Exercise 1

A. Listen to a scientist explaining each fact. Answer the questions 1-8.

Can you answer eight simple science questions that parents struggle to answer?

1   Why is the sky blue?

      A   Because the light from the Sun reflects off the blue water of the ocean.

      B   Because the Earth’s atmosphere scatters more blue light than red light from the Sun.

2   Why is the sea salty?

      A   Because salt dissolves into the water from seaweed and other plants.

      B   Because salt dissolves into the water from the land around it.

3   Why can we sometimes see the moon during the day?

      A   Because as it rotates around the Earth, it reflects the Sun’s rays during daytime as well as night time.

      B   Because sometimes during the day, the Sun doesn’t shine as brightly.

4   Why do we have a leap year?

      A   Because every four years, the Earth goes around the Sun slightly faster.

      B   Because the Earth takes slightly more than 365 days to go around the Sun.

5   Why do we blink?

      A   To keep our eyes moist and clean.

      B   To help us stay awake.

6   Why does cutting onions make us cry?

      A   Because they produce a gas that irritates our eyes.

      B   Because they give off dry particles that irritate our eyes.

7   What is a cloud?

      A   A mixture of warm gases rising from the Earth.

      B   A mixture of water vapor, ice, and dust floating in the sky.

8   What is a black hole?

      A   A place in space where gravity pulls so hard that even light cannot get out.

      B   A “vacuum cleaner” in space that swallows up everything around it.

B. Listen again. What did the scientist say about…?

1   the reason we can see more blue light than violet light

2   the effect of the Sun’s heat on ocean water

3   the number of daylight hours that the moon is visible

4   six hours per year

5   what happens in your brain when you blink

6   the function of the cornea

7   the effect of cooler air on water vapor

8   what happens when something with a high mass is compressed



1 B   2 B   3 A   4 B   5 A   6 A   7 B   8 A


1   Our eyes are more sensitive to blue than to violet.

2   It causes it to evaporate.

3   12

4   The adjustment adds six hours rather than the exact difference.

5   It stops the activity that detects changes.

6   It protects the outer part of your eye.

7   It makes the drops of water start to stick to things like dust.

8   It creates a strong gravitational pull.


C = child, S = scientist


C   Why is the sky blue?

S   To understand why the sky is blue, we first need to understand a little about light. Although light from the Sun looks white, it’s really made up of many different colors, as we see when they are spread out in a rainbow. Light is like a wave of energy, and each color has a different wavelength. Red is the longest, and blue and violet are the shortest. When the Sun’s light reaches the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s scattered by tiny molecules of gas in the air. Shorter wavelengths (violet and blue) are scattered the most widely, and our eyes are much more sensitive to blue than violet, so we see more of the blue light than the other colors. So that’s why we see the sky as blue.


C   Why is the sea salty?

 Most of our planet’s surface is covered in salt water. But where does the salt come from? Well, some of it comes from rocks on the bottom of the ocean, but most of it actually comes from the land around us. Every time it rains, tiny amounts of mineral salts dissolve into rivers, and these eventually get to the ocean. Rivers aren’t very salty, because they flow continually, but the Sun’s heat causes the ocean water to evaporate, so the salt in the ocean becomes more concentrated.


C   Why can we sometimes see the moon during the day?

S   We all know that the Sun produces a lot of strong light. So, when it’s in the sky, we can’t see the stars or the other planets. The moon doesn’t produce light – it reflects the light of the Sun. The moon is visible for about 12 out of every 24 hours because of the way it rotates around the Earth. This means it’s visible for some time during daylight nearly every day.


C   Why do we have a leap year?

S   A year is the amount of time it takes the Earth to go around the Sun, and we’ve divided our calendar year into 365 days. However, it actually takes the Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds to go around the Sun. To deal with this difference, we add one day (24 hours) to our calendar every four years. This adjustment is not exactly correct, because it effectively adds 6 hours per year rather than the exact amount of the difference.


C   Why do we blink?

S   A “blink of an eye” lasts only a tenth of a second. Every time you blink, your eyelids spread fluid across the surface of your eyes, to keep them moist, and also to stop them getting dirty. Blinking also keeps eyes safe from things that might damage them, such as bright light and, sometimes, bigger objects coming into our eyes, like a small insect. Blinking stops the activity in your brain that detects changes, so you never notice that you actually stop seeing for a very short time when you blink.


C   Why does cutting onions make us cry?

