Flower

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Winter Holidays Around the World

The winter season is here! For many people, the winter season means cold, wind, and snow. Trees may be bare and the ground could be icy. The sun may set sooner, delivering darkness to our late afternoons. Whether you live in a place that’s cold, hot, or somewhere in between, winter means lots of fun holidays and celebrations around the world.

 

 

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree
Image by Susanne Nilsson via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

These holidays may be associated with religious beliefs, spiritual customs, past events or cultural practices. This diversity makes each holiday very unique. Just think about all of the ways holidays are celebrated! Traditions may include festivals, lights, singing, decorations, parades, gift-giving, prayer, fairs, fasts or feasts. Each holiday has its own symbols, too, such as red lanterns for Chinese New Year, pine trees for Christmas, menorahs for Hanukkah, ears of corn for Kwanzaa, and Yule logs for the winter solstice.

Hanukkah Candles

Hanukkah Candles
Credit: Public Domain

Wonderful holidays full of light, warmth, family, and love have been created out of these cold, dark days. The Jewish holiday Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the miracle of light with family and communal rituals, including the lighting of a Menorah candle each night for eight nights. Christmas, a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, is observed with family gatherings, songs, and trees decorated with lights representing the Star of Bethlehem. Some families take part in a Kwanzaa ceremony, which incorporates candles, music, food, and blessings. A beautiful luminary can be part of the Mexican observance of Las Posadas.

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa
Image by soulchristmas via flickr is licensed under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic

Visit SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month and learn more about winter observances and holidays and the many ways that they light and warm our winter months.

New eLibrary Coming December 14th!

 

On December 14th, eLibrary will deliver stress-free researching to your library. The date is coming fast, and we couldn’t be more excited! Here are some reasons for you to get excited too:

Highly Visual Navigation: Users are shown our curated Research Topics front and center!

Easy Topic Selection: Students can browse through simplified Subject and Common Assignment trees to help them with the most stressful research task – choosing a topic.

Streamlined Feature Set: There’s now more focus on tools that researchers actually use, like citation generation and Google integration.

More Efficient Search Engine: Users will find relevant content faster.

Responsive Design: The new eLibrary is optimized for use on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Cross-Search: Hosting on the award-winning ProQuest platform allows simultaneous searching with other ProQuest databases.

The eye-popping, curiosity-sparking look and feel of the new eLibrary very cleverly disguises what continues to be a powerful tool that will engage your students in research.

Click here to learn more about the new elibrary!

New Year’s Around the World

New Year's celebrations in Cambodia

New Year’s celebrations in Cambodia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

The New Year is coming up fast, and people around the world are preparing to celebrate. In fact, in some countries, New Year’s celebrations are the largest of the year. Check out these traditions from around the world, via CultureGrams. How are they different from (or the same as) the way you celebrate the New Year?

Burkina Faso
Burkinabè of all creeds join together to celebrate the New Year. For New Year’s Eve, adults often buy or sew new clothes or uniforms. Children typically dress in their best clothes and do the sambèsambè in the streets or at their friends’ homes. Catholic children often build crèches in front of their homes. Most Christians go to church and then return home to celebrate with food, drink, and music. In both rural and urban areas, young men often hold parties for their male and female friends that involve dancing, eating, and drinking until dawn. At midnight, they typically listen to a traditional New Year’s song and light firecrackers. In rural areas, the parties are usually held outside. To wish each other a happy New Year, men and women usually kiss each other on the cheek, and men often bump their foreheads together four times. On New Year’s Day, food and drink are served to guests, and many people pay social visits to their friends and family.

Colombia
New Year’s is surrounded by many superstitions, or agüeros. For example, on New Year’s Eve, people may wear yellow underwear as a symbol of good fortune. Some put lentils in their pockets, representing abundance. Those wishing to travel in the new year might run around the block carrying a suitcase at midnight. More generally, at midnight, people drink champagne and eat 12 grapes, one for each month of good fortune in the new year. In rural areas, people make dolls stuffed with newspaper and leave them at the entrances to their houses for a few days before the new year. These dolls, called año viejo (old year), represent the bad that people want to eliminate from the current year before moving on to the next one. They are burned on 31 December at midnight, amidst cheering, drinks, and music.

