Short stuff for kids

For kids: A look at what's making news in June – from a sugar-powered cellphone to a 70-million-year-old dinosaur.

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Sweet cellphone

Ah, the power of sugar. Some day, the sweet substance might power your electronic equipment.

That's because scientists have now found a way to turn sugar into electricity, according to Science News magazine. If they can find a way to make the technology work on a large scale, you may some day share your sweet drinks with your hand-held video-game player or cellphone.

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The new strategy involves fuel cells, which are devices that use chemical reactions to produce electrical currents. Manufacturers already make fuel cells that depend on precious metals, such as platinum, to spark those chemical reactions. Precious metals, however, are expensive and hard to get.

For the new study, researchers from St. Louis University used a type of protein called enzymes in place of the metals.

So far, the new fuel cells don't produce much power, but the fact that they work at all is exciting, says Paul Kenis, a chemical engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Some say that popular products might be using the new technology in as little as three years.

Who's up for a game?

There's something popping in the toy section – and it's not popcorn. Do you know what it is? It's a new game for beginning readers called Poppo!

Creator Michael Vien says the game was "designed to entertain the whole family while enriching children's learning experiences."

Sounds good to us. The premise of Poppo! is simple – a child pops a lettered die in a popper and matches it with a word or picture on an illustrated card. Are you up to the challenge? Learn more about the game at www.poppo.com.

Marshmallows not included

June is almost over, but there's still time to celebrate Great Outdoors Month.

On June 23, you can participate in a nationwide backyard camp-out.

The event is sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and encourages parents and kids alike to forgo all things high-tech for a night spent outside. Listen for nocturnal wildlife sounds, stargaze, cook over an open fire, catch fireflies (and let them go), tell pretend stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.

For packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, and fun outdoor games for the whole family, check out www.backyardcampout.org.Don't forget the s'mores!

Scientists discover big bird

The fossilized remains of a giant birdlike dinosaur have been uncovered in northern China.

While some have theorized that meat-eating dinosaurs got smaller as they evolved, becoming more birdlike, this beast weighed about 3,000 pounds.

That's roughly 35 times heavier than other, similar feathered dinosaurs.

Scientists report that the beaked animal was 26 feet long and twice as tall as a man at the shoulder; yet it was only a young adult when it died.

Some say the dinosaur's enormous size was due to a fast growth rate.

Just what it ate is, however, really a mystery. Gigantoraptor erlianensis had some features associated with meat-eating dinosaurs, such as sharp claws for tearing flesh; but it also had some features associated with plant eaters, such as a small head and long neck.

A dinosaur invasion

Speaking of dinosaurs, some dinosaurs are returning – to TV, that is.

A new TV series for kids called "DinoSapien" debuts Saturday, July 7 (1 to 3 p.m., ET/PT), on Discovery Kids. The show will explore the answer to the question, "What if evolved dinosaurs lived today?"

What do you think would happen if we coexisted with dinosaurs?

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