Monthly Archives: May 2012

This post was set up to make viewing of some plant photos easier for a blogger (Royce)

You can click on a picture to enlarge it.

Bracken fern before the fronds have fully opened make a good habitat for a spider.

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Bracken fern fully opened.

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Gum tips - When our eucalypt trees (commonly called gum trees) first sprout new leaves, the leaves have a reddish colour and slow turn to a dark green.

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When a eucalypt tree is ready to flower, small gum nuts form. The tops burst open to show the flower. Seeds grow in the "nut" below the flower.

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Long Leaves

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Wide Leaves

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Wrinkly Leaves

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Spiky Points

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Furry Leaves

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Needle Leaves

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Wet Leaves

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FLOWERS

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The first two pictures show the family farm before the last of the cows were moved to my cousin's new farm. The remaining photos are of the farm in late 2010 without cows and before the final hand over to the new owners. Between the time of the sale and the hand over, rain had fallen and grass had grown long without cows to keep it low. The farm has now been turned over to beef cattle. They require less water. My cousin's new farm has access to irrigation and has greater protection from future drought.

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Hello Maha,

I thought you might be interested in some photos and information I have about the Harry Potter films. I gathered some of the photos and information while I was in the United Kingdom in 2010.

 

This is Kings Cross Station in London. It's the railway station used in the Harry Potter films when Harry had to catch the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the first film you see Harry and Hagrid crossing a bridge over the platforms. When I was there I couldn't cross it as they were starting to pull it down.

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Do you recognise the next photo?

The Platform 9 3/4 sign from the movie was stored in the National Railway Museum in York. It had hung on the platform at Kings Cross Station.

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While in London, I looked for signs of dragons but the next photo was the closest I could find.

Maybe Harry could cast a spell and bring the dragon to life.

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Did you know the Australian High Commission building, known as Australia House, in London was the original Gringott's Bank?

Sites all around England and Scotland were used in the film.

 

Look at the next photo. Do you know this railway station?

This is Goathland station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Whenever Harry travelled by the Hogwarts Express, he ended up at this station, said to be the closest to Hogwarts. In the films, it was known as Hogsmeade.

 

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Now look at the next photo.

This is a photo of part of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. It wasn't used in the films but doesn't it remind you of Hogwarts? Like this castle, Hogwarts was high up on a mountain top. It's thought by some J. K. Rowling created Hogwarts using ideas from buildings around Edinburgh.

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To see all of the United Kingdom sites used in the films would take a long time but at least I was able to see some. 🙂

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Dear Sasha, Mia, Sammy and Parsa,

Your post is wonderful. While I have never written a cartoon book, your guidelines would help me. I do like cartooning and often draw cartoons for children when I help our school holiday playgroup. My favourite characters to draw are animal characters. Here is one of my oldest characters if you are interested...

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Have you ever written a book? Tell us about it.

I have written some books but none have ever been published. The last story I had time to write was over 48,000 words and was entitled, "Samuel Samantha". It was about a boy called Samuel, although he prefers to be called, Sam. When his parents witness a crime, he has to pretend to be a girl in this story. He doesn't face any real danger but he finds some of his ideas about girls change. He realises a girl can also be a best friend. 🙂

What steps did I take?

Perhaps I am a little different in that I don’t write down ideas for a story first. I tend to develop the ideas in my imagination then start to write out the story. When I start typing, I can often write a few thousands words within a day. It’s as though I am seeing the story in my mind and type what I see.

Samuel Samantha was just like that. I wondered what would happen if a boy about eight had to pretend to be a girl. The first step was to decide why this would happen then what events would happen as he took on the role. As I like a story with some sort of message, the story had to end with Sam learning something.

No matter what I have written, the next steps take longest, even longer than the writing itself. I have to edit the story…

1. I check for spelling or punctuation errors. It’s so easy to make them when you are typing quickly.
2. I need to make sure characters are the same throughout the story. Imagine if a boy named John is a man in the next chapter even though only a day has passed.
3. I look for tense errors. If I am recalling a story from the past, it shouldn’t suddenly be the future.
4. I read and reread the story just in case there are errors in consistency of the storyline. I need to know each chapter follows on from the one before so the whole story makes sense.
5. I reread again. It’s strange but I am never completely happy with a story I’ve written.
6. Finally, I decide it’s time to stop. That can be as hard as all of the editing but a writer must stop at some time.

