Teacher Appreciation Week: Thank You for All YOU Do!

As we celebrate teachers this week, there are so many things to be thankful for, but we should start at the top with a recognition that we appreciate everything that teachers do.

Walking into a classroom every day, motivating, inspiring, and yes, teaching children is certainly an endeavor worth celebrating!

For our part, we’d like to express our sincere appreciation to all the teachers that we have had to the privilege of interacting with here at High Touch High Tech as well as all the teachers our entire team has had the honor of learning from.

Looking for a way to show your appreciation?

If you’re crafty, check out these easy to make DIY Teacher Appreciation Gifts.

Find more low/no cost ideas in VolunteerSpot’s free eBook, The Greatest Gifts for Teachers.

Sweeten Up Your Valentine’s Day with FUN Science!

Today, we’re celebrating the holiday of love with a  “hearty” dose of FUN science! Get ready to take a walk on the sweet side & discover if you’ve got the beat!

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the post to find FUN  Valentine’s Day At-Home Science Experiments!

As always, We’d LOVE to hear how you spent your Valentine’s Day with Science! Click here to email us pictures & more!


To millions of American’s, Valentine’s Day means chocolate hearts, flowers & heart balloons, conversation hearts & even, heart cards. Matters of the heart have baffled humans since the dawn of time, with sonnets & entire books devoted to the meaning of love. But what about our actual hearts?

As we prepare to be immersed in heart-shaped imagery in the coming weeks, we wanted to investigate the mysteries of that vital organ that makes us tick – the human heart! It’s a fact that you can’t live or love without it & this month, we’re getting to the heart of the matter. Prepare to be amazed as we uncover some fascinating facts about our personal pumping machine! 

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Who says the kids at MIT only learn about quarks, electrons, and semiconductors? Turns out that for the past 6 years, a popular club at the prestigious school has celebrated the science of chocolate! 

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, Valentine’s Day, we’re taking a walk on the sweet-side of science to find some decadent facts straight from MIT’s Laboratory for Chocolate Science.  Plus – check out the end for a delicious how-to video from the MIT Scientists with all you need to know for tea-infused chocolate truffles!

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Power of the Pulse! 

The heart. It’s amazing! Our heart is the key organ of our lives, pumping oxygen-rich blood to every part of our body. The rhythmic throbbing of your heart is called your pulse. Get Pumped as you explore the incredible power of the pulse & what makes us tick with this FUN at home experiment!

Click Here to Get Started & Download the How-To Guide!


Pumping Heart Model

The heart has long been the symbol of poetic love and a widely used symbol on Valentine’s Day. Our blood picks up the oxygen from our lungs. Our blood carries the oxygen all through our bodies and picks up the CO2 that we won’t use. Then it’s released from our blood into our lungs for us to breathe out.

Our heart is a huge muscle that pumps our blood all through our bodies. This model shows how the heart muscle can pump blood.You can make this model of a heart with your child to demonstrate how blood is pumped around the body. Why does our blood only pump in one direction? (answer: the valves close off and do not allow the blood back into the chamber it just came from.) You can see how to make a model heart here: http://www.smm.org/heart/lessons/lesson5a.htm.


Dancing Hearts

Good ‘ol baking soda and vinegar! These two substances react to form Carbon Dioxide. A solid (Baking Soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate) and a liquid (Vinegar, or Acetic Acid) react to form a gas!

Fill a tall, clear glass half full of water. Let your child drop in 2 or 3 little candy valentine hearts (conversation hearts). Observe the hearts. Now stir in a Tb of Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate). Observe the hearts. Do you see any bubbles forming along the edges? Pour in a little Vinegar (acetic acid). Observe the hearts. Do you see any bubbles forming along the edges? Wait for a moment and you will see the bubbles form along the edges of the hearts…so many bubbles that they buoy up the heart so that it rises to the top of the water. The hearts will rise and fall. Why do the hearts fall? Why do they rise again?


Love Potion

Another round of Baking Soda and Vinegar to create a Carbon Dioxide explosion! You’ve probably all done this reaction at home, but put this Valentine’s Day twist on it for a lot of chemistry fun!

Pour a Tb of Baking Soda (Love Powder) into a tall, clear glass. We used a vinaigrette cruet because it looked more like a potion bottle. Drop in 2 drops of red food coloring. Have your child drop in one or two valentine candies (just for fun- they don’t effect the reaction). Now pour a tiny bit of vinegar (Valentine’s Day juice) into the bottle and swirl it all around quickly. Watch the liquid turn red and dissolve the solid baking soda. It will bubble slightly. Now pour a bit more vinegar into the bottle and observe the power of the Love Potion! Be sure to do this fun little experiment over the sink. 


Find even more science experiments that are perfect for Valentine’s Day! You can perform a color change reaction, make a chemical “beating heart”, prepare a special Valentine gift, and more!


