Young Reporter's Story Ideas
Starr Pass Makes a Slime Dunk with Nickelodeon Vacation
by Reporter Gabriel Martin,
I used to ask my parents if we could go to a Nickelodeon hotel somewhere in Florida. That has never worked out, so I was excited to get the chance recently to go to the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort to enjoy a long weekend of Nickelodeon fun. If you like the Nickelodeon channel, then you’ll love this weekend getaway right here in Tucson.
SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer greet kids at check-in. When you get to your room you’ll find a Nick sleepover kit. Then go down to the pool to swim and enjoy all the activities there.
At the Starr Canyon River pool you can enjoy tubing, silly stuff like a rubber duck derby, and Nick live poolside shows—which include games, trivia, music and dancing, and sometimes a pie in the face or a lot of green slime! Friday night there was a dive-in movie. Bring plenty of sunscreen because all the poolside activities are a blast, and you will want to hang out there for hours.
We also did Nick-themed arts and crafts, went to a reptile exhibit (where I touched a crocodile and held a python), and enjoyed a spectacular fireworks display. Saturday night we rocked out with a local country and rock band called Rancho Deluxe. The bandleader, Kevin Pakulis, brought a bunch of kids up on stage to help sing “Mustang Sally.”
Whether you are floating along the “river” or hangin’ with SpongeBob SquarePants, there is no time to be bored. There are even more activities (but they may cost extra) such as hiking and golf. That’s also pretty cool. But just know that there’s
no extra charge for all the green sliming that you can handle!
by Reporters Cody Hedrick, Nicole Kime, Chris Porteous, Emerson & William Taylor
Coronado K-8 Newspaper Club
One November day at Coronado K-8 School, the Sun City Astronomy Club gave the fifth-graders Galileoscopes and tripods. These telescopes are a mysterious black color and have two lenses, one at the front and one that you look through. You can see Jupiter and four of its moons!
The astronomers gave us these telescopes to get us involved in astronomy. When our teacher went on a little trip and met the astronomers, they said they wanted to adopt fifth-graders. We feel that what they did was generous.
Two of our reporters attended the first Star Party hosted by Science Foundation Arizona and National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Phoenix. They interviewed Chuck Dugan, NOAO/Kitt Peak and Project ASTRO site coordinator. Dugan got his first telescope when he was in second grade. He got a big surprise when he looked at his first object through the scope.
“I thought it was a star,” he says. “But it was really Saturn!”
Dugan says that “astronomy is the last place to discover.” He explains,“if you put Earth in proper perspective, it is in space. Just think how it fits in with the other planets.” We wanted to know more so we asked about planets other than Earth. Dugan says, “Astronomers have already found 400 other planets circling other stars. Our technology isn’t advanced enough to find more planets like Earth.”
We also interviewed Robert Cratty, a volunteer astronomer with Project Astro and a member of the Sun City Vistoso Astronomy Club. “I have two Galileoscopes,” Cratty says. “I've seen Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, Orion nebula, Mars and a lot of the moon. I've also seen lots of upside down trees on Mount Lemmon.”
He explains that in addition to the Galileoscopes, he has a large “go to” telescope. “I key in a catalog number and the telescope finds the object and tracks it. So, I've been spoiled,” he says. “The Galileoscope is a lot harder to use than my big telescope. Using the Galileoscope has made me appreciate what Galileo went through to discover what he did.”
Kitt Peak Brings the Heavens Closer
by Reporter Lily Fera
Green Fields Country Day
This winter, fifth-graders from Green Fields Country Day had an unforgettable visit to Kitt Peak National Observatory. The students went to learn more about astronomy and have fun.
Kitt Peak, founded in 1958, has the world’s largest collection of telescopes. It has 24 optical and two radio scopes. It is on the Tohono O’odham reservation, and the land that it is on is the nation’s second most sacred place.
The students got to go up in a telescope and see all of the beautiful land surrounding the observatory. Now, when you think of a telescope, you probably picture something you can set up in your backyard. Not these telescopes! These are huge. People can actually walk inside them. You can see the largest one from more than 50 miles away!
Shrek Lives Happily Ever After
by Reporter Amanda Shake
Esperero Canyon Middle School
They say all good things must come to an end. Sadly, that applied to the ever-famous Shrek movie series when its last film, “Shrek Forever After,” released on May 21. This film franchise became one of the best-grossing animated series of all time and is known and loved around the world by children and adults alike. For something so phenomenal, an epic ending is necessary. “Shrek Forever After” was no exception.