I’ve probably left some things out but I think you get the idea. My problem is, when I decided “Samuel Samantha” was done, I was sad because Sam and his friends had become important to me and I knew my adventure with them was over.

@RossMannell

Growing Up in 1950s and 1960s Australia at Christmas

Hello Grade 3,

What was Christmas like for me when I was growing up in 1950s and 1960s Australia?

When I was born, there was no television in Australia. That would come along in 1956. Computers were things of science fiction or huge machines kept by universities. The Internet was unknown but we did have radio. There were no freeways, tollways, motorways or high-speed lanes for cars. Steam trains still normally hauled trains in the country. In our street, we had the only telephone so neighbours would call in to make phone calls.

Living near my father's side of the family, Christmas was a time we drove the long journey to the family dairy farm run by my mother's side of the family. This was along often dirt and always winding main highway south. The journey would take 8 to 10 hours in the family sedan. This could be quite tiring in the summer heat of Christmas time.

At times, others would join us and the old family home would be so full the older children would sleep on the covered veranda of the house. I have memories of some summer storms when driving rain would beat down on the tin roof so hard we would have to yell to be heard. With so many cousins, uncles and aunties in my grandparent’s home, there would be little privacy. The cooking would be done on a wood fired stove but at least my father had been able to convince my grandparents to allow him to install electric lighting. I was in my late teens before my grandmother would allow an electric stove.

When bath time came, we could spare only a small amount of water in the tub as the farm only had rainwater tanks. To have hot water, we would have to put wood in a small heater and light a fire. Going to the toilet meant a walk 100m from the house to an old tin toilet. This would be okay in the day but at night it could be a little creepy walking across a paddock with a small torch, shining the light and seeing the eyes of cows reflect the dim light.

On Christmas Day, my grandmother would be up early preparing food. Milking started at three in the morning and her boys would need to be fed breakfast before she could start the traditional family Christmas lunch. As dawn came, other adults would join her in helping to prepare for the lunch.

Christmas lunch was our big celebration. We would all put on the paper hats from the Christmas crackers we would have. Children would be around one table and adults another. There would be more food than any of us were use to seeing in one place.

To start, grandmother would say a simple prayer of thanks. This wasn’t something she insisted on at normal meals but Christmas was special to the family. There would be much laughter and fun. Sometimes one of the children would have too much to eat and feel sick but it was still fun.

When the meal was over and the cleaning up done, the adults would sit in the shade and enjoy the company of family. All of the children would be too keen to play and would have the fun to spend our energy, much to the annoyance of the cows at times. We would never test the patience of the one bull in its paddock.

In the evening, the meal would be light. Bed would come early for the children as the energy spent on the day wore us down.

The next day, Boxing Day, was the second day of our family Christmas tradition. With lunches packed, we would be driven to Bega River. My grandmother would select the place and we would set up under the shade of a willow. This was a much lighter day where we could have food left over from the previous day and sit and talk or play a game of cricket.

For us children, it meant fun in the river. It wasn’t deep and there were few pools where water would even reach waist deep so parents were confident of our safety so swimmers on, we would spend much of the time splashing around having fun. This would be broken when our grandmother would throw lollies to us in the water.

Much time has passed since then. The drive would now only take a little over five and a half hours, much of the way on well-made roads and highways. There is satellite television, computers, internet, iPods, blogs and many other technical advances meaning I might like to go back and visit the times of my childhood but I wouldn’t want to live there.

So what happened this Christmas?

My grandmothers and grandfathers have long gone, as has my father. Such is life as time goes on. My mother is still alive and is 81. She now calls in her family. Christmas 2011, my mother, one of my two brothers and two nieces were here for Christmas lunch. There was more than enough food for those gathered.

The cousins I grew up with are now grandparents themselves and have probably had gatherings like those when we were all young.  For our family, Christmas time is still a time of sharing.

