one must cross a small, suspended bridge. When it is viewed from the bridge, the image of a devil’s face can be seen in the rock. The waterfall is about 100 feet down and maintains a temperature of about 73°F.” Who actually visits these destinations, you may ask. Explorers and adventurers! Daredevils seek out these fantastic—as well as dangerous—places.

  • “The Underwater Waterfalls can be found in the waters of Mauritius Island. Located in the Indian Ocean, there is an illusion of underwater waterfalls. The sediments of sand and silt in the waters have varying shades of greens, blues, and whites that create this optical illusion. The best way to view the illusion is through helicopter tours or from aerial photographs.”

“The Plitvice Lakes National Park is not only one of the largest parks in Croatia, but it is one of the oldest parks in all of southeastern Europe. There is a road that runs through the park, which connects the Croatian inland with the rest of the Adriatic coastal region. The waters throughout the park are different shades of blue, green, and gray. This leads to some very unique waterfalls and lakes throughout the Plitvice Lakes National Park.”

“The Iguazu Falls get their name from where they are located, the Iguazu River. The river is on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The falls split the river and divide the area into upper and lower Iguazu. A local legend states that the two waterfalls were formed when an ancient god split them in two.” Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Iguazu Falls are one of the world’s most impressive landscapes.

Victoria Falls is one of the largest and tallest waterfalls in the world. It is located in Livingstone, Africa. Victoria Falls is about twice as high as Niagara Falls, another one of the largest waterfalls in the world. The sheer amount of water that comes down is an incredible sight to see.” The Zambezi River is poured into an enormous gorge—over 100 meters deep!

Honorable Mentions: 

  • Murchison Falls in Uganda
  • NohKaLikai Falls in India 
  • Epupa Falls in Namibia
  • Yosemite Falls in the United States

To learn more about what Spartan and the Green Egg has to offer, visit the website and visit the links below:

Visit the World Waterfall Database for more information on waterfalls!

To learn more about the waterfalls mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:,the%20base%20of%20the%20drop.

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Halloween would not be complete without a frightening haunted house, mansion, estate, or castle! The ambiance is all that really matters: if it’s spooky enough to give you a chill and inspire scary ghost stories, it’s a success! Here are some of our favorite fictional haunted houses, what makes them great, and actual places you can visit year-round.

“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”

 –Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House”

Some of our favorite haunted houses are merely fictitious and we can snuggle up and read about them under the covers. Other houses around the world are said to be haunted by ghosts and specters, and we love to read about those, too!

Crumbling old facades covered in ivy surrounded by moors, crooked trees, gargoyles on stone ledges, winds that sound like wolves howling in the distance, a dark forest nearby, and, of course, a full moon half covered by hazy clouds all set the scene for a spooky mansion filled with all sorts of haunts and scares.

What makes the perfect haunted house? Have you ever been to a Halloween party in a house that’s been made to look like a spooky old decaying mansion? What were your favorite details? What do you normally think of when telling a scary story? Eerie smoke, drafty rooms, darkness lit only by candlelight, cobwebs, bats, spiders, and even ghosts? There’s usually a graveyard with headstones emblazoned with clever epitaphs (like “Rest in Pieces”), a coffin somewhere (for vampires), a dank cellar, and, of course, a witch’s broom!

Classic Haunted Houses (in Fiction)

“I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.” –Bram Stoker, “Dracula”

  • The House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” 1839) actually ends up cracking down the middle and disappearing into the earth at the end. It is indeed a supernatural house with creepy twins Roderick and Madeline Usher.
  • Hill House (as in “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson, 1959) is surrounded by hills and deals extensively with the paranormal. Whoever stays in the house experiences disturbances within their psyche.
  • Manderlay (from Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 “Rebecca”) is a gothic English country estate haunted by the aristocratic owner’s deceased wife. This fictional mansion has become so popular that even castles in real life (especially in the UK) have been dubbed “Manderlay.”
  • Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania (from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” 1897) is probably one of the most famous spooky settings in all of literature. Other than the count himself (who actually crawls along the façade in the novel), the castle is surrounded by high stone walls and heavy iron gates that clang shut, great arches, and is filled with the sounds of chains rattling, fabrics and furniture hundreds of years old, and a golden dining service that seems to appear out of nowhere. Of course, Count Dracula never drinks wine (he prefers blood!). 

Children’s Books

Sometimes haunted houses are a bit more fun and palatable when they appear in children’s stories. Some must-reads for this Halloween season include:

  • “Ghosts in the House” by Kazuno Kohara
  • “Inside a House that is Haunted” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (illustrated by Tedd Arnold)
  • “At the Old Haunted House” by Helen Ketteman
  • “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by Justine Korman. Okay, it’s really about a pumpkin patch (and not a haunted house), but it’s a Halloween must!

Spooky Houses, Haunted Forts and Castles to Visit 

These places will really make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

  • Winchester Mystery House: “Secret passageways, stairs that lead to nowhere, and miles of twisting corridors all delight thousands of visitors to the Winchester Mystery House. Built by Sarah Winchester around 1882, the house has 160 rooms and was built without a blueprint. Each evening Mrs. Winchester would have a séance, and each morning she would tell the builders what the spirits said needed to be built. As a result, Sarah believed she was building a place where she could never be haunted.” The Winchester Mystery House is one of Spartan and the Green Egg’s exciting destinations (and explorer pin). It is one of America’s most famous haunted destinations.
  • Edinburgh Castle in Scotland has been besieged so many times (23) over the years (since the 11th Century) that it’s said to inhabit quite a few ghosts. Complete with a network of tunnels (where people have vanished), it sits atop Castle Rock and is a completely imposing—and one of the most historic—sites in the UK. 
  • Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England, is a four-hundred-year-old country estate and was famously the home of the Townshend family. It is most well known for a photograph taken on one of the home’s several staircases, where the faint image of a spectral woman can be seen. It is believed to be an apparition depicting Dorothy Townshend.
  • Bhangarh Fort, from the 17th century, is considered the most haunted place in India. What was once a palace now stands in ruins and is thought to be cursed. With a background of mountains in the distance, it is definitely a sight to behold.

To learn more about fascinating sights around the world, visit SGE on the web and check out the link below:

(John Coulthart illustrations from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” are included in this blog.)

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog #dracula #winchestermysteryhouse #childrensbooks

#hauntedhouses #halloween #thehauntingofhillhouse #thefallofthehouseofusher 


Otherworldly, Celestial Sights

Are you interested in outer space, other planets, and, possibly, extraterrestrial life? What about the stars, moon, and sun? There are lots of sights to behold this year, and new, exciting discoveries are arising every day! 

  • Ice volcanoes on Pluto; “Signs of cryovolcanic activity on the dwarf planet in the recent geological past must be driven by an underground body of water, a study suggests.” According to the New York Times and a NASA spacecraft that was sent to outer space, there are ice volcanoes on Pluto! Instead of molten lava, these mountains emit ice. Pluto may also be home to some sort of ocean; even though Pluto is basically a ball of ice, new evidence suggests that there may be wonders lurking beneath its surface that we’ve only begun to explore.
  • There are so many exciting celestial Wonders to see this year, so get your telescope and look to the sky for heavenly sights! Watch out for a total eclipse of the moon in mid-May, a possible meteor shower at the end of May (slow-moving so they’ll be quite visible to the naked eye), the alignment of five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) in June, an enormous full moon (the biggest of the year) in July, more meteor showers, a possible eclipse of the sun in October and a total lunar eclipse in November! 
  • “Otherworldly wreckage on Mars”: The “landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet in February 2021” left a bit of a component behind, a wreckage that looked alien but is not. Don’t be disappointed, though, because, while this is not evidence of interplanetary life, it is a piece of impressive technology used to study rocks inside a crater. The rocks found are very different from each other in their composition, meaning that some are made from magma that probably came from a lava lake and the other rocks are comprised of something called basaltic lava flows. The Perseverance rover also captured images of a small moon on Mars called “Phobos.”

It’s Really, Really, Really Old!

Are you an aspiring paleontologist or simply into fossils and evolution? 

  • Flowers recently found petrified in amber are estimated to be 99 million years old! These ancient flowers were discovered in what is now Myanmar (formerly Burma). It is extremely rare for flowers to become fossilized and to remain virtually unchanged for such a vast period of time as they are so fragile. Most flowers wilt and die before they are preserved, so to find these plants intact is amazing.  The researchers studying the plants have called one of the persevered flowers “Eophylica priscatellata” and the other “Phylica piloburmensis,” the latter being a genus native to present-day South Africa. Finding these flowers is significant because it helps to “shed light on ancient mystery of evolution.”

Strange and Amazing Animals

Are you an animal lover?

  • A Wolverine was spotted at Yellow Stone National Park! “There are only seven documented wolverines in Yellowstone,” so actually spotting a wolverine is an extremely rare occurrence, and this was caught on camera! Such a sighting is beyond exciting as wolverines are an endangered species and are very rarely seen by humans. 
  • Sea anemones are incredible because, well, they’re absolutely beautiful and strange and, according to recent studies, share a genetic link with humans. “A gene linked to the development of hearing in humans has just been linked to sensory development in sea anemones, too.” The gene “pou-iv” “can be found in the tentacles of the starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis), where it plays a crucial role in the animal’s sense of touch.” So, sea anemones can feel thanks to the same gene that helps us humans hear. How wild is that?!

For more information on the topics mentioned in this blog, check out the links below: 

(And for more information on all sorts of exciting and stimulating educational materials, games, puzzles, and travel-related paraphernalia galore, check out Spartan and the Green Egg.),%2C%20he%20told%20Travel%20%2B%20Leisure.

Photo credits: 

  • Image via NASA/ JHUAPL/ SwRI/ Isaac Herrera/ Kelsi Singer.
  • Ancient flowers preserved in amber were found in present-day Myanmar, photo credit: Shuo Wang
  • MacNeil Lyons/Yellowstone Insight

#traveltheworld #kids #seethesights #teachyourkids #fullcyclepublications #spartanandthegreenegg #books #nabilakhashoggi #OnTheBlog

#pluto #seanemones #wolverine #celestialwonders #amazingwonders #fossils #exploretheworld

The Cliff-Top Meteora Monasteries

The Awe-Inspiring Monasteries of Meteora  

Meteora means “suspended in the air,” and the monasteries of Meteora seem to reach halfway to the sky. These buildings have perched on the top of steep, narrow sandstone cliffs in Thessaly in central Greece since the Middle Ages. With their red roofs and gray stone walls that match the cliffs, the monasteries are an awesome sight.

These magnificent monasteries are often the inspiration for many movies because they seem so otherworldly. 

The cliffs rise as high as 1,800 feet. The views from the monasteries are spectacular, with the Plain of Thessaly spread out far below as far as the eye can see.

Who Built the Monasteries of Meteora?

Throughout history, people believed the rock formations of Meteora were special. Long before the monks arrived in the early Middle Ages, Meteora attracted hermits and worshippers who were drawn to the site they believed was between heaven and earth.

In the 14th century, the monk Athanasios Koinovitis brought his followers to Meteora, seeking a secluded and quiet place for contemplation and worship. From 1356 to 1372, they built the first and largest of the Meteora monasteries, known as the Great Meteoron Monastery.

Monks continued to build monasteries on the cliffs through the 16th century. Eventually, there were 24 monasteries. Six of them remain today. The rest are mostly in ruins.

Challenges in Building the Meteora Monasteries

As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy to get building materials up the cliffs! The monks used a system of ladders, pulleys, nets, and baskets attached to ropes to haul themselves and the materials up the rock formations.

The difficulties in getting up the cliffs turned into a benefit when, in later years, monks needed to escape war and persecution. For hundreds of years, they found safety at Meteora. After they ascended to the monasteries, they would pull up the ladders, baskets, and ropes behind them. No one could follow them up the cliffs.

Do People Still Live in the Monasteries of Meteora?

A small number of monks and nuns still live and worship in the Meteora Monasteries. Most of the people there now are visitors. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit every year.

Tourism disrupts some of the peaceful isolation that the monasteries used to enjoy, but the monks and nuns need the money that tourists bring to keep the monasteries maintained. The monks and nuns protect their privacy. Visitors are not allowed to go into the living quarters or attend religious services.

How Do You Get to the Meteora Monasteries?

In the 1920s, stairs were cut into the rocks, and bridges were built. This made it much easier for the monks to get to the monasteries. They no longer had to climb ladders or get pulled up in buckets.

In the 1960s, paved roads were built, which made it easier for visitors to access the monasteries.

If you visit the monasteries, you can drive up to the monasteries, or you can hike up. The hike is beautiful, but steep, and includes stairs. To reach the Great Meteoron Monastery, you will need to climb more than 300 stairs. Several of the other monasteries have fewer stairs, averaging around 140 each.

Find Out About Water Supplies

How Do People Get Water?

In most well-developed countries, clean drinking water is all around. You might only have to walk into a kitchen or bathroom and turn on a faucet to get some. You may not have stopped to think about where your water comes from, but you should. Water is precious. People can only drink about one percent of Earth’s water. The rest is not fit to drink. Everyone needs water, but not everyone in the world can get it easily. Here is how your water gets to your faucet and how some other cultures around the world get their water.

How People Get Water in North America

In the United States and Canada, some people get their water from private wells on their properties. Others use public water supplies. Public water is gathered from different waterways, like reservoirs. It is usually held in water towers in each town until it is needed. Then it moves through pipes to get into homes and businesses where people need it.

How People Get Water in Africa

There is a lot of water in Africa, but not all of it is easy to get or safe to use. For example, in the African country of Ethiopia, most of it is used to grow crops. Drinking water is hard to find in Ethiopia. Some people must walk for hours to get some. Then they must bring it back to their houses. Usually, they use jugs or whatever other containers they have with them to do that. Since they can only carry a little water at a time, they are very careful about how they use it.

How People Get Water in South America

In some parts of South America, fresh water is nearly impossible to find. Mexico is one place where there is not enough water for everyone. In fact, about half the people in Mexico struggle to get enough water to drink, wash clothes, or take showers. During dry seasons, it is especially hard for Mexican people to find water in some areas. In Mexico City, Mexico City workers often deliver water rations in trucks. People have barrels at their homes that store those water rations.

In other parts of South America, freshwater lakes and rivers provide water supplies for residents. People living near the rainforest often have easy access to nearby water. They just must safely get that water to their homes. Often, that means watching out for snakes or crocodiles by the water’s edge. They sometimes use buckets attached to poles to carry the water back to their villages across their shoulders.

How People Get Water on Islands

You might think people can easily get water on islands. That is true on many large islands like Mindoro Island in the South China Sea. Larger islands often have their own freshwater lakes or streams. Residents can get their water from those water sources. 

People on other islands rely on the weather to give them fresh water. Many island residents do that by collecting rainfall. In Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, about two billion gallons of rain can fall in just one day. It refills the island’s aquifer system, which people use to get their bathing and drinking water. In many other parts of the world, rainwater is collected in big barrels.

Helping People Around the World Get Water

There are lots of charities around the world that deliver clean water to people or help them build their own clean water systems. You can help, too. The more water you save, the more there is for the rest of the world. Try some easy tricks to save water, like turning the faucet off while you brush your teeth. 

Learn All About Salt

The Interesting World of Salt

“Please, pass the salt.” You heard it a hundred times, but did you ever wonder what was really in the salt shaker? Do you know where we get salt or if we can ever run out of it?

Salt is necessary for our bodies. However, if we eat too much of it, it’s bad for our health. People need salt for more than just eating. In fact, it is so valuable that, a long time ago, people gave workers salt instead of money!

Read on to find out more interesting facts about salt.

What Is Salt?

Scientists have many different names for salt. They call the type of salt we eat sodium chloride or NaCl.

If you sprinkle a little salt on the table and look at it with a magnifying glass, you can see it looks like little grains of sand. That is because salt is a mineral.

The salt you put on your French fries is called table salt, and it is just one type of salt. There are many others.

Different Types of Salt

Did you know that not all salt is white? White salt is the most common color, but there are many more. You can find gray, black, pink, red, and even blue salt. The different colors of salt come from other minerals that are mixed in with the sodium chloride. 

Color is not the only difference. Salt comes in many sizes and shapes, too. Table salt is the smallest type of salt, and it looks like small cubes. Kosher salt is larger, and the grains have irregular shapes. Flake salt is bigger than Kosher salt, but the grains are flat like a plate. Rock salt is even larger and is often the size of pebbles!

You can’t eat all types of salt. The majority of the salt in the world is not safe to eat because it contains other bad minerals for your body. People use these salts for many things, including melting ice on the roads and making other chemicals that we need.

What salt looks like and how we can use it depends a lot on where we find it.

Where Does Salt Come From?

Have you ever gone into the ocean with a scrape or cut? It doesn’t feel good. That’s because the ocean has salt in it. But ocean water is not the only place where you can find salt. It is all over the planet and even under it.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the oceans covered most of the Earth. When the water disappeared, it left behind salt. Today we get most of our salt from deep underground in salt mines. But in some places in the world, the salt is still on the surface. We call these places “salt flats.”

Salt flats formed millions of years ago when saltwater lakes dried out. Some of the largest salt flats in the world are in the United States. Two of the most famous salt flats are the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and the Badwater Basin salt flats in Death Valley National Park.

How Is Salt Produced?

We get our salt in a variety of ways.

