Never Underestimate a Catfish

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
National Catfish Day
June 25th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

When you hear the word “catfish” it may bring up different associations in your mind. For many of us, “catfish” refers to an internet scam where a person is lured in by a fake dating profile and then targeted for money.   If you are a Southerner, catfish refers to a delicious food served battered and deep fried, always with a side of French fries and a sweet tea.  When you look at how versatile and widespread actual Catfish, Siluriformes, are, it seems perfectly appropriate that there are so many associations attached to their name.  Sometimes underestimated as gross bottom feeders (they have been known to nibble on dead bodies) or a cheap trash fish, in reality, catfish boast a dinosaur-era lineage, a worldwide range, impressive adaptability, AND the biggest freshwater fish in the world, the Mekong Giant Catfish, Pangasianodon Gigas.  There is even a species that can “walk” on land.  Underestimate the humble catfish at your own peril, because not only are they tough, but they are everywhere, and they are BIG!  (And yes, even the biggest ones are said to be delicious.)

Of course, we at High Touch High Tech would NEVER condone eating a Mekong Giant Catfish, because they are critically endangered.  Catfish are known to get exceptionally large, with the Wels Catfish in Europe reaching 8 feet and the Piraiba of the Amazon reaching 7 feet.  However, the Mekong Catfish is considered King of All Catfish because it is the largest catfish in the world, with one caught in 2005 tipping the scales at 646 pounds and measuring 9 feet!  This incredible catch means that the Mekong Giant Catfish is the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. 

Although catfish species can be found in rivers, lakes,
marine environments, sometimes even on land, and are hugely popular with
aquarium keepers in homes all over the world, the Mekong Giant Catfish has
sadly not fared well in the last few decades. 
The Mekong Giant Catfish was once seen regularly in its home, the
massive Mekong River in Southeast Asia, but now scientists report they are
lucky to get a sighting once a year.  The
bounteous Mekong River supported these enormous fish easily in the past,
because the river itself, which flows through six nations in Asia, is spacious
and full of diverse fish and plant species. 
But the Mekong Catfish is a highly migratory species, and in recent
decades, dams and development along the river have especially affected its favored
spawning ground.  Fortunately, scientists
like Zeb Hogan are committed to tracking and understanding the exact habitat
needs of the Giant Mekong Catfish, and are working with locals to support and
protect the precious Mekong Catfish.   Check out Dr. Hogan’s efforts in the link
below and be sure to wish your local catfish a happy Catfish Day on June 25th!

If learning about unique aquatic species gets you excited, check
out our Sea Urchin Symmetry at-home experiment. Review the lesson linked below,
grab your supplies, and start exploring!

Sea Urchin Symmetry Lesson Plan: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/EOTD_Sea_Urchin_Symmetry_Lesson.pdf

Sources:

Impressive Catfish Facts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaCQ4ZAsAgc

The Biggest Catfish Ever Caught All Around the World:
https://largest.org/animals/catfish/

Dr. Hogan’s Conservation Efforts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JvRyYyMoA8

Tracking the Spawn of Mekong Catfish:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIBv6yJcVKE

An Excellent Documentary on Life along the Mekong:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AqvJaHk-N4

National Hollerin’ Day!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
National Hollerin’ Day
June 19th

Image Source: https://www.carolinaxroads.com/2020/01/spiveys-corner.html

OORAH!  If you instantly heard the distinctive sound of the US Marine battle cry in your head as you read that word, you know the power of a strong, powerful shout.  Gentle face-to-face spoken communication is a wonderful thing, but there’s definitely something to be said for a full-throated holler so loud that it leaves rolling echoes behind to prove its point.  People across times and cultures have woven the art of hollering into not only their fearsome military battle cries but into their day to day lives.  Prior to the advent of phones (and cups attached by strings), communicating long distances was a problem that all humans faced.  You might have heard of the Pony Express or Carrier Pigeon as examples of people’s ingenious solutions for long distance communication, but for sheer usefulness, how about the good ol’ fashioned Southern-style holler?