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

Georgia
New Year’s is one of the most popular holidays in Georgia. Families usually celebrate New Year’s together, but parties are also arranged. On New Year’s Eve, families celebrate by eating gozinaki (a traditional food made of honey and walnuts), turkey satsivi (turkey with a walnut sauce), roast piglet, ham, khachapuri  (cheese in a wheat-flour dough), mchadi (bread made of corn flour), fish, fruit, nuts, and churchkhela (walnuts, chestnuts, or almonds strung on twine and then dipped in a grape syrup and hung to dry). The first person who comes to a home after midnight is called the first footer. Traditionally, he was chosen by the family, and no one else was allowed to enter the home before him. If the first footer is considered a lucky person in everyday life, he is thought to bring luck, prosperity, and health to the family. Families choose a different first footer the next year if the previous one is thought to have brought the family bad luck over the past year. Most families set up their Christmas tree on New Year’s Eve. Some families exchange presents on New Year’s Day. Toblisbabua (Snow Father, like Santa Claus) brings presents to some families; other families hide presents around the house for children to find.

You can find many more New Year’s traditions from around the world in the Holidays sections of CultureGrams World and Kids editions!

In the News: Teens Need More Sleep

Sleeping Teen

Photo by sampsyo on Foter.com / CC BY

Do you see teens who appear to be sleepwalking to their first-hour classes? Are students sprawling across their desks in your classes, struggling to keep their eyes open? It’s easy to blame these symptoms of sleep deprivation on staying up too late or too much screen time, but public health officials instead say the cause is early school start times.

The issue of school start times is being debated around the country. In California, the State Assembly is nearing a vote on a bill that would require middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics show that sleep-deprived teens have a greater risk of being overweight, suffering depression, and being involved in automobile accidents, and those that get enough sleep have better grades, higher standardized test scores and a better quality of life.

Certainly, switching to a later school start time will create problems in scheduling school buses, after-school activities, and sporting events. But it could also reduce tardiness and absenteeism.

School Start Times & Students' Sleep

School Start Times & Students’ Sleep (Credit: CDC)

So do the benefits of a later school start time outweigh the inconvenience it may cause for administrators and parents? The debate is sure to continue. You and your students can follow the debate with the latest articles in ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher:

The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later

New Instructions at High Schools: Take a Nap

Why Letting Teens Sleep in Could Save Lives

SIRS Issues Researcher is a pro/con database that helps students understand today’s controversial political issues with editorially selected analysis and opinions that cover the entire spectrum of viewpoints.

Don’t have SIRS Issues Researcher? Free trials are available.

 

Medical History: The First Human Heart Transplant

Dr. Christiaan Barnard by Benito Prieto Coussent via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Fifty years ago this week marks a milestone in medical history.  It was on December 3, 1967, the first successful human-to-human heart transplant took place.  On that day in Cape Town, South Africa Dr. Christiaan Barnard placed the heart of 25-year-old Denise Darvall into 53-year-old Louis Washkansky.  The unknown surgeon became an overnight sensation though he claimed the procedure “not that great an event—certainly not in the history of medicine.”

Louis Washkansky lived only 18 days.  He died of double pneumonia possibly contracted as a result of a suppressed immune system from anti-rejection medication.  His transplanted heart, however, had functioned normally.  Despite the short duration of Washkansky’s life post-transplant, Barnard’s achievement would change contemporary cardiac surgery.  Though he had not developed the transplant technique, Barnard pioneered its use around the world.  His boldness to perform the risky surgery in response to rigorous questioning by medical researchers was perhaps his main contribution. Prior to the heart transplant, Barnard introduced open-heart surgery in South Africa, and he would later develop new designs for artificial heart valves.

Today heart transplants are routine.  Statistics show there are approximately 5,000 heart transplants performed in the world each year.  Survival rates are increasing with 75% at five years and beyond.  Many more could be done if there were donor hearts available.  In the United States alone, there are almost 4,000 people awaiting a new heart.

Teachers can expand on the topic of organ transplantation with their STEM/STEAM students by exploring eLibrary’s scholarly medical journals such as The Lancet for more technical information, medical reference books such as The Mosby Medical Encyclopedia for general overviews and newspapers for up-to-date reporting and statistics.  Search for subjects like medical technology in Research Topics which can help students begin their research.