Today, most of the salt we eat comes from dissolving rock salt in water and then evaporating the water using machines. Harvesting salt this way is clean and safe. But it wasn’t always so easy to produce salt.

Hundreds of years ago, most salt people ate came from salt mines or salt flats. Collecting salt from these places was a hard and dangerous job. That is one reason why salt was so valuable in ancient times.

Another process for gathering salt is by collecting ocean water and letting the sun evaporate the water. People have been using this method since ancient times, and they continue to do it today. Salt made from ocean water is called “sea salt” and is a popular choice of salt to use for food.

Can We Run Out of Salt?

One natural resource you should not worry about running out of is salt. Besides having millions of billions of tons of salt undiscovered, all of the salt we use returns to the Earth. That’s because after we eat salt, our bodies release it. While we may run out of some sources of salt, there will always be more.

The next time you sprinkle a little salt on your food, take the time to think about where the salt came from and all the people who worked hard to make it possible for you to do so.

Forge A friendship

Ideas for Making New Friends This Summer 

Summer can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely at times, so making new friends is your best bet at having a good time. It’s really not that difficult! Try these tips and see what happens.

Where: summer camps—including ones during the day as well as sleepaways—are fantastic places to make new friends. Ones that are hosted by churches and community organizations are always a good idea because, this way, kids can meet others who live nearby, and the friendship will have a better chance of lasting. If for some reason, you make a friend who lives far away, you can become pen pals. These camps (especially 4-H and anything sponsored by a church) are usually free or low-cost. Team sports are also popular for meeting new people who enjoy the same things and have a common goal. Summer school is, for some, a good way of making new friends too, so if you think that summer isn’t going to be fun because you’re stuck studying, use this as an opportunity to forge a bond with your classmate/s.


“Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…’” –C.S. Lewis

How: Bible schools and 4-H camps are centered around learning new skills and helping others. This usually involves volunteering and is a great way to participate in teamwork and a shared positive outcome. Engaging in summer camp activities like rowing, fishing, swimming, archery, etc., makes forming friendships easier because everyone ends up with shared experiences that are exciting and joyful. Playing games, such as Capture the Flag, also help to secure friendships. If you’re not into outdoorsy things, try arts and crafts.

Tips for Parents: Enroll your kids in a program/club/camp dedicated to things they enjoy. They’ll meet other likeminded children who enjoy the same activities and have similar sensibilities.  Shared hobbies and interests are ideal for forming lifelong friendships. Depending on their hobbies, they can join a club in their neighborhood/town/school that offers special events. For instance, if they enjoy reading you may want to consider enrolling them in a book club. Mingling isn’t so difficult. Summer camp is actually pretty effective for even the most introverted kids because there are counselors in charge of games and activities whose job is to make sure everyone gets along. This means that no one gets left out. Children are usually paired up or on teams for summer-related sports and fun, encouraging them to be social. If they attend summer camp, they’ll probably become friends with other kids in their cabin (especially their bunkmates). 


What does every summer camp have in common? On the first day, everyone sits in a circle and is encouraged to introduce him or herself. Make sure to add something to the conversation about what makes you interesting, special, and uniquely you!

Forge a Friendship


“Don’t walk in front of me…I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me…I may not lead. Walk beside me…just be my friend.” –Albert Camus

First of all, be kind to everyone. As you get older, you’ll realize how few and far between true friendships are and will value them more than ever. If you meet someone with shared interests who is kind and makes you feel good, cultivate that friendship! Avoid cliques and encourage everyone to join your group. If you’re at summer camp and see someone eating alone in the dining hall, invite them to sit with you. You’ll be surprised at just how far being amiable will take you in life.

Friendships don’t just happen; you have to nurture them. This means putting other people first, being a good listener, and, sometimes, making a braided friendship bracelet. There’s nothing better than someone who truly cares about you, is attentive, and fun to be around. 

Invasive Species Guide

How Invasive Species Hurt Natural Ecosystems  

An ecosystem is a fragile natural network of animals, plants, bacteria, and other organisms living in the same area. Over many years, the organisms in an ecosystem grow, hunt, reproduce and live with a natural balance. For example, animals at the top of the food chain need to eat some of the smaller animals in that food chain or things will get overpopulated. And, if those smaller food sources disappear, the native predators will die out or migrate due to starvation.

When something is destroyed or added to a balanced ecosystem, native species may struggle to survive. Removing a lot of trees (deforestation) can ruin an ecosystem by killing the animals who depend on those trees for survival. A less noticeable threat is when an invasive species is introduced to an ecosystem.

What is an Invasive Species?

When a species is brought into an area where it doesn’t belong, it can take over and hurt plants or animals that normally live in that space. Invasive species are also called alien species or exotic species.

Invasive species are any non-native species that disrupt an ecosystem.

There are some non-native species that are not invasive or destructive to the ecosystem. Some food plants, like wheat, rice, and tomatoes, are not native to the United States and do not threaten the local ecosystem.

Sometimes, people bring plants or animals into an area and end up causing a lot of damage. While the plant or animal might seem like a harmless part of nature, it doesn’t belong in that region and starts to take over part of the ecosystem.

Introducing an invasive species can happen on purpose or on accident. There are many reasons someone might bring a foreign species into a space. A few of the most common reasons for intrusive species include:

  • Pets that escape into the wild
  • Pretty plants or trees that are added to gardens
  • Animals brought in as a solution for pest control
  • Bait that escapes
  • Organisms that “hitch a ride” and are carried in by mistake

Examples of Invasive Species in the USA

There are more than 6,500 alien species in the US. Each of these species has caused untold havoc to the ecosystems they have found themselves in. Here are just a few examples:

Zebra Mussels were brought into the Great Lakes of North America by mistake in the 1980s. They stuck to the bottom of large ships and were brought in as the ships traveled between areas. There are now so many Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes that they clog water intakes, filter out important algae, and kill off native mussels. Plus, they really hurt if you ever step on one!

Burmese Pythons were brought to Florida as pets and released when their owners couldn’t properly care for them. They are now rapidly reproducing and invading the Everglades, eating the rabbits and songbirds who are native to the area. Nothing in the Everglades naturally eats the Burmese Pythons, so they are growing to an enormous size.

House Cats have made the list of the top 100 invasive species in the world and are the most invasive killer of species in the world. They have no native ecosystem because they are bred from wild cats and brought to America by European colonists. Cats eat birds and other small wild animals in the area when they are allowed to roam outside. Ironically, they were brought here to help with another highly invasive species from Europe—house mice.

Brazilian Pepper Trees were brought to Florida from Brazil in the mid-1800s. People liked using the bright red berries for holiday decorations. This invasive species is an aggressive and woody weed, producing a lot of seeds and creating shade that kills off native shrubbery.

Japanese Stilt Grass is one of the most damaging invasive plants, according to the US Department of Agriculture. This non-native plant isn’t eaten by deer or even goats (and they’ll eat almost anything!). Instead, it quickly replaces plants local wildlife typically eat.

What Can I Do to Help?

Once an invasive species is introduced to an area, it can be extremely hard to remove. If you want to support your local ecosystem, you need to support the native plants and wildlife. Some people aid in the efforts to remove the invasive species as often as possible. You will also make a big difference by researching any plants and animals you want to plant or release into the wild. 

Travel, Read, Repeat

Jules Verne: Explorer Writer Extraordinaire

(Voyages Extraordinaire is the ultimate collection of Jules Verne’s novels—fifty-four in total!)

“Ah! Young people, travel if you can, and if you cannot—travel all the same!” 

– Jules Verne (1828-1905)

Are you ready to go on a wild ride all around the world and even to the moon or beneath the sea? What about to the center of the earth? Explore the definitive science fiction novels of Jules Verne (1828-1905) to learn all about these incredible adventures!

  • Around the World in Eighty Days (1872) tells the story of two adventurers who, on a wager, attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Complete with traveling circuses, tramp steamers, attacks by American Sioux Indians in the United States, adventures in Hong Kong, Calcutta, Yokohama, Liverpool, and Paris and a dilapidated bridge, Verne’s protagonists complete their journey in the nick of time.

  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Jules Verne is considered one of the most forward thinking authors of the 19th century and has predicted numerous things in his most famous book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, which was published in 1870. Verne not only predicted electric submarines 90 years before they were invented, he also imagined them just as they turned out — long and cylindrical.” Verne’s story explored the deep sea in all its mystery, a submarine called the Nautilus, Captain Nemo, and a giant squid!

“We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read.”

  • Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) tells the fantasy story of a geology professor, his nephew, and their guide as they travel to the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull. They summit Snaefell on the Isle of Man and tunnel to the center of the earth, where they discover a forest of enormous mushrooms, mastodon bones, extinct reptiles, and an enormous underground lake.

“The moon, by her comparative proximity, and the constantly varying appearances produced by her several phases, has always occupied a considerable share of the attention of the inhabitants of the earth.”

  • From the Earth to the Moon: A Direct Route in 97 Hours, 20 Minutes, 1865 is the quintessential space race novel. Hugely prophetic, this classic novel (filled with satire) explored the notion of astronauts and rockets to the moon!
  • The Mysterious Island, 1875, tells the story of a hot air balloon blown off course and its group of castaways who end up on an unknown island, complete with pirates. 

Think Adventure! Consider visiting the Jules Verne restaurant located on the second floor in the Eiffel Tower in Paris! Follow Spartan and the Green Egg on an adventure (by way of their fun, colorful and educational explorer pins). Learn more about the wonderful country of France and just a tad of what it has to offer.

  • Paris, France, often called the City of Light. Paris is the capital city of France and is home to many great cultural and historical achievements, including the Eiffel Tower. The river Seine winds through this beautiful city, and its city streets are lined with wonderful cafes and shops, and visitors come from all over the globe to see some of the world’s greatest art at a museum called The Louvre. Many great artists, writers, dancers, and musicians have called Paris home, and still do to this day.”


  • The Eden Théâtre in La Ciotat, France, was built in the 1880s. It was renamed Théâtre Lyrique in 1890 and Grand Théâtre in 1892. Many grand ballets were held in the colossal theater over the years. Closed twice for lack of funding, it was finally demolished in 1895. “The city of Ciotat acquired the building in 1992. In another life-saving advancement, the Eden-Théâtre was classified as a historical monument in 1996, causing it to benefit from the protection of French cultural heritage laws.”

(Le Voyage Dans La Lune, 1902: one of the earliest films ever made, based on Jules Verne’s book)

“In 2013, the cinema was renovated following 16 months of construction work (directed by Nicolas Masson and André Stern) completed on a budget of 7 million Euros. The projection booth was modernized, but the screening room retained its original 1889 looks.”

Maupassant and More 

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), Victor Hugo (1808-1885), and Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880): all masters of 19th century French literature.

  • Guy de Maupassant—arguably the greatest French short story writer—is today probably most remembered for his highly anthologized story, The Necklace.  
  • Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is a titan of French literature and will forever be remembered for his brilliant creation of Quasimodo, the bell ringer. 
  • Gustave Flaubert is most remembered for his masterworks Madame Bovary and Sentimental Education. To read more about Flaubert, check out Full Cycle Publications’ blog post on the author, his literary surroundings, and legendary writing. 

To learn more about Jules Verne and the sights mentioned in this blog, consult the links below and visit Spartan and the Green Egg at the website:

Best Bugs To Catch

Bug Hunting: Where to Find the World’s Weirdest Insects  

Bugs are everywhere… literally! From Antarctica to the North Pole and everywhere in between, insects account for more than 80 percent of all animal life on Earth. 

In fact, there are so many bugs that scientists don’t even know for sure how many types of insects exist. Most estimate that there are over 10 million insect species. Some scientists think there are many more insect species that we haven’t even discovered yet.

Given how common creepy crawlies are, it’s easy to just walk on by without taking notice. But there are a few types of bugs that are so strange that you simply have to stop and stare.

Whether big, beautiful, or just plain weird, here’s where to find some of the world’s most unique bugs.

Royal Goliath Beetle

The royal Goliath beetle or Goliathus regius lives up to its name. This massive beetle is among the world’s biggest in weight, length, and mass. The largest specimens grow up to 5 inches long and weigh up to 100 grams, or about as much as a stick of butter.

They’re also one of the strongest beetles on the planet. Male royal Goliath beetles can lift up to 850 times their own weight!

You can find these massive beetles in the tropical regions of western Africa, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.

Brazilian Treehopper

When you first catch a glimpse of a Brazilian treehopper, you may think it’s wearing some sort of elaborate hat, or that tiny planets are in orbit around its head. But the truth behind this South American insect’s headgear is just as strange.

Formally known as Bocydium globular, scientists are divided on the purpose behind the leaf-eating creature’s freaky helmet. Some think the outstanding orbs evolved to help the treehoppers better navigate their forest homes. But others think the balls mimic the effects of a parasitic fungus that causes odd-looking protrusions in host insects. Since predators avoid infected insects, the orbs may offer some protection to the treehoppers.

Antarctic Midge

Only three insects have been found living in the icy continent at the bottom of the Earth. Of these, only one is truly a native: the Antarctic midge or Belgica antarctica.

These insects may be tiny — about 2 to 6 mm long — but they’re tough. The midges have evolved to withstand Antarctica’s sub-zero temperatures. They spend about eight months of the year frozen.

Though they’re most closely related to flies, for most of their lives the midges take the form of grubs or larvae that live just under the soil. Then, for 14 glorious summer days, the midges emerge as wingless adults.

Picasso Moth

While the jewel-like tones of butterflies’ wings are often described as works of art, moths don’t often receive as many compliments. It’s understandable, as not many moth species have colorful wings. But there’s one outstanding exception: the Picasso moth or Baorisa hieroglyphica.

Named after the famous artist, this stunning white moth boasts colorful, geometric patterns on its front wings. To humans, the designs resemble abstract art. To the moth’s predators, the patterns make the moth look like a much larger insect. Picasso moths are found in northern India and parts of Southeast Asia, from Nepal to Borneo.

Giant Weta

Can an insect outweigh a mouse? Some giant wetas weigh as much as a gerbil! In their native New Zealand, these huge, cricket-like bugs are known by their Maori name, wetapunga, which means “god of ugly things.”

They’re believed to be one of the oldest insect species alive, and they’re certainly among the heaviest. Adult males can weigh up to 70 grams.

As scary as they look, Dimacid heteracantha are actually gentle and slow-moving. They can’t jump or fly but prefer to lumber around eating leaves and other vegetables. It’s reported that they have a sweet tooth for carrots! Sadly, these gentle giants are now an endangered species.

Gray’s Leaf Insect

Ever seen a walking leaf? In the tropical rainforests of Java, Bali, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, the Gray’s leaf insect resembles leaves come to life. These camouflaged creatures are part of a group of bugs known as “stick insects.”

The Gray’s leaf insect has evolved with a flattened, irregularly shaped body that cleverly fools predators. They sway from side to side when they walk, just like a leaf blowing in the breeze. Some even have “bite marks” and veins on their backs that precisely mimic leaves.

Known as Phylliium bioculatum, the males have small wings, but females don’t fly. Leaf insects love to munch on fruit, like guava, mangoes, and rambutan.

With millions of species to explore — and many left to discover — the world is full of unique and weird bugs. What’s your favorite?

America’s Greatest Idea: The National Parks System

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”― John Muir

The United States would be a lot less beautiful without the National Parks and all they have to offer. “On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” creating the National Park Service”; this meant that the inspirational beauty of Crater Lake’s deep blue waters, the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, and pillars of Bryce Canyon could not be destroyed. Giant sequoias—some of the oldest, most magnificent trees in the world—are protected because of the NPS. These unique, educational, and, frankly, breathtaking places have been preserved and are one of the greatest things about this country.

The National Parks Service (NPS) came about to preserve the untouched, natural beauty of this country. This means that these wonders cannot be built over and turned into infrastructure. Some things, such as nature, are sacred. The National Park Service is a government institution that ensures dams cannot be built, hundreds-year-old trees cannot be logged, and endangered species of animals cannot be hunted. 

The National Park idea came about when, in 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became President and created the United States Forest Service. Did you know that Roosevelt protected “approximately 230 million acres of public land” while he served as President of the United States? It is because of this that he is known as the “conservationist president.”

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

― John Muir

  • John Muir was also a famous figure who played a key role in securing that certain areas of bucolic tranquility, intense wilderness, remote desert, immense beauty, and wonder were protected and not destroyed. Known as “Father of the National Parks,” John Muir (1838-1914) was a mountaineer who is known for his early advocacy for the conservation and preservation of the American wilderness. 
  • Stephen Mather (1867-1930) was another important person who helped to establish the National Parks Service. An American Industrialist who was drawn to the parks, he became the first director of the NPS.