On the surface, giving a good holler seems like something mindless, but the “Hollerin’ Capital of the World” in Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina would like to assure you it’s not. As one champion hollerer of the “National Hollerin’ Contest,” once held annually in Spivey’s Corner, explains, a holler is a controlled sound that rural people used to communicate before the era of phones.  Thought to have originated in West Africa and then brought over by enslaved people, Southern-style hollers vary between individuals, but they are designed as a pattern of sounds that send a distinct message.  The best hollers have a rhythm and modulation that creates an echo and can be heard up to a mile away!

In addition, there are four basic categories of holler.  There are functional hollers designed for
calling up and down between a house and a field to ask for things like water or
food.  There are hollers designed to pass
a certain message, such as to announce oneself on a neighbor’s land.  An especially important type is the distress
holler, to be used only in case of emergency or if someone finds themselves
lost.  Last, there is the expressive
holler, which gives voice to the hollerer’s particular feelings at the moment.  If you’re in a place where a few hollers here
and there won’t disturb anybody, why not celebrate National Hollerin’ Day with
an expressive holler of your own?  You
might be surprised how far your voice can carry!

If you are feeling the “call” to holler, then we invite you
to try our Paper Cup & String Phone at-home experiment. See if your holler
will carry all the way to the other end of the string! Learn about vibrations
and how sounds carry! Grab your supplies & check out the lesson plan linked
below:

Lesson Plan:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Paper-Cup-String-REV-7-20-2020.pdf

Sources:

The Story of Hollerin’ and the National Hollerin’ Contest in Spivey’s Corner: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-win-a-hollerin-contest

Some Champions of Hollerin’ explain the Art:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r0ThUN2YKs

Old Timer Leonard Emanuel tells the story of Hollerin’ in his Community and provides some expressive examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvY4i4TeHiQ

Everybody Loves Flip-Flops

Join High Touch High Tech in Celebrating
National Flip-Flop Day
June 11th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Modern-day fashionistas may disparage flip-flops, and some doctors warn against wearing them constantly.  But aside from a few objections, the archaeological and historical record both testify to the fact that humans the world over have been rocking flip-flops and sandals, flip-flops’ close relatives, since before civilization even began.  The basic design of flip-flops and sandals, a sole covering held on to the foot with a rope or strap, is much older than the earliest known closed-toe leather shoes.  The oldest sandals on earth were found in Fort Rock, Oregon in the 1930’s.  Made of woven sagebrush ropes, the oldest Fort Rock Sandals date from about 13,000 years ago!

Another culture that had no problem with the flip-flop as fashion was the Ancient Egyptians, whose preferred style was anchored between the first and second toe just as modern people wear today.  Many Ancient Egyptian sandals were made of humble woven papyrus, or more upmarket leather, but they also could be covered in gold and gems depending on the status of the wearer.  It is said that the Pharaoh of Egypt even had a servant who did nothing but carry his sandals until needed.  The Ancient Greeks were huge fans of the sandal, and so were the Romans, although their designs often involved more straps and foot coverage than the minimalistic flip flop design that Ancient Egyptians and present-day people appreciate. 

With such a wealth of ancient footwear to draw from, which design and time period gave us the flip flop we use today?  Look no further than Japan.  Japanese traditional footwear has long been adapted towards the easy-on, easy-off design people prize in contemporary flip- flops.  Japanese homes often had floors covered in delicate reed tatami mats that could be easily damaged by shoes, and so an abundance of flip-flop-like designs emerged, including the geta and the zori.  After WW2, Japan’s decimated economy still held a large reserve of rubber from the Southeast Asian nations that Japan had attempted to colonize during the war.  Japanese manufacturing began to build back by using the rubber to create mass-produced zori, and thus the flip-flop as we know it was born.  Originally marketed as “Jandals,” a combination of “Japan” and “Sandals,” as the shoes gained popularity in the West, some time in the 1960’s they came to be called “flip-flops” for the ubiquitous sound they make when they strike the heel. 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

So go ahead and rock your flip-flops for National Flip-Flop
Day this June 11th!  If anyone
criticizes your toes as they catch the breeze, just remind them that flip-flops
are one of the oldest human designs still in wide use. It is said that a great
design is timeless, and in the case of flip-flops, that is definitely true!

So, grab your flip-flops and head to the beach for this week’s at-home experiment! Put your toes in the sand as you make sand observations and seashell imprints! Check out our lesson plan, collect your materials and investigate cool coastal science…all while sporting your favorite flip-flops!