After becoming a family man and medieval celebrity, Shrek strives to once again be a “real ogre,” feared by all. To make his wish come true, he makes a deal with a man named Rumpelstiltskin, not knowing what the consequences might be. Rumpelstiltskin then becomes king of Far Far Away, turning it into a wretched place for all, especially ogres. As if that’s not bad enough, his best friend, Donkey, and his wife, Fiona, have no idea who he is.
Now that Shrek realizes he wants his life with his friends and family back, he must receive true love’s kiss to set things straight. The movie is intended for children and their families, and is rated PG for some action, language and rude humor.
I believe that “Shrek Forever After” was one of the best Shrek movies. One thing that made me give it this prestigious title was that the plot was creative and original. It’s something that has never quite been done before, which sets the stage for a fantastic movie. Shrek’s final chapter also had a balance between action, humor and heart. It did not have overwhelming amounts of any of them, but it did have reasonable rations that would keep any and every audience member satisfied.
Let’s not forget that the return of lovable characters that are just becoming more lovable also adds to the greatness of this movie. I doubt there is a single person on Earth that can resist the hilarity of Donkey, the cuteness of Puss In Boots or the friendliness of Shrek himself. Last, but certainly not least, it wrapped up the franchise in an impressive way.
You can’t ask for anything better than a happy ending where everything works. In short, if you think “Shrek Forever After” looks like just another Shrek movie and that Dreamworks only made it to end the series, think again.
Mini Pigs Are Maximum Fun
by Reporter Gracie Greve,
Green Fields Country Day School
Adviser: Anne Davies
Mini pigs all started because several breeds of pigs mixed. It happened because people love pigs, but they are so big they are hard to keep. Breeders finally came up with the idea of a mini pig. They are very popular in England, where the idea started.
When mini pigs are born, they weigh about half a pound. Mini pigs grow to about 60 pounds. That may not seem little to you, but compared to the normal 170-pound pig, it is very small. Some pigs even weigh more than 300 pounds.
Pigs are very intelligent and can be trained easily. You can train a pig to use a litter box in a matter of days. Mini pigs usually live to be between 14 and 20 years old. The common coloring for mini pigs is black, white, silver or a mix of black and white.
Prices on mini pigs can range from $250 to about $1,100. The price depends on the size, color, gender and more. Mini pigs are very low maintenance and require about as much daily attention as a dog. Pigs are very clean and don’t like their homes to be messy. They also don’t trigger allergies in most people.
Disneyland Worth a Trip
by Reporter Sammy Cartwright
Tucson Country Day School
Have you ever been to Disneyland? If you have, I hope you had fun! If you have not, I will tell you about it.
There are actually two parks that are part of the complex in Anaheim, Calif. One is called Disneyland, and the other is called California Adventure.
In Disneyland, many of the rides are for people under the age of 7, though older kids may like rides like Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.
California Adventures is more for older people. Younger kids visiting may like It’s a Bug’s Life or the splashy water rides.
I hope you get a chance to go!
Sharks, Whales and Dolphins Steal the Show at SeaWorld
by Reporter Gavin MacIntosh
Green Fields Country Day
Adviser: Anne Davies
SeaWorld is an amusement park in Southern California—San Diego actually. SeaWorld is fun for the whole family. It has an aquarium with sharks, fish, jellyfish and many more sea creatures. One of my favorite things about SeaWorld is that it’s also a zoo. In the zoo, there are otters, fish and even whales!
Speaking of whales, these giant creatures are the main attraction at SeaWorld. A huge stadium that features a big pool of water is the home of the famous orca Shamu. When the show starts, orcas come flying out of the water and splash the people in the front rows. In case you don’t know what orcas are, they are black and white whales that have a very glossy skin. Some people call them killer whales. Orcas are highly intelligent animals and can be trained. People even ride on their mouths when they are jumping. They have enormous dorsal fins.
SeaWorld has other animal shows, too. The dolphin and sea lion shows aren’t as interesting as the orca show in my opinion. But the thing I thought was really cool was a dog show. I’m sure you’re thinking that this is one of those dog shows where they’re looking for the best-looking dog. No, in this dog show, the animals do really cool tricks, like playing soccer and football.
SeaWorld has a huge structure full of nets on which kids can climb. It’s about the size of a two- or three-story building. It’s an obstacle course for kids. There are also about 10 places to eat in the park.
If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a family vacation or a field trip, SeaWorld is the place to go!