“A visit inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness…. He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the national parks.” –Stephen Mather

Travel with Spartan and the Green Egg

  • Bryce Canyon National Park is a “Southern Utah Reserve hosting the largest collection of erosion-formed, odd-shaped pillars in the world. These giant pillars are known as ‘hoodoos’ and the Bryce Canyon hosts a series of crimson-colored hoodoos that are common spots for cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing. Bryce Amphitheater is a collection of giant hoodoos that provide ideal spots for sunrise and sunset viewing. Rims at Bryce are between 8000 feet (2400 m) and 9000 feet (2700 m) high.”
  • Crater Lake National Park: Located in Southern Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, “Crater Lake” was formed in a dormant volcano. It is the deepest lake in the United States (over 1,900 feet) and is known for its clear, sky-blue water. “The lake is fed entirely by rain and snow. Scientists consider Crater Lake to be the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world.” “Volcanic formations still stand around the lake, and the park is pampered with an additional small island, numerous trails, hills, and forests for visitors to explore.”
  • Acadia National Park is “a recreational area along the Atlantic coast located specifically at Mount Desert Island of Maine. It covers a vast area of 47,000 acres, and its landscape is characterized by rocky beaches, woodland, and granite peaks. The park is a host to wildlife, including seabirds, bears, moose, and whales (among others). It is also characterized by harbors, shops, and restaurants where each year nature lovers vacation.”
  • Zion National Park “is located within Springdale, Utah, in the southwestern part of America. Zion National Park is filled with many mountains and rivers, but the most well-known is Zion Canyon. The Zion National Park is also filled with many different species of plants and animals. It is very easy to identify the Zion National Park because of the tan and red colors in the sandstone.”
  • Grand Prismatic Hot Springs, Yellow Stone: “The Grand Prismatic Spring, found in Yellowstone National Park, is the largest hot spring in the U.S. and the third-largest on the planet. It is called ‘prismatic’ because the vivid colors surrounding the springs correlate with the rainbow dispersion of white light through an optical prism. The coloration comes from microbial mats located along the edge of the hot springs.”
  • The Great Smoky Mountains are “part of a national park that runs through different parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. The national park actually has parts that run through the Appalachian Mountains. Many hikers that are going through the Appalachian Trail end up visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. The highest part of the mountains is known as ‘Clingmans Dome.’ Many hikers like to explore in that area and reach the top, which is known as the ‘Chimney Top.’”

To learn more about Spartan and the Green Egg and the hundreds of explorer destinations detailed on the website, follow this link.

For more information on the specific sights/National Parks mentioned in this blog, check out the links below (and don’t forget to collect your explorer pins):

To discover more about the National Parks Service (NPS), how it came about, the important people involved, and how you, too, can visit, explore, and educate yourself on conservation, visit the links below (referenced in the blog):

5 Mythical Creatures That Young People Will Love To Explore

In Search of These 5 Mythical Creatures  

As a young explorer, you are eager to examine and understand everything under the sun. For many of you, this not only means learning about the natural world but the supernatural world as well.

 Although science has yet to confirm the existence of the five mythical creatures listed below, legends about them have been circulating for centuries. Maybe someday, you can try to find them in the wild! Until then, we can discover more about them as fantastic creations of folklore, fables, and fairy tales.

  1. Bigfoot – Thought to live deep in the forests of North America, Bigfoot (also known as “Sasquatch”) is a large, hair-covered, ape-like creature who stands and walks upright. By different accounts, this mythical beast may measure as much as 10 to 15 feet tall. Some people think that Bigfoot is a relative of the ancient ape Gigantopithecus, which was roughly three times bigger than a gorilla. Similar creatures, called Yeti, are said to live in the frigid mountains of Tibet.
  2. Werewolf – Although the werewolf myth can be traced back to Ancient Greece, the word “werewolf” dates to early Middle Ages. The Old English word for man is “were.” Although a person might be turned into werewolves through a magical curse or a bite from another werewolf, their human-to-wolf transformation always has the same source: a full moon. This creature has been a well-known monster around the world for quite some time. If a werewolf ever gives you trouble, remember that it doesn’t like sliver…and is particularly susceptible to silver bullets! 
  3. Chupacabra – A Spanish term that mixes “chupar” (“to suck”) and “cabra” (“goat”), the Chupacabra is literally a “goat-sucker.” Much like a vampire, it reportedly feeds on goats and other forms of livestock by attacking them and drinking their blood. Supposed eyewitnesses have given quite different physical descriptions of the Chupacabra, which range from a relatively small dog-like creature to a bear-sized creature with a row of spikes down its spine. The Chupacabra is native to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Southwestern United States.
  4. Fairy – A close cousin to the pixie, the small, winged fairy is a bit bigger and slightly more human-like in appearance. Both are common characters in European folklore. In early oral tales, fairies and pixies also behaved quite similarly. In other words, they caused trouble, made mischief, and even committed downright evil crimes such as stealing human babies. Over time, however, fairies have gotten an image makeover, appearing in literature and popular culture as kind, wise, and inherently good creatures.
  5. Loch Ness Monster – One of the deepest lakes in Scotland, Loch Ness is said to harbor a hidden resident. Primarily sticking to the dark bottom of the lake, this enormous dinosaur-like creature only occasionally ventures to the surface. Over the past 200 years, countless people have claimed to spot the Loch Ness Monster, and several have even snapped pictures. However, many of these photographs have been revealed as fakes and no one has provided scientific proof of the creature’s existence. 

These five mythical creatures barely scratch the surface when it comes to legendary beasts and magical beings of the world. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring! Who knows what you might find?


It’s fun and interesting to think about extreme places, especially destinations around the world with extreme weather! This winter, let’s learn about some of the globe’s coldest, snowiest places as we keep warm indoors. Spartan and the Green Egg has exciting explorer pins devoted to some of the world’s most fascinating and remote places; let’s travel vicariously with SGE to some of these snowy spots. 

  • Bouvet Island: “A dependency of Norway, this uninhabitable sub-Antarctic island is in the South Atlantic Ocean around 1,100 miles north of Antarctica. The island is only 19 square miles and has an inactive volcano in the center. A glacier covers 93% of the land. While it has limited vegetation, the island is home to several species of breeding penguins and seals.” This is the most remote place on earth! Can you imagine such an empty, freezing-cold place?! 
  • The South Pole is “one of just two points on the Earth where the axis of rotation interacts with the surface of the planet. It is the southern-most point of the entire planet, and is directly opposite of the North Pole. The South Pole is located on a plateau of ice in Antarctica that is over nine thousand feet thick.” Located in Antarctica, the South Pole experiences “up to 24 hours of sunlight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter.” No one lives here indefinitely—only about fifty people work at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station during the winter.
  • Antarctica’s Mt. Erebus “is located on Ross Island, which is a part of Antarctica. Mount Erebus has the honor of being the second highest volcano in Antarctica. The volcano has been active since 1972. It is home to many unique sites, such as a lake made out of lava. The volcano itself is very tall, standing over twelve thousand feet high.” Mount Erebus is thought to be the southernmost active volcano in the world and is constantly emitting gas and steam. 
  • The Southern Ocean goes by many names. It is more commonly called the Antarctic Ocean. Other names for it include the Austral Ocean and South Polar Ocean. It is home to the Emperor Penguin species, which is the largest species of penguin on Earth. The Southern Ocean also surrounds the continent of Antarctica, which contains 90 percent of the ice on the planet. At its deepest point, located in the South Sandwich Trench, the Southern Ocean reaches a depth of 23,737 feet.” Talk about an extreme place! The Southern Ocean is also known for its albatrosses, fur seals and blue whales.
  • “The North Pole earned its name by being the northernmost point on the planet where the axis meets the surface. Because of this, anyone at the North Pole will always face south in all directions. The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. However, the location is always moving because of the shifting ice in the water. The North Pole wasn’t discovered until 1945.” Did you know that, because the ice is always shifting and moving at the North Pole, there is no possible way for a community to be built.
  • Alert, Nunavut: “Alert is part of the region of Nanavut, which is located within the northern section of Canada. Because of close proximity to the North Pole, the weather is always very cold. The freezing temperatures actually make it so almost nobody can live in the area. Scientists and the military have been conducting research in the area since as far back as the 1800’s.” Some people do, however, work and live at the military base on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. 

To learn more about the destinations discussed in the blog (along with other exciting places for travel and exploration), check out the links below and visit the website. And don’t forget to collect your explorer pins! 

For more information on the sites mentioned in the blog, check out the links below:

Fun Facts About Christmas Trees

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
How lovely are thy branches!

The Most Impressive Christmas Trees

  • The tree in Rockefeller Center, NYC, is a sight to behold. It wouldn’t be Christmas without this festive tradition! Ice skaters in pairs making figure eights as the lights of the tree glint off the rink makes for a classic tableau unique to the city. The first annual tree lighting took place in 1933, two years after workers put up their own balsam fir and decorated it with handmade garlands. Today there are over 50,000 lights on the tree at Rockefeller Center, and it stands magnificently (this year) at nearly 80 feet tall!
  • The stunningly beautiful Christmas tree at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, beneath a skylight dome, covered in Swarovski crystals, is quite the festive sight.
  • The tree at La lagune Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio de Janeiro actually floats in the lagoon! Covered with 900,000 light bulbs and at 230 feet tall, this festive tradition (complete with fireworks) is a sight to behold.

Origins of Christmas Trees

  • Christmas trees have been around since the 16th Century in Germany. It was actually believed to be bad luck to put up a tree before Christmas Eve! This was a Christian tradition, but lots of people, regardless of religion, have a Christmas tree in their homes.
  • Although Thomas Edison is accredited with this, “It was actually his colleague and friend, Edward Johnson, who first thought of putting electric lights on a Christmas tree instead of the traditional candles, according to the Library of Congress.” Before this, of course, people used real flames to illuminate their trees. Today, this is antiquated and also pretty dangerous! 
  • While the early Romans were the first to celebrate with fir trees, most people today decorate with evergreens. While most people today use artificial trees, there’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh cedar, pine, and balsam fir.
  • Did you know that illustrations of Christmas trees featuring Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their children helped to popularize this tradition? People saw these images in the 19th century (Prince Albert died in 1861) and immediately fell in love with the festive décor and practice.

What’s Your Favorite? 

“… There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well

The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.” 

–It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas 

What’s your favorite part of the Christmas tree? Is it the tradition of wrapping up in your warmest coat and scarf, going outside into the cold, and finding that perfect tree to chop down? Or is it placing it indoors afterward and decorating it? Maybe you love the tinsel, bright shiny baubles, and glass bulbs the best…or the angel on top! Stars, candy canes, and lights galore are a treat for everyone! Does your family put up a tree? Do you make your own ornaments, such as stringing cranberries or popcorn? Whatever your individual tradition, the most important thing during the holidays is being together and giving, rather than receiving. Love is the most important gift under the tree this Christmas. 

For more information on topics mentioned in this blog, check out the links below:

Global Warming Causes And Remedies

What Is Global Warming, and How Can You Stop It?  

Global warming is the general trend of the Earth’s surface temperature increases over time. It has many natural and manmade causes. Scientists are trying to develop ways of reducing global warming because they’re concerned that it could damage the environment in various ways. There are also many things you can do to help slow global warming.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect is a key part of global warming. It’s so named because of its similarity to the way a greenhouse stays warm inside. A greenhouse is a type of building made mostly of glass panes that allow sunlight in but prevent heat from escaping. Certain gases allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere without allowing heat to escape to outer space. The most common greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane.


Animals naturally produce greenhouse gases, mainly by exhaling. Plants use greenhouse gases during photosynthesis, which generally kept greenhouse gases at constant levels throughout most of Earth’s history. However, their levels started to rise during the Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. This technological trend resulted in the burning of fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil. These fuels are needed for many industrial processes such as powering factories, running cars, and generating electricity. In addition, many forests have been cut down to make land usable for humans, thus reducing the number of plants available to absorb greenhouse gases.


The exact rate of global warming is difficult to predict, but most scientists guess that the temperature of the Earth’s surface will increase by between 3.2- and 7.2-degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. This increase may not sound like much, but it would cause a large portion of the polar ice caps to melt. Sea levels would rise as a result, endangering people, plants, and animals near the coast.

Stopping Global Warming

Scientists throughout the world are concerned about the effects of global warming. They’re currently looking for ways to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, generally by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that we burn. Kids can also help minimize global warming by conserving energy, convincing other people to do the same, and continuing to learn more about this subject.

Save Energy

The best ways for you to conserve energy include closing outside doors immediately so that warm or cool air doesn’t escape your house. You can also turn electrical appliances like computers and lights off when not in use. Additional energy-saving measures include walking or biking as much as possible instead of having your parents drive you somewhere.

Convince Others to Save Energy

You must be careful when convincing people to save energy because they don’t often like being told what to do. It’s much better to set examples and make suggestions than it is to give direct orders, even when you’re talking to your family and friends. Starting a conservation club at school is a great way to raise awareness of global warming.

You can help save energy at home by asking your parents to keep the heat off as much as possible, especially at night and when no one is at home. Replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lighting also saves money and energy over time. Encouraging your parents to run appliances like dishwashers in energy saver mode and turning the car off while waiting to pick you up from school are other ways to save energy. Recycling more material is also an important way to save energy since any type of manufacturing uses a lot of energy.

Continued Education

Continuing your education is essential for finding new energy sources that don’t contribute to global warming. Solutions to this problem can come from many bodies of knowledge, including science, technology, economics, and politics. A good education can also help you make good decisions in your daily life.

What Are Canyons

Learn About Canyons

Canyons are steep, narrow valleys that may also be known as gorges. They’re formed over millions of years by river movements, erosion, and tectonic movements. River canyons are the best-known type of canyon, but they’re also found under the ocean.

River Movements
A fast-flowing river can cut into a riverbed by washing sediment downstream, creating a deeper channel. This type of river becomes known as an entrenched river because they don’t change course like a typical river with a wide, flat floodplain. The Yarlung Zango Canyon in Tibet is the deepest River Canyon in the world. It’s more than 17,500 feet in some places and is also one of the longest canyons in the world, at 310 miles.

Erosion and weathering can also form canyons, usually in areas where water regularly freezes and thaws. This process begins when water seeps into cracks in rocks. The water freezes, causing it to expand and make the cracks bigger. The rock erodes and water fills the cracks again during heavy rains, causing more erosion. Over time, the canyon grows wider at the top than the bottom. This cycle repeats itself when the water freezes again.

Erosion like this forms slot canyons when it occurs in soft rock like sandstone. Slot canyons are unusually narrow and deep, sometimes less than three feet wide and 1000 feet deep. These types of canyons can be dangerous because the sides are often very smooth, making them difficult to climb. In some cases, canyons form in areas with soft rock lying on top of harder rock. When this happens, the canyons develop cliffs and ledges when the surface rock erodes, making the canyon walls look like giant steps.

Tectonic Activity
Tectonic plates are large pieces of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. They shift and collide with each other over millions of years, causing changes to the Earth’s surface. Tectonic activity can sometimes cause land to rise above the surrounding area, which is known as a tectonic uplift. They can create mountains that glaciers and rivers cut through to create deep canyons.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is the best-known canyon formed by tectonic activity. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide at its widest point. The deepest point in the Grand Canyon is 6,000 feet below the surrounding land. The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River, which cuts through the Colorado Plateau. The age of the Grand Canyon is between 5 million and 70 million years, depending on which geologist you ask.

Submarine Canyons

Canyons on the ocean floor are known as submarine canyons, which are some of the deepest canyons on Earth. These canyons cut into the continental shelves and slopes, which are the edges of the continents that are underwater. Some submarine canyons were formed by rivers when that part of the ocean floor was above water.

The Hudson Canyon is one of the longest canyons of this type, at a length of 450 miles. It was formed by the Hudson River, which is located between the US states of New York and New Jersey. The Hudson Canyon was the riverbed of the Hudson River during the last ice age when sea levels were lower. Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment.

Ocean currents that are strong enough can also form submarine canyons by sweeping away sediment. This process is similar to the way that rivers on land can erode riverbeds. Wittard Canyon, off the south coast of Ireland, is a well-known example of this type of canyon. Scientists believe this canyon was formed thousands of years ago when glacial water flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Our Favourite Fictitious Haunted Houses

What makes horror movies so scary? Tales of vampires, the creature from the black lagoon, ghosts, mad scientists, and wolfmen awaken something within our psyche that speaks to us on a deeper level, and the most frightening Halloween story trope is the haunted house. 

With supernatural happenings and shadows dancing on a wall in the flicker of candlelight, drafts of wind blowing down a corridor, unexplained voices, creaking old staircases, dark, damp cellars filled with lurking monsters and closets filled with skeletons (literally), haunted houses make for amazing (and incredibly frightening) storytelling. The idea that a home we live in, where we’re meant to feel secure, is haunted by something paranormal, is always terrifying. These tales of spooky old mansions sure make for a spine-tingling good time! 

Some of the most famous haunted houses in literature (and in films) that we love include (but are not limited to) Hill House (from The Haunting of Hill House, 1959 by Shirley Jackson), The Overlook Hotel (from Stephen King’s The Shining, 1977), The House of Usher from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), The Bly House from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, and even Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter book series. 

  • Many of these places aren’t even houses, but they are rivetingly scary nonetheless. Poe’sHouse of Usher is a gothic mansion inhabited by twin siblings Roderick and Madeline. After Madeline’s death, her body is entombed in the house. Then a powerful storm comes, a glowing paranormal lake that surrounds the house is described, and Madeline (who was actually buried alive) arises from her entombment. In the end, the house crumbles and is split down the middle as it sinks into the lake. 
  • Hill House from Shirley Jackson’s novel was made unforgettable when the story was adapted into a classic black and white 1963 film (not to be confused with The House on Haunted Hill starring Vincent Price). 
  •  The House on Haunted Hill is unforgettable; with the castle’s eccentric owner and a slew of guests (who are all promised $10,000 if they can stay overnight), a vat of acid, ghosts of former residents who were killed, and a swinging noose to suggest suicide, this is a frightening and over-the-top ride. 

