Snake Rattle

or fear of snakes, is the most common fear in the United States! More than half
of the population’s largest fear are our legless friends, followed by public
speaking and heights. What about slithering snakes makes us so uncomfortable?
The cliché is true, snakes are more scared of us than we are of them. Herpetologists,
scientists that study snakes, reptiles, and amphibians, have a special passion
for these amazing creatures.

Snakes are
closely related to lizards, having evolved past the need for legs more than 150
million years ago. Our legless friends can be found across the planet excluding
Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand. Nearly all snakes
swallow their prey whole, opening their jaws wide to swallow food larger than
their heads. Snakes can swallow animals up to 3 times as large as their head is
wide! Due to snakes ingesting such large portions at a time, adult snakes only
eat every two weeks. Talk about eating until you’re stuffed!

forked tongues, snakes smell their surroundings to find food or avoid dangers.
Pit holes are openings in the front of snakes’ heads which assist them in
detecting heat from warm-blooded prey while their jaw bones sense vibrations of
scurrying animals. Snakes are miraculous predators!  Venomous snakes use their poison to paralyze
their food, while nonvenomous snakes, like the python, constrict or choke their

range from 4 inches to 30 feet long! Snakes are covered in scales which help
them trap moisture in dry climates and reduce friction as they glide across the
ground. These scales are composed of keratin, the same substance that human
fingernails and hair are made of. Humans regularly lose their dead skin cells,
but snakes shed their entire skin at once. Molting is the process in which
snakes peel off their outer layers of skin to remove parasites and make room
for growth. Finding a snakeskin in your yard or garden is evidence of a reptile

There are
more than 3,600 known snake species, and only 600 of them are venomous. The
United States is home to 4 venous snakes including copperheads, cottonmouths or
water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes. These snakes are responsible
for fewer than 10 deaths annually! Snakes seldom approach and attack humans,
most snake bites occur when someone accidentally steps on a snake. Most
snakebites are no more than a few pinpricks of blood and topical irritation;
snakes cannot carry rabies or other diseases. The likelihood of being seriously
injured by a slithering snake is rare, fortunately!

one of the United State’s venomous reptiles, are the newest and most evolved
snakes in the world. The rattlesnake obtained their name from their highly
advanced warning signal, a rattling tale warding off predators before a
venomous strike. Within the snake’s tail are pieces of keratin collected with
each skin shed, these pieces knocking together to create their infamous buzzing
sound. This species of pit viper is most often found in the deserts of the
American Southwest, feeding on small rodents or lizards. Rattlesnakes are some
of the most known and easily recognizable snake species!

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own snake rattle:

Cactus Survival

picturing a desert landscape, one plant stands apart from the barren desert
horizon: the cactus.  Most people hear
the word cactus, they think of a resilient, thorny plant in a lifeless habitat.
There are more than 2,000 species of cactus that vary in shape, color, size,
and type of habitat! While cacti are native to the dry regions of America, from
the most southern tip of South America to Canada, the hardy cactus can be found
throughout the world today.

How is it
possible for a plant to thrive in a climate that receives little to no water?
Cactus plants have the capability to store large amounts of water to survive
their habitat, conserving water in its roots, leaves and stems.  Cactus plants also have a thick, fatty, waxy
outer layer preventing water loss in the high heat. Humans can only survive 3-4
days without water while the average species of cactus can survive two entire
years without a drop of water!

The defining
feature of cacti are their cluster of spines. Cactus spines are a modification
of leaves that contain no living cells, allowing the cactus to conserve
additional water. The spines create shade for the cactus while also acting as a
defense mechanism. Sharp spines ward off most potential predators, but wild
pigs, desert tortoises, and bighorn sheep still make room for cacti in their
diets! Cactus spines also help to collect water during the occasional desert
rainstorm, trapping fog and dew in their specialized grooves.

Cactus can
also be of a healthy option for humans to munch on! Cacti are full of vitamins
and nutrients and are a food staple in Latin America. Cactus leaf has been
found to lower cholesterol, decrease blood sugar levels and fight diabetes,
improve digestion, and reduce inflammation. Cactus leaves are high in phenolics
and flavonoids, these compounds are high in antioxidants that fight cellular
damage from cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Cacti are a super food!

