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Steel history – medieval to modern steel

By | 2017-09-07T22:22:19+00:00 September 7th, 2017|Central Asia, Science|

Safavid steel helmet (Iran, 1500s AD) The wars after the collapse of the Mongol Empire in the 1300s stopped steel production in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But metal-workers kept on making high quality crucible steel under the Pandyas, the Mughals, and the Safavid Empire. The wars also made it hard to travel on the Silk Road, so traders started trying to go by sea [...]

What is lead? A heavy kind of metal

By | 2017-09-06T13:04:22+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Religion, Romans, Science|

A Roman anchor from Palermo, Italy Lead is a kind of metal that is very heavy. (See if you can get some lead, like a fishing weight, to see how heavy it is). People have been mining lead and using it for weights in West Asia since about 4000 BC, about the same time people started to use copper, and before [...]

European science in the 1800s

By | 2017-12-01T16:32:27+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Modern Europe, Science|

European boys at school in the 1800s In the first half of the 1800s AD, countries in northern Europe like France and Britain forced India, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, and other countries to give them food. That meant that many people in northern Europe could stop farming and get an education. Families sent more boys to school than girls, so most of the educated people were [...]

Al Razi – Medieval Islamic science

By | 2017-07-27T08:06:18+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Islam, Science|

A manuscript copy of Al Razi's writing (from 1094 AD) Al Razi was born in Iran, in the Samanid kingdom, in 865 AD, when Iran was part of the Abbasid Empire. The Samanids were traders who encouraged education and the arts, and many scientists and artists lived in their kingdom. Al Razi seems to have started out as [...]

What is rust? Oxidation reactions and chemistry

By | 2017-06-03T00:53:32+00:00 June 3rd, 2017|History|

A rusty fence railing Fire isn't the only kind of oxidation reaction. Some kinds of metal, if you leave them in contact with oxygen, will also react with the oxygen, but much more slowly, and without making a flame. Because it's slower and doesn't make a flame, we call that an oxidation reaction [...]

What is a combustion reaction? Chemistry

By | 2017-06-03T00:49:45+00:00 June 3rd, 2017|Chemistry|

A candle flame When two molecules bump into each other under the right circumstances, they may exchange electrons in ways that change both molecules into new kinds of molecules. While they're doing that - reacting to each other - they may also release some electrical energy in the form of heat or light. This [...]

Fire and Magnifying Glasses – Chemistry project

By | 2017-06-03T00:46:29+00:00 June 3rd, 2017|Chemistry|

Using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight and start a fire Be very careful with fire, because it can burn you, or burn down your house. If you're not an adult, make sure an adult knows when you do this experiment and thinks you are safe. Grass, like all living things, is made out [...]

Digestion – Oxidation reaction – Chemistry

By | 2017-06-03T00:41:56+00:00 June 3rd, 2017|Biology, Chemistry|

Kids eating food (thanks to USDA) When animals, including people like you, digest their food, they use an oxidation reaction to break down big hydrocarbon molecules like sugar into different molecules. In order for your cells to break down sugar molecules made of hydrogen and carbon atoms, they have to combine the sugar with oxygen, just [...]

What is plastic? Organic chemistry

By | 2017-10-14T16:41:33+00:00 June 2nd, 2017|History|

Plastic water bottles There are thousands of different kinds of plastic, from shopping bags to Fisher-Price toys to photographic film, CD's, and plumbing pipes. Some plastics, like chewing gum or rubber, grow as part of plants, but people make most of the different kinds of plastic. We call them "plastics" because they are [...]

What is a protein? Organic chemistry

By | 2017-06-02T23:46:07+00:00 June 2nd, 2017|Biology, Chemistry|

Proteins are a type of molecule made mainly out of hydrogen and carbon atoms. They are combinations of smaller molecules called amino acids. The first amino acids probably developed into proteins more than four billion years ago on Earth, possibly with the help of ribonucleic acid, or RNA. We don't know whether this process has happened on [...]