Boxing Day, 2011, has nearly ended. We gathered on the farm this evening, called in by one of my cousins, now the only one in the family still dairy farming. Friends, cousins and an aunty were there with us. The faces are older but it was still a time of sharing

@RossMannell

Teacher, NSW, Australia

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I had intended adding video of my helicopter ride over Hawaii. It showed lava flowing into the ocean as well as a view into a caldera at the lava below. Having had my trasnfer device break down, I though I would add some You Tube links of volcanic activity if it's okay for you all to view....

National Geographic also has a short video of their favourite photos of volcanic activity. There is an ad at the beginning.

I hope you all have had fun learning about volcanoes.

 

 

Just a reminder, I am not a volcanologist just a geology hobbiest. I try to get my information correct but you can let me know if you find any errors. 🙂

In the last post, I looked at hot spots. New Zealand's active thermal areas are different to Hawaii. New Zealand lies on the fault line caused by the interaction of the Australian and Pacific plates.

Wikipedia has information on plate tectonics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_tectonics

Look at the image below from Google Earth or find New Zealand if you have now installed Google Earth. You can see the fault line to the south-west of New Zealand (bottom left corner). It runs across the South Island of New Zealand then off to the north-east.

Tension can build up as the plates move. When the tension is suddenly released, you get earthquakes. Near fault lines, you can find volcanoes and thermal areas such as in the North Island of New Zealand.

Below is an old image of Mt Ngauruhoe erupting well before you were all born. I think it was in the early 70s but I don't remember when. Mt Ngauruhoe is what I would call a classic volcanic cone shape and is really a part of the Mt Tongariro volcanic complex.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngauruhoe

Mt Ngauruhoe is to be found in the Mt Tongariro National Park on the North Island of New Zealand. Mt Tongariro is volcanic complex including Mt Ngauruhoe. Below is a Google Earth image of the national park.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tongariro

In 1995, I had been in Invercargill at the south end of New Zealand's South Island when I heard Mt Ruapehu (in the Tongariro National Park) was erupting. I wasn't able to book a flight north for a few days because of the dangers the erupting volcanic ash posed for planes. I caught one of the first flights north and went to pick up a rental car. I had to dust off the volcanic ash which had settled on the car before heading to the volcano.

On arriving at the national park, I wasn't able to travel too close but was on the lower slopes. It had settled down and was smoking constantly. I took some photos and video clips before leaving. Two days later I heard one person had managed to sneak through the police lines so he could stand on the rim of the volcano to watch the smoking crater. On arriving back down, the man was arrested. Later that day the volcano again became very active. An explosion destroyed the ledge the man had been on. Volcanoes are very dangerous when they are erupting. I always keep my distance when the warnings are out.

Below are two video clips I took on the day. The first is the original footage taken some kilometres from the volcano. The second has been accelerated to show the escaping smoke and ash.

PLEASE NOTE: The video clips in this post were taken when home video cameras were reasonably new. The quality is poor due to the early camera and the low quality Quicktime movies made back then.

This 2nd clip is only a few frames long. Once loaded keep clicking on play to see the movement not easy to see in the first video above. From a distance you can't always see much happening.

 

 

Rotorua and Its Thermal Sites

One of the most popular ares of the North Island of New Zealand is Rotorua. There are numerous thermal areas to visit as well as the nearby Mt Tarawera I mentioned in an earlier post. Here are a few photos.

Pohutu Geyser photos, Whakarewarewa

 

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A video clip of the Lady Knox Geyser near Rotorua

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Hot Mud Pools, Whakarewarewa

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A video clip of the boiling mud

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Thermal Water Pools (hot enough to boil an egg), Whakarewarewa

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Boiling Water Pool (Orakei Korako south of Rotorua)

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Whakarewarewa is a major tourist attraction in Rotorua. It is owned and run by the Maori people. As well as the thermal areas, there is a cultural centre where students learn the art of wood carving. Here are two carvings in my collection.

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For a Wiki link to Whakarewarewa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whakarewarewa

Te Wairoa

The Buried village of Te Wairoa is near Rotorua. It lies to the west of Mt Tarawera near the shores of Lake Tarawera. You might remember I mentioned the 1886 eruption that made the scree sample I sent you.