Cacti are
a resilient, hardy plant who overcome the most extreme environment on our
planet but are unfortunately succumbing to one adversary: human beings. Almost
one third of the 2,000 cactus species are threatened with extinction, making
cacti more endangered than pandas. Illegal trade and land conversion are
threatening the livelihood of this marvelous plant who has adapted against the
odds. More than 86% of threatened cacti being used in gardening come from wild
populations, and rare species such as the Ariocarpus are being sold for
as much as $1,000 per plant. While wanting to grow a cactus from home may seem
like a harmless passion, the continued survival of cactus depends on
protection. Cacti are listed as the fifth most threatened species on the IUCN
Red List of Threatened Species.

animals depend on cactus for nourishment including coyotes, lizards, bats, and
hummingbirds. Rural indigenous cultures have used cactus as a food and
medication source for thousands of years, highlighting the importance of
conserving cactus for future generations. Continue to appreciate the wonder of
the cactus where they are found in nature and remain vigilant in protecting
biodiversity to ensure cacti are protected!

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and learn more about cactus survival:

Sand and Seashells

For most
people, a vacation looks like playing in the sand on a sunny beach.  While you may be annoyed as you clean sand
out of every crevasse for weeks after your beach trip, take the opportunity to
recognize the 4.5-billion-year history of sand!

Sand can
be found all over, from the beach to backyard creeks, but what is it? As water
and wind interact with rock, sand is the tiny, eroded particles from years of
this process, but sand can also be composed of seashells, coral, and minerals. Sand
is just tiny pieces of what used to be huge rocks!

appearance of sand can vary by the materials the sand is composed of. The most
common component in sand is silicon dioxide, or quartz, which makes sand a tan color.
Basalt is an igneous rock formed by quickly cooling lava, and is common in the
Hawaiian Islands, Iceland, and other islands formed by volcanic activity.
Basalt is black in color and is responsible for the black beaches found in these
areas! There are even places with red sand, and this color can be attributed to
high amounts of iron.

If you
were to take a microscope to sand, you would be able to see the tiny fragments
that together form a sandcastle. As huge rocks have been broken down throughout
time, these tiny particles are continuously eroded. On the same beach you may
find angular, jagged sand grains as well as smooth, rounded grains, this can
help determine the age of the sand. The softer the edges of sand, the longer it
has been eroding!

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own seashell imprint:

Sea Urchins

Sea urchins are often called the porcupines of the sea due to
their prickly appearance. These spikey creatures can be found in all oceans,
warm to cold, around the world in rock pools, mud, coral reefs, or sea grass
beds. Like many invertebrates, sea urchins depend on a tough outer shell to
keep them safe, and in their case, they have large spines as an extra
protection measure. A sea urchin’s shell, called the test, is the organism’s
defining feature.

A sea urchin’s shell is its greatest defense mechanism, warding
off predators with ambulatory spikes. If a sea urchin feels a touch on its
shell, their spines will point towards the source in defense. There are a few
species of urchins known to release venom into the wounds that their spines
create, paralyzing their victims. Snorkelers and divers are often injured when
accidentally stepping on an urchin in shallow water.

Sea urchins are members of the phylum Echinodermata family which
includes sea stars, sea lilies, sea cucumbers and sand dollars. This family can
be identified by their hard outer body and radial symmetry once they reach
adulthood. Radial symmetry means that these creatures have body parts that
branch out from a central point, like the five arms of a starfish, a 5-sided
example of radial symmetry.

These barbed creatures are vital for the environments they live
in. While sea urchins are not currently endangered and can be found throughout
the oceans of the world, their populations have been significantly impacted by
pollution and the warming of our oceans. As the number of sea urchins dwindle
due to human influence, the sea creatures that rely on them as a food source
will be impacted as well. Protecting our oceans and wildlife must be a priority
as we grow to understand the role our choices have on our planet.

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own sea urchin: tps://


What is echolocation? Echolocation uses sound waves and
echoes to determine the placement of objects, making it possible to maneuver
and find food in complete darkness! For nocturnal animals or animals with
subpar sight, echolocation is a radar to help them navigate through the world.
Bats, dolphins, toothed whales, and a few types of birds have adapted to
utilize sound to guide themselves through the world.

