Timothy Berners-Lee: The Inventor of the WWW

The internet is the most influential communication tool
humanity has ever had. Internet improves the quality of lives, offering never before
seen opportunities for economics, influencing every aspect of human life,
changing cultures and educating people in the most remote parts of our planet. Its
commonly believed that the Internet and World Wide Web are the same thing, but
the internet gives you access the WWW. The World Wide Web contains the
information we access on the internet through billions of websites. While the first
workable prototype of the internet came in the 1960’s, the World Wide Web wasn’t
invented until 1989.

Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, computer scientist, software
engineer and person listed on Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the
20th Century’, created the World Wide Web and the first web browser which
popularized the internet with the public. Prior to the invention of the web,
scientists had difficulty sharing information across the internet, making it
necessary to learn different programs at each computer. Berners-Lee saw this opportunity
to connect millions of computers together by using a new technology called
hypertext. Hypertext is a term for text that links to other information,
directing users to different content.

Berners-Lee’s first proposal of the World Wide Web was initially
denied, his boss calling it “vague but exciting.” Using the NeXT computer, an
early creation by famous developer Steve Jobs, Timothy began working on his WWW
project in September of 1990. He then created the three foundations of the web which
remain today, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) the formatting of the web, URI or
URL(Uniform Resource Identifier) the identifier of each web resource, and HTTP
(Hypertext Transfer Protocol) the retriever of linked resource. By the end of
1990, the very first browser and web server was created, revolutionizing how
people connected forever.

Without the web, we could no longer binge our favorite Netflix
series, do online shopping, or get a master’s degree from the comfort of your couch.
The World Wide Web forever changed how we maneuver in our daily lives, and it
is hard to imagine going back. Timothy Berners-Lee continues to enhance and protect
the future of the World Wide Web, seeking to secure the web as a public good
and basic right. Our world is more accessible thanks for Timothy Berners-Lee,
and through future STEM graduates, it will know endless bounds.

Engineers: What do they do?

A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A
good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original
ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering
.” –
Freeman Dyson

accounts for ¼ of STEM; it is an expensive, critical field for innovation and
maintenance.  Engineering encompasses
many specialties from medicine to architecture, offering an opportunity to work
with and develop new and improved technology. By applying science and
mathematics to critical thinking and development skills, engineers can address
societies needs and solve its problems. While inventors and scientists are
often credited with the research and innovations that advance our world, engineers
are often instrumental in the development of those innovations.

The field of
engineering is divided into 6 major branches: mechanical, geotechnical,
chemical, management, civil and electrical. Each of these branches contain
hundreds of subcategories, allowing almost anyone with an interest in improving
upon ideas to find a job they are enthused by. Biochemical engineers develop
new chemical products such as agricultural chemicals and cleaning products.
Robotics engineers create robots and robotic systems that have the capabilities
to preform human duties, making jobs safer and more efficient. Engineering
knows no bounds for its ability to interest everyone!

Most engineers
specialize in their field, allowing them to be most effective in the testing, production,
and maintenance of their craft. By understanding the factors of a problem,
engineers work to create the best overall design and solution. While the work
of an aerospace engineer and environmental engineer is vastly different, they
work to understand the data and situation they are working on to design and
create an ideal result!

Engineering is
a steadily growing field, maturing and advancing along with our knowledge and
understanding of mathematics, science, and physics. Engineers use
well-establish scientific principles to develop the cutting-edge innovations
that will improve our lives. Engineers took us to the moon, and engineers will
be responsible for further propelling us into the stars. By becoming an
engineer, you can change our world!

Want to explore an engineering marvel? You can build your own catapult and test how you can improve upon your launch!  https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Catapult_EOTD_May%206th.pdf

Celebrating National Aviation Day: The Miracle of Human Flight

Traveling back to ancient Greece, we find the story of Icarus
and Daedalus, the tragic story of father and son using wings fashioned of wax
and feathers to escape the island of Crete. While in this ancient myth the pair
were successful until the sun melted the wax holding their wings together,
humans have dreamed of the ability to fly since the dawn of mankind. Archeologists
have dated drawings of winged humans back to prehistoric caves, there are many tales
of blundered flight attempts using artificial wings, and even famous painter
Leonardo da Vinci designed a flight machine after extensive bird observations. How
did we get from running off cliffs with wings strapped to our arms to a world in
which there are 100,000 plane flights each day?  