The village was traditional Maori. On the morning of June 10, 1886, the people of the village were woken by the eruptiing Mt Tarawera. Ash and rock was thrown up into the air by the massive explosion. As the ash fell back to earth, the nearby village was covered. 120 people lost their lives in the eruption, many of them from this village. Below is one of the unearthed structures. Archeologists have uncovered a number of the structures of the village.

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The picture below is a scan of a coloured slide I took a number of years ago. The quality isn't brilliant but it wlll hekp me give you a little more information.

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The east coast of the island of Oahu, Hawaii gives you an idea of how rugged volcanic coasts can be. Many locations in Hawaii have been used in movies and television shows. "Lost" and "Jurassic Park", for example, made use of Hawaii's rugged and beautiful locations.

The Hawaiian islands are located over what is known as a hotspot*. Over millions of years, the movement of the crust has caused volcanoes to appear in a chain. Look at the Google Earth image below. Stretching away to the north-west, you can see the chain of submerged islands that may once have been above the water. Google Earth allows you to see these. It's a great way of looking for geological features on a large scale. Have you already loaded it so you can zoom in?

The hotspot is still very active. A large new volcano is already growing beneath the ocean to the south of Hawaii and will most likely one day be seen above the ocean surface. We have a very active world beneath us.

Link for hotspot:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotspot_%28geology%29

Want Google Earth... go to:

http://www.google.com/earth/index.html

 

Hello Year 6,

This post is to give a little information about the last two of six samples you should soon have.

Iron Sands

The small iron sand sample I've sent came from a riverside beach on the North Island of New Zealand at a place called Awakino. You can use Google Earth to locate the river mouth in the photo below.

Iron sands (or titanomagnetite) were eroded from volcanic rocks and washed down rivers. The sands can vary in iron content but at Awakino are 95+% iron. The sand is very easily picked up by magnets but is hard to get all of it off again so if you try to pick the sand up with a magnet, wrap the magnet in paper to make it easy.

Iron sands are mined in places because of their high iron content. The site below gives some more information...

http://www.ttrl.co.nz/cms.aspx?page=What_are_Iron_Sands&flag=1

The picture below has been scanned from a slide taken over 25 years ago on one of my trips to see New Zealand's sights and especially the volcanic areas of the North Island.

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Pumice Stone

Pumice is a 'frothy' lava formed when super-heated lava under high pressure mixes with water such as in underwater volcanic eruptions. When the lava is released, the sudden change in pressure and rapid cooling form gases in the cooling rock. The pumice stone is very light and can float on water.

I think the pumice stone I have sent you came from an underwater eruption near Tonga in about 1984. Huge rafts of the pumice floated towards Fiji, some even making it to the shores of Australia where I found the sample on a beach.

For more information on pumice, the Wikipedia link below may help

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumice

Remember you can check out Tonga and Fiji using Google Earth. The image below shows Fiji and Tonga. You can see Tonga is really the tops of peaks in an underwater mountain range. You can use Google Earth to view other areas. Try places such as Hawaii's Big Island, Yellowstone National Park in USA, Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius, Iceland, Mount Kilamanjaro and any other volcanoes or thermal areas of interest. Google Earth can almost take you inside.

 

In this post, I'm going to show you some photos taken of an active volcanic area on The Big Island of Hawaii. The island is the real Hawaii but, as most people think of all the isalnds as Hawaii, they tend to call it The Big Island.

Here is a link to information about The Big Island...

http://www.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/kau/hawaii-volcanoes...

The photos below were taken of lava flows on Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Tourists aren't allowed to get too close to lava flows because of the danger so these came care of a friend. I will later post some taken by me from the safety of a helicopter above a caldera*.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldera

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These photos show pahoehoe lava flows. Being cooler, the darker colour flows ooze out of the lava tubes like honey from a tipped jar.

 

The following two photos were taken from a helicopter. As the flowing lava hits the sea water, clouds of steam are formed as the water boils. The constant flow of lava adds to The Big Island.

Below is a Google Earth image of Hawaii. If you download Google Earth to your computer you can zoom in on Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Kilauea volcanoes.

