September 17 - October 7, 2023: Issue 599

Sunday Cartoons

Sunday cartoons returns this year. This Issue: "The Box" / La Boîte by ESMA


School Holidays Break

We're taking a break from Sunday September 17 - BUT - we'll be back on Sunday October 8th. 
We hope you all have a great Spring break too making great memories with friends and family. 
Please look out for and after each other and take some time out to curl up with a book or movie or get in the water or bush and relax.

Picnic at Freshwater photographer possibly Arthur Phillips, Australia, 1895 Courtesy Powerhouse Museum 

Kitchener Park Lighting Upgrades Completed

It’s the biggest sporting field in Mona Vale spanning two hectares with two full sized soccer fields and a recent upgrade to the ground’s lighting means increased energy efficiency and greater light distribution for users.

The ground, which is home to the Pittwater RSL FC, is used in the winter season for both junior and senior soccer and in the summer season it is used for cricket.

The installation of six new light poles with efficient LED lights means the lights are now up to current Australian Standards for soccer.

The lights are centrally controlled allowing users to switch to a training mode which reduces the energy output.

President of Pittwater RSL Football Club Ben Collock said the new lights were a monumental stride forward for the club.

“The enhanced visibility and coverage that these new lights provide have allowed us to fully utilise the ground. It’s an incredible sight to see every section of the pitch filled with kids playing in a well-lit, safe and fully accessible environment.

“Teams can now access sections of the ground they have never been able to access before. This allows us to have more room to meet the incredible demand for sport on the Northern Beaches.

“It’s also the first time we’ve ever been able to host a competitive match at the ground, with our Women’s Premier League and Women’s 13/1’s playing the clubs first ever night matches. We couldn’t be more thankful to have Council and Government investment directed at this significant community benefit.” Mr Collock said.

This project was made possible thanks to a $150k grant from the NSW Government’s Football Legacy Fund, Office of Sport and Council. 

More in: 

some harriet stephens poems + one of her stories for you


Ring the joy-bells! Spring is coming,
Carolling a merry lay,
See her heralds hast'ning forward
Swiftly, to prepare her way!

Days are lengthening, warm winds blowing,
Wattle bursting into bloom,
Birds upraising songs of gladness,
All pronouncing Winter's doom.

Here she is! No, she has vanished!
Why, wherever can she be?
She was with us for a moment,
Laughing gaily, full of glee.

Ah! we must have been mistaken,
She is nowhere to be seen.
But 'tis certain she was peeping.
From among the leaflets green.

Graceful fairy, do not linger,
See, we wait with outstretched hands;
Loyal greeting we will give thee,
Bend we low at thy commands.

Ah! she's coming now in earnest.
Music echoes far and near.
Weave bright garlands, swell the chorus,
Ring the joy-bells'. Spring is here!

A SONG OF SPRING. (1906, October 31). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 1138. Retrieved from 


"The day will be dull," a small boy cried,
'See how the rain is falling!
The sky is so misty, bleak, and grey,
I wanted to go to the fields to play,
Bother the rain for coming, I say,
A weary day 'twill make it.'

'The day will be drear,' a wee maid sighed,
'Hark! how the rain is beating.
I wanted along the beach to run,
This horrid rain always spoils our fun.
Oh, dear! how I wish the day were done, .
A tiresome day 'twill make it.'

'The day will be bright,' a gay lad cried,
'Spite of the rain that's pouring.
I'll run all the errands mother may need,
I'll lie on the rug with a book, and read.
The hours like lightning away will speed,
A busy day I'll make it.'

Three children upon the hearthrug sat,
Outside the rain was fairing.
'The day has been dull,' the small boy
'The day has been drear,' the wee maid
'The day has been bright,' the gay lad
But the day had been what each made it. 

THREE CHILDREN. (1907, July 10). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 110. Retrieved from 


SPRING, fair enchantress, to earth has
Mortals, your voices in welcome upraise!
While, from all sides, the bush-dwellers are

Eager to join in an anthem of praise.
PIPING a merry-toned lilt comes the Cuckoo,
Followed by songsters from hillside and
Down in the marshes the waterside fringing,
Blithe little Reed-warblers echo the strain.

RINGING in paeans of gladness unfettered,
Out from the thicket the Bell-bird's clear
Rising and falling in silvery cadence,
Like a sweet chime o'er the bush seems to
IDLY, warm breezes, the leaflets caressing,
Murmur soft harmony, tuneful and low;
River and streamlet, together, contribute
Ripples of music, as onward they flow.

