Washington, DC, was burned in 1814 during the War of 1812. Many buildings, including the Capitol and the President’s House, were burned. The president and other statesmen had left the city prior to the battle. Idea: Children could find out how the White House got its name. Children can learn more at: America’s Library.
Potato chips were invented by Chef George Crum in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1853. According to legend, Crum, a Native American chef at Moon’s Lake House wanted to impress a client. He cut the potatoes into thin slices, fried them, and added salt. Today potato chips are about 35 percent of the snack food market and generate revenues of over sixteen billion dollars annually.
Waffle iron was patented in 1869 by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York. Various forms of waffle makers were around as early as the 1300’s. However, his stove-top waffle maker had a handle and a clasp to keep the iron closed when it was flipped over. General Electric produced the first electric waffle maker in 1911.
Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet in 2006. The International Astronomical Union had to either change Pluto’s status as a planet or add many more planets, so Pluto was placed in a different category. Children could learn more at: Pluto.
John Green (born Indianapolis, Indiana, 1977) writes fiction for young adults. He received the 2006 Michael Printz Award for Looking for Alaska. His Paper Towns earned the 2009 Edgar Award. Young adults could visit his website at: John Green.
Dean Hughes (born Ogden, Utah, 1943) has published at least 100 books for children and young adults. His works include Soldier Boys and Winning Streak.
Gregory Jarvis (born Detroit, Michigan, 1944; died in the Challenger explosion, January 28, 1986) was an astronaut.
Uruguay celebrates Independence Day. It became free from Brazilian rule in 1825. Located on the southeastern coast of South America, the country is about the size of the state of Washington. The country’s rolling plains and mild climate allow ranchers to raise a great deal of livestock. Over three million people live in Uruguay, and Montevideo is the capital.
Matthew Webb in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel. He started in Dover, England, and finished near Calais, France, less than 22 hours later.
National Park Service celebrates its birthday; it was created in 1916. Congress created the government agency through the National Park Service Organic Act. A part of the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service supervises 401 locations, with 59 of those sites national parks. Over 280 million people visit the national parks each year. Children could visit the National Park’s website, particularly the kids section (WebRangers) at: http://www.nps.gov.
Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Saturn in 1981 and Neptune in 1989. Launched August 20, 1977, Voyager 2 investigated Saturn’s atmosphere. It also researched Neptune’s atmosphere and checked out one of Neptune’s moons, Triton. The spacecraft continues to travel and send back data. Children can keep up to date with that data at: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/
Leonard Bernstein (born Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1918; died New York, New York, October 14, 1990) was a conductor and a composer. One of his musicals was West Side Story.
Charles Ghigna (born Queens, New York, 1946) writes poetry for children. Sometimes called Father Goose, he has written at least 100 books, including The Alphabet Parade and I See Spring. He has written more than 5000 poems! Children can visit his website at: Charles Ghigna.
Althea Gibson (born Silver, South Carolina, 1927; died East Orange, New Jersey, September 28, 2003) was the first African American (of either sex) to play international tennis. She was also the first African American to win the women’s singles tournament at Wimbledon. She won the tournament in 1957 and returned to a ticker tape parade in New York. Idea: Children could find out how one qualifies for Wimbledon.
Ian Falconer (born Ridgefield, Connecticut, 1959) is an illustrator, a children’s author, and a theater set designer. He writes and illustrates the Olivia series, and he received a 2001 Caldecott Honor Award for Olivia. Children can learn more at: http://www.oliviathepiglet.com/.
Bret Harte (born Albany, New York, 1836; died London, England, August 2, 1902) was a writer known especially for his tales of the American West. One of his most famous works is “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” written in 1869. He completed “The Luck of Roaring Camp” in 1868. Children can read many of his works at: Project Gutenberg.
Walt Kelly (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1913; died Hollywood, California, October 18, 1973) was a cartoonist. He is famous for his character, Pogo.
Lane Smith (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1959) writes and illustrates books for children. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, written by Jon Scieszka earned Smith a 1993 Caldecott Honor Award. He earned another Caldecott Honor Award in 2012 for Grandpa Green. Children could visit his website at: Lane Smith.