Students Learn History by Reenacting Part of Civil War
by Reporter Meena Venkataramanan,
At Manzanita Elementary School this spring, we fifth-graders were thinking about the American Civil War. We reenacted parts of the conflict that divided the nation from 1861 to 1865. Each student got a role—I got the role of Betty Duvall, a Confederate spy courier.
During the War Between the States, 11 Southern states that supported slavery wanted to leave the United States—known as the Union—and form the Confederate States of America—or the Confederacy. As you know, the Union won the war!
“Everything is fun, but my favorite part of it is watching the students get excited and learn,” says Elizabeth Pagels, a fifth-grade teacher who has directed the simulation for 11 years.
“Long ago, when I was in middle school, I had a chance to visit a Civil War artifact museum. I could touch toys and other artifacts from that time,” Pagels says. “When I found out I was teaching this subject, I wanted kids to not only learn but to truly experience the Civil War just like I did.”
Pagels shares that if she was acting in the simulation, she would want to portray Louisa May Alcott, the author of “Little Women.”
The Civil War was a very important event in American history. Being in the Civil War simulation was really fun. We all learned a lot.
Be a Responsible Pet Owner
by Reporter Martha Kiela
There are many animals being put down in animal shelters. Some estimate that 9 million animals are put down each year in the United States. That comes to about 750,000 dogs and cats a month.
In many cases, the owners have given their pets away. For what? In some shelters, if an animal isn’t adopted within three days, it is put to death because there are just too many new animals coming in and not enough crates or cages to put them in.
We should avoid breeding animals because so many of them are unwanted. Instead of buying a pet from a breeder, you should adopt one from a shelter. Twenty-five percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds!
Also, if you are unsure if you have what it takes to keep a happy animal for a long time, consider fostering for a local organization. In Tucson, you can contact the Humane Society for more information.
Stay Safe, Have Fun This Summer
by Reporter Tanner Schmidt,
Green Fields Country Day
Adviser: Anne Davies
There are many places you can go over summer break. You don’t have to go far to have fun.
In Tucson, you can go to Reid Park Zoo or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The zoo has animals from all over the world, like Asia, Africa and South America. The Desert Museum focuses on wildlife and plants of the Sonoran Desert. In Phoenix, Arizona Science Center has fun things to do for kids of all ages.
Wherever you go, remember to be safe and have fun!
SEA LIFE Arizona Opens in Tempe
by Reporters Meghna Pancholi and Bansri Doshi,
New Vistas Academy
Adviser: Stacey Trepanier
On May 14, the curtains rose, unveiling the new SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium! This aquarium, located at Arizona Mills in Tempe, is sure to be one of the most popular Arizona destinations of the summer. People filled the area, and the mall was packed.
Waiting outside was intriguing in itself. Characters ambled up and down through the lines giving information and posing for pictures. For example, King Neptune and King Triton, two rulers of the sea from mythology, were on hand. Several aquarium officials also were present.
So why did SEA LIFE choose Arizona? First, the company wanted to “return ocean to the desert”—in prehistoric times, the land Arizona now occupies was an ocean. Second, SEA LIFE hopes many families will come to the aquarium to escape the summer heat. It’s cool and cooling to be surrounded by nearly 200,000 gallons of water and more than 5,000 species of marine life.
For more information, check out sealifeus.com.
Amazing Jellyfish Discovers Fountain of Youth
by Reporter Christina Huynh,
The Turritopsis nutriculo may be the world’s only immortal animal. It is a type of jellyfish, or rather, a species of jellyfish.
Immortal means to bypass death, or to live indefinitely. Turritopsis nutriculo is like this because of a process called transdifferentiation, in which one type of cell becomes another type of cell. Some animals can use limited transdifferentiation. For example, the salamander uses it to re-grow body parts or limbs. But Turritopsis nutriculo cycles back and forth between a full-grown adult and an immature polyp.
Since Turritopsis nutriculo is immortal, its population is jumping higher. The creature was once found only in the Caribbean, but now it’s found in oceans all over the world!
Acting Responsibly Keeps People Safe
by Reporter Lily Marie Antonini,
Alcohol-related accidents kill someone every 31 minutes and injure someone every two minutes!
Although the rate of drunken driving has gone down by more than 50 percent from 20 years ago, it has been climbing the past few years. That tells us we need to pay more attention to this issue.
Drunken driving kills more than 17,000 people each year. Every holiday, people get arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
In Arizona, it’s illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 (the mass of alcohol per volume of blood)! Never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking!
Don’t Get Burned!
by Reporter Vika Laloudakis
New Vistas Academy
Adviser: Stacey Trepanie
The bright sun’s rays are upon you. Once you come inside, you notice you have a sunburn! In Arizona, where the sun shines all year around, you need to protect your skin whenever you’re outside.