S   For a vegetable, onions have very complicated chemistry. When you cut them, a chemical reaction changes molecules in the onion into a gas. When this gas reaches the cornea – the transparent layer that covers and protects the outer part of your eye – the cornea senses it as an irritant. It acts to protect your eyes by making you cry, and the tears clean your eyes.


C   What is a cloud?

S   We all enjoy looking at clouds and seeing their different shapes, but what’s the science behind them? Well, the sky is full of drops of water. But most of the time, you can’t see them because they are too small; the drops have turned into water vapor. As the water vapor goes higher in the sky, the air gets cooler. The cooler air causes the drops to start to stick to things, like bits of dust, ice, or sea salt, which make them visible. So that’s what we see when we see clouds.


C   What is a black hole?

S   This is another physics question. A black hole is caused by gravity. There are places in space where gravity pulls so hard that even light cannot get out. The reason that gravity is so strong in a black hole is that a lot of matter – that’s physical “stuff” – has been compressed into a tiny space. A lot of matter has a high mass, and this creates a strong gravitational pull. Inside a black hole, space is falling faster than light, which is why light can’t escape.

Exercise 2

Listen and choose a, b, or c.

1   Thomas admires Nike because of its ____.

      a   slogan and customer service

      b   logo and marketing

      c   name and the quality of its product

2   Devika thinks that ____ cities will change a lot in the next 20 years.

      a   some European

      b   modern, wealthy cities

      c   developing industrial

3   Sean thinks that art ____.

      a   takes a lot of time to study

      b   isn’t as important as science

      c   should focus on climate change

4   Sophie passed her exam although ____.

      a   she didn’t do her PowerPoint presentation

      b   she didn’t enjoy doing her PowerPoint presentation

       her PowerPoint presentation was a disaster


1 c   2 b   3 b   4 b



I = interviewer, T = Thomas

  Are there any brands that you think have a really good logo or slogan?

T   I think, you know, one, the one that sticks out to me the most is the Nike swoosh. Uh, you know the, I’ve sort of been fascinated by that and the whole progression of the company over the years. I, I find them to be one of the strongest brands. I think, uh, American icons like Coca-Cola – that’s a great brand name. Disney, that’s a great brand.

I    Does it make you want to buy the products?

 You know, I will say I am loyal to those products. I think each one brings a little different thing to it. When I think of, you know, Disney, I think about customer service. When I think about Coca-Cola, I think about the quality of their product. Nike, Nike, I think about their, sort of, um, cutting edge marketing campaigns, and they’ve got a product that is, sort of, backs it up, too.

  Are there any advertisements that make you not want to buy the product?

T   I tend to dislike, uh, car ads that are on the radio. I don’t mind them on television, but on ads, I, uh, I tend to want to turn them off. I don’t think I’m not going to buy a car, but I don’t like listening to the ads, that’s for sure.


I = interviewer, D = Devika

I    What’s your favorite city?

D   My favorite city would have to be Rome. I love Italy and I’ve spent a lot of time there. And Rome doesn’t bore me, even if I go there several times.

I    Why do you like it?

D   I love the food in Rome, I love the sights. The people are so friendly and no matter what time of year, in winter or summer, there’s lots going on.

  Do you think cities will be different in the future?

D   Ooh, that’s a difficult question. I think some cities which are already quite wealthy and have a lot of modern aspects to them, such as New York or London, might become more efficient. I hope they do. But I can imagine lots of cities around the world that aren’t so wealthy, or have, um, more kind of commercial centers to not be too different. Even in maybe twenty years’ time.


I = interviewer, S = Sean

  Do you think it’s more important to study science than arts?

S   I think it’s much more important to study science. Um, art is very important, but right now with climate change and just everything that’s going wrong in the world I feel like we should put some of the um arts aside until we get everything figured out and then worry about the arts afterwards when we have time.

  Which scientific subjects do you think have taught you something useful?

S   Uh, environmental science, uh ecology, and uh sustainability. Definitely all three of those combined just because they’re putting together everything that… just the environment and how we interact with it and what we’re doing to it.

I    What would you most like scientists to discover in the future?

 Um, I would most like scientists to discover a way to reverse uh climate change and the… just… how to combat ah the rising levels of CO2 and just uh greenhouse gases.


I = interviewer, S = Sophie

  Have you ever given a presentation?

S   Yes.

  Where and when?

S   It was at my university. It was part of an exam, we had to give a PowerPoint presentation to a group of people and some examiners.

  How did you feel?

S   Not great. It was not enjoyable.

  Was it a success?

S   I passed. Success in some way, yeah.

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