Navigating Through Time: The History of the Compass

A compass is a navigational device that uses the Earth’s
magnetic field to point explorers in the four cardinal directions: north,
south, west, and east. Compasses work because our planet is basically one big
magnet! When your compass is pointing to “N”, which stands for north, you are
facing towards the magnetic north pole! The Earth’s magnetic north pole is
about 1,000 miles south of the geographic North pole.

Although modern day navigators usually use high tech GPS or
digital mapping systems, the compass remains one of the most revolutionary
tools in navigation history. The magnetic compass was invented over 2,000 years
ago in Han dynasty China and was first used for maritime navigation in 1117.
Early compasses were made by floating a lodestone (a magnetic gemstone) in a
bowel of water, which would point towards magnetic north. This device is
commonly referred to a the “wet compass”.  In addition to using the compass for
navigation, the Chinese used this tool for fortune telling and finding

When the compass was first used by explores, it was
typically used as a last resort when landmarks and the sun and stars were not
visible. As these devices became more popular for maritime navigation, inventors
adapted the first dry compass. As ships began to evolve from being wooden to
being made of iron and steel, the magnesium of ship could affect the compass
readings. To improve the accuracy, people began placing magnetic bars and soft
iron balls around the compass.

Whether you’re on a hiking trail or trying to find lost
treasure, people still use a compass to navigate.  Bring your own compass along on your next
camping trip by building one today!

Brain Food: How to Fuel Your Buzziest Organ

It is incredible to think about all the things that our brains do
for us. In addition to thinking, seeing, and smelling our brains control our
breathing, heart rate, digestion of food and so much more! All day every day,
even when we are sleeping our brains are working hard to keep us alive.  

Because our brains do so much, they require a lot of energy! In
fact, our brains use around 20 percent of the oxygen and blood in our bodies
and consume about 20 percent of the calories we eat. There are some foods that
have been proven to improve memory, mood, and overall brain function. Here are
a few choices you can include in your diet that will improve your brain’s power
and may actually make learning easier!

Fatty Fish- Some fish, like salmon, contain a lot of healthy fats. These include omega-3 fatty acids, which build brain and nerve cells. Eating these fats can improve your memory and increase your ability to learn.

Blueberries- Blueberries contain compounds called anthocyanins which provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects on brain tissue.

is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that is
essential for forming sphingolipids, a type of fat that improves brain cell

NutsNuts are
high in healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E, which protects brain cells
from damage to keep them in functioning over time.

Eggs- Eggs contain Choline, which is used to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.

Pumpkin Seeds– Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants and
essential nutrients like zinc, magnesium, copper and iron.

Keep your brain sharp by playing educational brain games! High
Touch High Tech offers loads of brain games to improve your brain power!

Biogas: Solving Our Organic Waste Problem

We tons and tons of trash. People across the world create
3.5 million tons of waste each day; the average U.S. citizens creates around
4.4 pounds of trash every day. While we mostly think of waste in the sense of
plastic packaging and old things we no longer need, there are a few different
types of waste we all create. These types of waste include; liquid waste, the
dirty water flushed down the drain after you shower, organic waste, food,
garden waste, manure and rotten meat, hazardous waste, all things flammable and
toxic, our recyclables, and solid waste. While reducing waste streams like
liquid and hazardous waste are extremely complex, we can all help to address
our organic waste problem.

It is estimated that about a third of the world’s food is
wasted every year. Food waste is often due to food not being optimal in shape,
size or color, foods being discarded just before expiration, and households or
restaurants disposing of unused or leftover food. Food waste accounts for 70
million tons of the waste produced by the United States each year. While
unnecessary food waste is a contributes to our organic waste problem, other
factors of organic waste include livestock manure, agricultural waste, and
inedible food waste like vegetable scraps and peels. If organic waste is
improperly managed, it can contaminate water, cause algal blooms, and harm
wildlife. For the safety of the environment, we must solve our organic waste

As organic waste begins to decompose, it produces large
quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas with roughly 30 times the warming power
of carbon dioxide. Around 60% of all global methane being emitted from human
activity. Coal mining, manure management, landfills and incineration, oil and gas
systems, and ruminant animals all contribute to our methane production.  To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the
risk of pollution to the environment, our organic waste can be converted into
biogas, a renewable energy source. Biogas is used to replace fossil fuels,
creating further emission reductions and even can create carbon negative
systems! Biogas is an amazing solution to our organic waste problem and helps
to lessen our dependence on finite fossil fuels.

