Carbon capturers, magic bacteria, dino news, Xmas markets, sleeping students

Dec 6, 2023 Episode 167

Capturing carbon with stone and bacteria, Brazil and Mongolia dinosaur news, Germany’s Christmas markets and China’s sleeping students

Episode Transcript


LEELA: This week… Carbon capture and magic bacteria, dino news, Xmas markets and China’s sleeping students.

OPENING STING – LEELA: “Hey, hey, hey. Listen up. New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”


LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – the news pool for curious kids and adults! I’m your host Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and, as ever, I’m joined by my sidekick, producer and mother…

MAMA: Hello, hello. I’m Lyndee Prickitt.

LEELA: This week…

Scientists are advancing in their endeavors to manage the Earth’s CO2 problem.

The latest dinosaur news with updates from Mongolia and Brazil.

Plus, it’s beginning to look like… Christmas markets in Germany!

And finally, students in China are allowed to sleep in school. Not just that, but conveniently too! You gotta listen to the end to find out how and WHY!

Alright, let’s dive on in. First up, it’s the…

BIG NEWS STORY STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The big news story of the week!”

LEELA: Ok mama, this week we’ve got some encouraging news related to climate change.

MAMA: Really? Hmmm. Call it my Gen-X skepticism, but “good news” and “climate change” are not normally two phrases you hear back-to-back.

LEELA: Well, OK, let’s say – optimistic then. You see, people are inventing more and more ways to clean up our air.

MAMA: Gosh, we need help with that right now in New Delhi– the smog is horrible.

LEELA: Yes, sadly, that’s true. But I’m more talking about removing carbon dioxide, known as CO2, from the air.

MAMA: Ok, I’m with you. But remind us again why this is important? Why do we need to remove CO2 or carbon dioxide from the air?

LEELA: Well, to make a long story short, CO2 is one of the gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere that’s causing it to heat up – as in global warming.

MAMA: That’s right. In fact, carbon dioxide is the biggest offender in the global warming problem, partly because after its released into the air, it can stick around for thousands of years.

LEELA: Exactly. And we humans have been releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the air for like 150 years now!

MAMA: That’s progress, my dear.


MAMA: Back in the 1800s trains ran on coal and factories were spewing dirty chemicals and soot into the air. It was known as the industrial revolution and it helped us humans progress in many ways, but boy are we paying the price for it. But we just didn´t know any better way back then.

LEELA: But we do now. And we’ve gotta start cleaning up our mess before it’s too late.

MAMA: I know… But I thought you said you had some good news that would make me feel a little less anxious and more optimistic?

LEELA: Right, so one way to clean up our air… is a system called Direct Air Capture, or DAC for short. And there’s a new facility that was just built in California that does this.

MAMA: Capture air? I can take a breath and capture air…  (Deep inhale of breath)

LEELA: Uh… right…

MAMA: OK, so this is obviously way more impressive. How does it work?

LEELA: OK, so this company has stacked up trays of limestone, which is a type of rock, into these 40-foot-high towers.

MAMA: I’m imaging something that looks like Jenga…?

LEELA: Yeah, kind of. When these trays of limestone are heated up, they act like sponges, absorbing the CO2 from the air.

MAMA: Oh… I know where this is going… .

LEELA: And when the tray of limestone is all full, a robotic arm removes it from the stack and takes it to be cleaned of all the icky CO2.

MAMA: And presumably, when it’s all clean, the limestone tray is put back into the stack to start all over again, sucking up more CO2!

LEELA: Bingo. It’s that easy!

MAMA: But what happens to all the CO2 when they removed from the limestone trays?

LEELA: Ah. Good question. It gets stored. You see, the company will either put it into concrete or bury it underground.

MAMA: Sounds pretty cool.

LEELA: Yes. But there’s a catch.

MAMA: Uh on.

LEELA: The problem is these limestone stacks don´t remove THAT much CO2 out of the air. And, well, it’s pretty expensive.

MAMA: I thought this was optimistic environmental news.

LEELA: It is! Because that’s not the only thing scientists are working on. There’s something else and it’s actually free. Well, kind of.

MAMA: Intriguing. Tell me more….

LEELA: One word. Cyanobacteria (SIGH-NO-BACTERIA), a special kind of bacteria that eats up CO2. Scientists from different universities have found one of these special types of bacteria on the island of Vulcano in Italy that can eat up CO2 really, really really fast!

MAMA: Yes, but that’s not necessarily new. As in, scientists have known for years that cyanobacteria are helpful in converting CO2 into a useful resource, or biomass right.

LEELA: Ah, but not like this. The cyanobacteria they discovered in Italy can eat up CO2 some 22 percent faster than normal strains. Scientists are calling it “unparalleled” and “truly remarkable.”

MAMA: Alright. So, what happens next? Do we just release a bunch of special bacteria out into the wild and hope for the best?

LEELA: Well, It’s not that easy. A lot more research and tests are needed to find out just HOW the cyanobacteria would adapt to different environmental conditions.

MAMA: So, it’s not gonna happen overnight. Still, it’s exciting to know that there are solutions within reach.

LEELA: Exactly! See, you’re sounding more optimistic than before, aren’t you!

MAMA: So true. Innovation tends to have that effect! And now some more of this…

[SOURCE: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230829-the-bacteria-that-can-capture-carbon











NATURE STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “The call of nature. Get on your safari suite. Or squeeze into your scuba gear. And get ready to hop into a jeep. Or submarine. Submarine. Because Mother Nature is calling! Nature.”  

LEELA: Well, this week we head straight to our favorite junior paleontologist.

MAMA: As in a person who studies very old dead animals or plants in fossils.

LEELA: Yes, Like “dinosaurs!” Yes, we’re talking about Mira Power, otherwise known as our dino correspondent.

MAMA: Yes, she’s got two shots of dinosaur news for us this week from Latin America and Asia.

LEELA: Take it away, Mira!

MIRABEL: Hello, this is aspiring paleontologist Mira with another dinosaur roundup!

First up, we’re going to Brazil to look at dinosaur footprints! The footprints found were from the early Cretaceous period and they didn’t match any other dinosaurs on record.

The new dinosaur who made them was named Farlowichnus rapidus and was a tiny carnivore. Looking at how far apart the footprints were, the paleontologists think that this dinosaur was fast!

I wouldn’t want to be in a race with one!

For our other piece of dinosaur news today, we’re going around the globe to Mongolia!

A dinosaur called Jaculinykus yaruui has been found sleeping in the position that modern birds like a duck, sleep in!

The skeleton was nearly complete, and most of the bones were still arranged in the position the dinosaur had been when it died.

That discovery suggests that this sleeping position may have been more common than previously thought in non-avian dinosaurs!

In Florida I’m Mira Power, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Thanks a lot for that, Mira – always great to hear from you!

MAMA: So, Leela. So, Leela if I say Weihnachtsmarkt – you say?

LEELA: Bless you?

MAMA: Aha. Let me say it again. Weihnachtsmarkt. What’s that last bit sound like? Markt?

LEELA: Uhhhh, a political party?

MAMA: No, market. German for market.

LEELA: Oh! I know this story – we’re heading to Nandini in Germany, aren’t we?

MAMA: We sure are. Because it’s… “beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

LEELA: Oh, please…

MAMA: More? “Everywhere we go…” (laughs) And if we go to Germany – we would see Christmas in all its dazzle. I’m talking Weihnachtsmarkt.

LEELA: As in the world-famous German Christmas Markets!

MAMA: Yep. So over to Nandini Parikh in Germany to give us the low-down on this festive tradition.

LEELA: Well, over to you, Nandini!

NANDINI: Thank you Leela!

As December sets in, so do the short days and the long dark nights.

Luckily it also means that Christmas is around the corner!

And here in Germany, the cold and dreary winter is made bearable thanks to the bright and festive Christmas markets – called Weihnachtsmarkt.

So how did these begin?

Well, long, long ago – we’re talking way back in the 1300s – Germans lived in scattered communities. It was either church or the markets near them that brought people together.

At first people would come out before it was super cold to stock up on food for the long Winter months ahead.

Then, as giving gifts for Christmas became more common, the size – and variety – of the markets grew and grew.

Now most towns have them, so it’s no wonder there are around 3000 Christmas markets in Germany.

Stalls full of glittery decorations are stuffed with locally made gifts and toys.