Exploring Canada with ProQuest K-12 Resources

Rainbow Bridge
View from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Photo by: Prayinto via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

ProQuest has several K-12 products young researchers can use to learn more about Canada’s culture, native peoples, history, and modern issues. Here are our top three picks of where to get started:

CultureGrams World and Kids Editions

CultureGrams is a great online resource with reliable and up-to-date information about the country of Canada! Explore the World and Kids Canada reports to learn fun facts and get a native’s perspective on daily life in Canada. CultureGrams also includes additional features such as printable country flags, audio of national anthems, photos, recipes, famous people, infographics, and interviews with people all over the world.

Image via CultureGrams World Edition: Canada

CultureGrams Canadian Provinces Edition   

Want more detailed information about each of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories? Check out the kid-friendly CultureGrams Canadian Provinces Edition and read about environmental issues, Canadian wildlife, cultural festivals, local recipes, and the First Nations, Métis, and Aboriginal peoples of each province and territory. Reports also include historical timelines, images, maps, charts, data tables, and fun facts, and more.

Image via the CultureGrams Provinces Edition

SIRS Discoverer

Visit SIRS Discoverer and find info on all things Canada including current events, pro/con leading issues, animal facts, images, books, and much more. This database is searchable by grade level and Lexile range. Search articles and read up on Canadian authors such as Lucy Maud Montgomery, creator of the Anne of Green Gables books, and Farley Mowat, best known for his book Never Cry Wolf. Other famous Canadians include scientists Irene Ayako Uchido and Ralph Steinman, who made great advancements in the field of biology and Canadian comedians John Candy, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey.

Image of Lucy Maud Montgomery via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness

Any amount of time spent watching, reading or listening to the news can make you really appreciate the value of random acts of kindness. Whether the gesture is big or small, random acts of kindness offer lots of benefits to both those who give and those who receive. There’s happiness to be found in sharing a book, creating and hiding painted rocks or volunteering to watch the class pet. It doesn’t matter what the act of kindness is, just as long as it comes from the heart.

Editors Jaclyn Rosansky and Kim Carpenter collaborate on their experiences with acts of kindness. Jaclyn discusses finding painted rocks and Kim recounts her time visiting family in Kentucky and her niece’s time with a class pet.

Hidden Gems

The concept of painting and hiding rocks for others to find is a great and creative way to bring a smile to someone’s day. I became curious about this activity after venturing to Mullins Park (Coral Springs, FL). Painted rocks kept popping up left and right. On the back of each rock was a request to share it with a rock painting group on Facebook. Upon checking the online group, photo after photo of painted rock each with its own personality and flair appeared. At the top of the page was a message for the group to find some rocks, paint them and hide them and then share photos or leave hints of where to find them.

Painted rocks found at Primrose Park in Wellington, FL (on left) and Mullins Park in Coral Springs, FL (on right). (Photos by Jen Oms and Jaclyn Rosansky)

And so, my own rock painting began. I began painting rocks in my spare time and sharing information with family members. It was agreed that painting rocks could be therapeutic. Some of my coworkers also joined in and we inspired each other with our designs and vibrant color choices. For some of us, painting rocks has been inspired by the holiday season. Trees, benches, and boulders became favorite hiding spots for the rocks. Hearing a burst of excitement when someone finds your creation is the best part just because it made that person’s day a little bit brighter.

Rock painting precedes social media. One woman who was hiding her creations at Mullins Park said she had been painting and hiding rocks since the 1970s. But the movement has really gained momentum over time. There are numerous online groups dedicated to sharing rocks that have been painted, hidden and found to make getting involved easier than ever.

Visit The Kindness Rocks Project to view painted rocks within the online community for inspiration and share your own painted rocks.

–Jaclyn Rosansky

Little Free Library

Each year I visit my family in Kentucky. During my trip last year, I enjoyed a day at Smother’s Park in downtown Owensboro. It’s a large park with a playground overlooking the Ohio River. I noticed a swarm of people around a small wooden box full of books. It was a Little Free Library. Parents were selecting books and the children were sitting around it in a circle reading to each other. I thought it was such a wonderful idea so I Googled it and found them all over the country. I’ve even noticed painted rocks hiding inside the library boxes in my community.