NOW come the Flower Spirits — dainty
Graceful Clematis, and Buttercup gay;
Golden- crowned Wattle is wooed by the Sun
Butterflies hover round each slender spray.
GAILY all Nature, in unison blending,
Pours forth, triumphant, the gladsome re
'Winter has vanished, his sovereignty ended,
Spring has come back to us! Joy to her

THE RETURN OF SPRING. (1907, September 11). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 696. Retrieved from 



Hark to the song from the rippling sea,
Down on the smooth sand curling;
List to the murmur from foam-capped waves
Over the dark rocks swirling;
Moment by moment those magic tones
Low on our ears are falling.
Haste, then, to answer them! Children come;
Hark how the Elves are calling!

Hush! 'Tis a -whisper from out the bush,
‘Mid the Acacias stealing,
Soft, neath the Myrtles; and fragrant Gums,
Fairy-like bells are -pealing; 
E'en in the waterfall's crystal spray, 
Down over- the cliff-side falling, 
Can you not hear them, the merry sprites?
Hark how the Elves are calling!

Where shall we follow them? Children, say!
Down where the waves are dancing,
Or, where, ‘twixt Tree Ferns’ cool, spreading fronds,
Sunbeams are swiftly glancing?
Still, far off voices, in tones of glee,
Low on our ears are falling;
Come, do not linger! From bush and sea,
Holiday Elves are calling.

THE HOLIDAY ELVES. (1908, March 11). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 686. Retrieved from 

 Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, in flower in Pittwater 


Proudly conscious of his beauty and grace, Sir Dragonfly, in gorgeous, glittering attire, was sailing and darting about above a clear little creek, which threaded Its way through a secluded gully. Meanwhile, hie wife, stationed amid a clump of rushes near by, every now and again dipped into the water, as if interested in something beneath it. This apparently harmless action of hers, however, struck terror into the heart of a Water Beetle, who had come to the surface for a breath of air. With a dismayed ejaculation, he swiftly rowed himself to the bottom of i the creek in his usual skilful fashion, which : consisted of turning on his back, and using ) his long hind legs for oars. He next proceeded to spread a report among his acquaintances, which very thoroughly disturbed their peace of mind. 

Reposing upon a leaf of one of the water plants was a cluster of tiny eggs, from which a family of young Dragonflies would emerge, and it was over these, as the Water Beetle had at once perceived, that their mother kept such careful watch. And, when the fact was made known, great was the panic among the Smaller Insects, for well they knew that they and their children would fall victims to the  hungry little Dragonflies, for this thing had happened before. 

As it was, the presence of Sir Dragonfly and his wife filled their Iives with terror, and now the danger would be truly appalling. 

Time flew by, and brought many changes. The small strangers had come into the world, had grown up, and finally, with one exception, had gone abroad to seek their fortunes. 

Sir Dragonfly and his lady had died long since, and the family was represented by the single one of their children who had chosen to stay in the old home on the banks of the creek. 

A lonely life he led, for those of his own race who chanced to visit there did not stay long, preferring to be off and see something of the world, and the Water Insects, to whom tales of bygone days had been handed down, regarded him with dread, as was natural, and took every care to avoid him. 

This thought made him sad, for, desiring to pass his life near the quiet creek, he had firmly resolved, whatever might have happened in the past, to do nothing which would disturb the peace of any who dwelt beneath the streamlet. 

Still, seeing that he had no such scruples concerning those others who hovered within his reach through the realms of air, it was little wonder that he found it hard to make the Water Insects believe in his good intentions towards themselves. 

It was a beautiful morning, with a soft breeze just stirring the grass. Poised upon a swaying reed, Sir Dragonfly (for he was universally given his father's title) was watching with interest the movements of a shoal of Whirligig Beetles, who were darting about like bits of silver. But, in the meantime, being endowed with two pairs of eyes, a set on either side of their heads, they were well on the lookout for danger. Therefore, had Sir Dragonfly attempted to join their games, as he would have liked, that instant would have seen their departure, for they, also inhabitants of the water world, had been taught, like the rest, to fear him. 

He was reflecting, rather miserably, upon this fact when a sudden blow nearly caused him to lose his balance. Glancing about to discover the reason, he was confronted by a laughing elf, who sat rocking upon the branch of a shrub growing close to the water's edge. He wore a suit of feathery red material, which, standing out in fine spikes, made his small body seem like a soft, silky brush. 

'Do be careful,' said Sir Dragonfly, somewhat sharply, when he had settled himself again. 