In China around 400 B.C.E., the kite was invented; the first
successful flying object. These kites were used in religious ceremonies, some
advanced kites were used to test weather conditions, and others were simply for
fun. Approximately 2,000 years later, painter, sculptor, musician and
astronomist Leonardo da Vinci created more than 100 drawings detailing his
ideas on flight. He designed the Ornithopter, a human powered flight machine with
flapping wings. While there is no evidence showing this device was ever made into
a physical prototype, but da Vinci’s flight machine was the first to have been
more than strapping wings to human arms. Though Leonardo da Vinci’s flight
machine was better designed than those previous, today’s engineers know that
his ornithopter would never have made if off the ground.

When thinking of human flight, we mostly reference planes
and helicopters, but one invention often goes unmentioned: the hot air balloon.
French brothers, Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, were wealthy paper
manufacturers in the 1780’s. After experimenting with paper and fabric, they
observed that filling these bags with heater air caused the bag to raise. The Montgolfiers
build a 33-foot silk balloon which was lined with paper, and publicly
demonstrated the balloon launch with no one aboard, rising the balloon to 6,000
feet for around 10 minutes. Today, hot air ballooning is still an exciting
experience and hobby for many. In clear skies and mild weather, hot air balloon
festivals occur in which hundreds on enthusiasts launch at once!

George Cayley invented the first glider in the 1800’s, this glider
used movements of the body to steer. This glider was designed so that air would
lift the device, helping it to soar for longer periods of time. After many
improvements upon Cayley’s glider, we arrive to the Wright brothers in the year
1900. The brothers created a ‘wind tunnel’ model of the glider, perfecting the
form. After developing the ideal glider which incorporated steering points
within the glider’s tail and wings, Wilbur and Orville Wright developed an
early engine with around 12 horsepower, the same size engine of today’s push lawnmowers!
On December 17th, 1903 in Big Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina, the Wright
brothers’ “flyer” traveled 120 feet in twelve seconds, with Orville successfully
pivoting and landing the flying craft. Wilbur and Orville then returned to
their homes in Dayton, Ohio in which they perfected their ‘Flyer III’, piloting
the early plane for 39 minutes, traveling 24 miles before the plane ran out of fuel.

From kites to helicopters, helicopters to landing machinery on
Mars, humans have a long history with aviation. National Aviation Day is
celebrated each year on August 19th, celebrating the birthday of aviation
pioneer Orville Wright. This Aviation Day, you can celebrate the past of human
flight and our prospective future. Without amazing scientists, engineers, pilots
and astronauts, human flight would never have been possible.

Build your own flying object! Build a flying paper helicopter
with nothing more than paper and paperclips! Find the template and directions
by visiting: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/paper_helicopter.pdf

Library Books: Sharing Germs and Knowledge

Living through the age of COVID-19 has magnified the focus
on the spread and transmission of germs. Regular disinfection of public
transportation surfaces, 6-foot line rules, and the rising support for a cashless
society seem like a germaphobe’s dream, some even saying these precautions could
holdover once the coronavirus outbreak ceases.  As we reduce the sharing of high touch
materials like tools and equipment, what happens to institutions build on
sharing? Our public libraries could soon be facing permanent retirement.

Since their foundation, libraries have stood as a foundation
of learning, record keeping, and professional development. Libraries are free
educational resources to everyone, providing historical context and truth,
connecting communities one book at a time. As library books are shared, a bond
is created by newfound information and a mutual experience. As long as records
have been kept, libraries have existed, adapting from clay tablets to today’s paper
novel. Libraries are important centers for gathering and fellowship within our

The question of the sanitation of library books is almost as
old as the Germ Theory, with an article titled “The Disinfection of Books” being
published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association in 1911. This
article details concern that smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, trachoma,
diphtheria, dysentery, typhoid, and tuberculosis could be transmitted through the
sharing of library books. Experiments have shown that recently handled books
can in fact contain microbes such as the herpes virus, streptococcus bacteria, tuberculosis,
staphylococcus bacteria, various fungi, and many other germs. These experiments
also concluded that books brought back to the library within a three-day window
grew more bacteria colonies than books handled by more library visitors. If a book
is on a library shelf untouched with no new germs added, the bacteria lying in the
pages begin to die off.