Holiday Park little library in Fort Lauderdale, FL (on left) and Owensboro, Kentucky little library (on right) (Photos by Jaclyn Rosansky and Kim Carpenter)

It’s important to incorporate random acts of kindness in your own community. Exchanging books with your neighbors is a great way to start. With the Little Free Libraries, you can share your appreciation for reading and promote literacy in your own neighborhood. They can be placed anywhere.

Explore Little Free Library for more information and building instructions. Check out the map to see if you have one nearby, or build and register your very own for your community.

Class Pet

A classroom pet is another great way to share kindness. Having students take home the class pet during the weekend is also a great way to teach respect and responsibility. Hermit crabs, hamsters or bearded dragons are all great choices.

A perfect example is a preschool my 5-year-old niece Addison attends. She brought home her classroom hermit crabs named Butterfly and Star and she even explained to me how to care for them.

Addison Cohen with hermit crabs Butterfly and Star (Photo by Kim Carpenter)

Check out Pets in the Classroom for a list of benefits, download lesson plans for incorporating pets into your classroom and you can even apply for their grant program.

–Kim Carpenter

Whether in your community or classroom, kindness is contagious, so remember to pass it on!

The New Kennedy Assassination Files

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Kennedy Assassination ProQuest Research Topic

Tomorrow, November 22nd, marks the 54th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Late last month, scholars, amateur historians, and never-satisfied conspiracy junkies were poring over newly released files by the National Archives related to the assassination. The files have been released in accordance with the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act passed in 1992, which requires all materials related to the assassination be released within 25 years. However, to the chagrin of the conspiracy-minded hordes, several hundreds of files were blocked by President Trump at the behest of the CIA and FBI, who deemed some details within the withheld files would hurt U.S. national security or harm informants who are still alive today.

Educators can take this opportunity to teach students how to sift out fact from fiction with respect to this important moment in U.S. history with eLibrary’s significant content on Kennedy’s assassination and related topics.

Here is a sampling of the more interesting bits of information from eLibrary’s collection of newspaper articles reporting on the files released by the National Archives. Some information will perk the interest of conspiracy theorists:

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson "Jack" Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

Ruby Murders Oswald (Credit: Ira Jefferson “Jack” Beers Jr. (1910-2009) for The Dallas Morning News. Public Domain)

  • The FBI warned Dallas Police that Lee Harvey Oswald’s life was in danger after he was taken into custody for Kennedy’s assassination.
  • Cambridge News, and a small daily British newspaper, received an anonymous tip of the assassination 25 minutes before the president was shot.
  • Russian-born Texas oilman, George de Mohrenschildt, met Lee Harvey Oswald at a social function in January 1963. de Mohrenschildt was George H.W. Bush’s prep school roommate’s uncle and was also a friend of first lady Jackie Kennedy’s parents.
  • Oswald visited the Soviet embassy in Mexico City just weeks before the assassination.
  • The CIA knew Oswald was in Dallas days before Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Soviet defector Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Nosenko, who had been spying on Oswald while living in the Soviet Union, said the KGB did not try to recruit Oswald because they thought him to be unstable.
  • The Soviet Union feared that they would be blamed for Kennedy’s assassination and had suspicions that Vice President Lyndon Johnson was responsible.

Teachers can explore further into eLibrary’s store of information beginning with its Research Topics on the Kennedy Assassination, John F. Kennedy, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Researchers can also dig deeper with searches using eLibrary’s homepage and advanced search pages.

Check out these other Research Topics to further your students’ in-depth study of this issue:

 

Evaluating Resources
Writing a Research Paper

American Presidency
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Lyndon B. Johnson
ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Cold War
Robert F. Kennedy
Soviet Union

America Recycles Day Teacher Resources

Today marks the 20th anniversary of America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling in America. America Recycles Day is an initiative of Keep America Beautiful, and this year, the initiative is encouraging people to take the #BeRecycled pledge to commit to recycling.

Each year on America Recycles Day, I like to take stock of my efforts to reuse, reduce and recycle. My latest effort is to create a compost bin for my garden. This day also reminds me of one of my favorite activities to do when I’m visiting my family in New Hampshire.