'I beg your pardon,' returned the elf, still laughing, 'especially as I came down to the creek this morning on purpose to find you. Would you like to know my name?' 

'Well?' asked Sir Dragonfly. 

'I am Callistemon, one of the Flower Elves, and my business is ? ' 

'To upset people who are trying to enjoy themselves,' muttered Sir Dragonfly.

'Oh, bother!' cried the elf, 'can't you let that alone? It was quite an accident, I  assure you. I was about to say that my business is to keep these bushes that you  see growing along the bank of the creek well covered with Red Bottle Brushes Aren't they pretty?' 

And he held one up for Sir Dragonfly to admire. 

'Really,' he went on, meditatively, 'I have a tremendous lot to do, because, as well as attending to the flowers, I am expected to look well after the wood of this plant. It is hard and heavy, and the Earthfolk sometimes use It for mallets, or axe and chisel handles, and for small work where they need great strength.' 


'Why did you come to look for me?' interrupted Sir Dragonfly, for whom the Earth folk and their doings had not the slightest  interest; but whose curiosity as to the elf's visit had got the better of his annoyance, 'Have you anything particular to say?'  

'I have.' And clasping his hands about his knees, the elf gazed at his questioner. 'You're not very happy, I am afraid, Sir I Dragonfly,' he began. 

'I don't see that it concerns you whether I am or not,' was the answer, and the tone was snappish again. 

'But, supposing I can help you?' asked the elf, good-humouredly. 

Then, bending forward, he whispered in a mysterious tone, ''Wait, my friend, and, in a day or two, there will come to the creek one who, if I am I not very much mistaken, will charm away all your cares. Meanwhile, give up worrying about those stupid Insects. They are afraid of you, and always will be, I should imagine.’

A few days later Sir Dragonfly was poised upon the self-same reed but now, everything else forgotten, he was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the promised visitor. To-day, the Butterflies called to him in vain, and the antics of the Whirligig Beetles were for once unheeded, as were also the inquisitive stares of a May-fly, who, with delicate, gauzy wings outspread, was taking his morning exercise. Then through the undergrowth appeared Callistemon, his face radiant with smiles. Beside him was the daintiest little fairy that Sir Dragonfly had ever seen, and, beholding her, he was chained to the spot with unbounded admiration.

The elf, noting the look, was satisfied that things would end as he hoped. Often he had seen how lonely Sir Dragonfly was, and been sorry that he could find no way of helping him. Recently, however, he had hit upon an idea which he intended, if possible, to carry out successfully. What this was events will show. 

Callistemon did not bring the fairy to where Sir Dragonfly was waiting. It seemed that she was bent on some errand of her own, and had no time to spare just then for introductions, for, nearing the water's edge, she left the elf, with a gay word or two, and was lost to sight among the bushes. Sir Dragonfly beckoned impatiently to Callistemon. 

'Who is she?' he asked, when the elf bounded over to him. 

'The Spirit of the Clematis,' was the reply. 'Lovely, isn't she? If you watch, you will see her again very soon.' 

No need to urge Sir Dragonfly to a task so greatly to his liking. Day after day his eyes followed the graceful little sprite, as she flitted about beside the creek, covering the tops of the shrubs and small trees with a clambering vine, upon which grew masses of creamy bloom. And, where they mingled with Callistemon's brilliant flowers, the effect caused elf and fairy to clap their hands in glee at their own taste and skill. 


Sir Dragonfly applauded as heartily as they from a distance, for as yet the Flower Spirit did not seem to have observed his presence, and he had not dared to address her. 

At last a chance came, though it proved a most unlucky one for Sir Dragonfly. Clematis, busy as usual, approached so near to the spot where her unknown admirer had placed himself, that, by leaning forward, he could almost have touched her. Seizing his opportunity, though with a beating heart, he began, in his most persuasive manner, 'Good-day, fair lady. May I have the honour ? ' But he got no further, for Clematis, looking up to see who the speaker might be, gave a terrified scream. 

‘'Go away! go away! You'll sting me,' she exclaimed, and rushed off, calling loudly for Callistemon to aid her. At her entreaties the elf appeared, and, between the protests of the bewildered Dragonfly and the cries of the terrified Clematis, he had his hands full. 

‘'Be quiet!' he said imperiously to the latter. 'No one will hurt you.' Then to Sir Dragonfly, 'I'm sorry, old fellow, but she must have heard the name that some of the Earth folk have given you, and it has made her afraid. They call you the 'Horsestinger.' 

''But I don't sting,' cried Sir Dragonfly. 'I can't.' 

