Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The Bee is not Afraid of Me

Are we losing 1 percent of the world’s insect population each year?  This suspected insect apocalypse is complicated.  We don’t have a simple answer, but suspect that pesticides, habitat loss and climate change are involved.

Many insects don’t have a good rap.  Have you got an aversion to creepy crawlies?  Unless they are majestic moths, fairy-like dragonflies or beautiful butterflies, we often wish them away.  Mosquitoes carrying malaria accidentally kill hundreds of thousands of people each year.  But mosquitoes are also important pollinators as well as food for other creatures.  And without pollinating insects, flowering plants and crops can’t flourish and whole ecosystems suffer.  And that includes us.

It might sound lazy, but simply cutting the grass less often can help boost local insect numbers, increase biodiversity and even reduce pests.  So there are plenty of little things we can do to help boost their numbers.  Being sympathetic and connected rather than alienated by their insect oddities can be an important step too.

How we think and feel about insects begins when we are young.  So having a children’s poetry anthology dedicated to the beauty, fun and fascination of these six-legged creatures is rather special.

The Bee is not Afraid of Me: A Book of Insect Poems published by The Emma Press, includes two Science Rhymes.   Ask a katydid (p12) and True bugs are suckers (p15).  Pyrophorus Noctilucus by Kate O’Neill (p34) delights as it informs us about the talents of this click beetle.  And Yoga for insects by Myles McLeod has plenty of word-play giggles while naming various parts of insect biology.  Poems are interspersed with snippets of apt facts making this book engaging, enriching and enjoyable.

I was delighted to receive these lovely words (and link) from one of the book’s editors, primary science educator Fran Long:

“I wanted to write and thank you for your fabulous contribution to, ‘The Bee is not Afraid of Me’.  It is exciting to see my initial idea for the book become reality.  

I must admit I didn’t know about the katydid prior to reading your lovely poem.  However, the other day a friend sent me a link to some wonderful footage (1 min 44 secs in)!

This species of katydid looks like a snow pea!

Your poem on true bugs is fantastic for addressing misconceptions about bugs and hugely informative.”

The phrase, The Bee is not Afraid of Me, began as the first line of a nature poem by Emily Dickinson (published in 1924).  Now, it is the proud name of an innovative insect anthology being launched on Friday 6th March in UK.

A World Full Of Poems

 

Yesterday, I received a rather special poetry anthology.  A WORLD FULL OF POEMS is a luxuriously sturdy hardcover book, intent on enchanting early readers and listeners.  It is the kind of poetry book that someone, perhaps an aunt or grandparent, would ceremoniously give you when you are young.  It will faithfully serve you snippets of pleasure, wise philosophies and the joys of wordplay until you are old enough to gift it to a child or grandchild of your very own.

Towards the back is a whole section of Science and Art poems!  However, the Science Rhyme “Peace by Piece” is an environmental poem, so appears closer to the heart of the book (on page 83) in the section on Cities, Towns and Travel – next to another Australian contributor, Sally Murphy.

Most of the 153 poems are fairly short.  Many are created in rhyming verse, but not all.  Set out in large print, it yearns to encourage new readers to take the plunge.  Published by Dorling Kindersley (DK) in Great Britain, the collection was selected by Dr Sylvia Vardell (of Poetry Friday book fame in USA).  It includes some classics (such as “The Crocodile” by Lewis Carroll & “The Moon” by Robert Louis Stevenson), familiar favourites (including Kenn Nesbitt, Jack Prelutsky & Michael Rosen) and many others that provoke a tingle of delight.

My favourite discovery was on page 45 in the Feelings category:

Don’t Be Scared  by Carol Ann Duffy

The dark is only a blanket
for the moon to put on her bed.

The dark is a private cinema
for the movie dreams in your head.

The dark is a little black dress
to show off the sequin stars.

The dark is the wooden hole
behind the strings of happy guitars.

The dark is a jeweller’s velvet cloth
where children sleep like pearls.

The dark is a spool of film
to photograph boys and girls,

so smile in your sleep in the dark.
Don’t be scared.

 

The source of each poem is acknowledged in tiny print at the back of the book.  There, I discovered that three of the poems were first found on Australian Children’s Poetry.  That’s how “Peace by Piece” was chosen for this book, along with James Aitchison’s “Ratty Writing” and J R Poulter’s “Dive into a Book”.  This endearing anthology is full of friends, whichever way we look at it!