The United States currently only has 2,200 operating biogas
systems, with support for biogas fund allocation dissipating under the current
administration.  Biogas is a cost
effective, environmentally friendly alternative to our waste, fossil fuel and
methane footprint. While many of us don’t have the capability to create biofuel
systems ourselves, we can advocate for Farm Bills helping to fund biofuel

Want to see biofuel in action? You can do our Bionic Biogas
experiment! Find that experiment by visiting:

4 Ways that You can Reduce your Plastic Footprint

What do a toothbrush, a sandwich
bag, and a water bottle all have in common? They are all made of plastic! In
fact, there are many things that we use every day that are use plastic that we
don’t even think about- like milk gallons, straws, and hairbrushes (oh my!).  But where does all this plastic go when we
throw it away?

Sadly, a lot of plastic ends up
in landfills, which eventually lead to the ocean. This is because when it
rains, plastic on the ground in landfills ends up floating into creeks and
rivers that flow into the ocean. In fact, there are over 5 trillion pieces of
plastic in the ocean today.  There are a
lot of reasons why plastic is bad for the ocean. One of the biggest reasons is
that plastic is dangerous for the ocean’s animals. Over 700 different species
of marine animals are affected by plastic in the ocean. This is because some
animals accidently eat the plastic because they mistake it for food, like sea
turtles and jellyfish. Other animals, like birds, often get trapped in floating
plastic debris.

If we all used a less plastic, we could make a huge difference in saving these animals! Here are some tips on how you can reduce the amount of plastic that you use to help save these animals lives:

Say NO to single use plastics!

Some stuff that is made from plastic are reusable, like plastic toys, bike helmets, medical devices. Single use plastics are the things we throw away after using them just one time. For example, plastic spoons, straws, plates, and water bottles usually get thrown in the trash after just one use! Plastic products like these account for more than 40% of plastic in the ocean, so if we all make an effort to not use them it will make a big difference! Some ways you can do this include: using metal straws, reusable grocery bags, and using washable dishes instead of plastic plates and bowls.

Get a reusable water bottle!

When a plastic water bottle ends up in the ocean, it can take thousands of break down. Reusable water bottles are a great way to reduce your use plastic water bottles while looking super cool! They come in all different colors and you can probably find one with your favorite cartoon character on it! Every minute, almost one million plastic drink bottles are sold around the world. Drinking out of the same bottle helps save a lot of plastic and you look awesome doing it.

Go thrift shopping!

Thrift shopping is a fun adventure and it reduces the amount of clothes that end up in landfills. In the United States we throw away about 10.5 million tons of clothing every year! This includes a ton of plastic and other harmful materials that take thousands of years to decompose. Going thrift shopping is a great way to revamp your entire closet inexpensively while reducing waste. Wear your grandad’s clothes, look incredible, and save the planet!

Pack sustainable lunches!

time is a great time to show all of your friends how sustainable you are!
Little things like using a cool reusable lunch box, replacing plastic sandwich
bags with reusable containers, and minimizing individually packaged snacks add
up and reduce a lot of waste overtime!

No matter who we are, big or
small, it is everyone’s responsibility to make our world a cleaner place. These
steps may seem like small changes, but they make a huge difference! Talk to
your friends and family members about these changes and see what they are doing
to reduce their plastic footprint. 

Not sure if that item is recyclable?
Read more on what you can and cannot recycle at: