It Runs in the Family: 5 Set of Successful Siblings!

It’s National Siblings Day! We thought it would be fun to learn more about some of our favorite sibling duos who have achieved greatness together, separately, and sometimes even in competition with each other!


Venus Williams and Serena Williams

Professional tennis players Venus and Serena Williams have competed around the world, winning the most gold medals in Olympic tennis history. The William sisters are famous for playing doubles tennis, where they work together, as well as singles tennis, where they often play against each other. Since 1998, Venus and Serena have competed against each other in 27 professional matches. Now that’s what we call sibling rivalry!

Fun Fact: Serena Williams has lost 9 matches in her 15 U.S. Open appearances. The only person to beat her twice is her sister, Venus (2001 and 2005).


Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly

Identical twins are already pretty incredible; but Mark and Scott Kelly have proven that the sky’s the limit! These smart siblings, known for their amazing achievements in science and space exploration, have both traveled into space as NASA Astronauts. Most recently, Mark and Scott have been the subjects of a very important research study that will give the scientists at NASA a better idea of how long-term space travel affects the human body. Mark, who recently returned from a 340-day mission, actually grew 1.5 inches while in space, but has since returned to his pre-mission height.

Fun Fact: Mark and Scott’s parents, Richard and Patricia Kelly, are both retired police officers.


Ann Landers & Dear Abby

Born on July 4th in 1918, Pauline Ester Phillips and her twin sister Ester “Eppie” Pauline Phillips were American advice columnists and writers, who did just about everything together, including getting married in a double wedding ceremony when they were 21 years old. In 1955, Eppie began writing a popular newspaper column called “Ask Ann Landers”, where she gave advice to readers of the Chicago Sun-Times. Just a year later, to Eppie’s dismay, her twin sister Pauline started her own advice column under the name Abigail Van Buren and quickly became a newspaper celebrity . Her column, “Dear Abby”, made a lasting impact on the publishing world.

Fun Fact: Both Pauline and Eppie had daughters who followed their footsteps and have their own advice columns.


Orville and Wilbur Wright

The Wright brothers’ passion for airplanes was launched with the gift of a model helicopter toy from their father in 1878. Orville and Wilbur later opened a bicycle shop, the Wright Cycle Company, which made them plenty of money to fund their early aeronautical experiments. The fearless duo tested and perfected their glider designs for several years. After several failed attempts, the Wright brothers soared to success, working together to design, build, and fly the first fully practical airplane in 1903. Neither Wilbur nor Orville took individual credit for their innovations, choosing instead to share all of the awards and accolades they received.

Fun Fact: Orville and Wilbur had promised their father, who feared losing both sons in an airplane accident that they would never fly together. The father made a single exception, however, on May 25, 1910, and allowed the brothers to share a six-minute flight near Dayton with Orville piloting and Wilbur the passenger. After landing, Orville took his 82-year-old father on his first and only flight. As Orville gained elevation, his excited father cried out, “Higher, Orville, higher!”


Malia and Sasha Obama

This set of spunky sisters is probably a lot like your own children… except that these teens have lived in the White House since 2009! Their father, President Barack Obama, has served as President of the United States for the majority of 17-year-old Malia’s and 14-year-old Sasha’s (born Natasha) lives. But, when the girls are not traveling to Europe, Africa, and Asia and meeting the likes of the Pope and Queen Elizabeth, they’re doing everyday teenager things. Sasha is super-sporty and loves soccer, basketball, gymnastics, and dance. Malia is in the process of choosing a college and has spent time interning on the set of television shows and volunteering with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Fun Fact: First Daughter Malia is a true patriot. She was even born on the 4th of July!

A Day in the Life… with Elementary School Librarian Mrs. Rose!

Your name: Mishell Rose
School name: Bonsall West Elementary School
Number of years working as a librarian: 10 years + multiple years of volunteering at local public libraries.

1) What is the typical day in the life of an Elementary School Librarian?
Each day I host about 6 different classes and read stories based on the grade or events happening at school. When I’m not with reading with students, I’m helping students check in and check out books and catalog (create a computer record) and prepare (book jackets, labels, call numbers, date due slip) new books; repair or discard damaged books. On average, I interact with up to 400 books every day!