Awesome Possum

This cheerful image of a Leadbeater’s Possum (left) and Sugar Glider (right) is an excerpt from oil painting Time To Grow by Sharon Davson.  Toni Newell’s delightful Fairy Possum poem below prompted this blog … and a great excuse for me to share my own awesome possum poem!  Then there’s Meryl Brown Tobin’s Haiku after she encountered a young ringtail in Victoria – snapped by Hartley Tobin.

 

2021 will mark the 60th anniversary of the first sighting of a Leadbeater’s Possum Gymnobelideus leadbeateri (aka Fairy Possum) for over 50 years.  Ten years later, it was awarded the momentous status of Victoria’s faunal emblem in celebration.  We are sadly seeing their numbers in decline due to habitat loss.  Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum are working to protect their stunning forest environments in Victoria, so we don’t lose any more of these delightful endangered marsupials.  Our support for their cause can help too.

 

Fairy Possum  by Toni Newell

I’m small and cute,
With big brown eyes,
I weigh very little,
Which is no surprise.
I live in the Highlands,
And eat at night,
Sleep during the day,
In tree-holes, no light.
I survive on insects,
And sap from leaves,
Which mainly comes,
From Acacia trees.
I have brown fur,
I’m soft to touch,
I can live for five years,
Which isn’t much.
An enemy of mine,
Is the feral cat,
Who rob the nests,
In our habitat.
I’m a proud Australian,
As you may know,
I’m the faunal emblem,
For Victoria, on show.

 

Victoria’s Awesome Possum  by Celia Berrell

The Leadbeater’s possum is very shy
and spends its time in trees on high.
It likes eating bugs and nectar and sap
from gumtrees, acacias and mountain ash.

From pink little nose to attentive ears,
the friendliest face imagined appears.
With cute pudgy fingers and tiny nails,
they’ll keep their balance with long brown tails.

Crickets and spiders are favourite food
along with the gums those trees exude.
The sweetest of parties can go for hours
when sipping the nectar from perfumed flowers.

They socially sleep in a group of eight,
hiding in hollows of trees until late.
And getting around is a possum’s breeze,
making breathtaking leaps among the trees.

 

 

HAIKU

end of sweltering day
ringtail possum baby
seeks coolness of dusk

by Meryl Brown Tobin

Water Bears are tiny teddy Tardigrades

Could Water Bears be creatures from outer space?  Perhaps they arrived on Earth via meteorites (panspermia).  In April 2019, we sent some to the Moon!  Marine Biologist Stephanie Rose shares the fascinating facts in her ModestFish blog here.

Hardy Tardigrades
by Celia Berrell

A “Water Bear” has four short pairs
of legs with curly claws.
It ambles like a furry bear
but never ever roars.

Its caterpillar body shape
has crinkles all the way.
That mouth hides two sharp pointy spikes
which jab into its prey.

It sucks out all the juicy bits
from mossy lichen cells
and sometimes catches other “bears”
and eats them up as well.

A Tardigrade won’t hibernate.
Instead, it just dries out.
And in this state, survives a fate
that nothing else surmounts.

A vacuum doesn’t kill it, nor
high pressures most extreme.
It doesn’t die from heat or Sun,
or even X-ray beams.

Resistant to the coldest cold,
subsisting on the brink,
it still lives on when soaked
in any alcoholic drink.

They’re found throughout the world
in almost any soggy place.
And when they’re dehydrated
they’ll survive in outer space.

We’ve proved they’re perfect candidates
that don’t need to be taught
the disciplines of how to be
a micro-astronaut!

 

Give & Take: The Garden Within

The Seeds of Gratitude by Sharon Davson (oil on canvas)

On Sunday 20th October 2019 I was proud to deliver this following speech at the District 69 Area 9 Toastmasters Conference:

Friends share all manner of things.  And sometimes, the effects of what we give & take reverberate in amazing ways.  Has your world ever been rocked by a fabulous friend?  Mine was recently.  It involves a picture, a poem and some children in India.  Ladies and Gentlemen, you are all someone’s fabulous friend, even if you don’t realise it.