When it comes to real life, there are actual houses that are supposedly “haunted”—whatever that means—and they’re open to tourists! 

Spartan and the Green Egg have even traveled to at least one! 

  • The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California: Filled with “Secret passageways, stairs that lead to nowhere, miles of twisting corridors all delight thousands of visitors to the Winchester Mystery House. Built by Sarah Winchester around 1882, the house has 160 rooms and was built without a blueprint. Each evening Mrs. Winchester would have a séance, and each morning she would tell the builders what the spirits said needed to be built. As a result, Sarah believed she was building a place where she could never be haunted.”
  • So, if you’re a lover of the macabre and get a kick out of spooky sights, don’t forget to collect your Explorer Pin depicting this mysterious house! 

For more information on all sorts of fascinating places around the world, visit Spartan and the Green Egg at the website and read more on the blog.

Poetry To Instill A Love Of Nature

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, /For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. / I loafe and invite my soul, /I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”

 –Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (1892)

(Illustration by Maurice Sendak, from “Open House for Butterflies” by Ruth Krauss)

  • Sometimes we all need to get quiet and centered. The great outdoors are perfect for just that, so go sit in a garden, park, or your very own backyard, grab a book of poetry and unwind. Sharing this with the children in your life is not only fun and educational but also incredibly beneficial. 

Learn about the Beauty of Nature

Learn from the best! Read the naturalist poets such as Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, William Blake, and William Wordsworth. 

Reading poetry to your children and encouraging them to read on their own when they’re old enough is so important. It instills a love of and appreciation for nature. 

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson viewed nature as the “Universal Being.”
  • Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (first published in 1855) is a vast collection of poems that Whitman wrote and then rewrote over and over throughout his life:

“A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.”

  • Robert Frost’s “Birches” (1915) is an incredibly well-known and beloved poem that is often recited by school kids: 

“I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, /And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk/ Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, /But dipped its top and set me down again.”

  •  Of course, Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” are just as popular, if not more so.
  • William Wordsworth was one of the English Romantic poets whose 1807 poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” has endured and become a favorite for the ages. His mediation on nature (specificaly daffodils) is lyrically beautiful and extremely well-known, as it is one of his most anthologized poems.
  • William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience is a collection of poems that were published together in 1794. They are known for their words but not entirely. Blake actually created impressive engravings that he painted by hand to correspond with each poem! “The Blossom” (from Songs of Innocence) is a joyful and light-hearted ode to nature. This is exactly the sort of poetry that children can enjoy.
  • William Butler Yeats—one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century—wrote of nature and its majesty, its simplicity, and beauty. His vision of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (written in 1888) makes us all want to retreat there with the honeybees: 

“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, /And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; / Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, /And live alone in the bee-loud glade.”

For more information on what to read, great children’s literature, and other literary tips, visit Full Cycle Publications at the website.

Spooky Cemeteries

“I am a cemetery by the moon unblessed.” –Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

Why do we visit cemeteries? Well, we visit the gravestones of the ones who have gone before us, the ones we miss and love. Cemeteries don’t have to be morbid or scary, they can be comforting, and the ones mentioned in this blog are incredible places to visit…they just happen to be graveyards! Did you know that people would actually have picnics in graveyards before public parks because it was the only place with a nice lawn where friends and family could gather?

(The entrance at the Catacombs of Paris)

  • The Catacombs, Paris: ‘Arrète!  C’est ici L’empire de la Mort’ is a phrase at the entrance of the Catacombs in Paris so, whenever one visits this incredible site, this is the first thing they see, but what does it mean?  “Stop! This is the empire of the dead.” “The Catacombs are a series of underground tunnels formerly part of a mining operation. In 1785, a portion of the labyrinth-like tunnel system was used to house human remains moved from the Saints-Innocents Cemetery. Remains from other cemeteries continued to be moved to the Catacombs throughout the 1800s. Today, the Catacombs of Paris have been turned into a tourist attraction and are affiliated with the Carnavalet Museum.” Can you imagine visiting a place (underground, no less) filled with skeletons? How cool is that? Victor Hugo wrote that “Paris has another Paris under herself” (in reference to 1300 miles of sewers, caverns, catacombs, alleys, and intersections beneath the city). Why were all these people buried deep underground in these old quarries in the first place? Well, the cemeteries of Paris were overflowing during the 18th century, interfering with the water system, and infecting people with plague, so they had to be moved. Figures of the French Revolution are buried in the catacombs, including Molière and Robespierre.  

(Photo courtesy of Paris Tourist Office)

  • Père Lachaise Cemetery, also located in Paris, is one of the most famous burial places in the world.  The largest cemetery in Paris, it is the final resting place of icons such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf. Still unknown for certain, there could be as many as 1 million people buried in Père Lachaise! Built-in 1804 and named for Père François de la Chaise (a French Jesuit priest who was also the confessor of Louis XIV), the cemetery is an extremely popular tourist attraction and doubles as a beautiful park. 

  • Beethoven’s Grave in Vienna, Austria. “The famous composer Ludwig Van Beethoven passed away in 1827. He was buried in a cemetery called Währinger Ortsfriedhof at first, but his body was later moved to his current resting place in Vienna, Austria, at the Zentralfriedhof cemetery. Visitors can find his grave together with the graves of Schubert and some other famous composers.” It has been said that Beethoven’s last words were “Pity, pity—too late!” (as he had just been told of a present of twelve bottles of wine from his publisher). 

For more information on the sites mentioned in this blog (along with Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pins), consult the links below:

Beneath The Sea: Ancient Ruins



When we think of underwater worlds, we think of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, sunken ships filled with pirate booty, lost civilizations (maybe even Atlantis), of awesome sea creatures that have never before been discovered, treasure chests overflowing with gold coins and Poseidon (the Greek god of the sea) with his trident.

(UNESCO: Underwater Cultural Heritage)

UNESCO’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention began 20 years ago, and its aim was (and is) to protect ancient historical sites that are submerged beneath the oceans. One of the main goals of this mission is to keep these amazing locations safe, to protect them from “treasure-hunting and pillaging.” Without the preservation of certain underwater monuments, we wouldn’t know about wars that have been fought, civilizations that have been conquered and lost, and important architecture that’s been washed away beneath the waves.

Spartan and the Green Egg’s Underwater Sites

Discover some of the world’s most fascinating underwater (and underground) places with Spartan and the Green Egg! Learn more about the world around you, get inspired to travel, and collect your explorer pins to prepare for adventure!

  • Underwater Museum in Cancun, Mexico: “The Underwater Museum is devoted to showing the importance of conservation. Tourists have to visit numerous diving points in order to see all the sculptures that have been placed under water. The museum was made to help control where visitors go diving. This is very important because the natural reefs in the area were getting damaged by a surge of tourists and explorers.”

  • Dragon’s Triangle: “The Dragon’s Triangle has many nicknames, including the Devil’s Sea as well as the Pacific Bermuda Triangle. It is located in a part of the Pacific Ocean, right near the Miyake Island in Tokyo. Dragon’s Triangle has very mysterious origins. There have been many instances of ships going missing. Between 1952 and 1954, Japan lost five different military vessels and over seven hundred crewmen. In response, they sent a research vessel to find out what happened, but that too went missing.”

  • Skocjan Caves: “The Škocjan Caves are a network of underground caves and canyons that can be found in Slovenia. The Reka River runs through many of the underground caves, creating the largest underground wetlands in all of Europe. What makes the Škocjan Caves so impressive is that it was naturally created. Many in Europe consider it to be the European equivalent of the Grand Canyon in America.”

  • Jacob’s Well, West Bank: “Jacob’s Well, also called Jacob’s Fountain and the Well of Sychar, has been associated with religious practices for around two millennia. Hewn from stone, the well is 135 feet deep and located in the city of Nablus in Israel. To access it, one must descend the stairs under the church at the Bir Ya’qub Monastery. Presently under Israeli occupation, the site is a source of contention between Jews and Christians.”

  • Klein, Curacao: “Klein (or Little) Curacao is home to Curacao’s longest beach, which is popular for its beautiful white sand and clear water. It is also a diving hot spot famous for its underwater caves and coral reef systems. The island itself is uninhabited but does have a few structures, including an old lighthouse.” Located in the Dutch Caribbean, this beautiful (and untouched) island is also home to several wrecked ships, including the rusted remains of an old oil tanker. Little Curacao is also known as a breeding ground for green sea turtles that come back every year and lay their eggs.

  • Deep-Sea Vents, Atlantic Ocean: “The Deep-Sea Vents are often referred to as hydrothermal vents. They are giant underwater structures shaped like chimneys. The vents release clouds of scalding water, which turn a black color because of all the minerals mixed in with it. The water can reach temperatures of 700 degrees. Despite the hot temperatures, there are still many underwater species that make their homes around the vents.”

To learn more about what UNESCO is doing to preserve our underwater cultural heritage, visit the link below for more information:

To learn more about the sites mentioned in this blog, visit Spartan and the Green Egg’s website along with the links below:

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Tourist Attraction Collections



Private Collections That Became Tourist Attractions

Collecting things is a lot of fun. That’s why so many people have private collections. Collecting is an excellent hobby because it’s almost like a scavenger hunt. Collectors often find items to collect at flea markets, antique shops, yard sales, and online. It’s easier than ever for people to complete their collections now that technology like laptops and cellphones lets them search for their favorite things everywhere.

The only problem with collecting things, especially for a long time, is many collectors eventually find their collections are too big to keep to themselves. Some collected items, like cars, are too big to fit in houses anyway. Others, like comic books, are small individually, but when a collector has lots of them, they begin to take up space. Sometimes, a collection is so large, or a collector just wants to share it with other people so much that their collection becomes a tourist attraction. The collector might open their home to visitors, open a museum, or loan or donate part of a collection to a museum that is already open. Here are some examples of what people collect and collections that became tourist attractions.

What People Like to Collect

There is no one thing everyone likes to collect. Collections of all different things are popular. Some popular things to collect are jewelry, decorations, or items people can trade with each other, like and patches.

There are also people who collect things like:

  • Cars
  • Motorbikes
  • Art
  • Airplanes
  • Movie and TV Show Memorabilia
  • Collectibles Relating to Certain Animals or Symbols

You never know what people might like to collect. Sometimes collections come from things adults liked when they were kids. Other times collections might remind people of a certain time in their lives. For example, a former athlete or sports fan might have a house full of sports collectibles. Here are some interesting private collections people turned into tourist attractions.

The Cat Museum in Kraków, Poland

The cat museum opened in 2019. It is owned by a couple from the Ukraine. It contains about 1,000 cat collectibles. It’s not the only cat museum either. There are museums like it in many different countries because so many people love cats. Most of those museums have started out as private collections.

Island of the Dolls, Mexico

There is an island in Mexico called Island of the Dolls. The whole island is covered in many different types of dolls. The legend of the island says a young girl once died there. The island’s caretaker decided to start hanging dolls around the island so her ghost could play with them. Other people have also visited the island and left dolls over the years, so the collection keeps getting bigger as more tourists go there.

Tiny Chair Museum in Georgia, USA

If you are ever in Stone Mountain, Georgia, you can visit a very strange roadside attraction called the Tiny Chair Museum. It started because a woman named Barbara Hartsfield saw a tiny chair one day while out shopping. She thought it was cute and bought it. Soon, she was collecting them as a hobby. Today, her hobby has grown into the world’s largest collection of tiny chairs. Many of them are not just chairs. Some have other purposes, like tiny chair-shaped salt and pepper shakers. She has them all displayed in her roadside museum.

Isett Heritage Museum in Pennsylvania, USA

The Isett Museum is in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. It contains the private collection of Mel Isett. Mr. Isett has been collecting all sorts of everyday items from the 1800s and 1900s for years. His museum now houses over 40,000 household items preserved so people in the future can see them, such as:

  • Radios
  • Toys
  • Cameras
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Plates
  • Clocks
  • Railroad Collectibles

Finding Fun Private Collections Turned Tourist Attractions

Ask your mom and dad to take you on a day trip, and you’ll probably find some private collections turned tourist attractions not far from your own home. They are everywhere because so many people love to collect things. Some you might just happen to pass while riding in the car. You can find others ahead of time by looking online for interesting private collections that have turned into public attractions. Either way, you’ll find it fun to see all the great things people collect.

Start your own collection with Spartan and the Gang! Collect all of the pins, patches, and stickers from some of the most interesting places around the world.

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Fungi Fairy Circles And Grass Rings In The Namib Desert

“If you see a fairy ring
In a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they’re sleeping somewhere near.”
-William Shakespeare

Fairy Rings and Circles
Fairy ring (also known as a “fairy circles” or “elf” or “pixie circles”) are rings or semi-circles of mushrooms and toadstools in the grass and on the forest floor. They occur naturally and are quite the delight to see! It’s as if a group of fairies have been communing, each with their own little toadstool to sit upon. Fungi thrive in the damp, so it’s best to go hunting for fairy rings after a rainstorm.

Only certain kinds of mushrooms form rings where fairies dance inside. The most common fungi to form a fairy ring are probably the “Giant Puffball” (which looks exactly as you’d imagine). (Fairy illustration by Walter Jenks Morgan: British, 1847-1924)

The legend goes that you should not step inside a fairy ring for, if you do, you may be stuck within the magical circle forever with the dancing fairies! The dizziness of all the whirling and twirling may drive you mad!

If you do enter a fairy ring, wear your hat backward (for this will confuse the fairies), or you run around the ring nine times or during a full moon to break the spell. Of course, this is folklore and just for fun.

There are circumstances where fairy rings thrive in a not-so-damp place…actually in one of the driest places imaginable…the Namib Desert!

Sand Dunes and Fairy Circles of the Namib Desert

Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pin (and description) for the Namib Desert focuses on the magnificent sand dunes, but the desert is also known for its otherworldly, almost inexplicable fairy rings.

“The sand dunes located in the Namib Desert are some of the tallest in the world. Photographers love the sand dunes because of their red colors. The word Sossusvlei means ‘dead-end’ marsh. At the bottom of the dunes lies a small clay pond that is full of saltwater. During the rainy season, though, this small pond becomes a lake. The large dunes began their remarkable journey in the Atlantic Ocean, then traveled via the Benguela current northwards. The wind carried the sand all the way to Africa. This same wind shapes many of the dunes’ tops to look like stars.”

Mysterious rings (that can reach up to forty feet in size) form in the African desert and then, somehow, disappear. Some call these “ghost circles.” Some explanations as to their formation include “root-eating sand termites competing underground for resources and self-organizing plants competing above ground for water.” Whatever their exact cause (it is still up for debate), they are magical creations that only nature could provide.

For more information on collectible explorer pins, check out Spartan and the Green Egg’s website and all its fascinating facts about the world around us.

For more information about fairy rings, consult the websites listed below:

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The First Days Of Autumn

“Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn.”

Umberto Eco

Well, it’s that time of year when the days shorten, the weather gets cooler, and leaves turn golden, and then…fall. Autumn is here—the time of year for the harvest, for giving thanks, and preparing for winter. So, let’s talk about the changing of the seasons and what it means, starting at the very beginning.

The Beginning of fall: 

This is when the leaves change colors and we get to experience magnificent fall foliage. The Fall Equinox occurs at the same time all around the world (but not on the same day each year) and, since ancient times, has been celebrated by all sorts of cultures, including the Incas, Mayans, and English at Stonehenge. It’s a very special time of year. 

Autumn Equinox Blessing

Traditions, Beliefs and Ways of Celebrating the Beginning of Fall

Harvest Festivals in Britain: In ancient times, Harvest was a festival celebrated in villages across England and was a celebration for the abundant gathering of corn. Merry-making, dancing, and a traditional tea or supper were shared by everyone. Imagine a party as lovely as that!

  • Six Days of Higan in Japan: a Buddhist celebration where the dead are remembered (very much like Dia De Los Muertos around Halloween). “Higan” means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits reaching Nirvana. People use this time to visit, clean, and decorate graves with their loved ones.

Natural Beauty to Witness and Fun to be Had

  • Fabulous Foliage: One of the most enjoyable parts of fall is watching the leaves turn from bright green to fiery reds and oranges, bright yellows, and russet. It’s also fun to play in the piles of raked leaves and to hear them crunch underfoot!
  • Fiery sunsets arrive earlier in the evening, leaving us with shorter days and longer, chilly nights.  This is when you need cozy blankets and cuddly plush toys on your bed.
  • Use this time to bake cookies and pies with your children and loved ones.
  • Read spooky stories.
  • Carve a pumpkin.
  • Go for walks and take a book with you!
  • Roast marshmallows.

For more information on Spartan and the Green Egg, the world of wonder it has to offer and collectible explorer pins, visit

For more information mentioned in this blog about the autumn solstice, find the sources listed below:

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Up In The Air: The World’s Tallest Buildings

“Less is a Bore.” –Architect, Robert Venturi
A Bird’s Eye View: The Tallest Buildings in New York City

(“Lunch Atop a Skyscraper”, Originally printed in the New York Herald-Tribune on October 2, 1932–800 feet in the air, at what is now Rockefeller Center)
“[H]e could see the island of Manhattan off to the left. The towers were jammed together so tightly, he could feel the mass and stupendous weight. Just think of the millions, from all over the globe, who yearned to be on that island, in those towers, in those narrow streets! There it was, the Rome, the Paris, the London of the twentieth century, the city of ambition, the dense magnetic rock, the irresistible destination of all those who insist on being where things are happening-and he was among the victors!”
― Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1987

(Vintage postcard depicting King Kong atop the Empire State Building)

    • The Empire State Building: New York isn’t called the Empire State for nothing! As of 2019, the Empire State Building was ranked as the 6th tallest in the city. Standing at 1,250 feet and complete with 102 floors, this Midtown marvel was completed in 1931 and is probably the most iconic building in all of New York City.

