One of our favorite dress up games is playing Pirate. Pirates get all the cool sayings, like “Yo ho ho” and “ARRRR!” and “Scurvy knaves!” We didn’t realize scurvy was a “thing” until we saw this video on “Spongebob Squarepants”
Spots on your back and teeth falling out? Gross! And what’s that stuff about a lemon tree?
Turns out scurvy is a real disease, and spots on your skin and spongy gums (EWW!) are two of the symptoms. It happens when you don’t get enough vitamin C. Long ago pirates and other sailors who were at sea for long periods had to live off preserved foods like dried meats. They didn’t get many fruits and vegetables, and so they would develop the kinds of health problems like scurvy that happen when you don’t eat a variety of good healthy foods.
Scurvy is pretty rare in modern times. Eating a variety of fruits (especially citrus fruits like oranges and lemons) and vegetables helps, and so does taking a vitamin C supplement. Drink your orange juice and you won’t have to worry about being a “scurvy knave”!
People like you and I need a few things to live — we need healthy food, we need water, and we need air. Plants, though, are a little different than you and me. They need food and water, but they also need sunlight to live. Plants use sunlight as a way to make energy to grow.
Plants and animals, including people like you and me, breathe in air. But plants use a different part of the air than you or I do. We breathe in a part of the air called oxygen. We use the oxygen that we breathe in the air to feed the blood in our bodies. Plants use a different part of the air, a gas called carbon dioxide. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants do just the opposite — plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. So the oxgyen you’re breathing now probably came from a plant. Thanks, plants!
Plants also get food from the soil. To live, they need a certain chemical that you can find in the soil. This chemical is called nitrogen. You have nitrogen in your body, too, but your body can’t use it. So when you get nitrogen in your body, your body gets rid of it. How does it do this? It leaves your body through pee and poo. All the stuff in pee and poo is stuff that your body can’t use. That’s why pee and poo is sometimes called “waste” — because it’s something leftover that you can’t use.
But because pee and poo are full of nitrogen, plants love it! If you’re a tree and a dog pees on you, are you happy or sad? You’re happy, because that pee is full of nitrogen that you can use to eat. The same is true with poo. In fact, farmers take poo from their cows and spread it across their fields to make the plants in their fields grow better. This is called “fertilization” — the farmer is using cow poo to make it easier for plants to grow in the field.
This morning we made eggs for breakfast. We cracked them open and wondered, where did the chicks go?
The eggs you buy in the supermarket are unfertilized. That means a rooster has not fertilized the chicken’s eggs. Without fertilization, an egg will not produce a chick. What you see inside an egg are the yolk (the yellow part) and albumen (the egg white). The yolk and egg white provide nutrition for the chick when it is developing. This is different from the way human babies get nutrition when they’re developing in the womb. Human babies get their nutrition from an umbilical cord attached to their bellies.
Are humans animals? We don’t usually think of ourselves as being similar to dogs, cats or frogs, but to scientists, in many ways we are.
Scientists mostly divide the world of living things into animals and plants. If something gets its energy from sunlight and doesn’t move around on its own, a scientist will usually call that creature a plant. Grass, moss, pumpkins and apple trees are all examples of plants.
If a creature gets its energy from eating other things and it can move around on its own, then scientists call it an animal. Dogs, cats, frogs, fish, dinosaurs, and humans are all examples of animals.
Scientists have names for different kinds of animals depending on which kind of food they like to eat. An animal that eats mostly plants is called an herbivore. Horses and sheep are herbivores. Animals that eat mostly meat are called carnivores. Lions and tigers are carnivores. People are omnivores — we can eat both meat and plants (although some people choose not to). Dogs and pigs, as well as some birds and some fish, are also omnivores.
When you take in a breath, what happens? If you take a big breath, you can feel air going into your body through your mouth. But why do we breathe? We breathe because our bodies need something in the air called oxygen. Oxygen is like food for our blood. You can’t see oxygen, but it’s there in the air, and people and animals need it to live.
Your body changes oxygen into a different gas called carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is what comes out of your body when you breathe out. You breathe in oxygen, and you breathe out carbon dioxide.
Trees and plants don’t breathe oxygen as we do. They take in carbon dioxide and they put out oxygen — just the opposite of people and animals. So having lots of plants around is good for people and animals — plants and trees make the oxygen that we need to breathe.