My friend Sharon Davson is a spiritual artist, whereas I write Science Rhymes for children.  Sharon is very religious, whereas I am not.  I respond best to fact and evidence, whereas Sharon gives prayer and gratitude.  I tell her off for not reading her emails whereas she empowers me to follow my dreams.  We both agree … to disagree … sometimes!

Of course, we have things in common as well: similar age, backgrounds in teaching, and we’re both passionate about creativity.  And since neither of us have children, our pictures and poetry have become our progeny.  And we want them to leave home and do good in the world.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – depending on how you look at it.  So would you consider my poem The Garden Within is a success or a calamity?  Here are three facts to help you decide.

Number One: The poem The Garden Within was inspired by Sharon Davson’s painting of a koala sharing a variety of seeds with other creatures, amidst a big blue sky and rocky foreground of flowers.  Titled The Seeds of Gratitude, this oil painting is one of Davson’s treasured successes.  It’s housed in the Hikaru Museum in Takayama, Japan and has strong ties with the Sukyo Mahikari faith.  You can see it on the Science Rhymes website with the poem, The Garden Within, which I wrote especially for Sharon.  It goes like this:

There is a garden in my heart,
where beauty grows in fits and starts.
Where smiles are petals from the flowers,
bestowed by others from their bowers.

Nutritious hope reaps seeds to feed
my spirit for its every need.
With gratitude I’ll reach my goal
and touch the island of my soul.

Fact Two was a complete surprise: in 2018, I received an email from a school teacher in India revealing that, since 2015, this poem has been recited by children there, because it’s published in the official government’s school textbook Our World Through English Class 8, in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.  When sharing this news with writing friends, they say “What? They published your poem without asking your permission? That’s not allowed.  What a calamity! … No royalties for you then”.  I’m not concerned about the royalties, I’m honoured my poem has been chosen. But I really want them to give me a physical copy of this book to cherish.  I’ve sent requests, but as yet, no reply, no book and yes I am disappointed!  But …

Fact Three: Discovering all the YouTube videos of students reciting and singing the words to The Garden Within has overwhelmed me, but I remember I wrote this poem in Sharon’s voice. It was my gift to a Fabulous Friend. And now, this little poem has been embraced by people who measure richness, like Sharon, with prayer and gratitude.

Love and friendship are filled with give & take.  And now I’ve befriended those children on YouTube, they have shown ME  With gratitude, I’ll reach my goal, to touch the island of my soul.

May you share this sentiment with your Fabulous Friends too.

Shanti.

 

Wednesday Poetry Club

For students who wish to write poems about their reef and rainforest experiences at Cairns Aquarium.

Celia Berrell is offering year 4-8 students (groups of 12-16) who have participated in a guided educational tour of Cairns Aquarium a 45 minute poetry presentation with follow-up support so they can share their poems for possible publication. Celia will attend your school and share poems and poetry techniques with an aquatic theme. This programme is available on Wednesdays in Terms 2 & 3 (cost $60) and requires PowerPoint facilities. Each participating student is asked to provide a parental/adult email address, so Celia can correspond with each student about their poem after the presentation. Please make bookings directly with Celia via mobile 0408 069 192 or email celia@sciencerhymes.com.au.

Selected poems will be submitted to Cairns Aquarium for future display and/or publication opportunities.

Celia Berrell’s poetry is regularly published in the CSIRO’s children’s science magazine Double Helix and Australian Children’s Poetry. She holds Blue Card #836652/4 and is registered in the One School system through previous school presentations. This website www.sciencerhymes.com.au offers free resources that are appreciated worldwide.

Picture-Book Poetry Party 2018

Sunday 21st October 2-3pm at Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside, 209 Esplanade, Cairns.

This year, local author Deanna Henderson will be reading her picture-book There’s a Zoo in my backyard, and sharing some of her fascinating stories from Minibeast Wildlife, where she works with insects (such as the praying mantis), spiders and other fascinating invertebrates.

Students from Whitfield State School will be reciting poems created for this year’s National Science Week, themed Game Changers & Change Makers, and students from Trinity Beach State School are sharing poems about INSECTS!

This is a FREE EVENT, aimed to delight pre-school & primary-school aged children and their parents.  Bring along a favourite Picture-Book to receive a raffle ticket in the draw for a book voucher from Collins Booksellers Smithfield or a gift from Minibeast Wildlife.

