WELL PLAYED (TIME For Kids Family Edition, May 2013)
A program’s goal is to give children around the world a ball that is almost indestructible
By Jaime Joyce
American kids love to play soccer. On any given weekend, you will find boys and girls kicking a ball across a grassy playing field. The sport is even more popular with kids in other countries. But for kids in some parts of the world, playing conditions and equipment are far from ideal. Can you imagine playing soccer with a ball made of trash tied together with string?
In 2010, Tim Jahnigen saw a news program that showed children playing with a “trash” ball in the Darfur region of Sudan, in Africa. In recent years, that part of the world has been torn apart by violent conflict. “I was sad both for the kids that had lost the people that loved them and angry that they lived in such a harsh environment, where a normal ball couldn’t last long enough for them to play,” Jahnigen told TFK by e-mail. He was determined to help.
A Tough Ball
To Jahnigen, the most important thing is letting kids play. He believes that play is “a form of healing medicine.” But he wanted to do more than send kids new soccer balls. There are already many groups that do that.
Jahnigen noticed that the kids in Darfur were playing on dirt fields strewn with rocks. Their balls quickly went flat. Traditional soccer balls just aren’t made to last under these rough conditions.
What if a ball could be made that was indestructible? Jahnigen came up with a plan to make a solid soccer ball using a material called PopFoam. This hard, durable foam is similar to the material used to make Crocs, the popular shoes.
The trouble was, Jahnigen didn’t have money to produce the balls. His dream would have to wait. Or would it? One day, he had breakfast with his friend Sting, the musician. He told Sting about the children in Darfur who had made a soccer ball out of garbage, and about his idea for a long-lasting ball.
“I said, ‘Wow! Yes, let’s make it,” Sting recalled in a video about One World Futbol. He gave Jahnigen the money he needed to get started. To honor Sting’s contribution, Jahnigen named his invention the One World Futbol, after a song by Sting called “One World (Not Three).” In most parts of the world, soccer is called football, or futbol.
Fields of Dreams
Since the One World Futbol Project (OWF) began in July, 2010, the group has shipped more than 325,000 balls to children in nearly 160 countries.
Kyle Weiss, 20, has helped deliver the balls. His group, Fund a Field, builds soccer fields in developing countries. He says the kids he works with have a great deal of love for the game. “To be able to give these kids a soccer ball and say, ‘This ball will last you until you’re an adult; this one ball is yours,’ ” he says. “That is huge.”
WILD THINGS (October 28, 2011)
Dutch artist Theo Jansen mixes science and art to create magical moving creatures.
“Nobody was on the beach, and I was there alone with a beast.” That’s what the artist Theo Jansen told TFK recently. Don’t worry. He was safe. The creature was a strandbeest of his own invention. In Dutch, Jansen’s native language, strandbeest means “beach animal.”Jansen has been making beach animals for more than 20 years. He uses plastic tubes, ties and fabric. The beasts look like giant dinosaur skeletons come to life. Powered by the wind, the sculptures appear to be walking. Jansen likes to test his beasts on the shores of the North Sea in the Netherlands. The beasts’ movements appear magical.
Magic has nothing to do with it. Jansen’s creatures are a form of kinetic sculpture. In college, Jansen studied physics. He uses his scientific knowledge to plan the construction of his artwork. Each sculpture is able to create its own energy. How? The plastic tubes fit one inside the other and slide back and forth. This forces air in and out of the tubes and builds pressure. The pressure creates movement.
Sometimes, Jansen builds the beasts using plastic bottles. The bottles can be pumped with air in order to set the sculptures in motion. Jansen often attaches fabric, which acts like sails or wings.
The beach can be a rough environment for any creature. Jansen wants his to be able to survive on their own. He figured out a way for the beasts to move away from the ocean when they get too close. Jansen also found a way for the creatures to protect themselves from storms. Strong winds activate a built-in hammer. The hammer pounds a tube into the sand to anchor the beast in place.
When Jansen’s animals aren’t on the beach, they’re in science and art museums. “I didn’t try to make something beautiful,” he says. “I wanted to make things that function.” By the looks of it, he has done both.
