Climate Change vs Fracking

by Kathryn on February 13, 2017

Fasten Your Seat Belt

Four years ago, I attended a fascinating talk by Richard Alley about melting ice and climate change at the AAAS conference in Boston. Read my post about it here.

When I found out that Muse magazine was going to focus an upcoming issue on climate change, I immediately remembered that talk and pitched an article based on some of its themes. Here’s my favorite line in the article:

“Arguing that we shouldn’t do anything to prepare for climate change because disaster is unlikely is like arguing that you shouldn’t wear a seatbelt because you probably won’t get into a fatal accident.”

A few weeks after this article came out, I received author copies of my latest book: Special Reports: FrackingAt first glance, it seems as if these two projects oppose each other. After all, fossil fuels (such as the natural gas extracted with fracking) are to blame for climate change. In order to limit the negative effects of climate change, we have to stop fracking, right? Probably.

Actually, the book on fracking attempts to take a fair look at both sides of the controversy surrounding this drilling technique. And climate change is one of the most interesting aspects of the debate because the two sides claim opposite things! Pro-fracking folks (the ones who actually believe in climate change) claim that natural gas provides a cleaner, more climate-friendly alternative to coal and oil. Natural gas emits much less CO2 when burned. That is true. Anti-fracking folks say that cheap natural gas slows the adoption of cleaner energy choices (like solar and wind). Also, natural gas extraction, transportation, and storage sometimes leaks methane into the air, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Also true.

While working on this book, I enjoyed walking a line between the extremes of the environmentalists and the energy companies. Both groups have many fair points to make. The more everybody educates themselves about the issues, the more productive conversations about climate change can be. And maybe we can get that seat belt buckled in time!


PS. I also wrote another book: Bad Days in Exploration. This one isn’t one of my all-time favorite projects. It’s mainly a compilation of silly and strange facts. But I’m still happy it’s out!



How to Make a Dream Journal

by Kathryn on November 21, 2016

I had the most awesome college job ever. I worked in the library repairing books. An elderly gentleman named Chuck taught me how to reinforce spines, replace covers, and repair torn pages (with a tiny iron and special fabric – never scotch tape!). I even learned some binding techniques. I loved that job.

For Muse’s latest issue on dreams, I wrote an activity that teaches kids how to make their own dream journal. Yep, those are my hands in the article sewing the binding. Unfortunately, photos and text fall pretty short when it comes to teaching this kind of thing. Hopefully the kids go online and watch a video on YouTube (like I did when I started this project — I hadn’t sewn a coptic binding in 10 years).


Dream Journal
Dream Journal 3


Happy Halloween

October 28, 2016

Ever since I first learned that a fungus can turn ants into zombies, I’ve wanted to write about it. I finally got the chance! My editor wanted a piece on “real zombies” in time for Halloween. This was a dream assignment for me. I love bugs, especially spiders. Ants are pretty cool, too. Here are [...]

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October 25, 2016

Hooray! Author copies of my most recent book arrived over the weekend: The Science of Dinosaurs, part of the Super Awesome Science series from ABDO publishing. The book is aimed at grades 3 to 6, a much younger age range than my usual audience. And it’s about dinosaurs. My son (almost 2) loves dinosaurs. So [...]

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More Video Games

October 14, 2016

Well, I guess I’ve found my niche in children’s nonfiction: video games. My husband used to work as a software engineer on games (like, 5 years ago), and conversations with him way back then led me to propose an article on video games to Odyssey magazine. Well, that article eventually landed me my first book [...]

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From Brainwaves to Mind Reading

September 26, 2016

My latest article was just published on Science News for Students: One day, computers may decode your dreams Along with it, I wrote this explainer: How to read brain activity When I set out to write this article, the only real guidance I had was to write something about the science of brainwaves, including what [...]

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Thinking Differently

September 7, 2016

I’ve been fact checking every issue of Muse magazine for a little over a year now. This job requires carefully reading every word of every issue. As a result, I feel a small sense of ownership for all of the articles, not just the ones I wrote. (I still contribute regularly, and someone else fact [...]

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Chili Pepper Science

June 7, 2016

Sometimes, an article just seems to write itself. That was the case with my most recent piece, “The Cool Science of Hot Peppers.” Usually, my articles for Science News for Students go through at least three rounds of substantial edits. It can be a long, painstaking process to make the article the best it can [...]

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News Reporting: Teen Health

April 25, 2016

A couple of months ago, I started reporting on news stories for Science News for Students. My first few topics ranged from nuclear energy to sea otters. Recently, though, I seem to have stumbled onto a theme: health news. My last few stories have looked at obesity, acne, and tooth decay. Health has never been an [...]

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From Crazy Critters to Magic Potions

March 25, 2016

This spring, I have three silly activities coming out in Muse magazine. Writing an activity is always a fun break from working on a feature article. Especially when I get to try out the experiment myself and take pictures! The first game, appearing in the March 2016 issue, challenges kids to figure out which creatures are [...]

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