(The Chrysler Buildingat night)

  • The Chrysler Building: Known for its iconic beauty (some say, when lit up at night, it resembles a Christmas ornament), The Chrysler Building was built in 1930 and is 1,046 feet tall. The Manhattan skyline wouldn’t be the same without it.
  • The New York Times Tower: At 1,046 feet, this building is the pinnacle of journalism as a structure. It is home to the New York Times Company and newspaper, along with the International New York Times.
  • Three World Trade Center: Completed in 2018, this mighty building stands tall at 1,079 feet.
  • 30 Hudson Yards: The newest addition to the list of very tall buildings in New York City can be found in the trendy neighborhood of Hudson Yards. Completed in 2019, this building stands at 1,268 feet.

  • One World Trade Center: At 1,776 feet, this World Trade Center building is the tallest in New York City. Completed in 2014, it is located in the Financial District and is a symbol of hope for New Yorkers. We must never forget what happened involving the original Twin Towers (World Trade Center) on September 11th, 2001.

And the Rest of the World! The Tallest Buildings in the World Ranked!
“The city buildings in the distance are holding up the sky, it seems.”
― Markus Zusak, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, 2000

(Photo of Burj Khalifa courtesy of SOM)

  1. Burj Khalifa: The tallest building in the world! Completed in 2010, the Burj Khalifa—located in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, stands at a staggering height of 2,716 feet. It also has the highest observation deck in the world (talk about a bird’s eye view!) as well as the elevator with the longest travel distance. Imagine the view from the observation deck overlooking the city of Dubai! It truly is a modern-day architectural marvel.
  2. Shanghai Tower: The tallest building in China (and the second tallest in the world)! Completed in 2015, the Shanghai Tower is 2,073 feet tall.
    (Makkah Royal Clock Tower)
  3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower: At 1,972 feet, this magnificent clock tower is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and was completed in 2012.
  4. Ping An Finance Center: At nearly 2,000 feet (1,965 feet to be exact), this structure in Shenzhen, China, has 120 floors. Construction was completed in 2017.
  5. Lotte World Tower: Completed the same year as the Ping An Finance Center, the Lotte World Tower—located in Seoul, South Korea—is a staggering 1,819 feet tall.

For more information on the remarkable architecture mentioned in this blog, consult the websites cited below.
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The Temple Of Angkor Wat

Learn MORE About the Temple of Angkor Wat

What really gives Cambodia its identity better than the ? There is no religious monument that makes Cambodians prouder than this incredible temple. Did you know that the Temple of Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the whole world? The temple is dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu, known as the ‘protector,’ though it was later converted to a Buddhist monastery.

Fun Facts about the Temple of Angkor Wat

The Angkor Wat temple was built between the year 1112 and 1152 by King Suryavarman II. It was initially a temple for worship before it was transformed into a Buddhist temple. The temple is located 3.4 miles from the Cambodian town of Siem Reap. The term Angkor Wat means “temple city” and it covers an area of about 500 acres. All of the pyramids in Giza, including the Sphinx could fit inside Angor Wat’s compound and still have a lot of room left over! The central tower, which is also the tallest at the Angkor Wat temple, stands at 65 meters tall. It is surrounded by other small towers and enclosure walls.

 The Celestial Beings at Angkor Wat

Within the temple’s main area, there are more than 3000 carvings of heavenly beings. They are curved on the walls of the temples and none of them looks like the other. Thirty-seven of these carvings have different hairstyles from one another. The temple, itself, was carefully designed to be in harmony with the universe, so there are areas of the temple that are aligned with the sun, and some with the moon. When viewed from above, the entire temple area looks like a giant Mandala. A Mandala is a work of art that represents the universe. So, quite literally, Angor Wat represents the universe on Earth.

Elephants in the Temple

It took about 6000 elephants to build the Angkor Wat Temple. What exactly did the elephants do? The sandstone blocks that were used to build the temple were dug up 50 kilometers away from the construction site. Even though they were floated on rafts and transported through the Siem Reap River, elephants were also used to transport the stones from the river to the site. There were more than 300,000 people who were involved in the construction of the Angkor Wat Temple. Despite all of this work, the temple is not considered completed!

Visiting Angor Wat

The Khmer people of Cambodia respect the Temple of Angkor so much because it is very spiritual ground. Anyone who wants to go to the highest level of the temple must dress in a respectful manner. If you are wearing a pair of shorts, they must reach your knees. Any shirt you wear must cover your upper arms too. This is not a place for beachwear. There are even more conditions that you have to adhere to while at the temple. For example, you are not allowed to sit or touch any of the ancient structures. There are Buddhist monks who use the temple for worship, and so you have to be on your best behavior at all times.

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Explore your world and the universe though the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learn about the world and the SGE Explorers Today!

Where To See The World’s Fastest Animals!


The World’s Fastest Land Animals

The Cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal; it runs more quickly than any other creature and can reach speeds up to sixty miles per hour in about three seconds! A cheetah usually sprints after its prey and can run as fast as seventy-five miles per hour. The animal exerts a lot of energy in a short amount of time: not only does it move at alarmingly fast speeds but is very nimble, agile, and has terrific eyesight. Cheetahs live mostly in Africa (and a few can be found in parts of Iran). Cheetahs can be found in the Southwestern portion of the continent in Namibia while the Northwestern African Cheetah is native to the Sahara desert and the Sahel.

Spartan and the Green Egg’s Explorer Stickers make it possible to see the world! Collect the Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert sticker in order to learn more about Namibia—one of the homes of the cheetah.

For more information on another of the cheetah’s homes, collect the Richat Structure explorer pin. Known as the “Eye of the Sahara,” this geologic dome is one of the most impressive sites in the Sahara desert.

  • The Greyhound is the fastest dog there is and can run up to forty-five miles per hour! They were originally bred for hunting hares and foxes and are native to Europe and Eurasia.
  • The Wildebeest (found in Ghana and the African Savanna) is also known as a “gnu” and is actually an antelope. These amazing animals can run as fast as fifty miles an hour.

Don’t forget to collect your Ghana Explorer Sticker!

  • The Jackrabbit is actually a hare and is a desert dweller. Known for its speed, a black-tailed jackrabbit can leap twenty feet into the air and can run thirty to thirty-five miles an hour. Not only do they run very fast but they move in a zig-zag motion! Jackrabbits can be found in the southwestern United States (including Arizona) and Northwestern Mexico.

Collect the Spartan and the Green Egg Antelope Canyon, Arizona Explorer Sticker to learn more about one of the homes of the jackrabbit.


In The Air

  • The Golden Eagle can be found in North America (mostly the western United States and Alaska) and Mexico. This eagle is a bird of prey and can fly at speeds over thirty miles per hour.

(A golden eagle,

  • Hummingbirds’ wings move so fast that they actually hum (they can fly nearly fifty miles per hour). These tiny birds may be tiny, but they are some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures of the air. The males are known for their ruby-colored throats, while the females have more subdued hues. They can be found in many places—from South America to Alaska, to tropical forests and even way up in the Andes Mountains.

(Killer Whale,

Under the Sea

  • The Killer Whale or “orca” is one of the world’s most magnificent creatures: with its mighty size and black and white color scheme, it is actually a member of the dolphin family. This mighty mammal can be found in the Pacific Northwest and along Norway’s Atlantic Coast. Orcas are highly intelligent and can swim up to forty miles a day at speeds of up to thirty-four miles per hour.

Don’t forget to collect your Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway Explorer Sticker!

  • The Black Marlin is one of the world’s fastest fish. It has been said that a marlin can swim up to eighty miles per hour and can be found in subtropical areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

(Spartan and the Green Egg’s Indian Ocean Explorer Sticker)

To learn more about Spartan and the Green Egg explorer stickers and geographical sites mentioned in this blog, visit the websites below:
For more information on the animals mentioned in this blog, consult the websites below:

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Make It A Kids Day At The San Diego Zoo

Make it Kids Day at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo encompasses 100 acres in the city’s Balboa Park. More than 3,700 animals, including some endangered species, call this place home. Unless you and your children can travel at the speed of light, do not plan on seeing them all in one day. Here are some helpful tips I learned during my recent visit to this truly remarkable zoo.

Plan Your Day Ahead of Time

But don’t plan every minute of your day ahead of time because, as I soon found out, your schedule will quickly fly out the window once you pass through the entrance gates. This zoo is immense, and there are so many interesting and exciting exhibits, many of which we spent a lot longer lingering in front of than we had initially anticipated. Think about getting the San Diego Zoo App for your phone. It gives you a map of the zoo and tells you what special events are happening on the day of your visit.

Ask your kids which animals are their favorite. You can then plot your course and organize your route so you wind around the Zoo instead of walking miles back and forth from one exhibit to another.

The Zoo provides colorful and easy to read maps at the entrance. The maps also list all the restaurants and fast-food type places to eat. There is a large Flamingo display near the entrance that will keep the kids entertained while you review the map.

The map also includes a list of special events for the day, their time, and locations. Check the events calendar specifically for “Keeper Talks.” These are free and scheduled at various times and zoo locations throughout the day. An animal keeper will be at the talk site with the specific animal that is on the schedule. The keeper provides an overview of the animal and answers any questions a visitor may have about that specific animal. Other events may involve an extra fee.

Begin Your Day with A 35-Minute Guided Bus Tour

The Guided Bus Tour, which is included with your admission to the Zoo, will give you a good overview. Also included in the entrance fee are unlimited rides on the Express Bus, which stops at various locations around the park allowing you to get on or off.

The aerial tramway, included in the entrance fee, is fun for kids and adults to ride high above the park and absorb a stunning overview of the vegetation and animal enclosures. The tram also provides an impressive view of the San Diego skyline. Though animals are generally not visible from the tram, it can save you from walking from one area of the Zoo to another if you have plotted your course to include animals near the entrance to each side of the tram. Your feet will thank you, and did I mention it’s fun?

Plot Your Food and Beverage Day

Whether you want a sit-down gourmet dinner, something more akin to a coffee shop, or hamburgers and French fries, you will find it all here. Food kiosks also offer veggie burgers. Adults may find wine or beer available at most food kiosks and restaurants.
The park does allow you to bring in food and water, but no coolers larger than a six-pack beverage size. If you buy bottled water inside the park, any food kiosk will refill the bottle for free. Plus, there are plenty of drinking fountains around the park. Even if you take advantage of every mode of transport the Zoo has to offer, you will still be surprised at the amount of walking involved. So be sure to keep yourself hydrated, and don’t forget the sunscreen.

Explore your world and the universe through the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learn about the world and the SGE Explorers today!

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Native American Ruins In The Southwestern United States


(petroglyphs in Zion National Park, Utah,

Which Native American Sites Should I Visit? Where Exactly Are They?


  • Utah: Cedar Mesa is a plateau measuring 400 square miles and is bordered by the Grand Gulch and Comb Ridge. The Grand Gulch Primitive Area is a network of canyons formed from sandstone. Grand Gulch is known for its pueblo ruins and is exceptional for hiking. Comb Ridge and Butler Wash are also incredible sites filled with Anasazi ruins near the foothills of the Abajo Mountains. Comb Wash is a valley in San Juan, Utah, and merges with the San Juan River while Comb Ridge in what is known as a “monocline” (a formation in rock strata that resembles two steps).


  • The Zion National Park in Utah is filled with canyon trails (including The Weeping Rock, Hidden Canyon, and Observation Point Trails) and wildlife (such as black bear, mountain goats, moose, and elk) beneath a clear blue sky. It is known for its amazing colors of red, cream, and pink sandstone cliffs. To collect Spartan and the Green Egg’s Zion National Park travel pin, visit!



  • New Mexico: The Aztec Ruins National Monument is located on the Animas River and is known for its nearly 1,000-year-old structures created by the Pueblo Indians (including ancient rooms, trails, and passageways).

(Four Corners Region,

  • The Four Corners Region of the United States is where the southwestern border of Colorado meets Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.


  • Mesa Verde National Park is known for its famous cliff dwellings built in the late 12th century by the Ancestral Puebloan people (also known as the Anasazi Indians); they built pueblos in which to live under the overhanging cliffs. Located in Colorado, this national park contains some of the most well-preserved ruins of ancient Native American life.

(Cedar Mesa,

What is the Cultural Significance of these Ruins?

These ruins are the preserved remains of an ancient culture that was incredibly advanced and imaginative. The tribes that lived there were a mighty people, and those (such as the Anasazi Tribe) were wiped out by the 1300s. The Native American people understood and valued wilderness and nature in a way unlike any other, and it is through these magnificent ruins that we can discover and honor the past.

For more information on the many culturally significant archeological sites discussed in this blog (along with many others), consult the websites below.

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Origins Of Winter Holidays

Winter Holidays around the Globe

Tết(Tết Nguyen Dan) is a celebration of rebirth and is Vietnam’s version of the Lunar New Year.It marks the first day of the New Year according to the moon and will begin January 25, 2020. The most important aspect of Tết is being with family and focusing on blessings, good luck, and honoring ancestors.

Hanukkah (or “Chanukah”) is an eight-day Jewish celebration also known as The Festival of Lights. It is, according to the religious text,  the Talmud , a miraculous event. During the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C., the menorah’s candles burned for eight days instead of one.

Christmas is a Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t until the 9th century that the holiday was celebrated with specific religious customs and ceremonies. Ceremonies include attending mass, and the commemoration of the Nativity (which means “to be born” in Latin). Christians believe that the Star of Bethlehem lit up the entire night sky on Christmas Eve.

Kwanzaa is an African holiday that, in Swahili, means “first fruits.” The holiday is based on seven principles called the “Nguzo Saba” and is celebrated by lighting one of seven candles each night for seven nights. Just as the Jewish candle holder or “menorah” is used during Hanukkah, the “kinara” is used for holding candles during Kwanzaa. There is a feast that is held on December 31st called a “Karamu.”


How to Celebrate

The most important way to celebrate these holidays is by giving to others and surrounding yourself with loved ones. The celebrations of the winter solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Têt all have religious roots that focus on the miraculous and are ideal for reflecting on the past year and the new year to come. All of the holidays are celebrated with a feast, presents and certain decorations. For Kwanzaa, a table is set with fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts in wooden bowls along with a traditional woven mat called a “Mkeka.” The colors green, black, and red are traditionally used for decoration.

For Christmas, most people display a Christmas tree in their homes, attend church on Christmas Eve, and give out presents.

For Hanukkah, the menorah is lit (one candle each night for eight nights – and there is a ninth candle used to light the others; this is called a “shammash”) while presents are given, matzah is hidden for children to find and dreidel games are played.

For Têt, family and renewal is very important so most people celebrate with elaborate festivals, dance and, of course, feasting.

For more information on these holidays and the topics mentioned in this blog, consult these websites:

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Learn More About Orangutans


Orangutans: What Makes Them So Unique?

  • Orangutans make up not just one but species of ape and are, sadly, very rare as they are an endangered species.
  • “Orangutan” literally means “person of the forest.”
  • They can live up to fifty years in the wild and mostly travel by swinging from tree to tree.
  • “Flanged” males have what is called a “throat sac” that enables them to make very loud noises or “long calls.”
  • Humans and orangutans have 97% DNA in common.


  • Male orangutans may have what are called “flanges” (padded cheeks) and, for some reason, female orangutans are most attracted to and most likely to mate with these males.
  • Since there are three species of orangutan, they tend to vary in appearance. The three different names of species include the “Bornean,” “Sumatran,” and the “Tapanuli.” (The Sumatran species of orangutan has longer facial hair than the others.)
  • Orangutans are amazing to look at: they have shaggy, reddish fur and incredibly long, strong arms. Their arms are longer than their legs and, when an orangutan stands, he/she is able to touch their ankles.
  • Their fur looks bright orangey/red in the sunlight but, when they vanish into the shadows of the forest, orangutans appear very dark. This is because their skin absorbs the sunlight and, when they are in the shade, we are actually seeing the skin underneath their shaggy fur.

Where Do They Live?

  • Today they can only be found in Borneo (an island in Southeast Asia) and Sumatra (an Indonesian island). (To learn more about Borneo, their tribal longhouses, the languages spoken there, closest bodies of water, etc., collect Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pins.)
  • Because of deforestation, the rainforests where orangutans live are decreasing in size and endangering the great apes.

Mother Orangutans and their Young/Behavior

  • According to Discover Wildlife, orangutan mothers and their babies have such an intense bond that the mother will carry her baby around for about five years and will sleep in the nest with her offspring until another is born. This is the closest bond that has been observed of any non-human mammal.
  • Orangutans are incredibly smart and even have the ability to make tools. They have been known to make a tool from a stick in which to scratch themselves.
  • These great apes sleep in nests high up in trees and will create new sleeping areas every night.
  • Not only are orangutans known to be very intelligent, but they are also patient (mothers will sometimes breastfeed their young for up to eight years).
  • Male orangutans are known to be solitary creatures; they are even called “loners” and use their “long call” to stay out of each other’s way.