Most popular of the echolocating animals are bats! Bats are nocturnal,
meaning that they are only active during night, so its necessary for bats to
navigate in darkness. Bats produce a series of clicking sounds from their mouth
or nose and this soundwave travels until it hits another object. Once the sound
wave hits an object, like a yummy moth or mosquito, and echo bounces and
returns to the bat’s capable ears. The bats have such an amazing sense of sound
that they can determine where the object is, how large it is, and the objects

Dolphins are another animal that use echolocation to get around.
Have you ever used goggles to see underwater? While you may be able to see a
few yards away in a crystal-clear pool, ocean water is much murkier. Dolphins
also have a hard time seeing in ocean water! Like bats in the dead of night,
dolphins have adapted to use echolocation. 
Sound waves produced by dolphins travel through water just as they
travel through the air, and returning echoes are picked up by the lower jaw and
foreheads. Dolphins have fatty tissue in their head and jaw that help to carry
sound to their ears and brain.

Echolocation is so effective that humans have taught themselves how to echolocate! Much like a bat or dolphin, a person creates clicking noses with their tongue and await the soundwave’s return. The process of teaching a human to echolocate can be lengthy, but a large payoff for persons suffering from blindness! Try and echolocate around your room today!

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and test your skills in echolocation:

Collagen Rich Foods

Did you know that collagen makes up 75 percent of skin’s
support structure?

You probably think about collagen in your skin because the
word comes up whenever anyone is talking about skin aging. It’s true that this
protein plays a role in the perceived youthfulness of your skin, but there’s so
much more to it. Collagen is a protein and is one of the main building blocks
of our skin. It’s also found in our bones, tendons, and ligaments,”

Your diet plays a
surprisingly large role in the appearance and youthfulness of your skin, Eating
collagen-rich foods or foods that boost collagen production may also help
create the building blocks (amino acids) you need for your skin goals. “There
are three amino acids important for collagen synthesis:

  • Proline
  • Lysine
  • Glycine

Collagen is present in skin, muscle, bone, and connective tissues
and plays a key role in joint health and maintaining supple skin and
elasticity, but as we age, our body produces less collagen.

The speed of that aging process is different for everyone. How
quickly we lose collagen varies with several factors including the environment
and genetics.

So to make sure you’re giving your body the ingredients it needs
to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy and glowing, here are some great food
choices for your dinner plate:

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own gummy candies:

Nature’s Density

Image credit: how to smile

What is
Density? Density is how much ‘stuff’ is packed into a particular area.

example, if we have 13 balls in a box and we have the same box with 27
identical balls inside it. We say the box with 27 balls has higher density than
the box with 13 balls.

is a fundamental property of matter. Density is defined as mass divided by unit
volume. It is measured in grams per cubic centimeter or kilograms per cubic
meter. The Greek letter rho, is the symbol for density.

ρ = Mass ÷ Volume

two liquids can take up the same amount of space(volume) but can have
completely different masses. If liquid A has a higher mass, MORE of that liquid
is in that space and therefore is denser. If liquid B has a lower mass, LESS of
that liquid is in that same space and is therefore less dense than liquid A.

Image credit: steve spangler science

liquids in your tower have similar volumes but they have different densities.
What does that mean? That means that each liquid has a different amount of mass
in that volume. The liquids with the highest density are at the bottom, and the
ones with the lower density are on top of each other. So, which of the liquids
is most dense? And which is least dense?

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own Density Tower:

Bang in a Bag

Image credit: little bins for little hands

A chemical reaction is a process in which one or more chemicals
(or things) combine to make something new. The ‘things’ or chemicals that we
started with are called Reactants and the new ‘thing’ that is made are called
Products. It is called a chemical reaction since:

  1. It is accompanied by a rearrangement of the
    atoms in the reactants to form different chemical matter. The product formed is
    a new entity and is chemically different from the starting reactants.
  2. It is usually irreversible: this means that in
    most cases, I cannot get back what I started with.
  3. A chemical reaction is usually accompanied by
    a color change, smell, heat or light or release of a gas.

An example
of chemical reactions is the burning of wood in the presence of oxygen to
produce ash, water vapor and carbon dioxide.

