For a complete introduction and to get to know each Quirkle, work your way across the main menu bar above. Have fun exploring, and please contact us with any questions you may have!

But that's not all. Check out the introductory video that explains why we created the Quirkles, or take a look at the sample book Gilbert Gas below.

 


Recent News

April through June kicks off what is typically the most active and dangerous three-month period of the year for tornadoes in the United States. It’s a perfect time to pull out the Quirkles book Timothy Tornado to learn more about this strange weather phenomena and discuss safety preparedness. Then learn about vortexes in our fun activity, Timothy Tornado’s Water Race.

Did you know that before 1950, your local weather forecaster would not have warned you of favorable tornado weather conditions or told you to take cover? That’s because from 1887 up until 1950, American weather forecasters were forbidden from attempting to predict tornados. During that time, Roger Edwards of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center writes, “tornadoes were dark and mysterious menaces of unfathomable power, fast-striking monsters from the sky capable of sudden and unpredictable acts of death and devastation.”

Less than confident in their own predictive powers, and fearful of the responses of a panicked public, “the use of the word ‘tornado’ in forecasts was at times strongly discouraged and at other times forbidden” by the Weather Bureau, Edwards writes, replaced by euphemisms like “severe local storms.”

Of course, a ban on the word “tornado” wouldn’t have been necessary without someone who really wanted to talk about tornadoes. That person was John Park Finley, an officer with the Army Signal Office with a deep interest in severe storms. The U.S. Army Signal Service first opened a weather forecasting office in 1870, and when Finley enlisted in 1877, he joined it immediately.

His hope was to develop a method of tornado prediction so that storms’ arrivals could be broadcast to local communities–possibly he thought through the ringing of church bells.

In 1887, nervous superiors sent him instructions: the word tornado was banned from forecasts. Besides an excitable public, there were commercial concerns; the businessmen of Tornado Alley had “complained that Finley was giving potential investors the idea that their region was twister prone.”

The Signal Office’s forecasting division was eventually transferred to the Department of Agriculture, where it became the U.S. Weather Bureau. Though the Bureau developed warning systems for everything from floods to hurricanes to forest fires, it held fast to its tornado position. Forecasts of tornadoes were prohibited. Meanwhile, throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s, the death toll from tornadoes mounted. There were no warnings, so no time for people to seek shelter.

In 1948, two Air Force meteorologists, Major Ernest J. Fawbush and Captain Robert E. Miller, after scrutinizing tornados in Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma, developed their own prediction system. In 1948, after correctly predicting several outbreaks among themselves, they finally announced an upcoming storm publicly.

Miller prepared himself for the worst: “It seemed improbable that anyone would employ, as a weather forecaster, an idiot who issued a tornado forecast for a precise location,” he would later write.

Their forecast turned out to be correct, and when word of the feat got out a couple of years later, the public clamored for warnings. In 1950, the chief of the Weather Bureau removed the ban, writing “the forecaster (district or local) may at his discretion mention tornadoes in the forecast or warning.”

These days, tornado forecasting is still hard to pull off. We still don’t fully understand how these powerful storms work. But thanks to technological advances, changing priorities, and ever-more-detailed science, the average annual tornado death toll has gone down significantly since the 1950s (though some storms, like the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado killed 161). Hopefully, we’ll continue to learn more. It helps, of course, that forecasters can also say the word.

April 22, Earth Day, is a time when we pause to reflect on our truly awesome planet, the challenges but also the wonders.

Learn some amazing facts about our home planet.

Did you know that Earth is the only planet in the Solar System not to be named after a mythical god? Instead the word "earth" can be used to mean a number of different things. It can simply mean "dirt." This may have been one of the earliest meanings. What do we stand on? If you are outside, you are often standing on dirt. Perhaps, people came to think of the whole area they were standing on as "dirt" or "earth." By the time people were speaking Old English, about one thousand years ago, "earth" could have already meant the world on which people lived. It took longer for "earth" to come to mean "Planet Earth." This happened about 1400 or so.

Despite our Earth being called "earth," meaning dirt, only about 30% of the surface is actually solid ground. The rest of the planet's surface is made up of water. From a distance, Earth would be the brightest of the planets. This is because sunlight is reflected off the planet's water.

What is even more amazing than this percentage, is that a single drop of liquid water has yet to be found on any other planet in the Solar System. In this regard, Earth is truly unique. Of course water is necessary to sustain life.

Speaking of water, did you know our oceans hold nearly 20 million tons of gold? There is enough undissolved gold on the sea floor to give nine pounds to each person on Earth!

Scientists believe Earth may have had two moons at one time. Of course now Earth has one moon, and its name is Luna. 

Now, instead of looking skyward, take a look below the Earth’s surface. This month, our training video models what lies below our feet. Explore the inner and outer core, mantle, and crust in an easy, hands-on activity children are sure to enjoy.

Yes, our awesome Earth is truly amazing! It’s also the only Earth we have so remember, along with the Quirkles X.E. Ecology, to reuse, reduce, and recycle!

Resources

Tornadoes are anything but fun and games. Here are some warning signs: a dark, often greenish, sky, wall clouds, large hail often in the absence of rain, air may become very still, and a loud roar similar to a freight train may be heard.

There’s more to Earth than meets the eye! Learn about what’s under the surface and discover that Earth has an inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust. Who knew so much was under the ground that we walk on!

What People Are Saying

I really appreciate your ideas and support!!! I am amazed at the Quirkles series that you have created and know you all must be FABULOUS teachers!!!

Cindy, Lower School Science Coordinator, Suffolk, VA

What People Are Saying

It is very hard to put into words exactly how much I love the Quirkles. They totally changed my attitude about teaching science to kindergarten and first graders as an enrichment class in my school.

Lynn, Gifted Teacher, Springdale, AR