For more information on orangutans and what you can do to help this amazing and critically endangered species, visit The Orangutan Project and learn how to get involved.

Also, make sure to visit these websites consulted in the blog:


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No Nurdles for Turtles


The world’s oceans have trash troubles…and it’s getting worse. Just this spring a dead whale was found washed up on a beach in the Philippines. Scientists were curious and wanted to know why the whale died. What they learned made them very sad, and then angry. What did they find?

100 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

Eighty-eight pounds of that plastic were just plastic shopping bags, like the kind you see in grocery stores. As terrible as this sounds, the whale’s death is not the only death happening in the sea. Right now, scientists say that at least five countries dump their plastic into the ocean on purpose. Those countries are Thailand, the Philippines, China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Last fall a whale died with over 100 plastic drinking cups in its stomach. Another one, that summer died with 20 pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. And whales aren’t the only sea creatures who are suffering. Small plastic pieces, called Nurdles, are causing severe harm to a wide variety of marine life.

What are Nurdles Anyway?

Nurdles are super tiny pellets that are melted to produce almost all things plastic. But, when they end up in the water, they look like food to marine life, including turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, fish and even seagulls and sea birds. Once an animal swallows these nurdles, they can’t digest them. The small plastic pellets stay in the animal’s stomach, taking up space that the food would have used. Without space in its belly for food, the animal starves to death slowly.

Nurdles are also toxic. That means when they stay in the water, or inside of an animal, long enough, some of the chemicals go into the animal, which can cause them to die from poisoning. Human beings who catch fish with these pellets in them may be eating poisoned fish.

What Can be Done?

Some things are already being done, but it isn’t enough. Many scientists in the world’s nations are trying to solve the problem. In most countries, there are rules about how nurdles can be used, and how they must be stored. But many companies break the rules, and the nurdles end up in the waterway anyway. When enough people voice their concern, change happens. It is great to care about the planet and its creatures. But unless people speak out when something wrong is happening, nothing changes. There are right and wrong ways to speak out. Here are the right ways:

  • Send a respectful email to your leaders. You can find their email addresses online, easily.
  • Create an eco-club at your school to learn more and to join your voice with others. We can help with that, too!
  • Make a phone call. When kids call their representatives, they listen…because kids don’t usually call unless it is important.
  • Visit them in person (same reason…nobody comes to visit them unless it’s important).
  • Create a poster with a message and fax it to your government leaders.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic you use at home, and at school.
  • Convince your school or town to find other options for plastic straws, plastic forks, spoons, and knives, as well as the plastic bags used for groceries and shopping.
  • Don’t take anything plastic near the water, especially if you live in a place near the ocean, river, streams or lakes.

Nurdles are NOT for turtles…or any other sea creature. Make sure you only contact YOUR leader in government, you are polite, you tell them why you are contacting them and why it is important. Use facts and research to prove you know what you are talking about. Let them know you are a kid…it does matter.

Spartan and the Green Egg Series is an adventure-themed graphic novel, whose characters travel the world learning about people and places with their out-of-the-world friend, Egg. Written by Nabila Khashoggi, this award-winning, green life series brings the world’s cultures and ecosystems into sharp focus, set against the backdrop of action and adventure for the 7-12 year-old set.

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From sea lions, penguins, and frolicking dolphins to an incredible variety of freshwater and saltwater fish, there’s no better way to introduce curious kids to aquatic life than the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia.
This accredited facility boasts a mind-boggling number of tanks, learning opportunities, and programs designed with children in mind. That means it’s the perfect place for young future marine biologists to spend an afternoon they’ll remember for a lifetime. Considering taking your family to this world-class aquatic destination? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go:


  • Spend time inside, not waiting in line. With school groups and tourists waiting to get into this huge aquarium, you could find yourself stuck outside in the Atlanta heat in a very long line. Skipping this less-than-exciting aspect of the visit is easy, though – just buy your tickets and parking pass online ahead of time. Not only will you save a few dollars for souvenirs in the gift shop, but you’ll also be able to stroll right in to the air-conditioned goodness of the aquarium. Be aware that buying your parking ahead of time means a once in-once out vehicle policy is in place; you won’t be able to leave mid-afternoon and return later on the same parking pass.


  • Browse showtimes and behind-the-scenes tour options before arrival. While admission to the aquarium shows are a mix of free and paid, animal encounters always carry an additional charge. With a slew of positive reviews, however, these encounters aren’t your average upsell fare: not only will your littlest family members get a chance to directly interact with the animal(s) in the encounter, they’ll also get a souvenir photo to remember the experience.


  • Don’t miss special aquarium events. Throughout the year, the aquarium hosts a variety of special events, both during operating hours and before and after the facility opens. While parents may want to try some tranquil yoga outside the dolphin tanks to greet the day, their children are sure to appreciate age-appropriate events like thepopular “Toddler Time” series, with themed afternoons each month. A full calendar of aquarium events and event ticket purchasing is always available on the website.


  • Get lunch just before visiting. Snacks and drinks aren’t allowed in the aquarium, so if your children are prone to “hangry” behavior, make sure to fuel up before the 3 to 4 hours it will take to get through the aquarium. Head to a nearby restaurant, or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the first-come-first-serve patio seating outside the aquarium. There is a cafeteria inside the aquarium, but visitors report the prices can be a little high, and the wait can be a bit long as well.

There’s a lot to see inside the aquarium – the 100,000+ creature count isn’t an exaggeration. Expect to spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours if you’re trying to see the entire facility, and plan to arrive as early or late in the day as possible to avoid large crowds. A rewarding, educational, and incredibly fun experience for visitors of all ages, families with children routinely rave about the aquarium: it’s definitely worth a day trip if you’re visiting the Atlanta area.

Explore your world and the universe though the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learnabout the world and the SGE Explorers Today!

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Let’s Explore the Indian Ocean

About 20 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by the Indian Ocean, which is the third largest ocean in the world. The whole USA could fit in that surface area more than five times. The Indian Ocean is unique in many ways. Let’s explore some of the special things about it.

The Indian Ocean’s Area and Temperature

The Indian Ocean is between Australia and Africa. It is bordered by Antarctica to the south and India to the north. Its area is about 27,240,000 square miles. Since it is much smaller than the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean is also much warmer. In fact, it is the warmest of all of the world’s oceans, and it is getting warmer all the time. Near the Equator, the water can be over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of its hot temperatures a lot of sea life has trouble living in the Indian Ocean. That’s why the Indian Ocean has fewer species of fish and marine mammals than the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. And of those marine species that do call the Indian Ocean home, many are having trouble surviving because of overfishing by man, the slowly rising water temperature caused by global warming, and lots of pollution.

The Indian Ocean’s Importance for the Oil Trade

Much of the world’s oil comes from the Middle East and is shipped along trade routes in the Indian Ocean. One of those most famous trade routes is the man-made Suez Canal. The Suez Canal connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, allowing ships to pass quickly between the two. A lot of the oil transported through the Indian Ocean is also mined there on offshore oil rigs, which threaten the habitats of the sea life that live around them.

The Water Currents in the Indian Ocean

Several of the world’s oceans have gyres, which are water currents that move in a circle. The one in the Indian Ocean flows counter-clockwise in the winter, but in the summer big storms called monsoons hit, which make the currents flow in the opposite direction. The change of water current direction has a big impact on the continents surrounding the Indian Ocean, as well as on the sea life that lives below the surface because the change in the currents changes the water temperatures. But many of the species living in the Indian Ocean have adapted to those changes.

The Indian Ocean’s Marine Life

Although there are not as wide a variety of sea creatures living in the Indian Ocean compared to the Atlantic or Pacific, there are some very important creatures that make their homes in the Indian Ocean. One of them is the humpback whale. Humpback whales travel in groups called pods. The Indian Ocean is not their only home, but it is the place with the largest humpback whale breeding area in the world.

The Indian Ocean also has areas that are perfect habitats for anemones, which can’t live without the fish that live with them, such as clownfish. More than 25 types of fish who live in or around anemones can be found in the Indian Ocean. Many of them do not live in any of the world’s other oceans.

Lots of different types of turtles also live in the Indian Ocean. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles, both endangered, are two turtle types living there. They eat jellyfish, shrimp, sea urchins, and other sea creatures.

Many of those beautiful creatures are disappearing because of climate changes, pollution, and humans damaging their environments. But scientists and regular people just like you are trying to help. Each day they are working together to find new ways to clean up the oceans and stop overfishing.

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Unusual and Usable Items That Come from the Sea


The sea provides people with a lot of food. Our oceans are full of fish, lobsters, crabs, and other edible goodies. But what about some of the more unusual things that come from the sea? There are actually a lot of items from the world’s oceans that are used by humans every day for things besides food. Here’s a quick list of some of the more unusual sea products.

Sea Products That Look Pretty
There are lots of unusual items that come from the sea and are popular with people just because they look pretty. Precious stones and gems like pearls are a good example. Pearls form inside mollusks like oysters over a long period of time. Then they have to be harvested by humans. After that they are eventually turned into jewelry, which can be very expensive, depending on the quality of the pearls.

Other examples of pretty items that people like to collect from the sea include seashells and sea glass. Seashells are also made by mollusks, which are sea creatures like snails, clams, and oysters. When the creatures die, the shells are left behind. They often wash up on beaches, where people collect them and make them into jewelry. Some people even use shells to make large items like tops for coffee tables.

Sea glass is used in many of the same ways to make furniture and artwork, but it doesn’t form naturally in the ocean. It actually happens when glass left in the ocean by humans is tossed around in the water for a long time. The tumbling changes the shape of the glass and how it feels, turning it from regular man-made glass, like soda bottles, into sea glass.

There are lots of unusual items that come from the sea and are popular with people just because they look pretty. Precious stones and gems like pearls are a good example. Pearls form inside mollusks like oysters over a long period of time. Then they have to be harvested by humans. After that they are eventually turned into jewelry, which can be very expensive, depending on the quality of the pearls.

Sea Products Used Around the House
Many sea items are also used in household products. For instance, kelp is often included in natural shampoos, conditioners, and even toothpaste. Another common household item that comes from the sea is a sea sponge. Sea sponges are softer and more environmentally friendly than artificial man-made sponges. Many people use sea sponges for washing dishes, or even for washing their own bodies when they take baths or showers.

Sea Products Used on Our Skin
Many of the unusual and usable items that come from the sea are also used by people who want their skin to look better. A lot of skin care products have some kind of algae in them. Both brown and red algae, according to skin experts, can make skin cells stronger.

Seaweed is another plant that grows in the sea and can be healthy for our skin. Seaweed is full of vitamin E and C. Many doctors even say that seaweed can treat pimples and acne. The seaweed is able to moisturize the skin and keep it strong and smooth.

Sea Products Used as Medicines
Another unusual thing that comes from the sea is medicine, which comes in many forms. There are types of algae and byproducts from coral that are being used to treat allergies, arthritis, and asthma. Scientists believe that, so far, we have only found a few of the medicines we can get from the sea. Many of the fish and animals living in the water still have healing properties that haven’t been discovered yet.

Protecting Our Sea Products
Many of the sea products that we use all the time, especially kelp, are being grown in protected areas where fishing, swimming, and other human activities are not allowed. The sea products need to be protected in those areas because they have been damaged or destroyed too much in other areas where pollution, fishing, and other problems have killed a lot of them. The best way to keep protecting our sea products is to work together to keep the oceans clean and reduce poaching and overfishing. Then people can keep getting medicine and other products from the sea for many years to come.

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Five Tips to Make a Road Trip More Fun

Does your family take a vacation together? If you do, you’re not alone. Two out of every five grown-ups are planning to take their family on vacation this year. Half of those families will make their trips by car.

That’s probably because driving is cheaper than flying. It’s also slower. Spending hours in a car can get boring, but there are plenty of ways to make a road trip more fun. Try these tips to make sure your next vacation is great, even when you’re stuck in the back seat.

1. Bring Something to Read
You can pack a few good books and comics, or you can bring a tablet or e-reader to have all of your favorites in one place. Some people start to feel a little carsick when they read too long, though. If this happens to you, stop to look out the front window every few pages, or hold the book so you can see the side window out of the corner of your eye while you’re reading.

2. Share an Audio Book
You can also enjoy a story with your whole family by playing a CD or other audiobook in the car. If you can’t all agree on a story, you might have fun listening to a comedian tell jokes or a podcast about an interesting topic instead.

3. Look Out the Window
If you’re driving to a place you’ve never been, make sure to look out the window. Do you notice any animals or cool buildings? What about interesting billboards and signs? The farther you go, the more the landscape will change. It’s also okay to daydream while you look. Enjoy it now, before you go back to school and have to pay attention all the time!

4. Follow a Map
Ask your parents to show you where you’re going and how you’ll get there on a map. Then you can follow along by looking for road signs as you travel (and you won’t have to keep asking how much farther it is!) You can do this on an app, but it’s more fun to use a paper map and trace your progress with a highlighter. When the trip is over, add it to a scrapbook with photos and other souvenirs.

5. Play Car Games
All you need for a car game is your voice and your imagination. Try these with the whole family:

  • Cow Counting: Every time you see a cow on your side of the road, you get a point — but every time you see a cemetery on your side, you lose all your points. The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the day.
  • Billboard Alphabet: Look out your window for each letter of the alphabet. Once you find an A, start looking for B. Can you get all the way up to Z before you reach your destination?
  • I Spy with My Little Eye: The person who is “it” picks something the other players can see. Whoever is “it” then says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…” and tell the others the letter of the alphabet the object begins with. The players then take turns asking questions that the person who is “it” may only respond to with a “yes” or “no.” After receiving a yes or no answer, that player may make one guess of what the something is. The player who correctly guesses what the object is wins.

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Exploring Africa Through Food

Foods in Africa vary widely, thanks to the many different cultures that call this continent home. While rice and porridge are commonly found in many African dishes, others use a variety of spices and seasonings that are native to the region or adopted from other parts of the world. You can learn quite a bit about African cultures by studying the types of foods people eat on a regular basis.

Northern Africa

The northern part of Africa is mainly known for couscous, a type of pasta made from semolina. People in this region typically add meat and vegetables to couscous to make a tasty stew. You’ll also find several seasonings that were brought over by Arabian cultures, including saffron and ginger. North African cultures also enjoy foods that have been introduced from the Americas, such as zucchini and chili peppers.

Central Africa

In the central part of Africa, many cultures follow a meat-based diet that includes meats from animals that are hunted in the wild, including crocodile and warthogs. Since parts of central Africa are hard to reach, people in this region tend to eat a lot of traditional cultural foods that have been around for centuries. Over the years, though, foods from other parts of the world have been introduced here, including plantains, okra and cassava roots.

Southern Africa

The southern part of Africa is a melting pot of foods from native, Asian, and European populations. You’ll find meats such as ostrich flavored with Indian spices and made with elements of Dutch or British cuisines. Seafood and fresh fruit, including bananas and grapes, are also commonly eaten in southern African cultures.

Western Africa

West African cultures typically eat very starchy foods, such as fufu paste, which comes from yams. Their diets don’t include a lot of meat, but they do include tons of spices and seasonings, such as cloves and chili peppers. When West Africans do eat meat, it’s usually chicken, goat or seafood.

Eastern Africa

In the eastern part of Africa, cultures follow diets that include a lot of grains and vegetables. People in this region usually don’t eat much meat, although they do tend cattle, sheep and other livestock. Some traditional local favorites you’ll find here include a paste made from corn, called ugali, and steamed bananas, known as matoke. People in eastern Africa also eat foods brought over from Europe, Asia and the Americas, including chili peppers, pineapples, and tomatoes.

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Learn About Commercial Transport Rockets

When we imagine rockets, we think of tall,thin vehicles with futuristic shapes. We also think about the kinds of rockets that go into space. The word rocket also describes a type of engine. Rocket engines power vehicles that use rockets to move. In the future, rockets could work like buses and trains do today. Could we depend on rockets to travel around the world one day? What about into space? That’s what many people are exploring today.


One day, commercial transport rockets could become a reality for all of us. We are still years off from having rockets taking us around the world in less than an hour. That doesn’t mean we can’t imagine!

How Commercial Rockets Work

To understand how commercial transport rockets work, we need to see how rockets work.

Rockets burn fuel like other kinds of engines do. Many rocket engines burn fuel into very hot gas. When the hot fuel turns into gas, the engine pushes the gas out of the back opening. The gas leaving the back opening is what makes the engine push forward. A rocket engine doesn’t need air to work.

Rocket engines work in space where there is no air. Two different kinds of rocket engines exist. Some rockets, like the main engines of the Space Shuttle that orbit the Earth, use liquid fuel. Other kinds of rockets, like the Space shuttle rocket boosters, use solid fuels. Even toy rockets and fireworks use solid fuel like those space rockets do!

Rockets move in space. It’s possible, thanks to a science rule known as Newton’s third law of motion. Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion said, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ When it comes to rockets, the action occurs when a rocket pushes on the exhaust. The exhaust also pushes on the rocket. When this happens, the rocket pushes the exhaust backward, and the exhaust helps move the rocket forward.