'Of course not, but many of them think you can. I'll try to make Clematis understand, but it might be better for you to keep out of her sight for a while.' 

Sir Dragonfly thereupon went to the far end of the creek, certain, beyond any doubt, that life was a failure, for the world seemed against him. The Insects whose goodwill he longed for shunned him persistently, the Earth folk tried to spoil his reputation, and because of that Clematis, upon whom he had been doing his best to create a good impression, regarded him with fear and dislike. Moodily he paused beside a small waterfall, which tumbled Importantly over the few rocks in its path with a musical plash. But suddenly It seemed to Sir Dragonfly that as it hurried along It murmured words, among which he could distinguish his own name. He listened intently, and this Is what he heard: 

'Good luck attend your wooing, Sir Dragonfly. You wish that the Spirit of the Clematis shall be your bride, and your desire shall be granted. But the time has not come yet. Only those deserve to wed who have given proof of their valour, and this you have not done. When you have, Clematis shall be yours.' 

Over and over again the message was repeated, until Sir Dragonfly, cheered and encouraged, moved away, feeling that all hope was not yet lost. 

The days sped along. He did not again attempt to speak to Clematis, but, strange to say, she, on the other hand, had begun to take a curious interest in him, and several times Callistemon, who had assured her that on no account would Sir Dragonfly sting anyone, least of all herself, discovered her watching him thoughtfully. 

It happened shortly that there came to the creek a stranger, who, spying our hero, made overtures of friendship, and Sir Dragonfly, glad to meet one of his own kind, for such the newcomer was, willingly responded. But this pleasant state of affairs was not destined to last long. 

'See that plump little' Water Beetle,' said the strange Dragonfly next morning, as the two were twisting about in the air with the help of their great oar-shaped wings. ' I shall just be in time to catch him before he goes below again.' 

'No, don't touch him,' exclaimed Sir Dragonfly hastily. 'There is food and to spare elsewhere. Here in this creek none of the Insects must be harmed.' 

But the other gave a scornful laugh, and took no further notice, seeing which Sir Dragonfly sprang upon him as he was about to seize the unsuspecting Beetle, and a fierce contest began. Wildly the stranger fought, but he was no match for Sir Dragonfly, determined as the latter was to protect the denizens of the creek, and in a very short

time, having no fancy to be killed or injured for life, the other shook himself free, leaving his adversary triumphant. 

And now the Water Insects, nearing of the combat, believed for the first time that Sir Dragonfly, however he might act towards others of their kind, would at least befriend those who dwelt in his native creek. Also the Spirit of the Clematis, concealed amid her vines, had witnessed his gallant behaviour, and, though she said nothing, ate thought a great deal. But evidently Callistemon read her thoughts, for he hurried away in search of Sir Dragonfly, whom he found resting upon the bank. 

'I think,' said the elf with a sly smile, 'that if you care to seek Clematis now she will listen to all you wish to say.' 

Toward the close of a lovely afternoon came the Friar Bird, flying over the tops of the trees, for he had been summoned to officiate at the wedding of Sir Dragonfly and Clematis. From end to end of the creek Callistemon had decked his bushes with a crimson glory, and the Spirit of the Wild Violet had woven a dainty carpet of blue and white for the bride's footsteps along the shelving banks. Many of the Butterflies were there, and all the Water Insects, happy and fearless. And Sir Dragonfly, as he gazed round upon the Assembly, felt his heart overflow with peace and joy — peace, now that he had succeeded in gaining the confidence of those who had for so long distrusted him, and Joy that he had wooed and won the fair Clematis for his bride. Sir Dragonfly. YOUNG FOLKS (1908, September 9). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 698. Retrieved from 

Mangrove or Striated Heron Butorides striata - in Careel Creek 

write a love letter to the land

Junior Landcare ambassador Costa Georgiadis is calling on kids to share what they love most about the environment – and the steps they’re taking to protect it.

To help celebrate Junior Landcare's 25 years of opening children’s hearts and hands to landcare, we are asking you to join in our letter writing campaign.

“The more you engage with nature, the more you appreciate it; and the more you appreciate it, the more likely you are to want to protect it,” shares Costa.

The campaign also features:

  • * A curriculum-linked learning activity to help get you started 
  • * Special letter-writing templates for children of all ages 
  • * The chance to have your letters published in The Land 
  • * The chance to win a visit from Junior Landcare ambassador Costa himself (T&C's apply)!

Whether you write your letters as a class, school or youth group; individual, early learning centre or family – we want to hear from YOU!

Entries close October 20, 2023.