Hello Year 6,

The small samples of scree and obsidian are from New Zealand's volcanic areas on the North Island.

I am not sure exactly where the obsidian came from but I know it can be found in the crater although people aren't permitted to collect it there. I have seen samples in the crater. The piece I have and the small sample I've sent were bought at a rock shop.

The scree sample is from the crater and is an accidental collection example. When in Rotorua, New Zealand, you can book to go on a tour of the crater. You are driven up to the crater edge by 4WD cars before hiking up along the crater rim then  making a steep descent through scree to the bottom of the crater.

When I say a quick descent, you follow a steep track over the crater rim then make large strides in the scree. Each step seems to be over a metre in length as you move along.Care has to be taken as it is a long way to roll to the bottom if you fall.

On arriving back after the trip, I found many bits of scree had been caught in clothing and boots. They became my collection of scree.

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Obsidian - volcanic glass -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obsidian

Scree - or talus, is broken rock fragments. The scree in the crater was made when the Mt Tarawera erupted in 1886 -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scree

Mt Tarawera, New Zealand -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Tarawera

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A great way to view volcanoes is to use Google Earth. The satellite images can let you look down craters.

Here is a link to Google Earth. You would need to download it.

http://www.google.com/earth/index.html

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Image 1: A screen capture of Google Earth viewing Mt Tarawera, New Zealand.

If you load the full sized image, you can see a rectangle drawn on the screen shot of Mt Tarawera. The rectangle roughly shows you where the next photo shows, inside the crater.

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Image 2: A photo I took when I was on a tour into the crater of Mt Tarawera. I was standing on the eastern rim of the crater and was looking west. The arrow points to a group of people on the far side. They are about to make their way into the crater. Their size can give you an idea of how large that part of the crater really is. You can make out the track. It's quite an experience.

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I have organised a few family trips to New Zealand for families in schools where I've taught. The thermal areas and volcanoes are wonderful.When I took this photo, I had some students with me. They were worried the volcano might erupt while we were in it. At that time, the volcano had erupted just over 110 years before.

I smiled and said, "It erupts about every 110 years so we're safe.... Wait a minute, it's due now."

The boys I was talking to knew me well, "Sure," they said with a smile.

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Hello Year 6, High Lawn.

I have a package ready to send to you on the next mail. It should arrive by the end of next week (September 30) if all goes well. The package contains six small samples I've collected over a number of years.

This initial post on this blog is to let you know a little about what is arriving. I will make more posts with greater details as I get time. At first, the posts will let you know what each sample is, how and where I collected it and a little bit about the place I collected it.

Later posts will include photos and video clips I've taken in and around volcanic areas in New Zealand and Hawaii (the Big Island). I'll also try to add links to sites or video clips that may be of use or show what I am posting.

I hope you like the samples. The photos were taken on a grid where each square is 1cm by 1cm so you can see the sizes.

 

Scree from New Zealand. I collected this almost accidentally while making my way down to the bottom of a volcano crater.

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Obsidian or volcanic glass. Again, this sample is from New Zealand. It also came from a volcanic crater although this was part of a piece I had bought.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Iron sands. I collected this from a beach on the North Island of New Zealand. there, the beach is black with sand almost 100% pure iron. It can be picked up by a magnet. Despite being iron and in salty water, it doesn't rust and is much better to use than iron filings when playing with magnets.

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Pumice. This is a very light rock which, if I remember correctly, came from a volcano under the ocean near Fiji. Large amounts in the underwater eruption floated to Australia. I collected this from a beach. A number os on the back of it. This was just a spare numbered sample from my collection.

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Pahoehoe is one of the types of lava from an Hawaiian volcano. Once cooled, it is the easiest to walk on. It breaks down into black sand.

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'a'a is the second type of lava coming from hawaii. It tends to have sharper edges and is harder than pahoehoe. I like to think it's named that because of the sound you make if you walk on it barefoot when it is cooled.

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I hope you like your little collection from the other side of the world. My home town here was once a volcanic region but this was many millions of years ago. I see many traces it was once active but the above samples are much more recent and from active volcanoes. More on this later.

Ross Mannell (teacher)

Australia