Fun Fact Friday- Turtles

~Turtle Facts~

Turtles are reptiles and cold blooded. They come in all shapes and sizes and live in many different environments. They have existed for around 215 million years and they live on average for 50-100 years. The largest turtle is the leatherback sea turtle, it can weigh over 900 kg! (2000 lb). The smallest Turtle in the World is the Speckled Padloper Tortoise.

Tortoises are land animals that dig big burrows with their round stumpy feet. Tortoises are solitary roamers. Some mother tortoises are protective of their nests, but they don’t care for their young after they hatch. Tortoises have an exoskeleton AND an endoskeleton.

Freshwater turtles that live in ponds and lakes, but they do climb out of the water to get sun and warm up. They can hold their breath for five hours underwater. They slow their heart rate to up to nine minutes in between heart beats in order to conserve oxygen.

Sea turtles usually spend most of their lives in water. They have webbed flippers and a streamlined body. The only time sea turtles leave the water is to lay eggs in the sand. Some species of turtle the temperature determines if the egg will develop into a male or female, lower temperatures lead to a male while higher temperatures lead to a female. Some turtles lay eggs in the sand and leave them to hatch on their own. The young turtles make their way to the top of the sand and scramble to the water while trying to avoid predators. They also think that jellyfish are delicious!

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Today we honor Lucy Wills, the woman who created prenatal vitamins.

Lucy Wills,  born in Birmingham, England in 1888, she studied botany and geology and received a certificate in 1911. In 1915 she enrolled in The London School of Medicine for Women and legally  became a medical practitioner in 1920, earning her bachelor degrees in medicine and science.

In 1928, she did research about pregnant women and anemia and realized that the Bombay women had a correlation between their dietary habits and likelihood of their becoming anemic during pregnancy. Ultimately, her studies suggested that a vitamin deficiency was to blame.

Her discovery was the first step toward creation of folic acid. For many years it was the Wills Factor until folic acid was named in 1941 when it was isolated from spinach.

Now the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that women take 400 micrograms of folic acid are taken every day.

May 10, 1888 – April 16, 1964

Happy Birthday Lucy Wills and Thank You for all that you did for women and their babies!


Source: https://www.cnet
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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Bumblebees

Our bumblebee friends make delicious honey. Did you know that they are also the most important pollinators in the echo system? We depend on these pollinators to transfer pollen between male and female flower parts. Their wing beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit.

Here are some more fun facts….

  1. Their wings beat at 130 times per second
  2. Bumblebees don’t die when they sting
  3. Bees are covered in an oil that makes them waterproof
  4. Bumblebees flap their wings back and forth rather than up and down
  5. The queen is the mother of all the bees in a colony

At High Touch High Tech, we believe in making learning FUN! We provide high quality instruction and thought-provoking science experiences for all.

Learn more about bees and their honeycombs by participating in our
HTHT @ Home Science Experiment:

History of Groundhog Day

Is the Groundhog going to see his shadow or not today?

That is a question everyone asks themselves when the wake up on February 2nd.










But what exactly is the history of Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, which is when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The first groundhog’s day was on February 2, 1887.

Check out this video of  Phil predicting the 2018 weather:


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Fun Fact Friday!


Space– Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. There are many things we don’t know or understand about space. So, we are going to give you a few fun facts! You can also check out of Fun Fact Friday website for more fun facts!

Then, go to our website and check out the great space experiments that you can try!





1. The term “astronaut” comes from the Greek word astron which means “star” and nautes which means “sailor”.

2. Did you know the longest space orbit in history lasted 17 1/2 days!

3. Modern Rocket engines that are used to place satellites and manned spacecraft into orbit use the same principals as the first rockets made by the Chinese?

4. All of Space is completely silent!

5. Mercury and Venus are the only two planets that do not have a moon


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Cookie Chemistry

Cookies – it’s as easy as throwing some ingredients in the bowl and popping them in the oven right?  Sure mixing up cookies is pretty easy but the real work begins once you close the oven door. There are actually several fun chemical reactions that happen once your cookies are baking in the hot oven.  Most basic cookie recipes call for flour, butter, eggs, salt, baking soda, and white and brown sugars.  From there creativity abounds as you add flavors and mix-ins.  Each ingredient plays an important role in creating your favorite ooey gooey cookie.

Mix it up:

As you mix your cookies, flour is the most important ingredient of all because of gluten.  Gluten is a sticky, stretchy, strong protein found in wheat.  It is necessary to create structure in breads and baked goods, but it actually doesn’t exist until you start baking!

When flour becomes wet, the gluten inside of it activates via the combination of two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) and your dough becomes sticky and has more structure.  You develop the gluten by kneading your dough, which stretches the gluten and encourages it to form a network.  Bread involves a lot of kneading but cookies and other baked goods require a light hand.  You can overmix your dough and create a tough cookie!

So mix it up and pop your cookies in the oven and get ready to watch all the different reactions that happen to turn your dough in to a delicious cookie.