Curious Kids: If Australia is at the bottom of the world, why are we the right way up?

For the Earth, which is shaped like a ball, the force of gravity pulls you to the centre from every point on the ground. Cindy Zhi/The Conversation NY-BD-CC, CC BY-SA
Jacinta den Besten, The University of Melbourne

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky!

If Australia is nearly at the bottom of the world how are we the right way up? Why doesn’t our head point down? – Rudy, 5, Melbourne.

A very interesting question, Rudy!

You would think that because we’re at the bottom of the world, us Australians would be really good at handstands and standing on our heads. But in Australia, we still have our feet firmly planted on the ground.

When you hold up a ball and drop it, it always goes towards the ground, no matter where you are on the Earth.

When the ball goes towards the sky, we say it is going “up”. When it is going towards the ground, we say “down”.

It’s all about gravity

Gravity is a force (or a pull) that all objects have on other objects.

So when you stand on the Earth, the Earth is pulling you to keep you on the ground. But, did you know that you also pull the Earth up with the same force?

So the Earth pulls you down, but you pull the Earth up! That makes you pretty strong.

Gravity always pulls you towards the middle of the object.

So for the Earth, which is shaped like a ball, the force of gravity pulls you to the centre from every point on the ground. That’s why, no matter where you stand on the Earth, you always feel like the ground is at the bottom and the sky is up.

That also means that if you drop a ball it will always go toward the middle of our planet… until it hits the ground and bounces, of course.

When you stand on the Earth, the Earth is pulling you to keep you on the ground. Illustration by Cindy Zhi, CC BY

So, why is Australia on the bottom?

The North and South Poles are what we call “relative”. They are just names for specific places on the Earth so that it is easy for us to give directions and find our way around.

A long time ago, someone decided that the pole on the top would be called the North Pole and the one on the bottom would be called the South Pole.

But, you could turn the Earth upside down and no one would really notice, because we would still feel that the ground is down and the sky as up. This is because gravity always pulls us towards the middle of the Earth.

Fun facts about gravity

Did you know that if you were to dig a hole from one side of the Earth to any other point of the Earth, and you jumped into the hole, it would always take the same amount of time to fall out the other side?

If you dug a hole from one side of the Earth to any other point of the Earth, and you jumped into the hole, it would always take the same amount of time to fall out the other side – no matter how long the tunnel. Cindy Zhi for The Conversation/CC-BY-ND, CC BY

Sir Isaac Newton was a famous scientist that came up with many ideas about forces and gravity, about light and about how things move. He was born on Christmas Day in 1642. Some say he discovered gravity when an apple from a tree fell on his head. Ouch! It might not have happened exactly that way but it is still a nice story.

The force you feel of the Earth’s gravity pulling on you is called your weight. If you were on the Moon, your weight would be six times lighter than on Earth. This is because the Moon is much smaller than the Earth, so the pull of gravity there is much less than what we feel on Earth. This is also why astronauts can bounce around like being on a trampoline when they are on the Moon.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can:

* Email your question to
* Tell us on Twitter by tagging @ConversationEDU with the hashtag #curiouskids, or
* Tell us on Facebook


Please tell us your name, age, and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.The Conversation

Jacinta den Besten, First Year Physics Coordinator, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Curious Kids: How and why do magnets stick together?

Every magnet has two sides: a north pole and a south pole. Helena/flickr, CC BY-SA
Stephen G Bosi, University of New England

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky! You might also like the podcast Imagine This, a co-production between ABC KIDS listen and The Conversation, based on Curious Kids.

Hi my name is Dean and I am 7 years old. My question is: How and why do magnets stick together? – Dean, age 7, Vermont Sth.

Hi Dean!

This is a good question and a bit tricky to answer, but I’ll try my best.

Every magnet has two sides: a north pole and a south pole. We use these names because if you hang a magnet from a thread, the magnet’s north pole points (almost) towards the north direction.

This is because the Earth’s core (its centre) is a large, weak magnet. Your little, strong magnet lines up with Earth’s magnetic core, so it points north. That’s how a magnetic compass works.

If you sprinkle iron filings (a fine powder of iron) around a magnet, you can see an image of the magnetic field. from

Magnets don’t always stick together.

If you hold two magnets the wrong way around, they push apart - they repel! In other words, if you hold two magnets together so that like-poles are close together (two norths OR two souths), they repel. Try it! It feels like the magnets are surrounded by an invisible rubber layer pushing them apart. That invisible layer is called a magnetic field.