Lesson Plan: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/EOTD_Sand_Seashells_Lesson.pdf

Sources:

The Great Flip-Flop Fashion Debate:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijEmTr9jdtM

The Fort Rock Sandals:
https://pages.uoregon.edu/connolly/FRsandals.htm

Worldwide use of Sandals through Cultures and Times: http://historyofsandals.blogspot.com/2010/10/egyptian-sandals_22.html

Introduction to Japanese Traditional Footwear:
https://www.japan-zone.com/culture/footwear.shtml

The Japanese Zori Industry and the Modern Flip-flop:
https://www.heddels.com/2018/04/history-flip-flop/

Soaring Science of the Hot Air Balloon!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Hot Air Balloon Day
June 5th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

How many balloons does it take for a person to fly? The correct answer is one. And we’re not talking about holding on for dear life at the end of a balloon on a rope. We’re talking about a giant balloon with a basket under it… a Hot Air Balloon! 

Now we all know what a balloon is. It’s basically a flexible bag filled with air or some kind of gas. And we often associate them with kid’s parties, but believe you me there’s a lot more to the story of balloons than cakes and clowns!

Today, balloons of all shapes and sizes are used for all sorts of things, from lighting up sporting events to advertising. Film companies use them for lighting and providing birds eye views of football games.  And scientists use them to gather vital information from the Earth’s atmosphere, and even occasionally send them into space.  Oh, and they’re also quite fun to fly and are, in fact, man’s oldest form of manned-air transport.

Hot air balloons are an odd flying apparatus. They don’t look like anything else that flies. They aren’t used like other flying objects to get people from one place to another. They only are flown at certain times and in certain conditions. They don’t have a motor or anything mechanical with moving parts. Hot air balloons operate solely based on the magic and simplicity of science and physics.

So, as we celebrate Hot Air Balloon Day this June 5th, check out these FUN FACTS we’ve collected regarding this simple and scientific marvel!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
1783, AT VERSAILLES

A Rooster, a duck & a sheep get into a hot air balloon:

In 1783, the first hot air balloon was set to fly over the heads of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the French court in Versailles. Like monkeys in space, this odd assortment of animals was chosen to test the effects of flight. Sheep, thought to be similar to people, would show the effects of altitude on a land dweller, while ducks and roosters, which could already fly (albeit at different heights), would act as controls in the experiment. The balloon flew on a tether for 8 minutes, rising 1500 feet into the air and traveling 2 miles before being brought safely to the ground.

Rise & Fall of Olympic Ballooning:

Considered to have been a demonstration sport, hot air ballooning enthusiasts saw their hopes of becoming official Olympians rise and fall all during the 1900 Olympic Games.

All in all, 61 men and 3 women competed in ballooning, which consisted of 18 events. Judges marked contestants on various points, like distance, duration and elevation.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Rainy Skies… No One Flies:

Hot air balloon flights are not possible during the rain. The heat produced by the balloon is hot enough to boil the water on the top of the balloon which can destroy the fabric.

When the forecast calls for sunshine, rides are usually launched early in the morning when the atmosphere is calmer.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

One for the Record Books:

The longest balloon flight was by the Virgin Pacific Flyer piloted by Per Lindstrand from Sweden and Richard Branson from the UK. They flew from Japan to Northern Canada on January 15, 1991.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Finding Your Way:

Despite modern day technology, balloonists still use basic scientific methods & tools to navigate their way through the skies. Balloon pilots use an instrument called a Piball to see the exact location the wind blows. It is simply a helium filled balloon. This method helps pilots see if the wind may potentially bring the balloon into restricted airspace and dangerous locations.

Image Source: Rainbow Ryders

Chasing the Dream:

Balloon flights have a chase crew. True to its term, this is a ground crew that follows the balloon’s flight all through the entire trip. The chase crew have vehicles with room to accommodate passengers, the pilot and the balloon itself that can weigh over 250 lbs.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Colorful hot air balloons take to the sky at the Annual Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

Where in the World:

If you want to take a ride in the skies, one of the best places in the United States to give it a try is Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can take part in the 9-day festival that includes approximately 750 balloons from 18 countries across the globe. Or if you are feeling more adventurous, check out this list of the 17 Best Hot Air Balloon Rides in the World!

