Here Come the Whirlybirds!

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Here Come the Whirlybirds!
© Jupiterimages Corp.
Match each word on the left with the group
of words on the right that you think it best
belongs with.
breeze
ask, think, imagine, question
seed
blow, air, puff, breath
aircraft
merry-go-round, dizzy,
rotate, circle
wonder
grow, small, pod, hitchhiker
spin
helicopter, tail, wing, pilot
p r e s e n t e d b y Science a-z a d i v i s i o n o f L e a r n i n g A - Z
Here Come the
Whirlybirds!
By Ron Fridell
Writing
Now write four words at the right to go with each word on the left.
travel
___________________________
tornado
___________________________
dandelion
___________________________
© Learning A–Z All rights reserved.
4
www.sciencea-z.com
You will see dozens of
seeds that look like minihelicopters, or whirlybirds,
spinning around. Each
seed has a light, papery
wing with a heavy
seedpod on the end.
This pod makes the wing
See Whirlybirds on page 2
Hi
ll
___________________________
rotate. Seeds that catch a
breeze can fly a mile or more
before landing. Some will
grow into new maple trees
one day.
ration by Cende
force
The seeds of some plants fly
like birds. You can see these
seeds in action on a breezy
spring day. Just sit under a
maple tree and look up.
st
Illu
fly, wing, robin, chirp
© Jupiterimages Corp.
birds
© Jupiterimages Corp.
Matching
“Flying” apart helps seeds
avoid competing for sun,
water, and space.
1
Whirlybirds
Write About This!
Continued from page 1
the wing upward. It’s the
same force that keeps
birds, bats, moths, and
helicopters flying.
© Vladimir Blinov/123RF
2
© Jupiterimages Corp.
Some seeds use the wind to get around. Other seeds travel
by water. Ocean currents can carry coconut seeds thousands
of miles. Still other seeds are known as hitchhikers. They
use animals to get around. Most of these seeds are sticky
or spiny. As animals pass by, their skin, fur, or feathers
pick up the seeds. Cactuses and burrs are
hitchhikers. Maybe you’ve found hitchhiking
seeds on a dog or your socks. Seeds travel
to find good places to grow.
Get hold of some maple seeds
and fly them yourself. They’re fun to
watch. Drop them from a balcony or a
stairway and watch them spin and glide.
3
© Jupiterimages Corp.
© Learning A–Z All rights reserved.
© iStockphoto.com/Artem
Podobedov/Stocksnapper
Velcro™ was invented in 1941
by engineer George de Mestral,
who lived in Switzerland. The
idea came to him one day after
finding burrs (seeds) that kept
sticking to his clothes and his
dog’s fur with tiny hooks.
By Wi n d , B y S e a , B y A n i m a l
© iStockphoto.com/Andrey Kozachenko/Tatiana Kulikova
Here’s what they discovered.
A spinning maple seed does
just what the wings of birds
do. It produces a little tornado
above the wing, which
creates a force that sucks air
up from under the wing. This
force, called lift, pulls
© iStockphoto.com/ Cathleen Abers-Kimball
To find out, they made a big
plastic model of a maple
seed and attached it to the
end of a robotic arm. Then
they watched as the arm
made the seed spin.
Do you remember Jack and the Beanstalk from
when you were little? It’s the story about a plant
that grew so tall that it climbed clear through
the clouds to a giant’s castle. Write your own
make-believe story for kids about a giant plant.
Maybe you can read it to a younger student.
© iStockphoto.com/Benzo
Whirlybird is a nickname
for a helicopter. It comes
from the aircraft’s whirling
blades. Other helicopter
nicknames include
chopper, lifter,
and eggbeater.
© iStockphoto.com/Devon Stephens/Nathan Shelton
A team of scientists looked at
these seeds and wondered:
How could they stay in the
air so long? How could they
fly so far?
www.sciencea-z.com

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