Applying sunscreen every day is one way to keep your skin from burning. Just so you know, too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Bottles of sunscreen come with the letters SPF on them. That stands for “sun protection factor” and shows you how much the lotion will protect you. The higher the number, the more protection you get. The American Cancer Society recommends the use of sunscreen. You should use one with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Always apply sunscreen before you go outside and again if you’ve been sweating or have gotten wet from swimming or other water activities. The most brutal, hottest part of the day is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Another way to protect yourself from the sun is by wearing protective clothing, like a hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirt.
Here in the Valley of the Sun, we are always outside enjoying the great weather and beautiful scenery. That puts people in Arizona at a high risk of getting cancer. So be mindful of your health and wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
‘Shrek Forever After’
Is a Must See!
by Reporters Linzey & Will Leinart,
The Shrek series is known for its comedy. But besides being hilarious, “Shrek Forever After” has a puzzle side to it, which makes you sit on the edge of your seat throughout the movie.
Shrek (Mike Myers) is frustrated with family life with Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their triplets. A smooth-talking Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into signing a bad pact, and the ogre is pulled into an alternate version of Far Far Away.
The creative plots and the new characters make “Shrek Forever After” more exciting than the rest. Part of the plot has the main characters not recognizing Shrek, which makes the story even more interesting.
One of the best scenes is when Shrek and Donkey
fight a dragon and how Shrek manages to escape.
The Pied Piper making the ogre dance is another unforgettable scene.
Overall, this movie is funny, entertaining, cool and awesome—and it’s suitable for all ages. We didn’t want the movie to end. It’s a must see.
Walk on the Wild Side at the Phoenix Zoo
by Reporters Rosemarie Miller and Caitlin Chavez,
North Ranch Elementary
On May 2, we went to the astonishing Phoenix Zoo! With orangutans, giraffes and tigers, what more does a zoo need? There were many phenomenal experiences, such as the Giraffe Encounter, Land of the Dragons and Monkey Village. Where do we start?
Well, we started at the entrance and quickly made our way to the Giraffe Encounter, where you can feed a fantastic Somali giraffe! The zookeeper gives you a greenish-brown pellet, and the long-necked giraffe sticks its long, sticky and curly tongue around your fingers and swiftly takes the pellet. The experience was definitely worth the $3 per person entry fee.
Next, we visited the Land of the Dragons.
There are no fire-breathing, 20-foot-tall dragons at this exhibit. This is where you see Komodo dragons, which are long and not the prettiest flower in the garden. Their long tongues reach out and shake like a snake! The exhibit was crowded but worth the wait!
Last, we went to the exotic Monkey Village, a forest-like enclosure that has common squirrel monkeys that climb all over the thin trees
The monkeys’ cute little faces shine at you as the monkeys swing from vine to vine. Be sure to wash your hands after the wonderful monkey experience.
The Phoenix Zoo is truly a spectacular experience. You should definitely visit today! For info, visit www.PhoenixZoo.org.
Tour Takes You Behind TV Screen
by Reporter Lauren Bukoskey,
Cheyenne Traditional School
Lights, camera, action! What you watch on TV is only half of the work that goes into creating a show or movie. I was lucky to be able to see what really goes on when the cameras are off by taking a tour of NBC studios in Los Angeles. I got to see the sets of “Days of Our Lives,” “Access Hollywood” and “The Tonight Show.”
I was surprised to see all the tricks of the trade, like when they use different doors for different people. For instance, to make a woman look more small and feminine, they use bigger doors on the set, which they call masculine doors. On the other hand, for men they use smaller doors, called feminine doors, to make the men look masculine.
I was also surprised that more than 500 props—things like lamps, dressers and doors—are used on the set of “Days of Our Lives.”
I recommend going on this tour if you want to get the full Hollywood experience! Whether you like celebrities, want to see the sets, or maybe just want to do something to keep you occupied, this tour is truly fun and engaging!
‘Castle in the Sky’ Now Out on DVD
by Reporter Brandon Miranda
“Castle in the Sky” is an animated film about a young girl name Sheeta. She wears a crystal around her neck. She meets a boy named Pazu, who is an engineer. Pazu finds Sheeta floating down from the sky wearing a glowing pendant. They go on a high-flying adventure to find the lost city of Laputa.
“Castle in the Sky” is directed by Academy-Award winner Hayao Miyazaki. The two-disc Special Edition DVD is now available.