While library books are full of knowledge and microbes,
these common germs are found in quantities that are unlikely to infect you. Germs
in larger variety can be found at your desk, office microwave, kitchen sink and
sponge, and makeup brush, yet few think twice about touching these objects. If
you grab your cellphone or flip a light switch without doing a throughout
disinfection, reading your favorite book at your public library is no challenge
for your immune system. Have no fear in visiting your public library and expanding
on your reading list!

Germs are all around us, being left on each and every surface
we come in contact with! You can play High Touch High Tech’s Germ Game as a friendly
reminder to wash your hands and regularly disinfect surfaces. https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/germ_game.pdf

Ingenious Communication Techniques of the Indigenous American world

A Winter Count document.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

If a time machine dropped you into the Americas in 1491, what would you find? A vast, empty continent roamed by small bands of people, fighting to survive? No way!  Both North and South America before the arrival of Columbus played host to very large urban civilizations, powerful militaries, huge agricultural economies, and an impressive diversity of religions, languages and art styles.  Amazing feats of engineering were the norm in this world as people from Tierra Del Fuego to Baffin Bay carved out their lifestyles in wildly different ecological regions.  You might have seen evidence of this ingenuity in things like the Igloo, or the Tipi, but have you ever heard of the Inka Roads, or the floating city of Tenochtitlan?  Whether they were living in a huge empire or a small tribal nation, Native American people had to be creative in the ways they stored, spread, and communicated the information that each group needed to survive.  Let’s examine some Native American communication techniques that go WAY beyond the stereotypical “smoke signals!”

Inka Road
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Despite 770,000 square miles of terrain that encompassed the highest, snowy Andes, the Amazon rainforest, Pacific Ocean beaches and several fierce deserts, the massive 12 million strong Inca Empire innovated one of the most rapid and efficient messaging systems in the premodern world! It relied on a specially trained team of expert marathon runners to relay the messages that were vital to the management of the huge empire.  Chaskis were elite endurance athletes trained from childhood to run fast on some of the toughest high-altitude terrain on earth.  Chaskis passed messages anywhere along 25,000 miles of  specially designed Inca Roads. 
They ran several miles at a sprint until they reached the next Chaski station.  There they would pass the message and the next runner would be off like the wind.  Chaskis took their job very seriously and knew that if they were found to pass an incorrect message, they would be thrown off a cliff.  Running their non-stop, high speed relay race, they could pass a message from Ecuador to Chile in one week, an amazingly fast result for the world before electronic communication! 

Learn more about the Chaskis – Inka Teachers Guide
Learn more about the Chaski Runners

A Winter Count document of the Yanktonai. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Large-scale empires like the Inca needed to know exactly what was happening in every corner of their massive territory and had the resources to train and support thousands of Chaskis for all their communication needs.  But what about smaller scale societies, especially nomadic ones that moved around a lot?  Sometimes there is a stereotype that small scale groups like the Natives of the North American Plains were in such a struggle for survival that they did not have time for things like technology, history, and philosophy, but this is not true.  The Sioux had a system of recording and communicating their history that suited their needs perfectly: The Winter Count. 

These are four separate Winter Counts from 1833, all recording a meteor shower.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the Sioux world, years were not counted from Dec.-Jan. but measured from first snowfall to the next year’s first snowfall.  At the end of the year, elders met to decide what was the most important event of the year past; that event would forever name and define the year.  A special member of the group would design a pictograph representing the event and add it to a special hide that showed each year’s pictographs in succession.  Some of these Winter Count hides ran over 100 years and could be constantly renewed by painting on fresh hide when the old one decayed.  The keeper of the Winter Count also served as the group’s historian, using the winter count to tell stories of what happened each year, keeping the group connected to their past and able to learn more about themselves for the future.  The Winter Count hide itself was easily portable and made of simple materials, making it a perfect technological fit for the highly mobile the Plains Natives. 