2) In your experience, what is the best way to encourage reading with kids who aren’t typically excited about books?
I work hard to get to know my students so that I can recommend books that tie in to their interests. I once asked a shy student in a rabbit skin hat whether he liked the outdoors. He did, so I suggested Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Hoot by Carl Hiassen, and a biography of Daniel Boone. All three books were a hit!

3) How do you see the Library at your school make a difference in the life of your students?
The ability to choose their OWN books enables kids to decide what they want to learn about and exposes them to new ideas, ways of life, and cultures, with no pressure or grades associated with their choices.

4) What are your favorite books for 1st graders?
Chester by Melanie Watt, Elephant & Pig (series) by Mo Willems

5) What are you favorite books for 3rd graders?
My Weird School (series) by Dan Gutman
I Survived (series) by Lauren Tarshis

6) What can parents do to support their local school Libraries and Librarians?
Volunteer your time or money and let your administrators know how important it is to you that your child has a place to go where they’re not judged or graded and can make at least a few decisions on their own!

7) What was the funniest excuse you’ve heard for a late book return?
The excuses are sometimes funny and sometimes bittersweet, like the book I received via US Mail from Okinawa. One of our military families accidentally took it with them when they moved!

8) What is your FAVORITE part of being a school Librarian?
I love helping my students connect with reading and find favorite books. I also love connecting with them! I am one of the few faculty members who gets to see all of the kids in the school every week—I don’t lose touch with them when they move up a grade, so I get to know them really well!

Engage, Engage, Engage! Make Any Lesson Interactive with Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit


From YouTube clips on the Elmo projector to blogged book reports, technology is playing a major part in modern student engagement. And the brand new Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit makes it easy for teachers to turn any lesson into an interactive activity! Perfect for challenging students who are moving at a faster pace than the rest of the class, providing practice for students who need a bit of extra help, and as a totally independent and engaging center activity, the Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit makes any lesson interactive!

Just by placing a “hot” Hot Dot sticker next to the correct answer on a multiple choice question and a “cold” dot next to the other choices, teachers can turn any quiz, worksheet, or activity into an interactive lesson. Students simply press one of several Talking Hot Dots® Pens to a dot for an immediate audio and visual response including lights, sounds, fun phrases, and music. (Note—audio can be turned off for a quieter classroom environment-lights will still denote whether a student’s response is correct or incorrect.) The Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit is perfect for:

  • Patterning Activities
  • Upper and Lower Case Matching
  • Picture Word Matching
  • Numeral Quantity Matching
  • Math Facts
  • Word Problems
  • Telling Time
  • Fractions and Equivalents
  • Spelling
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • States and Capitals
  • Geographic Locations
  • Any content you want to customize!

The Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit is perfect for creating customize flash cards, worksheets, tests, quizzes, posters, wall maps, and more. You can even use the dots to turn an existing multiple choice test into a more engaging interactive version. How would YOU use the Hot Dots® Make Your Own Kit in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

Sleight of Hand? No! It’s Science! Three Magical Science Experiments That Amaze

From rainbows to phosphorescent sand, the natural world is pretty magical. Amaze your kids (or students) and kick-start their curiosity about science and the world around them with the magical science experiments below. You really won’t believe your eyes!

geode copy

Dazzling Egg Shell Geodes

Turn a regular old egg into a dazzling, crystalized geode with the help of some hot water, food coloring, and alum powder. Egg-cellent Easter project!


  • ¾ Cup alum powder (available in the spice section of your local grocer—this is the equivalent of 4 or 5 small jars)
  • School glue
  • Food coloring
  • Egg
  • Craft stick or plastic spoon
  • Paintbrush
  • Gloves

Water Instructions:

  1. Carefully crack a raw egg in half lengthwise and drain. Wash the sides gently.
  2. Paint a thin layer of glue on the inside of each half and sprinkle a bit of alum over the glue, like glitter. Sprinkle too much and you will not leave enough room for your crystals to grow. Let the shells dry overnight.
  3. Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan until it’s almost boiling, pour into a heat-proof container, add your dye, and stir with your craft stick or spoon.
  4. Pour ¾ of a cup of alum into the colored solution and stir until completely dissolved.
  5. When the solution is cool (roughly 30 minutes), place the eggshell halves into the colored solution, open-side up. Cover the container and let sit for 12-15 hours.
  6. Remove your shells carefully and air dry completely on newspaper or paper towels.