A Chemical reaction or change is different from a physical change.

A physical change usually involves only a change of state: from
solid to liquid, liquid to gas or gas to water. A physical change does not
involve a change in the chemical entity of the reactant. The products will have
different physical properties than the reactants (such as state of matter,
texture, shape), but the chemical structure remains exactly the same as the
reactants. Therefore, a physical change is usually reversible.

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An example
of a physical change is the change of states of water. Liquid water freezes to
become ice, and when heated turns to water vapor or steam. But in all three
states, it is still chemically identical: H2O, which is made of two
atoms of Hydrogen and one atom of Oxygen. So, change of states of matter is not
a chemical, but a physical change.

In the Bang
in a Bag chemical reaction you just observed, acidic vinegar (chemically acetic
acid) reacts with basic baking soda (chemically sodium bicarbonate) to form an
entirely new substance called sodium acetate, carbon dioxide (the gas produced)
and water. Once the reaction is complete, you cannot get back the vinegar and
baking soda. The release of carbon dioxide caused the sound and the bubbling
you observed during the chemical reaction.

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and make your own Bang in a Bag:

Bag Stab & Polymerization

A plastic bag is made of polymers, long chains of individual molecules called monomers. When a sharp pencil pierces the bag the polymer chains separate without breaking. The chains of molecules then squeeze tightly around the pencil creating a seal that prevents it from leaking.

find use in our everyday life, from water bottles and Tupperware to tires for
automobiles. The word polymer
is derived from the Greek root poly-, meaning many, and mer, meaning part or
segment. Many of the same units (or mers) are connected together to form a long
chain or polymer.

are of two types: Polymers such as starch, proteins and DNA occur in Nature,
and are called Natural polymers. Synthetic polymers are derived from petroleum
oil and made by scientists and engineers. Examples of synthetic polymers
include nylon and plastic.

repeating chains can be linked together to form a cross-linked polymer, which
may become branched and become a Branched chain polymer. As the degree of cross
linking in the polymer increases, the polymer usually increases in rigidity and
toughness. This is why we see plastics that have different degrees of hardness
from a plastic bag to a hard-plastic baseball bat.

Join our
HTHT @ Home Science Experiment and learn about polymers:


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catapult is a lever, a stick or beam, propped up by a fulcrum, the pivot point.
The catapult magnifies your force to throw an object. So, you do not need as big
of a force to propel a large object, but the larger the force, the farther it
goes. In ancient times, catapults were used to throw heavy rocks.

and fulcrums can be used to pick up heavy things like rocks and building
materials. Have you ever used a see-saw? That’s a lever and fulcrum! See if you
can point out which part of your catapult is the lever, and which is the
fulcrum? The craft stick with the spoon is the lever and the stack of other
craft sticks is the fulcrum. The spoon beam pivots around the stack to generate
the force to launch the load. When you press down on the spoon, it pulls up on
the rubber band on the opposite end—this is its potential energy. When the
spoon is released, it pulls back up on the rubber band and the pom pom goes flying!
The potential energy is converted into energy of motion- kinetic energy.
Gravity also does its part as it pulls the object back down to the ground.

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it Further:

launching a bouncy ball with your catapult. Compare it with the pom pom. How far
or high did it travel? Did it go as high or far as the catapult?

catapult also demonstrates Newton’s 3 Laws of motion:

An object at rest stays at rest until a force is applied, and an object will stay in motion until something creates an imbalance in the motion. (First Law) The acceleration produced when a force is applied depends on the mass of the object. (F = Ma; Second Law) Every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. (Third Law)

pom pom will remain at rest until a force acts on it (the release of the spoon
and/or gravity) – First Law

bouncy ball will not travel as high or far as the pom pom as the bouncy ball
has more mass than the pom pom and will require a larger force to travel the
same distance and speed as the pom pom – Second Law (Force = Mass X

the spoon is pushed down, the load (pom pom or bouncy ball) travels upward- in
the opposite direction equal to the force applied on it. (Third Law of

A catapult is a simple machine that has been around for ages. Have your kids dig up a little history and research when the first catapults were invented and used! Hint; check out the 17th century!

Join our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment to make your own Catapult:

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