Get up close to a Winter Count Calendar

STEM Career Highlight : Information Security Analyst

As we become more and more reliant on technology, the more
of our personal information is on digital devices. Unfortunately,
some people try to take advantage of this information by stealing, damaging, or
sharing it without permission. Criminals can access your bank transactions,
family medical history, your financial records, and family photos. Cyber crime
is increasingly common, dangerous, and harder to prevent, and information
security analysts are fighting against it each day.

Information security analysts are on
the front lines of keeping our information safe. They plan and carry out
security measures to protect our information from cyber-attacks for all kinds
or organizations like companies, medical facilities, and government agencies.
Information security analysts install software to prevent the unauthorized use
and distribution of privet information. Daily tasks include monitoring
computers for security, investigating security breaches when they happen, and
staying informed about information technology trends and standards.

To become an information security
analyst, you need either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in computer science
(or another related field). You also need to be analytical, creative, detail
oriented, and technologically savvy. There is a huge demand for information
security analysts in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics raked them as the sixteenth fastest growing profession the country
and has projected that the demand for information security analysts will
increase by 28 percent over the next 10 years.

From the Field with Meteor Martin

Hello and Happy Summer to
everyone!  This is “Meteor” Martin, the
Area Manager for High Touch High Tech of Raleigh- Durham, North Carolina.  As we enter the back half of the summer
months and prepare for our return to school in one form or another.  I thought it would be interesting to look
back over the last several months and reflect on teaching in this virtual era
and what changes it might hold for the future.

I am so thankful to be
living in an era of time that science and technology has provided all of us
with the ability to do so many things from home.  From work and school, to games, movies and
entertainment.  I can only imagine what things
would have been like when I was a child in school and a pandemic caused us to
be locked in our homes with little or nothing to do.

The ability to reach out
and still provide schools, teachers, parents, and children a virtual STEM experience
that is hands-on while still being fun and safe has been a blessing in these
unusual times.

 I have loved being able to still reach out and
inspire children to be creative and interact with them as if I were teaching
them even from the comfort of my home lab. 
While different in many aspects, I can still hear the excitement in
these children as they create gases by mixing a solid and liquid or see them
working together to complete an experiment. 
There is nothing more rewarding than asking questions of our youth and
having them systematically put things together and come up with the correct
answer.  I have also enjoyed watching the
wonderful and hardworking teachers as they pass out materials and take pictures
of the children participating in our hands-on activities.

In these ever-changing
times, providing fun, hands on, interactive Science is what we at High Touch
High Tech are all about.  I cannot help
but think how virtual activities and experiences will continue to grow in
number and value as we all use our imagination to enhance our future.

Pigeons to Telegraph, Telegraph to FaceTime: The History of Sending Messages

Today we take for granted that we have access to the entire
world’s information at the tip of our fingers. We can be reading a breaking
news article taking place across the world, video calling our vacation mothers,
and texting your best friend at the same time. It is hard for many of us to
remember times before we had our smartphones glued to our hands, but for most
of the human history, communication was far from instant. People communication
to pass information to each other, and for as long as humans have communicated,
messages have needed to be delivered.

The earliest form of sending messages across long distances
can be traced back to Ancient China. Smoke signals could be seen 500 miles
away, used to warn allies of enemy attacks farther down the Great Wall. The use
of smoke signals can be dated back to 200 B.C.E. in China, but this form of
communication was also used by Native Americans. Using a wet blanket, a fire
would be covered then released to create large puffs of black smoke. Each tribe
had their own pattern of messages, but generally one smoke puff was to attract
attention, two puffs meant things were well, and three puffs indicated danger. Today,
the Vatican still uses smoke signals to indicate the selection of a new pope!