Like-poles repel: We can use curvy arrows (called field lines) to draw the shape of the magnetic field around magnets. The arrows always start at the magnet’s north pole and point towards its south pole. When two like-poles point together, the arrows from the two magnets point in OPPOSITE directions and the field lines cannot join up. So the magnets will push apart (repel). Image credit: Author provided.

It’s only when you hold unlike-poles together (a north pointing to a south) that magnets stick together (they are attracted). Now, the magnetic field acts like a stretched rubber band pulling the magnets together. (Be careful; two strong magnets can pinch your skin).

Unlike-poles attract: When a north pole and south pole point together, the arrows point in the SAME direction so the field lines can join up and the magnets pull together (attract). Image credit: Author provided.

So, why do magnets attract or repel?

You have probably heard of energy. Energy is needed to create movement.

A car that’s sitting still will start to move when the petrol inside it burns. That’s because petrol contains stored-up energy which is released when it burns.

When this stored-up energy is released, some of it changes into movement energy. Scientists call this stored-up energy “potential energy” and call movement energy “kinetic energy”.

When you start running, it’s because energy stored in your food is released and some of it changes into movement energy.

What’s this got to do with magnets? Well, the magnetic field that surrounds all magnets contains stored-up energy. But there’s a way to change the amount of stored-up energy surrounding the magnet. And the way you change it will tell you which way the magnet will move.

A rule to remember

Everything in the universe follows a rule. I will tell you the rule in a moment, but first I have to say that it’s not easy to explain why the universe follows this rule without complicated mathematics. The best I can say is “that’s just how the universe behaves”. (I’m sorry. I don’t like answers like that either).

The rule is: wherever there is stored-up energy in an object (and the object is not tied down or stuck in place), then the object will be pushed in the direction that causes the stored-up energy to decrease. The stored-up energy will be reduced and replaced by movement energy.

So if two magnets are pointing with unlike-poles together (north pole to a south pole), then bringing them closer together decreases the energy stored up in the magnetic field. They will be pushed in the direction that decreases the amount of stored-up energy. That is, they are forced together (this is called attraction).

If two magnets are pointing with like-poles together (a south pole to a south pole OR north to north), then stored-up energy will decrease if they move apart.

So our rule says the magnets will be pushed in the direction that decreases the amount of stored-up energy. That is, they are forced apart (repelled).

I should also say that when dropped objects are attracted to Earth and fall down, it’s NOT because of magnetism. It’s because of gravity. Earth is also surrounded by a gravitational field which also contains stored up energy.

Unlike magnetism, gravity never repels because gravity only points one way. There are no north and south poles for gravity.

Can I keep taking stored-up energy from the magnetic field forever?


Once two magnets stick together, you’ll need to put some stored-up energy back into the field by pulling the magnets apart again. You can’t get energy for nothing.

The energy needed to pull the magnets apart comes from you, and you get it from the food you eat. And the plants or animals you eat get their energy from other plants and animals, or from the Sun. All energy comes from somewhere.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can:

* Email your question to
* Tell us on Twitter


Please tell us your name, age and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.The Conversation

Stephen G Bosi, Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of New England

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Echidna - photo by Gunjan Pandey 

Curious Kids: How does an echidna breathe when digging through solid earth?

Christine Cooper, Curtin University

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky!

How does an echidna manage to breathe when digging through solid earth? – Isabella, age 8, Cowes, Phillip Island.

Thank you, Isabella, for your great question.

When it comes to breathing, a digging mammal faces some big problems. It has to be able to physically move its chest to inflate its lungs. It also has to be able to get enough oxygen and find a way to get rid of the carbon dioxide it breathes out.

The good news is that echidnas are well adapted to solving these problems.

When breathing in and out, they use their muscular diaphragm (a muscle between their chest and abdomen) as well as the muscles between their ribs. These muscles are strong enough to push air in and out, even when they are buried under the top layer of soil and leaf litter.

When they dig down, they loosen the soil around their body. It gets so loose, it doesn’t actually stop their chest from moving in and out, so they can still breathe. When they dig deeper, they form a burrow which has self-supporting walls and roof and so the echidna has enough room to be able to breathe and move.

Getting enough oxygen

A bigger problem is getting enough oxygen, and getting rid of enough carbon dioxide when burrowed underground.

Like all mammals, echindas need to breathe in oxygen from the air, and when they breathe out they expel carbon dioxide as a toxic waste product. Having too much carbon dioxide around (from your out-breath) can be a real problem.

Gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide move through soil more easily than most people think. As long as echidnas do not burrow into very wet soil, just enough fresh air can usually get in and the carbon dioxide from their out-breath can get out.

