Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Feb 10, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Vaccines for Kids Under Five

Children under five years old are still ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. This impacts a wide range of people, especially parents and caregivers. For example, parents of a young child might be fully vaccinated themselves, but still feel uncomfortable returning to work in person because they don’t want to risk exposing themselves to someone with the virus and then bringing it home to their unvaccinated child. But there is good news for these children and their caregivers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is likely to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children under five (but older than six months) as early as the end of February.

Why did this approval take longer than the others? The first thing that had to be figured out was what the dosage should be. Adults receive thirty-microgram doses of the vaccine; children ages five to eleven receive ten-microgram doses. Kids six months to five years old will receive three-microgram doses. Also important was figuring out how many doses to give them. Original trials had the youngest children taking just two doses rather than three, but that didn’t provide enough protection. The FDA is expected to eventually approve three doses. But in the meantime, small children may be allowed to receive their first and second doses.

Some parents aren’t eager to rush out and get their youngest children vaccinated. In fact, only 22 percent of American children ages five to eleven are vaccinated, even though the vaccine has been approved for this age group since November 2021. But other families are looking forward to having the youngest members of their family vaccinated.

Dig Deeper How many children in the U.S. are between the ages of six months and five years old? Use the Internet to help you figure out how many children could potentially be affected by this newest wave of vaccines.

Sports Upsets Across the Globe

The weather across much of the country is dreary this month, but the world of sports is heating up. Every sports fan loves a good comeback story, right? Then the last few weeks haven’t disappointed!

First, after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime in professional football’s AFC Championship, the Cincinnati Bengals will take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022. The game will take place at the Rams’ home stadium. If the Rams win, it will be only the second time in history that they can claim the Super Bowl title (the last – and only – time was in 2000). The Bengals, however, have never won a single Super Bowl. Moreover, the team from Cincinnati haven’t played in a Super Bowl since 1989. (Before that, the team’s only other Super Bowl appearance was in 1981). In 2019, the Bengals only won two games during their entire season.

The U.S. is not the only place where sports upset stories are making headlines. In Australia, Ashleigh Barty won her first Australian Open tennis singles title. She came back from behind to beat opponent Danielle Collins. Not only was this a significant moment for Barty personally, but she is also the first Australian to win an Australian open singles title since 1978. Barty also celebrates her Indigenous heritage, and so her achievement takes on even greater significance. In an emotional surprise, Barty was presented with her trophy by her hero, Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who shares Barty’s Indigenous heritage.

Dig Deeper Only eleven NFL teams have never won a Super Bowl. Who are they?

Wild About Wordle

a pile of white letter cubes on a blue surface
Playing the online word game Wordle has become very popular.

Have you ever played Wordle? It’s a free online word game in which you are given six chances to guess a five-letter word of the day. It’s free, simple, ad-free, and you don’t need to download anything to play. (It’s also inclusive; for example, you can change the colors of the letters you get right and wrong so that it’s easier for people who are colorblind to play.) It has become incredibly popular lately, exploding from just ninety users on November 1, 2021, to over three hundred thousand just two months later, to millions today. Now, the New York Times has purchased the game.

Wordle was originally created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, as a gift for his partner, Palak Shah. It was a way for them to spend time together during the pandemic. The Times now has purchased the game from Wardle for an undisclosed amount of money.

The Times is well-known for other word games, such as its crossword puzzle. Buying Wordle is part of the company’s plan to increase its number of digital subscribers. The Times has promised that for now, the game will remain free and with no major changes.

Did you know that there are about twelve thousand five-letter words in the English language? So Wardle assigned Shah the task of narrowing the list to only the ones she knew: about 2,500. Those 2,500 words make up Wordle’s word bank.

Dig Deeper Try your hand at creating your own Wordle clone! Visit for an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to make your own Wordle puzzle to share with your friends.

Scientists Discover Prehistoric Flowers

In the movie Jurassic Park, scientists recreate species of dinosaurs from the blood inside prehistoric mosquitos that were preserved in amber. That was fiction, of course. But in real life, scientists have recently found two new species of prehistoric flowers preserved in amber. No one is planning to use this discovery to bring dinosaurs back to life. However, it does give scientists a better understanding of how plant life has grown and evolved since prehistoric times.

Prehistoric flowers are hard to come by. As you know, flowers don’t last long, and so very few of them have been fossilized or successfully preserved. But they are important to study, because as different flowers evolved, produced seeds, and spread, so did the forms of life that depended on them for food. Flowers provide important clues about how life on earth developed and diversified. That makes the current discovery of two different prehistoric flowers in present-day Myanmar extremely special. And what’s even more amazing? Even though these flowers are 99 million years old, they are almost exactly like flowers that still bloom in South Africa today.

The two newly discovered flowers are named Eophylica priscatellata and Phylica piloburmensis. While they don’t exactly look as dramatic as, say, a bouquet of roses, prehistoric flowers were hardy and strong. They could withstand the frequent wildfires that were typical in the warm climate of the Cretaceous period. In fact, fire was key to shaping how these flowers evolved. The similar South African species today are also able to survive frequent wildfires–which could provide important clues to survival in our warming world.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to locate images of the two newly discovered flower species. Do your best to sketch them. Do they remind you of any flowers or plants from today’s world? Explain.