The History of Commercial Rockets

When were the first rockets invented? China used the first known rockets in the 1200s. Their solid-fuel rockets were used in fireworks. China’s armies also used these rockets in wars. In later centuries, rockets evolved into larger and more advanced devices. These advanced rockets found use in important space missions like the United States’ Apollo 11 mission in 1969. That mission, which got the first men to land on the moon, used a Saturn V rocket.

The NASA space shuttle program used solid fuel rockets to bring humans into space. Unlike liquid-fueled rockets, solid-fueled rockets give rockets fuel without turning off. After the catastrophic 1986 Challenger incident, NASA redesigned the solid fuel rockets boosters.

Fortunately, rockets are still used by NASA and other government organizations to bring satellites and other objects into space. These missions usually don’t send human crew members into space. Today, independent organizations want to make manned space travel a reality for people on Earth again. Public figures like Elon Musk want to make commercial transport rockets a reality for people on Earth. Commercial transport rockets could let people travel around the Earth in under an hour or less. Can you imagine how handy that would be?

Learn About Buses


Buses take people to many locations every single day.
A bus typically pulls up to a stop, picks up people, and takes them to their chosen location,  where they are later dropped off. For this reason, buses are considered a very safe and easy way to travel for many people. Not only do adults use buses, but kids also rely on buses to  take them to and from school.



About the School Bus

You can’t talk about buses without mentioning the school bus! School buses are famous for their bright yellow color. The color yellow is considered attention-grabbing to the point that people often notice yellow over other colors. Yellow is easier to find in low lighting conditions and is even more noticeable out of the corner of our eyes than red. For this reason, school buses in the United States are the color yellow.



History of Buses

The history of buses goes back a few hundred years, starting in 1662. During this year, Blaise Pascal introduced the first horse-drawn bus to the city of Paris. However, the horse-drawn bus only operated in Paris for 15 years, since it was too expensive for most people to afford.

By 1812, horse-drawn buses made another appearance in the world. This time, horse-drawn buses had a design that looked like a stagecoach and a carriage mixed. The early bus also had rooftop seats, where people would sit when riding the bus. During this period, buses were finally called a bus! The name “bus” originally came from the Latin word omnibus, which means “for all.”

In the 1830s, steam engine buses came into the picture. During the same period, the electric trolley bus was also invented. These buses traveled by using cables that hung overhead the bus carriage. By 1895, the first internal combustion engine bus arrived. After the development of the first internal combustion engine bus, buses continued to develop into safe and affordable vehicles that provide people an easy way to travel.

How Buses Work

Buses are pretty straightforward vehicles. They are large, contain a lot of seats, and are usually painted in relatively bright colors like yellow, whites, and blues. Buses also typically do not have seatbelts! Back in the 1970s, government officials decided that buses should have passive protection. That meant drivers would be instructed to drive safely, and buses wouldn’t have seatbelts due to their safer design in comparison to other vehicles.

Buses are designed to be safe, and this type of safe design lies in the seats themselves. A bus seat has a high padded back and seat cushion, padded arm rails, and strong upright poles that hold the seat together. Bus seats are also arranged at a certain distance for optimal safety. Even the windows are designed to protect passengers from being ejected in the case of a bad accident.

School buses are designed with certain safety precautions. Besides being painted a bright yellow, all school buses are equipped with a stop sign that pops out when they stop. The stop sign warns other drivers to remain still while kids are exiting or boarding the bus.



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Weird Ocean Facts You Might Not Know

The world’s oceans are strange and beautiful bodies of water. People love to travel on them and even dive down into them. But most people don’t really know much about the secrets that are hidden in the oceans. Here are some weird ocean facts you might not know that will make you love oceans even more.

The Oceans Give Us Life

We all know that a lot of the food we eat comes from the ocean, but did you know that the air we breathe comes from the ocean too? More than half of it does. Not only that, but a lot of the world’s heat comes from solar energy captured by the ocean. If the oceans were smaller, then many of the warm parts of the world would actually be much colder.

The Pacific Ocean is Home to the Biggest Living Structure on Earth

You might think whales or elephants are the biggest creatures on Earth, but Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, made up of smaller living organisms like coral, makes it the biggest living structure on Earth. It lies just below the surface in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Australia.

The Atlantic Ocean is Home to the Longest Mountain Range

You might also be surprised to know that the longest mountain range in the world is completely underwater. It is called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or Mid-Oceanic Ridge. It is about 49,710 miles long.

The Oceans Can be Very Hot

We often think of ocean water as being cold, especially deep water. But there are volcanic vents and underwater hot springs on the ocean floor in some parts of the world. When hot gasses are released by those vents the surrounding water can reach temperatures that are much too hot for humans, but a lot of sea creatures only survive by living near those vents, including some types of giant clams.

The Oceans are Full of Chameleon-Like Creatures

Other than the chameleon, very few land animals can change their colors to suit their environments, but the same is not true in the oceans. Many ocean creatures change color when they need or want to. Some, like the squid, change color to attract mates or scare off predators. Others, like the octopus, can do that, but they also change color to blend in with their environment and hide.

Museums Hold Fewer Treasures Than the Oceans

If you gathered up all of the treasures in every museum around the world, you still would not have as much treasure as there is sitting at the bottom of the ocean. Many boats and airplanes lie at the bottom of the ocean with all of their cargo still inside. We will never see a lot of them again, but they are still treasures for marine life because the ocean slowly reclaims them and turns them into artificial reefs where fish and other animals live.


We Know Less About the Ocean Than We Do About Other Planets

The Earth’s oceans are almost completely unexplored by man. Human beings have only seen about five percent of what there is to see below the surface of the water. Thanks to new technology that is starting to change, but right now there is better information about our solar system’s other planets than there is about what lies in our very own oceans. That’s why new ocean life is being discovered all the time. Even fish that were thought to be extinct have turned up recently. They live in such deep water that we don’t see them unless they die and wash up on shore.

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Learn About The Moon

The Wonders of the Moon
A famous poet named John Keats wrote a poem that included the moon. It because so popular that it has lasted hundreds of years. The poem tells the story of a shepherd-prince from Greek mythology who was loved by the Titan moon goddess, Selene. One of the lines from the poem says: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” The moon or “Luna” is actually a satellite that orbits the planet Earth and is the fifth largest natural satellite in the entire solar system. But what you may not know is that without the Moon, the Earth would really be lost.

The Moon: It’s a Big Deal

We all know tales of the man in the moon and real-life adventures of astronauts who traveled to the moon, such as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but there is much more to learn. The moon is Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed over four billion years ago. It is the pull between the moon and the Earth that keeps our little blue planet from spinning off into space. That’s why the moon is incredibly important to the Earth’s wellbeing. Scientists and poets alike have always been interested by the phases of the moon and its pull on the Earth. This pull, called gravity, also controls ocean tides and the length of days. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon on July 21st, 1969, during the Apollo 11 mission. This feat was watched by 500 million people worldwide and was a symbol of hope, a promise of discovery.

Studying the Moon

Whether we’re looking through a telescope or simply viewing the magnificent moon with a naked eye, we see boundless light and wonder. Galileo drew one of the first telescopic images of the moon in 1609 and stated that it was not smooth but had craters (the moon was thought to be smooth during the Middle Ages). Much has been learned and explored since then, but some things never change: wolves tilt their heads and howl at a full moon, and we gaze ceaselessly in awe.

Explore your world and the universe through the Spartan and the Green Egg Series. Join the Explorer’s Club, enjoy interactive games, collect travel pins and more! Learn about the world and the SGE Explorers Today!

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Learn About Trains

Trains take people to places cars and buses normally can’t reach in short a period of time. Some people prefer trains over planes even for visiting faraway places.

Trains are made up of several railway vehicles that move along railways. The vehicles help transport passengers from one place to other faraway places. A train railway is usually a set of typical train tracks. Other types of trains like monorails usually have a special type of pathway designed for its use. The train is usually powered by a separate locomotive vehicle. Some trains are powered by motors built inside a train car that pushes itself.

Today’s trains are usually powered by the use of diesel engines. Some train systems commonly use electricity powered systems that sit on the side of the tracks. Throughout history, trains have historically used steam power to operate in various countries around the world.

Types of Trains

Steam engines helped make trains more popular throughout the world. The widespread use of steam engines made far away travel much easier and less expensive than other travel methods. However, steam engines soon went out of style. Diesel engines eventually replaced steam engines in the 1930s. Diesel powered trains use diesel fuel and electricity to operate.

By the 1960s, diesel-powered trains were introduced to most of Europe. Today, many freight trains use diesel power to operate and pull large cargo. In the 1950s, another type of train came into use. The electricity-powered train was first invented in Europe. Electricity-powered trains could reach speeds as fast as 128 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour).

The History of Trains

Trains have a long history around the world. The earliest trains were only a set of carts joined together. This type of train worked along wooden tracks and was usually pulled by horses, mules, and in some cases, people.

In 1775, many places began experimenting with steam as a possible power source for trains. By the early part of the 1800s, steam engines were finally invented and put into trains. Steam engines made moving cargoes much easier. Trains with steam engines also ran much faster. In Great Britain, workers began to lay down railroad tracks in major cities. That helped spark the train craze in the country. People in Great Britain could now travel to different places, while businesses were able to transport products from place to place.

In 1860, the United States began building railroads throughout the vast country. Railroad businesses began booming during this highly active period. Railroads didn’t cross the entire country until a few wealthy individuals wanted to connect the Pacific and Atlantic coast with a long railroad. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railway came up with a plan to connect both railways. They started laying tracks from Nebraska from the West and Northern California from the East, with a plan to meet in the middle. Thousands of migrant workers worked in all sorts of weather conditions over a period of six years. By May 1896, the first transcontinental railroad was completed!


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Newgrange, Ireland

Built more than 5,000 years ago, this tomb is considered to be pre-historic. That makes this construction older than Stonehenge in England, or the Pyramids in Egypt. Scientists call Newgrange a passage tomb, but only recently have they changed their minds as they have discovered that it is also a temple. Who built this place of worship and remembrance, and where did the people go?
Fun facts about Newgrange
Newgrange is shaped like a kidney bean, with the distance from one end to another being 85 meters. How high is the Newgrange tomb passage? The distance between the floor and roof of the tomb is 13.5 meters high. There are 97 large stones known as kerbstones that hold the roof of Newgrange. The circular roof of Newgrange is estimated to weigh 200,000 tons. That simply means the roof is as heavy as 100,000 large elephants! The entire structure covers over an acre of land. During the Winter Solstice, the sun lines up with the carved windows and openings and lights up the entire chambers within. More than 200,000 visitors visit this incredible tie to the past each year.
Newgrange as a Temple
Though scientists originally thought Newgrange was a type of tomb, much like the pyramids, they now believe that it was used as a temple for worship just the way present churches use cathedrals for worship. It was also used for special ceremonies and there is enough evidence to show that Newgrange was used for burying important people in the Boyne Valley in Ireland.
Decorations inside Newgrange
Stone 52 at the entrance of Newgrange is so well decorated that it is considered among the best art pieces in the whole of Europe. Art carvings are not just found at the entrance of Newgrange but also in the 19 meter-long passage that runs through the building. Newgrange tomb also has two sister tombs close by called Dowth and Knowth. Throughout the country of Ireland, and Europe, there are similar mounds. This is one of the most decorated and largest mounds, however.
What was Newgrange Used For?
It is said that Newgrange passage was used to mark calendar dates. Right above the entrance of Newgrange there is a roof box that lights the dark passages at a specific season of the year. Every year before, during, and after December 21st, (Winter Solstice) a beam of light enters through the roof box and lights the dark passage at dawn. Ancient people of Newgrange who were farmers used this signal to mark the start of a new year. Some few people do not agree that this is the purpose that the roof box served. They say that the purpose of the roof box was to assist the spirits of the dead to ascend to life after death. Regardless of the reason for the openings, in current times there are so many people who want to be there for the Winter Solstice that the park has had to go to a waiting list and a lottery system to make it fair.

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Learn About the Great Wall of China

Want to see the longest wall ever made in the world? Well, the Great Wall of China is the longest structure that ever existed. The wall was built more than 2300 years ago and leaders from around the world all agree that it should be considered a world treasure. It was built over the course of hundreds of years by the rulers of China. Can you guess why this monstrous wall was built across China? TheGreat Wall of China was built toprotect the Chinese Empire from invasion by its enemies in the North.Read to find out what really makes the Great Wall of China an amazing accomplishment.

Fun Facts about the Great Wall of China

The idea of building a wall was thought up in the 3rd Century BC by an Emperor called Qin Shi Huang. He did not start the building, but he did link walls of the states he conquered and afterwards the idea to grow the wall was born. After the first part of the wall was built, the wall grew longer and longer as several different rulers in the Chinese Empire put effort into increasing its length. Here’s the most shocking piece of information about the wall: It has a combined length of 21, 196.18 kilometers (13, 170.1 miles)! The wall is not a continuous stretch but is made of sections next to one another.The longest branch of the wall runs 6300 kilometers (3915 miles) long.

Walls Made from Rice Flour (Say What??)

Construction was done using local resources and the help ofprisoners, soldiers and forced labor from the local people. Materials used to construct the wall were mainly bricks, stones, wood and compacted earth. Most interestingly, rice flour was used to hold the bricks of the wall together. This rice flour has never had to be replaced over thousands of years. That’s SOME rice.

A Long Dragon that Runs Across the Land

The Great Wall of China stretches from east to west in China, covering several provinces, municipalities, rugged mountains, stunning beaches, and a desert corridor. When you look at it from the air, the wall mimics a gigantic dragon that unwinds across the mountains, grasslands, deserts and plateaus of China.The Great Wall is not among the Seven Wonders of the World, but it is among the seven wonders of the Medieval World that tourists of China came to see. Want to hear something scary about the Great Wall? There is a tale about MengJiangnv whose husband died during the construction of the wall. Deaths were common in the construction period because the rulers forced the villagers to help. Meng wept the death of her husband so bitterly that a section of the wall collapsed and exposed the bones of her husband. She then took them home and gave her husband a proper burial.

A Feat that Can be Seen from the Moon

This is among the few mentionable monuments constructed by human hands that can be seen from the moon!The Wall still represents the hard work of the Chinese people, and their dedication to protecting their people. Today, millions of tourists come to walk along its sections, and to be amazed by its massive size and length.

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Learn about the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an ancient monument that standsdiagonallyin Pisa, Italy. Construction for the tower started way back in 1173 and took 199 years to complete! That means only sons of grandsons of the architects and engineers who started the construction got to see the completed tower. Construction was interrupted by wars, debts, and also by the engineers who tried to stop the structure from leaning. Later on, engineers had to be grateful for these interruptions even from their graves. Had there been no interruptions, the whole tower would have toppled overand all efforts would have gone to waste. The interruptions provided enough time for the soil to become compact and support the heavy structure. But it still leans.

Fun Facts About Leaning Tower of Pisa

Originally, the tower was built to be a church’s bell tower. The most obvious question that anyone may ask is “Why does the tower tilt on one side like it’s falling?” It is because the tower was built on loosely packed subsoil that cannot support a lot of weight. It started leaning as soon as construction reached the 3rd story. The tower has ever since been falling (slowly) at a yearly rate of one to two millimeters.Due to themassive weight of 14,500 tons and vertical height of 180.45 feet (55 meters), the rate of fall is likely to increase as the years go by. Eventually, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will be the Fallen Tower of Pisa. So far, it has been slowly falling for hundreds of years.

Experiencing Two Sides of the Coin

Very often, good things come in pairs. The Leaning Tower of Pisa has two sides to it that visitors should take time and explore. The lower side of the tower has a height of 55.86 meters(183.27 feet) and the higher side is 56.67 meters (185.93 feet). In order to access the tower, visitors can use the 294 steps on the north side or the 296 steps of the south side. There is a difference in height for the two sides because architects wanted to compensatefor the lean. Architectsmade thestories slightly taller on the shorter side and as a result thedifferences in length happened. Anyone who climbs to the 8th story of the Leaning Tower will be literally fighting gravity.

The Tower of Pisa and its Charming Beauty

During World War II, Germans used the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a fortress. Enemies of the Germans knew this was their hideout but they avoided bombing it. By the end of the war, Leaning Tower still stood erect and untouched. Besides this aspect of beauty, the Leaning Tower is also furnished with a number of bells. At the bell chamber on top of the tower, there are seven bells and each bell represents a note on the musical scale. In 1987, UNESCO also recognized the beauty of the entire Cathedral Square, hosting the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and named it a World Heritage site. That means that people from all over the world agree that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a one-of-a-kind world treasure and should always be taken care of.

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Learn about the Acropolis of Athens, Greece

Standing on a very high outcrop in the city of Athens, Greece, is the Acropolis of Athens. An acropolis is a “high city on the edge”. The Acropolis is a city so high that visitors always feel as if they are living with the stars. What makes the Acropolis of Athens even more breath-taking are the sequence of temples and monumental buildings constructed by a statesman of the 5th Century called Pericles. So what really makes the Acropolis of Athens worth exploring? Let’s find out!

Fun Facts about the Acropolis of Athens Greece

The hill of the Acropolis is 490 ft (150m) above the sea basin and covers a surface area of 7.4 acres. It is so rare to find someone who climbs to the top of the Acropolis without stopping to catch a breath. This “city on the edge” harbors a number of ancient monumental buildings constructed around 5 BC. The buildings on the Acropolis are the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the temple of Athena Nike. It is amazing how the buildings have survived that long and still stand strong. Another name for Acropolis is Cecropia. Cecrops was the first Athenian King mythically believed to be part serpent and part man.

