Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Jun 23, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Another Independence Vote for Scotland?

In 2014, Scotland held a vote on whether to declare its independence from the United Kingdom. The campaign for independence failed when 55 percent of Scottish voters indicated that they wished to remain with the UK. Since then, however, a lot has happened that may have changed people’s minds. One important event was Brexit, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). Almost two-thirds of the Scottish people voted against Brexit. But they were outnumbered by the English voters who voted in favor of the economic separation.  

Many people in Scotland were also unhappy with how Prime Minister Boris Johnson handled the COVID-19 pandemic response. (The United Kingdom has the highest COVID death toll in Europe).  As a result, in late 2020 and early 2021, polls indicated that a majority of Scottish voters favored independence, although support since then has declined. 

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, has announced that she will be starting a campaign for another independence vote to be held in October 2023. She has kicked off this effort by releasing the first of a set of papers explaining why independence would benefit the country. Prime Minister Johnson has already said that he believes the issue was already settled in 2014 and does not support the idea of another vote. Scotland would face several challenges if it voted in favor of independence. It could apply to rejoin the European Union. But all twenty-seven members of the EU would have to agree to add an independent Scotland. And an independent Scotland would risk losing England as its largest trading partner.  

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are a Scottish voter. Would you vote in favor of independence? Why or why not? 

Kindergarteners Support Turtle Conservation

Turtles face many survival threats, including habitat loss, climate change, flooding, and rising sea levels. In New Jersey alone, about 550 turtles are killed on the roads every year. This is especially true in Spring when they come onto land to lay eggs. Luckily, a group in that state is working to try to reverse this trend. And they’re not scientists–they’re kindergarteners.  

Every year for the past two decades, a kindergarten class in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, “adopts” diamond terrapin turtles that have been left behind when their mother is killed. The children meet the baby turtles at the start of the year. They name them and help raise them. They also sell cookies to raise money for turtle conservation. Then they release the turtles in the Spring. The 2022 class released eighteen young turtles back into the wild. 

The children don’t do this all by themselves. Their work is overseen by Stockton University and by the Stone Harbor Wetlands Institute. The Institute helps provide the turtles with the environment they need to thrive and gives the kids “turtle crossing” sign T-shirts to commemorate the end-of-year turtle release. The Institute also takes eggs from female turtles that have been killed on roads, incubates them, and releases them safely once they have hatched and matured. Overall, the program releases nearly two hundred turtles back into the wild every year. 

Dig Deeper Visit the Stone Harbor Wetlands Institute website to learn more about the institute. What is the group’s mission? What programs do they offer? Write a short paragraph to share what you learn. 

Ancient Yearbook Discovered

Your school yearbook is probably full of photos, memories, and autographs from your friends. Scientists have recently discovered new information about a 2000-year-old Greek yearbook. The discovery was made by Attic Inscriptions Online, a research project with the goal of finding, translating, and publishing  roughly twenty thousand Athenian inscriptions that are currently being held in museum collections throughout the United Kingdom. 

For more than 130 years, the marble tablet sat in storage in the Edinburgh collection of National Museums Scotland. But research by Attic Inscriptions Online shows that the tablet is actually a list of names of young men who graduated from two years of civic and military training at the ephebate. This training prepared students to defend their country and honor its laws and traditions. At first only wealthy students received this training, but over time other social classes and even people from other countries were allowed. The graduating men named on the tablet would have been eighteen or nineteen years old at the time. Thirty-one names appear on the tablet, though historians believe that the total number of men to graduate in the class was closer to one hundred. Some of the names listed are nicknames, which shows a casualness and familiarity among the graduates. Listing them this way, rather than with formal titles, may also have helped eliminate or reduce class differences between them.  

What Do You Think? In your opinion, why is the translation of this tablet an important discovery?