Transfer Center, Moultonborough, NH

Transfer Center in Moultonborough, NH. Clockwise from top left: free books, art and dishes; bookshelves with free paperbacks; interior of transfer center with recycling bins for cartridges, old American flags and more; free furniture; exterior view of one of the buildings; and box of free china. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

I love Lake Winnipesaukee, Mount Washington and just about everything else the Granite State offers, but my very favorite place to visit in New Hampshire is one its transfer stations, where I help my mom bring her recyclables. Set in the countryside and surrounded by mountains, is Moultonborough’s Transfer Center, where not only can you drop off your recyclables and waste, but you can also pick up some free books and other items while you are there. (Some of the china and the picture of the girl in the pink dress in the collage below above adorn the rooms of my place in Florida!)

In honor of America Recycles Day, check out three ProQuest Guided Research products that contain K-12 resources on recycling and related issues. I’ve also included handpicked links to lesson plans and classroom activities.

Three ProQuest Products with Recycling Resources:

Science Fair Explorer

SIRS Discoverer has an interactive Science Fair Explorer feature with a recycling bin, which contains lab activities and more.

Are your students working on a class project or writing a paper about recycling? Encourage them to delve into the following three ProQuest products for editorially-selected information:

  1. SIRS Discoverer–a multidisciplinary database geared towards elementary and middle school learners–includes an interactive Science Fair Explorer tool to help students discover science fair topics. Click on the Recycling Bin in the Science Fair Explorer tool to access activities and experiments related to recycling and related environmental issues.
  2. eLibrary–one of the largest, user-friendly general reference tools for K-12 schools and libraries–offers many editorially-created Research Topic pages on environmental issues, including these two which are perfect for America Recycles Day: Recycling and Waste Management. These pages include links to resources that editors handpicked from eLibrary’s more than 2,500 full-text magazines, newspapers, reference books, and transcripts—plus more than 7 million pictures, maps, weblinks, and audio/video clips!
  3. SIRS Issues Researcher–an award-winning resource for pro/con issues (2015 CODiE Finalist, 2014 Library Journal Best Databases)–contains a Recycling leading issue. Students can access links to supporting viewpoints for the following Essential Question: Should recycling programs be mandatory? The Recycling Leading Issue also contains an overview, timeline, critical thinking questions, and a variety of full-text articles and multimedia.

Six Recycling Lesson Plans for Educators:

Introduce your students to the concepts of reducing, reusing and recycling with these fun activities:

  1. Do-It-Yourself Podcast: Recycling (Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  2. Guest Lesson: Recycling as a Focus for Project-Based Learning (Source: The New York Times Company)
  3. Lesson Plan: Create Sculptures with Recycled Materials (Source: Scholastic Inc.)
  4. Lesson Plan: Recycling Scavenger Hunt (Source: Peace Corps)
  5. Lesson Plans: Recycling: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse (Source: Public Broadcasting Service)
  6. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Resources for Students and Educators (Source: Environmental Protection Agency)

Fun Fact

According to the EPA’s most recent data, there has been a steady growth in recycling and reuse activities, which has led to the creation of 757,000 jobs and generated $36 billion in wages in a single year!

Share with Us!

Do you have thoughts about or experiences with teaching about recycling? We’d love to hear them! Tweet us #ProQuest.

Learn more about ProQuest products for schools at http://www.proquest.com/libraries/schools/

The Leonid Meteor Shower, 2017

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers a week or more of increased meteor activity. Luckily, the peak of this year’s shower will be on a Friday night (November 17) into Saturday morning, so you can catch up on your sleep the next day. If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn. Conditions for the this year’s Leonids should be good (unless your local weather is bad) because the moon will not be very bright, unlike 2016, when a gibbous moon ruined the viewing.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.)

If you have never seen a meteor, it is well worth your time and lack of sleep to get out and take a look. You could even get lucky enough to see a fireball, which is a larger chunk that leaves a colorful streak that can persist for a second or two.

So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

eLibrary can help science teachers and students instruct and learn more about the stuff in the sky. Check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches. RTs can provide lots of articles and other resources, from the basics to more advanced content, to expand your understanding of the cosmos.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy

Astrophysics

Constellations and Star Systems

Galaxies

Meteor Showers

Near-Earth Objects

Solar System

Stars

Telescope