Heat it up:

As the dough heats up in your 375 degree oven, butter begins to melt around 92 degrees.  Butter is an emulsion, which is a mixture of two things that don’t want to stay together.  In the case of butter, those two things are fat and water.  As the butter melts, the dough ball spreads and loses its structure.  If you chill your cookies prior to baking you’ll actually have less spread.  This is ideal for holiday cut-out cookies, because the cookie bakes and forms a solid structure faster than the butter melts to a liquid.  Chilled cut-outs keep their shape whereas warmer dough yields weird amoebic shapes.

As the water pulls away from the butter emulsion it bubbles and is released from the cookie as steam.  The fat in the butter actually coats the gluten and “shortens” it by preventing it from forming longer strands.  This is simply why you don’t have super puffy, twice-their-volume cookies.

At 144 degrees the protein molecules from your egg begin to uncoil and connect to form a solid structure.  Then at 212 degrees water completely boils off and the cookie dries out leaving wonderful airy pockets.  How did those pockets get there?

Give it a Rise:

There are two ways to give your baked goods a rise:  yeast or sodium bicarbonate.  Yeast is actually a living creature that activates when combined with warm water, starch, and sugar.  As it consumes starch, its “food”, it releases carbon dioxide, giving life to bread and many other baked goods.

Cookies on the other hand utilize sodium bicarbonate, usually baking soda, which creates carbon dioxide when it heats up.  If you’ve ever done a volcano experiment with vinegar and baking soda it’s a similar reaction except the baking soda is reacting to heat rather than an acid! Water vapor escaping from the dough in combination with the carbon dioxide released by our baking soda is ultimately what makes our cookies light and airy.

Why not baking powder?  The main difference between baking powder and baking soda is that baking powder carries an acid with it, which means that it reacts both when it’s mixed in the dough and also later when it’s heated.  Baking powder creates extra leavening and a fluffier cookie.  Many recipes call for either one or a combination of both.

Golden Brown:

The most exciting part about baking is the wonderful golden brown color and delicious flavor created in the process.  Both of these elements happen thanks to the Maillard reaction and carmelization.

The Maillard reaction occurs around 310 degrees when proteins and sugars break down and realign into rings.  The rings reflect light and create that wonderful golden brown color.  White granulated sugar is mostly sucrose so doesn’t participate as well in the Maillard reaction, which is why a lot of cookie recipes call for both white and brown sugar.  Brown sugar has both glucose and fructose, which happily create rich, complex flavors via the Maillard reaction.

At 356 degrees the magic really happens when carmelization kicks in.  Carmelization is when sugars break down with high heat to create a wonderfully rich, nutty flavor.  Carmelization doesn’t occur at lower temperatures so cookies baked at 350 or lower have a more mild flavor and color.  Playing with the temperature can totally change the flavor of your cookie!

So mix up some cookies and observe some chemical reactions first hand.  Best part is you get to eat the results of your labor!  The following basic recipe can be customized with different flavors and toppings.

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe:

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg

Optional topping:  regular, or colored decorating sugar to sprinkle on top prior to baking

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line pans with parchment paper.
  • Mix all dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl
  • In a separate mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla and almond extracts
  • Add the flour mixture gradually mixing after each addition
  • Spoon tbsp portions of dough on to your pans.  Flatten each ball with a glass to about a ¼ inch thickness
  • Optional:  Sprinkle the tops with sugar!
  • Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.  10 minutes for a softer cookie; 12 minutes for a crunchier, more golden cookie.  Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool

Tip:  For roll out cookies you can cut into festive shapes, add an additional ½ cup of flour to the recipe.

What’s a Cephalopod?

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A cephalopod is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda. These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles modified from the primitive molluscan foot.

HTHT WNC Visits Claxton Elementary School in Asheville, NC!

HTHT WNC Engages Students at Claxton Elementary School on March 27, 2015!

The students in Ms. Sophia’s First grade class at Claxton Elementary in Asheville, North Carolina had the pleasure of doing hands – on science experiments with High Touch High Tech of Western North Carolina’s scientist, Asteroid Amber. Amber spent the morning in the classroom with this first grade class teaching them all about what plants need to survive. She helped them to explore the world’s ecosystems, the five laws of nature, different types of seeds and how they all play a part to nature’s delicate balance. The students got hands-on in this program as they extracted real chlorophyll!! They even got to build their very own greenhouses to keep! 

Look at all those Smarty Plants!!

Asteroid Amber WOWs the students as the balloon doesnt pop when she sticks a needle through it!


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Fun Fact Friday: Honey

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Did you know that honey is the one food item that does not spoil? It could essentially last for decades and still be edible!

Here’s the incredible science behind the long lasting honey! Honey can be categorized as hygroscopic, or have the ability to attract and hold water molecules from the surrounding environment. This ability let’s honey be able to dehydrate bacteria easily.  Honey also has a low pH value, making it usually to acidic and hostile for most microbes and bacteria to live. All this leaves the honey with the ability to not spoil over time. Although it can darken and crystallize. But when that happens it can just be reheated but boiling the jar in a pot of water.