For many people, taking to the skies afloat a giant balloon is a thrilling adventure because it allows for a real sense of flight. In recent years, companies have popped up around the world offering once-in-a-lifetime hot air balloon rides for a variety of occasions & reasons including sightseeing. 

From the Grand Canyon to the Grand Caymans, sightseeing as you soar in a balloon allows you to interact with nature the old-fashioned way that rises above the modernization & evolution of aviation.

You’ll learn more interesting characteristics and heritage of this simple yet amazing activity as you enjoy your very own hot air balloon ride. But until then, check out these great resources that will keep you afloat! 

RESOURCES:

And if taking to the skies is not your cup of tea….or it’s simply not the right time, you can create your very own hot air balloon and test both your aviation & navigation skills with our at-home experiment:
Tissue Paper Hot Air Balloon.

Composting Day is Every Day!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Learn About Composting Day
May 29th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Were you raised to “clean your plate,” no matter
what? Does the idea of wasted food still make you uncomfortable?  You might not like this statistic, then: The
United States wastes more food than any other country on earth.  In one year, we waste 40 million tons of
food, which represents more than 30-40% of our total food supply.  Most of the waste in US landfills is actually
made up of discarded food!  What can we
do about this massive waste?  Composting
can help!

A lot of responsibility for this massive waste goes
to you, the individual – if you are living in America, you waste an average of one
pound of food a day
.  It is estimated
that 43% of all food waste comes from individual homes, with another hefty
portion coming from the restaurant industry. 
Aside from the ethical issue of wasting food while so many in the world
go hungry, food waste also spells trouble for the environment. There are many
reasons for food waste, but as “Compost King” Paul Sellew explains, no matter
what the reason, the fact is that bioavailable nutrients in food are being
locked up in landfills and not returning to biological systems that need
them.  The constant loss of bioavailable
nutrients into landfills, where once there was a natural cycle of growth and
decay, depletes our soil rapidly and jeopardizes our ability to grow more food
in the future.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

If you aren’t feeling great about having to toss
that extra muffin, and wanting to do something that is genuinely eco-friendly,
why not give composting a try?  You can
turn food waste into productive, nutrient rich soil that will not only feed
plants, but also the microbiome of animals, fungus, and bacteria that make up
healthy soil.  Even if it’s just enough
compost for a corner of your yard, you will be helping an essential natural
cycle complete itself and doing a small part to help the earth remain in balance.

Composting is quite easy to do! With a few simple
materials and your organic food waste, you can begin composting today! Participate
in this week’s at-home experiment, Compost in a Cup! See links below for our
lesson plan and tutorial video!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Compost in a Cup Lesson Plan:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/CompostInCup.pdf

Compost in a Cup Tutorial Video:
https://youtu.be/ZNM3nALYU_A

You can also learn more about composting by reading our previous blog posts:  

Science Made Fun Blog: Compost
Science Made Fun Blog: Understanding Compost

Sources:

Shocking Statistics on Food Waste:
https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/

The King of Compost explains how food waste damages ecosystems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eXRfynD-M8

A User-Friendly Article from NPR to help you get Started Composting: https://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home

What is Sound?

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Build a Musical Instrument Day
May 22nd!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Close your eyes for a moment and listen to your environment.  What sounds do you hear?  Unless you are in the quietest place on earth, Stratfield Labs’ special Anechoic Chamber, your ears will easily tune to even the little sounds in your environment, and even little sounds can have big effects on us.  When a sound is unpleasant to our ears, we call it noise.  When it is sweet and pleasing, we call it notes, or music.  Sounds are so much a part of our life that we don’t often think about the incredible process that gets sounds from their source to our brains, and the influence that certain sounds can have on us.  So, what is a sound, anyway?  And how does sound affect our imaginations, health, and moods?