A TASTE FOR ADVENTURE (March 28, 2008)
Cockroaches for dinner? Courageous eaters dig in
By Jaime Joyce
Some people bug out at the thought of eating insects. But for the members of the Explorers Club, creepy crawlies make tasty treats. The Explorers Club was founded in New York City in 1904. It promotes the study of land, sea, air and space. The club has about 3,000 members. They include polar explorers, deep-sea divers, astronauts—and many daring eaters.
On March 15, the club held its 104th annual dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, in New York City. The event offered members an opportunity to honor the year’s top researchers and explorers. It also gave guests a chance to stretch their culinary boundaries. Insects and other wild foods were served as appetizers.
Travis Nagiewicz, 11, who was at the event with his dad, ate a fried tarantula. “It tastes like a mozzarella stick,” he told TIME FOR KIDS.
“I tried the strawberries with little maggots,” said Jessica Kolomichuk, 9. Maggots are fly larvae. “They’re actually still stuck in my teeth right now,” she added.
As they travel the world, explorers eat the native foods of many cultures. Sometimes, they eat insects to survive. That’s because insects are high in protein and contain vitamins and minerals. People around the world eat more than 1,400 kinds of insects, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In Mexico, street vendors sell fried grasshoppers. Crickets are a common snack in Indonesia.
Go Ahead, Give it a Try!
Exploring Planet Ocean was the theme of this year’s dinner. Awards were given to leaders in the field of ocean exploration. Eugenie Clark got the club’s top prize. She is an ichthyologist (ick-thee-ahl-eh-jist), a scientist who studies fish. Known as “the Shark Lady,” Clark has been studying shark behavior for more than 50 years.
Oceanographer Sylvia Earle helped organize the event. Her grandchildren came as guests. Earle told the crowd that it’s important to encourage kids to be curious and to try new things.
So, does being adventurous begin with eating bugs? Alex Chmielinski, 11, thinks so, but he has his limits. He turned down the chance to eat cockroach-on-a-stick. “After a scorpion and a worm?” he said. “No thanks!”
GOODBYE, BOOKS? (November 20, 2009)
A school in Massachusetts has gotten rid of most of its library books. Now the collection is online. School leaders say it’s the way of the future.
By Jaime Joyce
Cushing Academy used to have 20,000 books in its library. But over the summer, this small Massachusetts high school began to replace printed books with electronic books, or e-books. Why? “The school wanted to put its focus on 21st-century learning,” Tom Corbett, the library’s executive director, told TFK. Few students were using library books to do their school assignments. Most did their research online. Transforming the library seemed like the best way to meet students’ needs. Without a print collection to care for, Corbett says librarians can now concentrate on helping students use the online collection in new and better ways. They can also work with teachers to bring technology into the classroom.
More Books, More Reading
Teacher Nancy Boyle says her students still enjoy regular books. But they’re also testing out the Kindle, an electronic reader (see “Meet an E-Reader”). So far, it’s been a success. “It’s great,” Boyle told TFK. “The kids are reading more.”
Sixteen-year-old Meghan Chenausky was skeptical at first. “I love the feeling of books,” she told TFK. “I really thought I was going to be missing out when I started using a Kindle. But now I absolutely love using it. It’s so convenient. You can have so many books right at your fingertips.”
PLACES TO PLAY (November 4, 2011)
Across the U.S., Kaboom! volunteers are building areas where kids can be active.
Darell Hammond started Kaboom! in 1996. So far, it has helped build more than 2,000 play spaces across the country. Hammond says that 5.5 million kids have benefited from Kaboom! play spaces. “It gives me a lot of pride,” he says.
Still, Hammond says there is more work to do. According to a U.S. government study, just one out of five kids in the U.S. lives within walking distance of a playground. “The next thing is not just to build more playgrounds,” Hammond says, “but to build better playgrounds that will get kids to play longer, play harder and want to play more often.”
TAKE A DEEP BREATH (March 7, 2008)
Pay attention. Sit still. Focus. Who hasn’t heard those words and wondered, “Okay, how?” Grace Kramer, 10, says her school, Fritz Elementary, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is teaching her the way. Grace’s school participates in Wellness Works, a program in which students receive “mindfulness training.” Kids learn deep breathing, visualization, movement and relaxation techniques. This school year, Wellness Works’s instructors will teach 15 classes a week at five schools in Lancaster.