COVID-19 infection in children—here's what we know - National Geographic
Posted: 24 Jul 2020 10:11 AM PDT
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, children have been largely spared the worst health impacts of COVID-19. The same SARS-CoV-2 virus capable of killing a 50-year-old might leave a four-year-old unscathed.Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending K-12 schools reopen this fall, saying the health risks should be weighed against the detriment of being kept home—which disproportionately impacts low-income and minority children and those with disabilities who may rely more on programs like school lunch and after-school care. When those children are kept from school, their grades grades slip, mental and physical health suffers, key times to socialize are lost, and many are falling behind on their routine vaccines."Children are suffering in different ways from adults," says Megan Tschudy, a pediatrician at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.However, scientists are still struggling to understand how the virus affects children and whether kids can spread it to their older caregivers. Overall, scientists don't fully understand why multiple kinds of coronaviruses—including COVID-19 and its viral cousins SARS and MERS—have different levels of severity across age ranges, says Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.Graham, who first spoke with National Geographic in March about COVID-19's effects on children, says our understanding of why the virus seems to go easy on kids has not fundamentally advanced since then. Even with increased testing showing that more kids are capable of contracting the virus than we previously thought, experts can only theorize as to why children are largely spared the intense version of COVID-19 that strikes so many adults.It's also unclear how easily kids can spread the virus, both to each other and to adults. One robust study of nearly 65,000 kids published by the South Korean Center for Disease Control last week showed that children in the 10- to 19-year-old age range could spread COVID-19 within households just as effectively as adults.
Posted: 21 Jul 2020 07:09 AM PDT
We know. The phrase "flower pressing" likely conjures up visions of great-great-grandparents making a display to put next to a side-table doily. But these days, sometimes old-school is the way to go.
Gathering flowers gets kids outside and fosters exploration; arranging and pressing the blooms encourages curiosity and creativity. Plus, children just might learn a little about botanical and environmental sciences.
Convinced yet? Here's how to bring some flower power into your family's life.
Finding the right flowers
Wherever you search for flowers—your yard, a field, your neighbour's lawn (with permission, of course)—look for thin, small, easy-to-press flowers like daisies, cosmos, poppies, or petunias. Thicker flowers like roses are harder to flatten and more likely to mold. Don't overlook dandelions, white clover, or other flowers often considered weeds. Kids love them, they're easy to find, and they press well.
A nice goal is no more than 12 flowers—that way they won't take up too much space in your home while they press. But consider visiting a few different spots and picking two or three at each location. That helps protect habitats for bees, birds, and other animals, and the remaining plants will continue to produce fruit and reseed. (Parental win: You've just taught your kids about biodiversity.) Make sure to follow local laws for picking wildflowers.
Avoid rainy days, early mornings, or right after sprinkler time, as petals are prone to mould when a flower's wet. Look for blooms with brightly coloured petals rather than browning ones. (Once flowers start to wither, the colours aren't as vivid.) Cut the stems with child-safe scissors; adults can use pruning shears.
Watch out for prickly or poisonous plants like poison oak and poison ivy. Kids should also be mindful of wildlife that might live on or eat plants—no need to disturb helpful ladybirds or potentially stinging bees.
Flower Pressing 101
Pressing flowers is as easy as, well, opening and closing a book. The only supplies you'll need are a large, heavy book; six paper towels; and either newspaper or parchment paper.
Place the newspaper or parchment paper on the right page of the open book. Place two or three layers of paper towels on top of the newspaper or parchment paper.
Place a flower on top the paper towels and arrange it so everything faces out, meaning nothing is folded on top of itself. If the stem is flexible, add curves to make it look more interesting. Delicate petals or leaves can be arranged with tweezers or a toothpick.
Once the flower is arranged, carefully cover it with two or three additional layers of paper towels. Use tweezers or a cotton swab to hold the flower face in position as you set down the towels. Gently press and hold the flower in place as you add the same amount of parchment or newspaper on top that was used on the bottom. Then carefully close the book.
Pile books on top of this book, and let the stack sit for a week or two. This is when the science happens: As the flower dries, the paper towels help absorb the moisture from the plant and prevent it from decaying. The dried petals, stem, and leaves retain most of the flower's pigments, or the substances that produce colour.
Once the flower feels completely dry, carefully remove it from the press with tweezers.
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