Image Source: Pixabay.com

All sounds are made the same way:  they are vibrations.  A vibration is when something moves back and forth incredibly fast, faster even than our eyes can see.  These vibrations transmit from the object to the surrounding particles in the air.  A vibrating object causes the air molecules around it to vibrate in the same way as it is vibrating.  Then those air molecules cause the next air molecules to vibrate the same way, and so on and so on — all the way up to your eardrum, which is a membrane made to catch vibrations and pass them through the intricate anatomy of the ear.  When they reach your ear, they are translated into electrical signals that can be understood by your brain.  Sound is, basically, a vibration that travels across the air in a wave-like pattern, until it touches us with its energy right in our ear!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

How many waves a sound vibration has in a given period is known as its frequency.  Higher frequency sounds pack in many waves, while lower frequency sounds have less.  Although still experimental and theoretical at this stage, there is some fascinating work from many different fields of science that indicate sound frequency and vibration may have great potential to benefit humanity.  One of the greatest scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla, famously said that “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”  Among his many projects, for example, was one to turn vibrations into electricity that could be easily shared across the world.  Scientists on the frontier of sound as medicine, such as Dr. Lee Bartel, are even indicating that certain frequencies of sound, especially 40 HZ, may stimulate the fading neurons of Alzheimer’s patients into better function over time.  There is even evidence that certain sound frequencies may destroy cancer cells.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Although the potential of sound to impact things like global
energy and human health are just beginning to be understood, it’s a fact that
the vibrations of sound can have a powerful impact on our well-being.  Just think of a time that a loved one’s voice
touched your heart, or a song on the radio changed your day from a bad one to a
good one. 

If you want to explore the amazing world of sounds, vibrations, and frequencies for yourself, check out our at-home Harmonica experiment and make some good vibrations with your own home-made instrument!

Harmonica Lesson Plan:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Harmonica-REV-6-28-2018.pdf

Harmonica Tutorial Video:
https://youtu.be/drRSYw-p5fo

Sources:              

Stratfield Labs Anechoic Chamber, the quietest place on
earth: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/earths-quietest-place-will-drive-you-crazy-in-45-minutes-180948160/

Classic Bill Nye the Science Guy Video on Sound:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwRi_N6Nq8E

An Introduction to Nikola Tesla:
https://www.theteslaproject.org/the-man

Possibilities in Sound as Medicine:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDZgzsQh0Dw

Resonant Frequencies as a Possible Treatment for Cancer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w0_kazbb_U

Top 10 Toad-ally Bizarre Frogs!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Frog Jumping Day
May 13th!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dating back to Mark Twain’s story, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog”, people have been celebrating Frog Jumping Day since 1865! But no one takes this day more seriously than the residents of Calaveras County, California! With day-long festivals and activities including the annual Frog Jumping Contest, frogs take center stage on this day, May 13th!

Although believed by some to simply be, “slimy creatures”, frogs can perform astounding feats! Some species of frogs live only on land, some live in water, while others live in water and on land. These tailless amphibians can be found almost everywhere, but the highest population is found in tropical forests. There are nearly 5,000 different species!

So, in honor of Frog Jumping Day, we invite you to join us in discovering some of the most toad-ally cool creatures on Earth!

Top 10 Most Bizarre & Unusual Frogs on the Planet!

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Tomato Frog

 #10 – Tomato Frog
This frog is definitely NOT green! As colored as red ketchup, the Tomato frog’s bright color is meant to warn predators that it is not safe to eat.  As a defense, these frogs secrete a gummy substance that gets in a predator’s eyes.  The Tomato frog is found only in Madagascar.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Glass Frog

#9 —  The Glass Frog
Glass frogs are nocturnal tree frogs that live in the humid forests of Central and South America. Their name comes from the translucent skin on the underside of their bodies. In many species the glass frogs’ internal organs, even a beating heart, can be seen. This see-through skin helps them blend into the forest.

Image Source: Wikimedia.com
Ornate Horned Frog

#8–The Ornate Horned Frog
This frog is nicknamed the Pac-Man frog because of its enormous mouth and insatiable appetite. They are a “sit-and-wait” ambush predator and hide well-disguised on the ground or in leaf litter. Ornate horned frogs can swallow birds, insects, mice, or even other frogs whole. This species can be found in Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.

