Be Sun Wise When Shopping for Back-to-School

You’ve made a list of the things your child will need for school from pencils and backpacks to sneakers and socks, and even their favorite snack to pack in their lunch. But wait, you may have forgotten the one item that could be a lifesaver. Yes, that’s right, I said life-saver…did you remember to buy the sunscreen?

Ongoing research about ultraviolet (UV) radiation and its effects on the skin show how sunscreens may play an increasingly important role in defending the skin.

Students in K-8 usually have recess or PE outdoors from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; one of the most intense and hottest times of the day. According to the American Cancer Society, one blistering sunburn in a child’s life could double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
However, sunscreen is only one item in the list of sun-safe precautions. Unfortunately, teaching sun-safe behavior is not universally recognized in every school. But parents and caregivers can take the lead.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends following these tips:
• Dress children in sun-protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin every morning. (check with your pediatrician or family health care provider for suggestions about sunscreen)
• If permitted by your school, teach children to reapply sunscreen when going outdoors for recess.
• Teach kids to look for shaded areas in which to play.
• Protect yourself and lead by example.

For more resources and information, check out http://www.sunsafely.org. Educating children and teens is our first defense in helping prevent skin cancer later in life! Remember, sun protection should be on the top of your school list!

Sun Safely Alphabet Book available at Amazon children’s books.

Another matter

Aurora Borealis; the Northern Lights.
Aurora Borealis

When is a substance not a liquid, solid, or gas? Give up? When it’s plasma, the fourth state of matter. (Not blood plasma, which is something different.)  Alas, my elementary school science failed me. And now…literally, decades later, I have become re-enchanted with this fact.

So, for those of us who are a bit out of touch with plasma, I’ll paraphrase a bit about this state. To begin with, what exactly is plasma?

Plasma is a super-heated gas that becomes so hot its electrons leave the atom’s orbit and roam free. A gas becomes a plasma when extreme heat causes its atoms to shed their electrons.

Okay, that’s cool, but where is it? We recognize the other states of matter, but what about this mysterious thing? Plasma is the most abundant form of visible matter in the universe and believed to compose up to 99 percent of what we see in the night sky; populating the infinite regions of interstellar and interplanetary space. Like the sun, stars are enormous balls of plasma. The fusion fueled by plasma creates the energy that gives us sunlight, which as we know, is essential for life on Earth.

Hmmm, so if this plasma is another state of matter, where else is it found?  Lightning, neon signs, fluorescent light bulbs, a candle flame, some television and computer displays are all examples of plasma. Like a gas, plasma has no shape or a definite volume unless it is enclosed in a container. However, distinctive from gas, when under the influence of a magnetic field, it may form structures such as filaments, beams and double layers.

Can we see it? Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is nature’s way of showing it to us. This occurs because plasma particles hurled from the sun interact with Earth’s magnetosphere, (the magnetic field that surrounds us).

Today’s esteemed thinker is English chemist and physicist, Sir William Crookes (1832-1919). He discovered the element thallium and invented the radiometer, the spinthariscope (a device for studying alpha particles), and the Crookes tube. Not a household name, Crookes discovered the electron when he was reconstructing the Cathode Ray. By placing black vanes on one side and silver on the other, it caused the vacuum tube to spin when it hit the light. Since the Cathode Ray had previously been built, he needed to call it something else. Today it is known as the Crookes’ Tube.

In 1879, while playing with an experimental electrical discharge tube (in which air is ionized by the introduction of a high voltage through a coil), he discovered “Plasma”.  Originally Sir William Crookes called it radiant matter. However, in 1928 Irving Langmuir, an American chemist and physicist, renamed it because he was reminded of blood plasma… go figure! 

History comes alive with each of us…

The historical Crockett Cemetery dates back to 1812. It contains the remains of Lt. Andrew Crockett, a Revolutionary War veteran, and family members. The Crocketts were one of the first settlers to come to Middle Tennessee in 1799.

“History left behind is like a bookmark in a classic. Eventually it will be retrieved.” NLAvery