Echidnas also have a few special tricks. When they are buried, they move the front part of their bodies a lot to flush the gases through the soil. They make these flushing movements more often if they are buried in really thick soil, or when they are digging really hard and need more oxygen.

Echidnas have very low body temperatures and, like many other burrowing animals, a low metabolic rate (metabolic rate means how fast they use up energy; when you have a high metabolic rate, you use up oxygen faster). Compared with other mammals of a similar size, they don’t use as much oxygen or make as much carbon dioxide. This means that the oxygen that is available isn’t used up very quickly, and carbon dioxide doesn’t build up to dangerous levels.

Finally, echidnas can survive low levels of oxygen. Echidnas in low-oxygen environments breathe more, but they don’t reduce their energy use like most other mammals; they can maintain their normal levels of metabolism. Echidna blood is especially good at holding and transporting oxygen.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. They can:

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Please tell us your name, age and which city you live in. You can send an audio recording of your question too, if you want. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.The Conversation

Christine Cooper, Senior Lecturer, Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Can animals give birth to twins?

Some animals, including goats, regularly give birth to two babies at once. Image Source via Getty Images
Michael Jaffe, Mississippi State University and Tracy Jaffe, Mississippi State University

Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to

Can animals give birth to twins? – Mia C., age 10

Ask any parent – welcoming a new baby to the family is exciting, but it comes with a lot of work. And when the new addition is a pair of babies – twins – parents really have their work cut out for them.

For many animal species it’s the norm to have multiple babies at once. A litter of piglets can be as many as 11 or more!

A mother pig lying on hay in a barn surrounded by multiple piglets
Pigs are one species that gives birth to large litters. Arthur Dries/DigitalVision via Getty Images

We are faculty members at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. We’ve been present for the births of many puppies and kittens over the years – and the animal moms almost always deliver multiples.

But are all those animal siblings who share the same birthday twins?

Twins are two peas in a pod

Twins are defined as two offspring from the same pregnancy.

They can be identical, which means a single sperm fertilized a single egg that divided into two separate cells that went on to develop into two identical babies. They share the same DNA, and that’s why the two twins are essentially indistinguishable from each other.

Twins can also be fraternal. That’s the outcome when two separate eggs are fertilized individually at the same time. Each twin has its own set of genes from the mother and the father. One can be male and one can be female. Fraternal twins are basically as similar as any set of siblings.

diagram of two sperm fertilizing two eggs yielding two embryos, and one sperm fertilizing one egg that divides into two separate embryos
Fraternal twins originate in two eggs fertilized separately, while identical twins originate in a single fertilized egg that divides to create two embryos. Veronika Zakharova/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Approximately 3% of human pregnancies in the United States produce twins. Most of those are fraternal – approximately one out of every three pairs of twins is identical.

Multiple babies from one animal mom

Each kind of animal has its own standard number of offspring per birth. People tend to know the most about domesticated species that are kept as pets or farm animals.

One study that surveyed the size of over 10,000 litters among purebred dogs found that the average number of puppies varied by the size of the dog breed. Miniature breed dogs – like chihuahuas and toy poodles, generally weighing less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) – averaged 3.5 puppies per litter. Giant breed dogs – like mastiffs and Great Danes, typically over 100 pounds (45 kilograms) – averaged more than seven puppies per litter.

When a litter of dogs, for instance, consists of only two offspring, people tend to refer to the two puppies as twins. Twins are the most common pregnancy outcome in goats, though mom goats can give birth to a single-born kid or larger litters, too. Sheep frequently have twins, but single-born lambs are more common.

Horses, which are pregnant for 11 to 12 months, and cows, which are pregnant for nine to 10 months, tend to have just one foal or calf at a time – but twins may occur. Veterinarians and ranchers have long believed that it would be financially beneficial to encourage the conception of twins in dairy and beef cattle. Basically the farmer would get two calves for the price of one pregnancy.

But twins in cattle may result in birth complications for the cow and undersized calves with reduced survival rates. Similar risks come with twin pregnancies in horses, which tend to lead to both pregnancy complications that may harm the mare and the birth of weak foals.

DNA holds the answer to what kind of twins

So plenty of animals can give birth to twins. A more complicated question is whether two animal babies born together are identical or fraternal twins.

Female dogs and cats ovulate multiple eggs at one time. Fertilization of individual eggs by distinct spermatazoa from a male produces multiple embryos. This process results in puppies or kittens that are fraternal, not identical, even though they may look very much the same.