#7 — The Turtle Frog
Visit the Western Australia Museum to view images of this unique frog!
http://museum.wa.gov.au/explore/frogwatch/frogs/turtle-frog

This unusual-looking frog looks like a turtle that has lost its shell. It has a short, blunt snout, little beady eyes, and short, fat limbs. It lives underground and burrows in sandy soil and feeds on termite colonies. The Turtle frog only lives in the coastal plains and woodlands of extreme Southwestern Australia.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Wallace’s Flying Frog

#6 — Wallace’s Flying Frog
These frogs leap and glide from tree to tree by spreading out their huge webbed feet like parachutes. Their oversized toe pads help them stick to tree trunks and to land softly.  Flying frogs inhabit the dense tropical jungles of Malaysia and Borneo.

#5 — The Pinocchio-Nose Frog
Visit National Geographic to view images of this unique frog! https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/pinocchio-frog-new-species-new-guinea

The Pinocchio-nosed frog was discovered recently during a wildlife expedition to Indonesia’s remote Foja Mountains. This long-nosed frog, a tree frog, has a spike on its nose that points upward when the male is calling but deflates and points downward when he is less active.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pipa Toad

#4 —  The Pipa or Surinam Toad
This Surinam toad is the world’s flattest amphibian—in fact, it looks like the victim of an unfortunate road accident. Yet this frog’s unusual shape helps hide it among the leaves and plant debris in the streams they inhabit in the Amazon River Basin of South America.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
World’s Smallest Frog

#3 — The World’s Smallest Frog
Generally speaking, higher altitude means larger animals. But the world’s smallest known frog species lives high in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru, between 9,925 and 10,466 feet.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Goliath Frog at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History

#2 —  The Goliath Frog – World’s Largest Frog
The Goliath Frog is the largest surviving specie of toads on Earth. Its size reaches 33 cm in length and it weighs up to 7lbs. This species lives mainly in western Africa, near Gabon. Goliath frogs can live up to 15 years and eat scorpions, insects and small frogs.

Image Source: Pixabay.com
Poison Dart Frog

#1 — The Poisonous Dart Frog
Poison dart frogs inhabit Central and South America. Unlike most frogs, this species is active during the day and almost always has a bright-colored body. Many subspecies are in danger of extinction. American Indians used their poison for arrows and darts.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Children playing leapfrog

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about our frog friends, you know you want to jump around just like they do! So grab some friends and play a fun game of leap frog. Maybe even give us a, “ribbet” as you hop around!

And all that jumping around has got to make frogs hungry, right? Well, did you know that small frogs eat insects such as flies and moths, as well as snails, slugs, and worms? They use their long tongues and sticky saliva to catch their prey. And to smell their prey, a frog uses its special smelling organ located in the roof of its mouth. This special organ is called the Jacobson’s Organ and it helps frogs to detect food!

We invite you to complete our Bugs of Summer at-home experiment. Using your imagination, pretend you are the frog and see if you can “smell” your dinner? Grab your supplies and follow the instructions here: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/bugs_summer.pdf

Space…the final frontier

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Space Day
May 7th!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Space…The final frontier! We all remember these immortal words spoken by Captain Kirk, of the starship Enterprise. It was on a fictional 5-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. These are such strong words, that have inspired a generation of people to seek interest in space exploration.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Sputnik

The space age started in 1957 with the launch of the Russian satellite, Sputnik. The world’s first satellite was the size of a beach ball, weighed only 183.9 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit Earth. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the Great Space Race.

In response to
this “Sputnik moment,” the U.S. government undertook
several policy actions, including the establishment of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA), enhancement of research funding, and reformation of
science and technology being taught at schools.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

NASA
launched the Mercury, Apollo, and space shuttle programs over the next 20
years. The United States lead the world in space exploration and achievements.

In 2002,
SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp) was founded by Elon Musk. SpaceX
is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services
company.  SpaceX’s goal is to reduce
space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.  SpaceX manufactures the Falcon 9 and Falcon
Heavy launch vehicles, several rocket engines, Dragon cargo and crew
spacecraft, and Starlink satellites. SpaceX is on a mission to Mars, along
with NASA.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster served as the payload for the February 2018 Falcon Heavy test flight and became an artificial satellite of the Sun. “Starman”, a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, occupies the driver’s seat!