This is the fifth POETRY PARTY hosted by Celia Berrell & Science Rhymes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored by: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside & Collins Booksellers Smithfield

Book Launch 10th August

How exciting – to be granted a 2.30pm LAUNCH at this year’s Cairns Tropical Writers Festival for The Science Rhymes Book – Second Edition!
It is going to be a really enjoyable event.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have invited Dr Clifford Jackson from James Cook University to say a few words. Cliff spent over a year analysing the poems in this book to check that the science concepts portrayed were sound. And this is what makes “The Science Rhymes Book” rather special. It isn’t simply a fun book of verse, it’s also a carefully crafted science resource book!

After sharing some highlights about this book’s journey – from concept, self-publishing and then partnership publishing with Jabiru Publishing – we will showcase a selection of the poems. I say “we”, because most of the poems will be delivered by students from Whitfield State School who have been attending this year’s lunchtime Poetry Club.

Here’s a plan of The Science Rhymes Book LAUNCH Programme:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to see you IN THE BALLROOM if you have time to attend.

 

International Women’s Day

In twenty-first century civilisation, most women quest for equal standing with men. On International Women’s Day, we take stock of our journey so far, thinking of and thanking the women and men who have helped along the way – be they prominent figures, family or friends – before pressing on.

In 2017, Danish Physiotherapist Dr Hanne Albert was invited to Frankfurt to give a lecture on the use of antibiotics as a treatment for Modic Back Pain. Five days before the conference, Hanne received a telephone call, advising her that she was being awarded The German Pain Prize – the highest award given for pain research. She had 5 days to prepare an honorary lecture to summarise the last ten years of her research to an audience of over 1000 conference participants.

“The Chairman of the Pain Society said that I had brought a brand new and ground-breaking treatment concept into the treatment of patient’s back pain; that I fought against all odds and resistance and continued to give lectures so that my research is now being used in clinical practice to change the life of patients. I got the longest applause lasting for several minutes and by so many people. It was completely overwhelming and a huge day in my life.”

Marie Curie was the first female scientist to be awarded prestigious prizes for her work – a Nobel Prize for physics in 1903, then a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1911.

Marie The First  by Celia Berrell & Sukarma Rani Thareja

Madame Curie
first Polish then French.
A physicist-chemist
with questions to quench.

“The Courage of Knowledge”
a film that attests
her radioactivity
research was best.

At first, PhD, then
female professor.
Achieved when men saw
the fair-sex as lesser.

Then love-team in physics
Pierre and Marie
wed Nobel acclaim
with the name of Curie.

But tragedy struck.
Marie stood alone.
Despite Pierre’s death
her research went on.

With funding so scarce
for a woman in science
her hardships were fierce.
Down to much self-reliance.

Marie persevered
and awards ensued,
including her Nobel
prize number two!

For women in science
the first we elect
is Madame Curie
for equal respect.

 

A Message from Associate Professor Sukarma Rani Thareja

May each girl-child have creative potential
and scientific aptitude in her own right.
Alas, this may still be wishful thinking!
But may this hopeful message continue to ring
through our halls of science
for hardworking women
like Madame Curie.

Sukarma Rani Thareja,
Alumnus-IIT-Kanpur (1986),
Associate Professor of Chemistry-Retired,
CSJM Kanpur University, UP, India.

Recommended reading: “A Lab of One’s Ownby Patricia Fara

National Science Day

The 28th February is a day for scientific celebration. Since 1987, National Science Day has honoured Nobel Prize-winner Sir Chandrasekhara Venkarta Raman and all things scientific in India. Discovering the “Raman Effect” (named in his honour) in 1928 has provided fantastical new ways of “seeing” with certain light-waves.

The Raman Effect  by Celia Berrell
(Sir Chandrasekhara Venkarta Raman 1928)

Chandrasekhara
Raman’s a knight
and Nobel prize winner
for physics in light.
A new radiation
he came to detect.
A scatter of rays
called the “Raman Effect”.

This change in light’s wavelength
when passing-on through
a gas or some substance
in spectroscope view
reveals the ID of
its chemistry zoo.
A tool to make
scientist’s dreams come true!

Doing no damage
discerning gem quality;
checking a pill
for content and purity.
Uses: amazingly
varied and rife.
Such as scanning remotely
for Mars signs of life.