A mother cat lying down on a blanket and nursing her kittens.
Though born from the same litter, these kittens all have different sets of genes. bozhdb/iStock via Getty Images

Biologists believe that identical twins in most animals are very rare. The tricky part is that lots of animal siblings look very, very similar and researchers need to do a DNA test to confirm whether two animals do in fact share all their genes. Only one documented report of identical twin dogs was confirmed by DNA testing. But no one knows for sure how frequently fertilized animal eggs split and grow into identical twin animal babies.

And reproduction is different in various animals. For instance, nine-banded armadillos normally give birth to identical quadruplets. After a mother armadillo releases an egg and it becomes fertilized, it splits into four separate identical cells that develop into identical pups. Its relative, the seven-banded armadillo, can give birth to anywhere from seven to nine identical pups at one time.

There’s still a lot that scientists aren’t sure about when it comes to twins in other species. Since DNA testing is not commonly performed in animals, no one really knows how often identical twins are born. It’s possible – maybe even likely – that identical twins may have been born in some species without anyone’s ever knowing.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

And since curiosity has no age limit – adults, let us know what you’re wondering, too. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.The Conversation

Michael Jaffe, Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery, Mississippi State University and Tracy Jaffe, Assistant Clinical Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

library lion

Published by Toadstools and Fairy Dust - more stories at the link

The Bird and the Whale


book of the month september 2023: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at sea

by Anna Fienberg. Publication date 1997

Archive of millions of Historical Children’s Books All Digitised: Free to download or Read Online

Enter the 1: Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, titles, etc, see full-screen, zoomable images of book covers, download XML versions, and read all of the 2: over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views. 

Find 3: more classics in the collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

WilderQuest online fun

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is pleased to present the WilderQuest program for teachers, students and children.

The WilderQuest program includes a website and apps with game and video content, Ranger led tours and activities in national parks across NSW. It provides opportunities for families to experience nature, science and Aboriginal culture in classrooms, online, at events and in national parks. The Teacher portal and free primary school resources have been produced with support from our Environmental Trust partners.

Profile: Ingleside Riders Group

Ingleside Riders Group Inc. (IRG) is a not for profit incorporated association and is run solely by volunteers. It was formed in 2003 and provides a facility known as “Ingleside Equestrian Park” which is approximately 9 acres of land between Wattle St and McLean St, Ingleside. 
IRG has a licence agreement with the Minister of Education to use this land. This facility is very valuable as it is the only designated area solely for equestrian use in the Pittwater District.  IRG promotes equal rights and the respect of one another and our list of rules that all members must sign reflect this.
Profile: Pittwater Baseball Club

Their Mission: Share a community spirit through the joy of our children engaging in baseball.

National Geographic for Australian Kids

Find amazing facts about animals, science, history and geography, along with fun competitions, games and more. Visit National Geographic Kids today!

This week the National Geographic for Kids has launched a new free digital resource platform called NatGeo@Home to entertain and educate children affected by school closures.

The three main categories of content on the NatGeo@Home site aim to educate, inspire and entertain. For parents and teachers, there are also separate resources and lesson plans covering everything from getting to grips with Google Earth to learning to label the geological features of the ocean.

For the main Australian National Geographic for Kids, visit:

For the National Geographic at Home site, visit:


Mona Vale Library runs a Lego club on the first Sunday of each month from 2pm to 4pm. The club is open to children aged between seven and twelve years of age, with younger children welcome with parental supervision. If you are interested in attending a Lego at the Library session contact the library on 9970 1622 or book in person at the library, 1 Park Street, Mona Vale.

Children's Storytime at Mona Vale LibraryMona Vale Library offers storytime for pre-school children every week during school terms. Children and their carers come and participate in a fun sing-a-long with our story teller as well as listen to several stories in each session, followed by some craft.  

Storytime is held in the Pelican Room of the library in front of the service desk. Storytime is free and no bookings are required. 

Storytime Sessions: Tuesdays  10.00am - 11.00am - Wednesdays  10.00am - 11.00am  - Thursdays  10.00am - 11.00am

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5  who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 
Avalon Bilgola Amateur Swimming Club Profile

We swim at Bilgola rock pool on Saturday mornings (8:45am till 11:30am). Our season runs between October and March

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)


BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 Mona Vale Mountain Cub Scouts

Find out more about all the fun you can have at Mona Vale Mountain Cub Scouts Profile

our Profile pages aren’t just about those who can tell you about Pittwater before you were born, they’re also about great clubs and activities that you too can get involved in!