Save that daylight
Daylight saving time began on March 9 this year, earlier than usual. In 2007, a new US law extended the duration of daylight saving time by several weeks in hopes that it would help people save energy. The idea is that if people have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, they'll be able to use sunlight longer, instead of electric bulbs, to see.
But saving daylight is far from a new idea. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is the first to have written about this concept when he lived in Paris in 1784. In a letter to a local publication, Franklin joked that Paris residents (including himself) wasted money and resources by staying up late and burning candles for light, and then sleeping away half of their daylight hours.
Instead of proposing to set clocks ahead, Franklin suggested measures such as ringing church bells and firing cannons to wake everyone at sunrise!
Fortunately, Congress didn't resort to any of these actions when it passed the first US daylight-saving law in 1918.
You go, girl!
March is National Women's History Month. To commemorate the occasion, the National Women's History Project chooses a new theme every year to recognize women with a range of talents. The 2008 theme is "Women's Art: Women's Vision."
Here is just one of the gifted artists who will be honored this year:
Lihua Lei was born in Taiwan in 1966. When in her early 20s, she came to the United States. Since then, she's become a renowned installation artist. (Installation art uses sculpture and other materials to change the way people see or act in a certain space, such as a room or public square.) Ms. Lei has trouble walking and is one of only a few artists with a disability who has gone beyond painting pictures.
Official acknowledgment of women's history came in 1981 when a congressional resolution proclaimed Women's History Week. Then, in 1987, Congress extended the celebration to span the entire month.
Things that go bump in the night
Bats are creatures of the night. So how do they find dinner in the dark?
Through echolocation. That's the ability to make high-pitched sounds and hear them bounce back off of nearby objects and prey.
This keeps bats from bumping into trees or "overlooking" their next meal.
For a long time, scientists have wondered whether bats evolved this cool talent before or after they developed the ability to fly. Now they know.
A bat fossil found in Wyoming has proved to be the most primitive bat species known. It had wings, but not special bony features that enable echolocation.
The prehistoric creature had a wingspan of nearly a foot, and it lived 25.5 million years ago.
'Cool' kids' sports
Winter is wrapping up, but some kids are still in the thick of cool-weather sports.
The 26th annual US Open Snowboarding Championships will take place March 17-23 in Stratton, Vt. Competitions include the Junior Jam, which lets riders 13 and under show their skills on the white stuff. Winners of the boys' and girls' finals get the opportunity to compete with the pros in next year's US Open halfpipe and semifinals.
Almost everyone loves the chocolaty, creamy goodness of Oreo cookies. And this is the month to celebrate them. The National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) introduced the tasty treats to Americans in March 1912.
And although Oreos quickly became the favorite chocolate sandwich cookies in the US, they weren't the first. Sunshine brand Hydrox cookies debuted a few years earlier, and they, too, were made of two chocolate wafers with cream filling in the middle.
Hydrox cookies don't exist anymore. But nearly a century later, Oreos live on.
In sports, one size doesn't fit all. That's why the United States Tennis Association has announced the official launch of QuickStart Tennis, just for kids ages 10 and under.
In QuickStart Tennis, the racquets are smaller. The court is smaller, too, and the net isn't as tall. The balls don't bounce as high, and they travel more slowly through the air than regular tennis balls. All these changes are meant to make tennis more fun and easier for kids to master.