National Space Day is dedicated to the extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities in the exploration and use of space. This day is designed to stimulate interest in space.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Space,
also called outer space, refers to the void that exists between the Earth’s
upper atmosphere and other celestial bodies such as planets in the known and
unknown universe. While the term space might make it seem like the vast expanse
of the universe beyond the Earth’s atmosphere is empty, it is in fact, not
empty at all. Space is full of different forms of radiation and lots of debris
from the formation of our solar system. Some of this debris is in the form of
meteors, comets, and asteroids.

So, on
this Space Day, be sure to let your imaginations soar, and tap into your own
space curiosity.

Image Source: Daniel Shaw
Space Camp

While you’re
at it, tap into your inner-astronaut and learn more about Space with this week’s
at-home experiment, Space Case. See the stars twinkle and the universe expand
with simple materials and our easy-to-follow lesson plan.

Space
Case: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Space%20Case_EOTD_May%208th.pdf

The Magnitude!

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Richter Scale Day
April 26th!

Image Source: Adobe Stock
National Richter Scale Day – April 26

Does the
name Charles F. Richter mean anything to you? Is he your friend on Facebook or Instagram?
Is he a YouTube Star? No! Back in 1935, 86 years ago, this man developed a
mathematical way to determine the strength of earthquakes!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Charles Richter

You may have
heard the term “Richter scale”, but the official name is Richter Magnitude
scale. Charles Richter was working at the California Institute of Technology
and developed a mathematical device to compare the size of earthquakes. Trying
to determine the strength of earthquakes is no easy task. In fact, it is extremely
complicated and requires serious math.

The
magnitude of an earthquake is determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of
waves recorded by seismographs. Adjustments are included for the variation in
the distance between the various seismographs and the epicenter of the
earthquakes. The epicenter is where the earthquake first began. On the Richter
Scale, magnitude is expressed in whole numbers and decimal fractions. 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
1906 San Francisco Earthquake Seismograph

For
example, a magnitude 5.3 might be computed for a moderate earthquake, and a
strong earthquake might be rated as magnitude 6.3. Because of the logarithmic
basis of the scale, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a
tenfold increase in measured amplitude; as an estimate of energy, each whole
number step in the magnitude scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times
more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value.
Amazing!!

Image Source: Adobe Stock
Richter scale seismic activity diagram with shaking intensity, from moving furniture to crashing buildings.

Richter
was born in Overstock, Ohio.  He grew up with his maternal grandfather,
who moved the family to Los Angeles in 1909. After graduating from LA high
school, he attended Stanford University. 
In 1928, he began work on his PhD in theoretical physics from the
California Institute of Technology, but, before he finished it, he was offered
a position at the Carnegie Institute of Washington.

He became
fascinated with seismology (the study of earthquakes and the waves they produce
in the earth). Thereafter, he worked at the new Seismological Laboratory in
Pasadena, California under the direction of Beno Gutenberg.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Beno Gutenberg

 In 1932, Richter and Gutenberg developed a
standard scale to measure the relative sizes of earthquake sources, called the
Richter scale. In 1937, he returned to the California Institute of Technology,
where he spent the rest of his career, eventually becoming professor of
seismology in 1952.

Richter
chose to use the term “magnitude” to describe an earthquake’s
strength because of his early interest in astronomy; stargazers use the word to
describe the brightness of stars.

Gutenberg
suggested that the scale be logarithmic so an earthquake of magnitude 7 would
be ten times stronger than a 6, a hundred times stronger than a 5, and a
thousand times stronger than a 4. (The 1989 earthquake that shook San
Francisco was magnitude 6.9.)

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Iceland Earthquake March 7, 2021 – Magnitude 5.2

The
Richter scale was published in 1935 and immediately became the standard measure
of earthquake intensity. Richter did not seem concerned that Gutenberg’s name
was not included at first; but in later years, after Gutenberg was already
dead, Richter began to insist for his colleague to be recognized for expanding
the scale to apply to earthquakes all over the world, not just in southern
California. Since 1935, several other magnitude scales have been developed. But
it is the Richter scale that remains the standard.

Interested in becoming a seismologist for the day? Create your own earthquake with our at-home experiment, Shaker Table. Test the magnitude of your earthquake and give it a rating from the Richter Scale!