But, of course, what’s most popular?

Local food and drink! Mostly the gingerbread, candy almonds and Raclette, which is basically yummy dripping cheese.

And did I mention the bright lights and sweet sound of choirs?

These Weihnachtsmarkt are so popular there are similar Christmas markets across the world.

Now – all this talk has made me mighty hungry.

So, I’m going to go have a chocolate I picked up at…  my local Christmas Market, of course!

In Germany, I’m Nandini Parikh, reporting for Newsy Pooloozi!

LEELA: Well of course, you’ve made ME hungry too, Nandini!

MAMA: Me too! Thanks for that report, Nandini!

[SOURCE: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/german-christmas-markets-nazis-tradition


LEELA: And finally, let’s see what the lucky dip machine has for our final story this week.

ODDBALL STING – VARIOUS VOICES: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? An oddball, no doubt!”

LEELA: Today’s oddball story is about students in China who – wait for it! – not just sleep in class.

MAMA: Sleeping in class? Hmmm. That’s very serious offence in most classrooms!

LEELA: Well, get this, kids in China are ALLOWED to take naps in class. In fact, sometimes they’re required to do so!

MAMA: Ok. This is odd! Tell me more…

LEELA: Imagine, you’ve just spent the whole morning studying math and science, then it’s lunch time. And after that, a yummy cafeteria food familiar feeling settles in…

MAMA: I know this one… it’s, exhaustion! Scientists say when humans eat, most of our blood goes to the digestive organs to process the food, which can make you tired. And, depending on what you ate, you may be even more tired.  Meaning, the more fat and sugar you eat at lunch, the more tired you are after. Oh, sorry! But we’re not talking about WHY you get tired after lunch…

LEELA: No, we´re talking about a fantastic way that kids in China are allowed to lean into that feeling – and actually take rest!

MAMA: So, what do they do – like nap on the floor?

LEELA: Nope. It’s way cooler than that. Their desks might look normal but look again and you´ll notice… they’re convertible. As in, these desks convert into an almost flat bed.

MAMA: Oh wow! Like an airplane chair where the seat goes back?

LEELA: Well, like a business class seat – that goes waaaaay back, so you can also stretch out your legs and properly snooze. I’m not a napper, but I have to say it’s a pretty cool school invention.

MAMA: Totally! I mean a good balance between mental and physical health is necessary for students to do their best. I bet after their naps, they’re fresh and ready to tackle more studying.

LEELA: That’s the idea! So, they’ll be no more excuses for looking out of the window, doodling OR dozing in class after lunch anymore!

[SOURCE: https://edition.cnn.com/2023/08/01/health/why-you-get-tired-after-eating-lunch-wellness/index.html]

FAB FACTS STING – LEELA: “And it’s time to wrap up the podcast with the top five fab facts heard today. Here goes…”

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 1 – Scientists are advancing in their endeavors to manage the Earth’s CO2 problem. What is CO2?

Carbon Dioxide

LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 2 – Something called cynobacteria discovered in Italy might help cleaning up the CO2 from our air. What is cynobacteria?

Special bacteria that eat up CO2 super-fast

MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 3 – This week there was dinosaur news in Brazil and Mongolia. What’s a person who studies very old dead animals as dinosaurs called?


LEELA: FAB FACT NUMBER 4 – It’s beginning to look a lot like… Christmas. And that means Germany’s famous Christmas Markets, which are called what?


MAMA: FAB FACT NUMBER 5 – Students in China can take a nap at their desks which are convertible into mini beds. And just why are students – or any of us – tired after eating lunch?

Because your blood rushes to your digestive organs

And if you’re an educator and you want to test your kids’ listening skills… then have a look at our quiz online. Go to the Lucky Dip page of our website,  newsypooloozi.com, that’s pool-o-o-z-i, and let the kids take this quiz online or surprise them with an in-class pop quiz!

LEELA: And that brings us to the end of this episode of Newsy Pooloozi!


LEELA: If you enjoyed this dip in the coolest pool of news and information then why not tell a friend about us?

MAMA: Or even impress your teacher or babysitter by sharing some of the fascinating and wacky news you’ve heard here. Go on! Give it a try!

LEELA: Alright then, see you next week in the happy, splashy giant Newsy Pooloozi!