Pigeon delivery is probably the oddest part of message
sending history. Bred to find their way home after traveling large distance,
these birds could carry a message a far distance away. Often during battle, a
short message was written on paper and inserted into a canister attached to the
homing pigeon’s leg. The pigeons would travel to a location, release the
message, and return home. Scientists are still unsure of how pigeons accomplish
this mission. It is believed they may use Earth’s magnetic fields to direct
themselves. Genghis Khan communicated with the most distant points of his
empire using pigeons, the Greeks used pigeons to announce Olympian winners, and
pigeons saved countless lives during World War I. After years of domesticating
pigeons for our message carrying, pigeons have lingered to eat your bread

Inventors William Cooke, Charles Wheatstone, and Samuel
Morse simultaneously developed the electric telegraph, revolutionizing the
sending of messages. The telegraph connected and disconnected the electric circuit,
creating pulses of electric current. A signaling alphabet of dots and dashes
was created to write messages in this pulsating current, this alphabet is Morse
Code. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, used the established
telegraph lines to send audible sound in 1876. Flash forward almost 100 years
to 1973, and technology company Motorola created the very first cellphone. This
giant phone looks nothing like the sleek smartphones we have today, weighting
4.4 pounds!

Instant messaging or “IM’ing” launched by AOL in 1997 became
a popular way to contact your friends at the computer screen. As our
fascination with instant messaging advanced, so did the popularization of text
messaging. The cellphone went from being a device to make calls, to a device
predominantly used to send texts. The average American spends 6 minutes making
phone calls, and an aver 26 minutes sending text messages.

Today getting a message from person to person is easier than
ever. Now, text messaging or SMS is the most popular application in the world
with over 81% of cell phone users utilizing it. Social media and video chat
platforms like Facetime and Skype make it more possible than ever to
communicate exciting news, track finances, and get business accomplished. The
history of messaging is a long one, and we can look forward to many
advancements in the future!

Environmental Science, Ecology, and Wildlife Biology: Science Fields that Save our Planet!

Understanding the behavior of animals, controlling pollution,
managing and understand wildlife populations, and advocating for our
environment all falls under the umbrella of environmental science. There are
limitless education and career opportunities for anyone who is passionate about
protecting our environment, wildlife, and our planet for future generations.
Our environment and its biodiversity are being constantly threatened by human
actions; environmental scientists are climate heroes!

Access to clean air and water is becoming more and more
limited to the ever-growing human population; these resources are even scarcer
to wildlife. Ecology works to understand how animals and plants species
interact with each other, how they use these resources within the environment,
and how they are affected when these resources are of short supply. Ecologists
can identify the cause of declining populations of animals and planets, such as
declining dolphin populations due to overfishing of their food sources. By beginning
to understand the cause and effect relationship within the environment, we can take
the necessary steps to restore these ecosystems. By understanding the balance
within the ecosystem, ecologists revitalize our environment to its natural order.

Biologists study organisms: wildlife biologists study the
impact of wildlife on the environment and human impact on the animal’s habitat.
Spending their work life outdoors, wildlife biologists observe animals in their
natural habitat to identify physical characteristics, unique behaviors, how
they use environmental resources, and identify animal travel patterns. By understanding
the needs and behaviors of wildlife, wildlife biologists make recommendations
to ecologists and other environmental scientists on how best to protect animal

While these are two examples of  two jobs within the vast field of environmental science, they heavily overlap in their roles to understand the environment, creatures, and plants within, and helping to protect the environment. If research does not interest you but you love being in nature, you could become a park ranger! Plants and botany may be your specialty, so you could choose the career of horticulture, specializing in plants and their growth! There is a career in environmental science for anyone who is passionate about wildlife, plants, and creating a healthier planet. By having a career in environmental management and sustainability, you can fight for the environment every day.

Get close to nature today! Spending time in the environment
builds an appreciation for it and shows you the importance of protecting it firsthand.
While you’re in the woods today, you can treat yourself with a yummy s’mores
treat. Reuse that pizza box and make Solar Oven S’mores! https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/solar_oven_smores.pdf