Ta Da!

Share the Fun:

Your kiddos can dazzle their friends with homemade geodes!

The Science Behind the Magic:

Using heat to dissolve some solutions, like the one you made with water and alum, results in a “supersaturated solution,” which allows more of the alum crystals to dissolve than would have if you’d stirred it at room temperature. As the solution cools, those extra dissolved crystals emerge and crystalize onto the alum you shook onto the glue on your egg shells, creating a larger crystal made up of many, smaller crystals.


Magic Messages in Invisible Ink

Pass a friend a mystery note and use lamplight to reveal the contents!


  • Vinegar
  • Blank sheet of unlined paper
  • Paintbrush or cotton swab
  • Lamp


  1. Dip your paintbrush or cotton swab into a cup of vinegar.
  2. Use the brush like a pen to write a short message on a blank, unlined sheet of paper, rewetting with vinegar as needed.
  3. Hold the paper up to a lamp with at least a 100 watt bulb and watch as the message is magically revealed.

Ta Da!

Share the Fun:

  • Have your kiddos tell a friend that they have an important secret to share, and pass the friend the “magic” note.
  • Your kiddos can quietly enjoy watching their friend trying to read their invisible secret message.
  • Have your kiddo suggest that the friend stands closer to the lamp. Then watch as the lamplight magically reveals the message! Alternatively, your kiddo can spray the message with a lemon juice mist (lemon juice in a spray bottle) OR can carefully iron the paper to reveal the message.

The Science Behind the Magic:

The acid in the vinegar weakens the fibers on the paper. When exposed to heat, the weakened fibers darken as they heat/burn, exposing your message.


Fluorescent Flavored Drinks

Surprise your guests with some glow-in-the-dark refreshments, thanks to an everyday vitamin that shines in the dark!


  • Small bottle of B2 vitamins
  • Clear soda or pineapple juice
  • Pitcher
  • Bowl
  • Stirring spoon
  • Pestle or other flat-surfaced tool
  • Black light (optional)


  1. In a bowl, crush one B2 vitamin with a pestle or other flat-surfaced tool until it is ground into a fine powder.
  2. In a pitcher, mix the powder with a small amount of your liquid (water, soda, or juice) until dissolved.
  3. Fill the pitcher with the remaining water, juice, or soda, and stir again. Your beverage should be glowing on its own and will shine even brighter under black light. Note—this solution works well for glow-in-the-dark ice cubes and gelatin, too!

Ta Da!

Share the Fun:

  • Have your kiddos casually ask some friends if they fancy something to drink.
  • Fill some glasses with your glow-in-the-dark concoction, and have your kiddos deliver the goods to their astonished buds.
  • Turn on a black light to see the drinks shine even brighter!

The Science Behind the Magic:

B2 vitamins contain riboflavin. When exposed to ultraviolet light, fluorescent substances like riboflavin absorb the light and then quickly “spit it out.” The spit light has a longer wavelength than the absorbed light, which makes the light appear to glow. It’s interesting to note that vitamins, medicines, and chemicals that are sensitive to light, like riboflavin, are stored in opaque containers. Otherwise, their bottles would glow!

Crack the Norm! Six Egg-citing Egg Drop Experiment Ideas


Spring is the perfect time to conduct an egg drop lesson with your students. The open-ended nature of the challenge, to build a contraption that prevents a raw egg from breaking when dropped, encourages the use of experimentation, prediction, and analyses to solve a problem—the true nature of science! And, speaking of nature, it’s warm enough to take your class outside to test their contraptions. Plus, egg drop lessons are a natural way to introduce the engineering design process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve), as well as demonstrate several key scientific principles including Newton’s First Law (Inertia), motion, velocity, acceleration, and gravity.

There are countless ways to conduct an egg drop experiment. Some contests reward the contraption that protects the most eggs and some require the creation of a contraption to catch a “ naked egg” . The suggestions below are designed with younger kids in mind, and focus on the creation of a contraption to protect a single falling egg. No matter what kind of egg drop experiment you host and whichever contraption you build, be sure to conduct this activity outside, cover the ground around your experimentation zone with trash bags for easy clean up, and have your kids stand back at drop time!

Since younger kids are less familiar with these scientific principles and may not have tried an egg drop before, they’ll need a bit of guidance to ensure a successful experience. You may want to begin by discussing ways to protect eggs, such as commercial egg cartons, parachutes, and trampolines. Ask your students about the merits of the commercial egg carton design—how would they improve upon it? What ideas do they have to protect a falling egg?

Next, check out the six egg-citing egg drop ideas below. Ask your students to predict which option they think will best protect a falling egg and have them explain their reasoning. Now it’s go time! You know your class best, so you can decide whether to simply set the materials out and let your students loose, or provide a set of materials and specific instructions for a more guided experience. Either way, egg drop day is sure to be a smashing success!

Option 1 – Rice Cereal Cushion

Egg Drop  1


  • 4 Small zipper baggies
  • 1 Large zipper baggie
  • Box of rice cereal


  • 1. Put the egg in a small baggie and surround it with rice cereal
  • 2. Fill the remaining small baggies with rice cereal
  • 3. Place the egg baggie in the center of the large baggie and surround it with the other cereal-filled baggies, so that the egg baggie is cushioned in the center

Ask Your Students:

If the drop was successful: Do you think the egg would have survived if it had been dropped in its single cereal bag (without the box and other bags to cushion it)? Why or why not?

If the drop was not successful: Do you think the egg would have survived if it had been surrounded by more baggies full of cereal? How many more? Might a different cereal have worked better?

Option 2 – Popcorn Ball



  • Hollow rubber bouncing ball (at least 6” in diameter)
  • Scissors
  • Popped popcorn (or packing peanuts)
  • Duct tape


  • 1. Slice a hole in the rubber ball and place your egg inside
  • 2. Fill the ball with popcorn, making sure the egg is in the center
  • 3. Tape the ball shut with duct tape

Ask Your Students:

Would this experiment have been successful if the ball was full of water instead of popcorn? Why or why not?

Option 3 – Cup Stack Up



  • 8 Styrofoam cups
  • Duct tape
  • Small rock or paper weight


  • 1. Place the rock or weight in the bottom of one cup and stack six empty cups on top of the weight
  • 2. Place the egg in a cup and add that cup to the stack
  • 3. Place the last cup in the stack and run a strip of tape down both sides of your stack to keep the cups in place

Ask Your Students:

If your drop was successful: Would this experiment have worked with fewer cups? How many or few would it take to protect the egg?

If your drop was not successful: Would more cups have prevented the egg from breaking? How many more?

Option 4 – Panty Hose Sling

Egg Drop 4


  • 1 Pair nylons (panty hose)
  • 2 Rubber bands
  • Cardboard box
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Duct Tape


  • 1. Cut a leg off of the nylons and insert the egg in the middle.
  • 2. Wrap a rubber band at either side of the egg to keep it from sliding in the hose
  • 3. Place the egg in the center of the box and stretch the hose on either side tightly to the edge of the box, securing with a staple and tape

Ask Your Students:

Would this experiment have been successful if the panty hose you used was twice as long?

Option 5 – Simple Straw Pyramid

Egg Drop 5


  • 6 Straws (the non-bendy kind!)
  • Duct tape


  • 1. Cut each straw exactly in half
  • 2. Arrange the straws in a triangular pyramid shape (triangle base and sides), taping each corner together
  • 3. Suspend the egg in the center so that the triangular pyramid absorbs the impact

Ask Your Students:

Would this experiment work if you replace the straws with Popsicle sticks? Why or why not?

Option 6 – Advanced Straw Pyramid

Egg Drop 6


  • Supplies from Option 5 PLUS:
  • 12 More straws (the non-bendy kind)


  • 1. Follow the instructions for Option 5.
  • 2. Tape two of the new straws together, end to end, to make one long straw. Repeat 5 times, until you have 6 super long straws.
  • 3. Tape one super long straw to each edge of the triangular pyramid created in Option 5

Ask Your Students:

Did the addition of the super long straws around the edge make a difference? Why or why not?

Have you conducted egg drop experiments with your students? Which contraptions have worked well for you? Share your experience with your fellow teachers in the comments below.