Lesson Plan:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Shaker-Table-REV-4-22-2021.pdf

Garlic is a Superhero

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
National Garlic Day
April 19th

Image source: Pixabay.com

While
not actually an Avenger, Wonder Woman or Batman, garlic does have so many
health benefits, that it deserves to be considered a superhero. It might
as well be wearing a cape!

When
we first encounter garlic, it really does not have much of a smell, that is
until you cut into it, slice it, or crush it! Once crushed or sliced the odor
is extraordinarily strong. When we cut into a garlic bulb, thio-sulfinite
compounds in the garlic turn into allicin. Allicin is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal,
it is believed to lower bad cholesterol by inhibiting enzyme growth in liver
cells, and it helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels relaxing them and
lowering pressure.

Image source: Pixabay.com

This improvement in blood pressure can help ease the strain on the heart, making garlic a very heart-healthy choice. Garlic’s antibacterial properties also makes it a great treatment for acne and cold sores, as well as general health. On top of all that, garlic also contains a ton of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, calcium, beta-carotene, and Vitamin C. Garlic is a true superhero!

Image source: Pixabay.com

Garlic is a species in the onion family, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, scallions, shallots, leeks, chives, Welsh onions, and Chinese onions. It is native to Central Asia and Northeastern Iran and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use.

Sumerians
(2600–2100 BC) (the indigenous peoples of Southern Mesopotamia) were actively
utilizing garlic for its healing qualities and are believed to have brought
garlic to China. From China, it later spread to Japan and Korea.

In
ancient China, garlic was one of the most used remedies for many ailments since
2700 BC. Then, owing to its healing and stimulating effects, garlic was
recommended to those who suffer from depression.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Fishkuai must be eaten together with garlic and onion. When mushrooms and vegetables are added, it is called gold and jadekuai (jingao yukuai). This has the medicinal properties of stimulating the appetite and the functions of the large intestine.

In ancient Indian medicine, garlic was a valuable remedy used as a tonic to cure a lack of appetite, common weakness, cough, skin disease, rheumatism, and hemorrhoids. In the Vedas (the most ancient Hindu scriptures) garlic was mentioned among other medicinal plants. Indian priests were the first physicians and pharmacists to utilize garlic.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Mini stone grinders used for mixing Traditional Medicines.
This can be used to smash Garlic, Ginger etc.,

Archaeologists
have even discovered garlic bulbs in the pyramids of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians
were known for their healing skills, preparations, and remedies.

The
Ancient Israelis made use of garlic as an appetite stimulator, to avoid
starvation. They also used garlic as a blood pressure enhancer, body heater,
parasite-killer, and more! The Talmud, the book of Judaism, prescribes a meal
with garlic every Friday.

The
Ancient Greeks also valued garlic although those who had eaten garlic were
forbidden entry into the temples. Perhaps due to their stinky breath! During
the archeological excavations in the Knossos Palace on the Greek island of
Crete, garlic bulbs were discovered dating from 1850–1400 BC. Early Greek army
leaders fed their army garlic before major battles. It is an interesting fact
that while nowadays some athletes take a wide spectrum of dangerous performance
enhancing drugs, Greek Olympic athletes ate garlic to ensure a good score!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

According
to Theophrastus (370–285 BC), the Greeks offered gifts to their Gods consisting
of garlic bulbs. In his works, Hippocrates (459–370 BC) mentioned garlic as a
remedy against intestinal parasites. He recommended garlic for regulating the
menstrual cycle and to fight against seasickness. He also recommended garlic as
a remedy against snakebite (for that purpose they drank a mixture of garlic and
wine) and against a mad dog’s bite (for that purpose they applied garlic on the
wound directly).  

For
thousands of years humanity has used garlic to enhance the flavor of food as
well as for medicinal purposes. Although pungent and somewhat unpleasant to
smell, Garlic’s positive health benefits are undeniable. Have you had your
daily dose?

So, as we celebrate National Garlic Day this April 19th, let us know the superhero role Garlic plays in your life!

And since Garlic has such a recognizable smell, we invite you to participate in this week’s At-home Experiment, Smelling Bee! See if you can determine which scent belongs to its corresponding food item! Check out the lesson plan below, grab your supplies, and start smelling!

Lesson Plan:
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Smelling-Bee-REV%204-14-2021.pdf