All Were Welcome

Buildings at the Acropolis were used for spiritual roles by more than one religion. The Parthenon was constructed to honor the goddess known as Athena, whom the city was also named after. It is believed that the site where the Parthenon was constructed had been a temple before it was brought down to pave the way for the Parthenon. The Acropolis has been attacked several times and served as sacred grounds for religions. For example, in 1456 it served as a mosque for the Ottomans.

A Perfect Location to Hunt for Treasure

Persians destroyed the Parthenon in 480 BCE and buried a big chunk of the monuments under the rubble. During special ceremonies, precious items were buried under the surrounding caves to complete certain rituals. Sacred objects lie beneath the mound ready to be discovered, although archeologists have done a good job of uncovering the treasures and sending many of them to museums for display. One thing that stands out about the Acropolis is that all of the treasures at the site were carried out by the best artisans, sculptors, and architects of the ancient times.

A Safe Zone: Acropolis

Originally, the acropolis acted as a fortress to protect Athens from invasion by its enemies. Defending territories from higher ground was a strategy used by various governments including the Greeks and Romans. Ancient people of Athens saw the monumental beauty of the Acropolis and decided to use it as a beautiful symbol of Athens instead of its intended purpose. Millions of tourists still come to the site today. Standing at the Acropolis is a magnificent sight to behold because it provides a beautiful view of the city of Athens, and the sea far away.

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What In The World Is The Taj Mahal?


Ever wonder what the Taj Mahal is, or why it’s so important to India? Well, there’s a deeper, more powerful story behind it than you may realize, especially if you’re around Spartan’s age! So let’s look at how we can travel there together through this amazing story of love…

So let’s look at how we can travel there together through this amazing story of love…

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra, in India, and is considered worldwide to be one of the seven wonders of the world. Made of white marble, this large castle-like structure on the Yamuna river. For all its beauty, however, it was built out of sorrow and grief by the Shaah Jahan after the death of his wife. Find out why this grand building is called the ‘crown of palaces’.

Fun Facts about the Taj Mahal
The all white structure took more than 20 years to finish and is said to change colors throughout the day, depending on how the light strikes it. More than 20,000 people helped to build it in 1632 and included over 1,000 elephants. The center dome is very high, nearly 240 feet (73 m), and has four smaller domes that surround it. The building is called a mausoleum, which is a building that is dedicated to the dead and often houses the remains of those who have died.

Walls Worth A Million
So beloved was the Shah’s wife that he took precious gemstones and had them built into the walls around the building. The builders of the Taj Mahal thought about the future of the structure and built the smaller domes that surround the larger one so that in the event of an earthquake that they would fall away from the main dome, thus protecting it from damage.

The Taj Mahal’s Reflecting Pool and Secret Garden
The Taj Mahal is more than just a building. There are vast acres of gardens and pools surrounding it. One of these pools is called the reflecting pool, which is very shallow and reflects the image of the Taj Mahal. The Shah’s wife, Mumtaz Maha, is not actually buried in the structure at all, but was buried in the lush gardens, which he was sure she would have loved. This building was built so that all of those who would visit over the centuries would be reminded of his love for his wife.

The Building that Love Built
Shah Jahan first met Mumtaz when they were only 14 and 15 years old. Because they were so young they were made to wait five years before they were allowed to be married. Once they were married they had many children. Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their 14th child and Shah Jahan was so sad that he ordered his court to be sad with him for two more years. Twelve years after the building was completed, Shah Jahan died, too. He was buried next to his wife. Now, everyone who visits can see the beauty of the buildings, walk through the lovely gardens and see the building that was built with love.

Want to learn more about other places in the world with powerful stories? Check out the Spartan And The Gren Egg Explorer Pin Set to find more places you can travel to!

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Caring About Climate Change


If the weather in your area seems unusual or extreme at times, you can blame it on climate change. While our planet’s climate goes through natural changes over long periods of time, people are making things worse by burning fossil fuels. These changes are making the Earth warmer overall, which is causing quite a few problems. Climate change is an issue that affects everyone on the planet, so doing your part to help stop it is important.
How Are People Causing Climate Change?

People burn oil, gas and other fossil fuels for many reasons, such as producing electricity, driving cars around and heating homes. When we do this, the fossil fuels we use to give off gases that trap heat in our atmosphere. This makes Earth’s temperatures warmer, which leads to climate change.
What Kinds of Changes Happen?

The higher temperatures overall don’t mean that every place on the planet becomes hotter. Instead, we experience a wide range of changes, including:
• Colder winters in some areas
• More droughts
• More tornadoes
• Stronger hurricanes and other storms

The rising temperatures are also causing glaciers to melt and sea ice to shrink, making it hard for animals who live in the Arctic region to find food and shelter. The oceans’ temperatures are becoming warmer, too, which affects many marine creatures. Sea levels are rising as well, leading to higher risks of flooding in areas that are close to shorelines.

How Can We Stop Climate Change?

There are many steps you can take to help stop climate change, including:
• Using less energy: Shut lights off, replace regular lights with CFL bulbs and turn electronics off when they’re not in use.
• Using less water: Keep your showers short, and don’t let the water run when you brush your teeth or do the dishes.
• Recycling: Recycle as much as possible to reduce the amount of waste that ends up going to landfills.
• Planting trees: Trees are our environmental allies. They absorb carbon dioxide, one of the gases given off by fossil fuels, which helps slow climate change.
• Eating locally grown food: Food that’s grown in or near your area doesn’t have to go far to get to your home, which lowers a number of gases given off by the trucks that transport it.

While these steps might seem small or perhaps too easy, they add up to big changes when more and more people start doing them. Talk to your family and friends about how they can join you in stopping climate change and making the planet healthier for all of us.

Want to learn more about how to contribute now? Visit our gift page and see how you can invest in educational gifts about the environment while giving back!

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SGE At Hudson Valley Comic Con, May 7th and 8th!


JOIN US THIS WEEKEND, Sat and Sun, May 7th and 8th, 2016, for the Hudson Valley Comic Con! We will be there, with the whole series (and the characters) and we can’t wait to meet you in person!

We are having a special t-shirt giveaway, as well as many other special gifts and prizes for those who visit us at booth 125!!!

Purchase your tickets and learn more about the event HERE!




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Easy receipe your children can get

Mother and child in summer cafe

While making sure your children are getting a great education as they grow up is crucial, learning the basics of math, reading, and science- it is also important to make sure your children are also getting a chance to use their imagination! As a child gets a chance to be creative and use their imagination, they are growing their brain in powerful ways that will help them in all aspects of their life. Here are 3 at home projects that will get your child in touch with their imagination.
The first project involves getting in touch with nature- and who doesn’t love that? Each season during the year presents nature in a very different way. At some point during each season, take your children outside and let them pick out things that they think represent the season the best (for example, a wildflower for summer, or a pinecone for fall). Let them pick what they want and have them explain to you why they chose it. Take all the items home and have your kids display them somehow. They may choose to press any flowers they pick, or make a display of pinecones they found. This gets your kids outside, in touch with nature, and having something to look forward to all year long!
This next project is great for a rainy or cold day when you are stuck inside- making homemade snowflakes! This is a great at home project that you probably did growing up, but is one that never gets old! What is so great about this project is that it allows your child to use their imagination to create any snowflake they want. After creating as many as you like, use any other craft supplies (like crayons, markers, or glitter) to decorate the snowflakes. Display them around your house afterwards and you have great holiday decorations for years to come! Click here for a great tutorial on how to make paper snowflakes in case you have forgotten.
This final project involves every child’s favorite thing- playdough! Take this favorite play item to the next level by using it in a learning environment. For this, ask your child what their favorite subject is in school. From there, have them select one or two of their favorite concepts, and then bring them to life! Using the playdough, have your children try to create representations of their selected items (for example, if they love outer space, have them create their own playdough solar system!) This activity will allow your kids to get creative with an art project, while also incorporating elements of knowledge they have learned in school.
If you are looking for a great at home activity that is pre-made, try out the Spartan and the Green Egg Egg Puzzle!

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3 Ways Stickers Can Be Rewarding And Educational For Your Child


Some people have been questioning if stickers are good for children, if using them as a way for positive reinforcement and motivation is the correct way. From how I see it, here are three good reasons why stickers may actually be helpful to parents.

First, in terms of reward system, stickers are very much convenient and affordable. They are also the least questionable, as stickers are much more harmless compared to little toys, candies, or trinkets. Parents and teachers can easily buy them in bulk, too.

Secondly, stickers give kids something to exciting look forward to. At an early age, young children may still not fully grasp the concept of achievement, and rewarding stickers may be a good start in terms of training them for this. At the same time, it makes them feel good about themselves, knowing they have achieved something and received a reward for it.

Third, stickers are educational because they often come in a wide array of colors, shapes, sizes, and styles. At the same time, they interest and excite children. And in choosing stickers for your little ones, why not go for the ones that are not just colorful and creative, but also informative and functional, such as the SGE Explorer Stickers. With 120 colorful world stickers in each starter kit tin, your kids will get to join Spartan and his friends in exploring and getting to know different amazing wonders of the world. Fun, rewarding, and educational all at the same time.

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Special Guest: Mom Blogger Mary Anne of

maryanne at mama smiles - square

We are honored and thrilled to have the chance to interview Mary Anne, creator of Mama Smiles Blog, a blog that celebrates everyday parenting through creativity, learning and play! Mary Anne is pediatric cancer survivor who used her Masters in education and PhD in medicine to look at how music programs could help rebuild post-war communities. She is now raising her four children and sharing her day to day knowledge and wisdom on her blog, as well as running her own charity, World Culture For Kids. Here is more about Mary Anne’s journey to an adventurous motherhood:

1. What motivated you to start your blog, Mama Smiles?

I was home all day with two small children, and wanted a way to connect with the outside world. Blogging was a way to keep my mind busy, while also sharing my reasons for choosing to stay home with my children, as well as activities that our family enjoys.

2. Can you share a bit about your own experience with pediatric cancer and how it has influenced your approach to motherhood?

I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 21 months old. I was enrolled in a clinical trial that proved highly successful – a similar treatment is used to treat this same cancer today. I was very fortunate, but sometimes felt sad about losing much of my early childhood to this illness. Having children of my own felt miraculous, since it was unknown at the time whether or not the drugs I had been given would cause a loss of fertility, and it has also given me a chance to experience the joy of the childhood that I lost. Watching my life hang in balance at an early age taught me to never take life for granted. It always amazes me, also, that I can be a cancer survivor yet have perfectly healthy children.

3. Tell us a bit about what you learned from your work helping to rebuild communities in post-war regions and how it enhances the ways you teach your own children about life.

I remember visiting someone in an apartment building and walking up to the sixth floor – and seeing bullet holes in the walls on the sixth floor. This was a building where families lived, and it breaks my heart that someone would run up six flights of stairs to terrorize innocent civilians. I met local and international artists and musicians who were using creativity to bring together groups of people who had been pulled apart, and was able to see some success in getting the different ethnic groups to interact. War creates tremendous trauma, and trauma takes time to heal. I saw a lot of resilience, and hope against tremendous odds. I learned that creativity can be a tremendous aid in fighting fear by providing a healing voice, that change takes time, and that the best things in life require hope and a lot of hard work. With my children, I like to focus on kindness, empathy, and the importance of listening. We also spend a lot of time on creative activities, which I believe helps develop introspection and self-expression.

4. Tell us about Small Hands Creating Hope and how we can help!

I created the Small Hands Creating Hope project as a way of celebrating 30 years of cancer survivorship! My cancer story ends happily, but I have lost friends and family members to this disease, and there is still a lot of work to be done. Several blog friends and I joined together to create an ebook of simple, hope-inspiring projects that can be created by adults or children. We send this ebook to anyone who donates at least $15 through this link.

5. What do you think is the single most important action a mother of adventurous children can take each day to take care of herself in order to be at her best for her kids?

Find something that you enjoy, and make time for that – even five minutes will make a huge difference! Also find activities that you can do with your children that you enjoy. It may be reading books, crafting, science experiments, cooking… what the activity is doesn’t really matter – it’s spending the time together! I also highly recommend getting out in nature with kids as frequently as possible. Being outdoors has a calming effect on everyone, and is a wonderful way to build family connections and make time for talking.

Find more about Mary Anne and

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Moms: How To Avoid Overwhelm In The New Year With One Essential Secret Recipe


1GB USB flash drive with book 1 (epub & mobi) preloaded.

1GB USB flash drive with book 1 (epub & mobi) preloaded.

For all the moms out there who are settling down from the holidays and feeling a sense of overwhelm when it comes to gathering up the remnants of a busy holiday, the year ahead can seem completely daunting and overwhelming for what you want to accomplish for your children, your family and yourself.  Well, take a deep breath and say “Thank you world!” because we have the one essential secret recipe that will alleviate your sense of overwhelm right in the moment.

The secret ingredient is one you know, deep down, to be the answer, but our minds tend to block it out with the everyday stresses of life.  That ingredient is this simple truth: you are enough.  Sound too simple?  Think about this: there is essentially nothing outside of this very moment we are in right now.  The skill the most successful people in the world know and use on a daily basis is they know how to plan something, then trust the plan and move through it, moment to moment.  If something goes awry along the way they move through it as best and as quickly as they can and reflect later upon how they can plan differently next time.  This is ironically the exact lesson The Egg teaches the kids in the Spartan And The Green Egg series, and one your kids can practice along with you through each book.

In working with that sense of deep self-confidence and self-trust, successful people know in each moment that what they are doing for the time being is enough.  This is the same for every single mom who is committed to making her family life the best it can possibly be.  So take the below recipe with you and let us know what happens when you implement it into your life daily:

How To Avoid Overwhelm:

1. Three Deep Breaths

2. One minute of eyes closed, letting your mind pause

3. Repeat these words to yourself 10 times in a row: I Am Enough.

Studies show it takes seven weeks to form a new habit.  We challenge you to make this a habit for the next seven weeks, and let us know what happens as a result.  We have a feeling you will feel more in control, more at ease and begin making fantastic choices as a result.  But let’s see if we’re right by leaving your results in the comment section below!

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Is Your Adventurous Child More Than A Handful? Three Essential Steps Every Mom Can Take To Hone Their Passion!

101536974_painted hands

Every child has a natural sense of adventure. As soon as your child learns how to walk they begin to explore the world around them in many ways, using all of their senses and depths of imagination.  Yet there are some children whose natural sense of adventure supersedes even your wildest imagination, creating games, imaginary friends and foreign lands within the terrain of their 100 square foot bedroom!  This special and active yearning for adventure may have you wondering how in the world you will be able to keep up with their adventurous needs!

Fear not: there are three specific actions you can take right now in order to feed your child’s incredibly strong imagination while making life at home the serene haven you intend it to be!

1. Encourage Your Child To Focus Their Imagination On A Specific Project

Allowing your child to use their own mind to create exciting adventures for a specific purpose can allow them to go wild without needing to pull attention away from anyone else. This can be done while you are both out and about or in your own home.  In Spartan & The Green Egg, Spartan and his friends use the power of their minds to meet The Egg and go on an adventure to the Amazon. Using this story as the focal point let your child imagine that they are an explorer looking for specific items wherever you go (the ones on your grocery list, for example!). If you’re stuck in the house on a rainy day make a blanket fort with your child and let their imagination come up with their own adventure. The overall idea of showing your child the power of imagination is what matters most.

2. Anchor Your Child With New Information

As Spartan and his friends go on their adventures Max brings up important educational facts, like the tidbit about plants being used to make medicine. If you help your child gain knowledge during every day activities you can make every adventure a learning experience. For instance, while out at the park or beach have your child look for different kinds of leaves or shells. Once you collect a few different ones you can help your child learn why they are different and what purpose they serve. You can also do this by examining different bugs or flowers in a garden. Doing this acts as an anchor so they can channel their energy into focused topics that make them excited about new facts rather than searching for something to clear their impending boredom.

3. Help Your Child Keep an Open Mind

Even though Spartan and his friends go on a fun adventure to the Amazon, Tor remains skeptical about the whole process. He questions the general existence of aliens based on the sole fact that he’s never seen one. He only agrees to try out Spartan’s experiment when he is convinced by Katie and Spartan to stay open to the idea of aliens’ existence. Tor questioning information isn’t the issue here; it is the fact that he initially dismisses the notion of aliens’ existence altogether before listening to any information. As moms, you can teach your children to stay open to new ideas. This will help their sense of adventure by showing them that there are ideas other than the ones in their own mind. This is also essential when your child is playing with other children as they will all have different thoughts on their shared adventure.

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Getting Your Child Excited About Charity: Children For Peace

Children for Peace logo

In the spirit of Spartan And The Green Egg, The Children For Peace is a non-governmental organization that helps young people living in challenging circumstances obtain essential needs such as food, medical help and educational opportunities.

Their projects are 100% donation-based, and can be tracked by members of the Spartan And The Green Egg Community here. The Children For Peace provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn more about impoverished areas of the world and play an active role in watching groups make steady improvements, while supporting their causes virtually.

All donations they receive go directly to the projects they help fund. The Children For Peace pays no salaries and no overhead except for annual fee paid to their accounting firm that files all documents required for the government in Italy.


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