Who invented fireworks?

Fireworks were invented in 7th century China. The Chinese people believed they would ward off evil spirits and bring happiness and good luck.

Family looks holiday fireworks

Nowadays fireworks are used all around the world to celebrate various events. In the United Kingdom they are traditionally used on Bonfire Night, the 5th of November, to celebrate the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Please see below video on how fireworks work.

For further reading on the history of fireworks please click on this link.

What type of animal was the first to orbit the Earth?

The first animal to orbit the Earth was a dog called Laika. She was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. She was a stray dog from the streets of Moscow in Russia. In the early days of space flight animals were used to test the safety of the technology, before humans tried it.

For further reading on the history of animals in space click here.

For an animation of Laika’s story, please see below:

What is coffee and where is it grown?

Coffee is a drink made from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. The coffee plant originally grew in Africa, but is now grown around the world, usually in areas near the equator.

Girl in coffee plantations

Coffee is grown in over 70 countries around the world. The top three producing countries are Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. Coffee is grown near the equator because it needs certain weather conditions to grow well(plenty of warmth and rain).

The seeds are roasted and then ground according to the type of coffee you are making. It is then mixed with hot water to brew, although you can also soak it in cold water to make a different tasting drink.

Coffee is not recommended for children as it contains caffeine. This is something that helps adults feel more awake when they drink it!

For further reading from the Eden Project, please click this link.

For a quick video run through of the process, please see below.

What is a diamond?

A diamond is a precious stone and is the hardest naturally occurring material known. It is made from carbon which can come in different forms depending on how its atoms are arranged. A diamond has a lattice structure in which the atoms are bonded together very strongly.

Family in shopping mall looking at jewelry department

Diamonds are formed deep underground in the earth’s mantle, around a 100 miles down. They are formed under high pressure and temperatures and can take 1 to 3 billion years to form. They are brought closer to the surface by deep volcanic eruptions and are then mined by people.

For further reading and some fun facts on diamonds please click this link.

For a video explanation, please see below.

Why do bees make honey?

Bees make honey as a way of storing food for themselves. They need to do this for when their usual food sources are in short supply. Flowering plants are more abundant in spring and summer, so bees make honey during this time to see them through the winter, when there are much fewer flowers.

Grandpa beekeeper passes his experience little grandson.

Honey is an ideal way to store their food supply, as it doesn’t go bad. This is because it has a high sugar content, which also means it provides a lot of energy for the busy bees!

For further reading on bees, please click this link to the very informative buzzaboutbees.net

For a video explanation of why, as well as how, bees make honey, please see below.

What/when is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is one of the world’s largest festivals and occurs in Munich, Germany every year. It is a beer festival and travelling funfair and is an important part of Bavarian culture. People attending often wear traditional Bavarian costume.

Two kids, boy and girl in traditional Bavarian costumes in wheat field

The festival begins in mid September each year and lasts for just over two weeks, ending in early October. Over six million people attend each year.

Although you may think it is aimed at adults, the Oktoberfest is also a great day out for families too. The Tuesdays during the festival period are designated ‘Family Days’ with discounted entry and rides. Children are allowed into the beer tents, but those under 6 years old must leave by 8pm.

Click here for a blog post of one family’s Oktoberfest experience.

For a video on the history of the festival, and an excellent showcase of German humour, please see below.

Are there any countries with exactly the same number of boys and girls?

Worldwide there are more boys than girls. It is believed that for every 100 girls born, 107 boys are born. Over time, the populations even out a bit due to differing factors, for example war, accidents etc.

Due to populations being measured in millions, the chance of having exactly the same number of each is highly unlikely. Studies over the years have seen some trends in certain parts for the world. Caribbean countries like Barbados, Haiti and Aruba have tended to have more girls than boys. China and India tend to have more boys than girls. Central African countries like Zambia and DPR Congo tend to have a split closer to 50/50.

Six happy children

Click here for more in depth reading from Science ABC

For a video explanation, please see below.

What is a hurricane?

A hurricane is a large storm characterised by very strong winds. If a tropical cyclone has winds over 74mph(119km/h) and it forms in the Atlantic Ocean, it is known as a hurricane. There are 5 categories of hurricane numbered 1 to 5. The most severe category 5 hurricanes can have winds up to 200mph(320km/h). The hurricane develops around an area of low pressure(the eye) and the winds rotate in an anti clockwise direction around this point. This is what they look like from space.

Extremely detailed and realistic high resolution 3D illustration of a Hurricane approaching Texas. Shot from Space. Elements of this image are furnished by Nasa.

A hurricane is specific to the area around the USA. A tropical storm formed in the Indian Ocean is called a cyclone, and one formed in the Western Pacific Ocean is called a typhoon.

For more in depth information on hurricanes, please see the following link:

An excellent page from Weather Wiz Kids

For a video on hurricanes, please see below.

How far is South East London from the Equator?

South East London is around 5700 kilometres, or 3540 miles, from the Equator.

Boy On Trip To Museum Looking At Map And Writing In Notebook

If you would like more information about how to calculate how far you are from the Equator, please see the following link:

City to Equator distance calculator from sciencing.com

A basic way to work it out is to take your latitude and to multiply this by 111.111. This will give you the answer in kilometres. To convert to miles, multiply by 0.621.

Please see below video explaining why the distance you are from the Equator affects the weather you experience.

What do giraffes eat for breakfast?

Animals usually eat the same type of food all through the day. They don’t have different meals like we do.

IMG_0959In the case of giraffes, they usually eat twigs, leaves and fruit from trees which they can easily reach with their long necks.

For more information on giraffe feeding, click on this link.

If you would like to have breakfast with a giraffe, please see the below video of Giraffe Manor.

For a more general video on what giraffes eat, please see below.