December E-News: Make it a Hands-On Holiday with FUN Science!

Holiday gifts are the perfect way to incorporate science into our holiday traditions. Opening a gift that has been hand crafted from science can spark that natural curiosity and open the door to valuable ideas, skills and potential hobbies.

Science is a part of our daily life; everything we do and deal with has since. From cooking to playing ball; growing a garden to watching snow fall – understanding science can help us appreciate and relate to the world around us. No matter the age, the gift of science can fuel curiosity, ignite inspiration, and motivate our lives in so many ways.

Holiday gifts are the perfect way to incorporate science into our holiday traditions. Opening a gift that has been hand crafted from science can spark that natural curiosity and open the door to valuable ideas, skills and potential hobbies.  

It’s been said that the best gifts are those we make ourselves. Whether you’re motivated by a skimpy budget or desire to create one-of-a-kind gifts for those on your Christmas list, you’ll find something for everyone. Along the way, you may even learn a thing or two!


1. Holiday Air Fresheners:

This simple project illustrates how polymers can cause a scent to permeate the air for weeks. Custom scents, colors, and jars allow you to personalize air fresheners for different people. 

Read entire project > >


2. Pine Cone Fire Starters:

Fill a basket with pine cones which have been treated to produce colored flames. Add a festive bow. Seriously, what gift could be better than colored fire?

Read entire project > >


3. Crystal Holiday Ornaments:

These are great for making many types of holiday decorations. You can either make a set of crystal snowflakes as gifts or to attach to gifts as decorations. The snowflakes can last for years & make for a great yearly tradition for families. Short on time? Simply package the ingredients & instructions, wrap in a festive bow & give as a DIY grow your own crystal basket.  

Read the entire project > >


4. Relaxing Bath Salts:

Few things are as relaxing as a hot bath on a cold day. Up the comfort factor with homemade bath salts. Try baby soda bottles for packaging single-serve bath salts and amber bottles for larger quantities. 

Read entire project > >


5. Fizzy Bath Bombs:

Much like bath salts, bath bombs can foster a luxurious feeling in the tub. These bombs cause a chemical reaction which results in bubbles and fizz. Pack them in a wide-mouthed glass jar circled with ribbon or in a tissue-lined box. 

Read entire project > >


6. Hand-Churned Butter:

Learn about emulsions while churning out an edible gift for someone on your list. If you’re extra handy around the kitchen, bake a batch of bread or muffins to accompany the butter. 

Read entire project > >


7. Play Dough Footprint Keepsakes:

These little footprints or hand prints make the perfect keepsake for all of the moms & dads out there. Even better, they are super easy & super cheap to make!

Get the play dough recipe here & the full project directions here.  


8. Lip Balm:

Protect your pout against the elements with handmade lip balm. Handy with your design software? Then create custom labels to adorn the container. Check out your local dollar store for unique containers / vials to put your lip balm into.

Read entire project > >


9. Homemade Paper:

Put old newspapers, laundry lint and junk mail to use with this project! The homemade paper is great for Christmas cards or group it with envelopes and a pretty pen for a gift set. 

Read entire project > >


10. Luscious Hand Cream:

No need to go out & buy expensive hand creams & lotions when you have the power of science! Get project details & recipes for many types of hand creams that you can make at home. You can even print off your very own custom label! 

Read entire project > >


What’s your favorite DIY gift this season? Let us know how you are using science during this holiday & we could feature you in an upcoming blog post!

Email us at info@ScienceMadeFun.net or find your local HTHT location on Facebook! 

The Science of the Perfect Storm – Hurricane Hunting with Sandy!

Starting yesterday evening, residents along the eastern U.S. coast and much further inland, from Washington D.C. to Chicago, hunkered down and braced for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the biggest hurricane (by area) on record. Ever. (Since 1988.)

Scientists have been following and projecting Sandy’s path with all the tools at their disposal: ocean buoys, radar and satellite imagery, and computer modeling. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also gathers information from special reconnaissance aircraft, which fly over hurricanes and can drop instruments into them to measure wind speeds, air pressure, temperature, and altitude. 

The storm that is threatening 60 million Americans in the eastern third of the nation in just a couple of days with persistent high winds, drenching rains, extreme tides, flooding and probably snow is much more than just an ordinary weather system. It’s a freakish and unprecedented monster.


Don’t Just Watch Hurricane Coverage on TV….Experience a Tropical Monster for Yourself on ORBIT! 

Discover the mighty hurricane by following it through the Caribbean basin. Watch as the threat level increases with every correct answer! Click the image above to get started on your very own Hurricane Hunting expedition!


What forces created this “Frankenstorm”?

Start with Sandy, an ordinary late summer hurricane from the tropics, moving north up the East Coast. Bring in a high pressure ridge of air centered around Greenland that blocks the hurricane’s normal out-to-sea path and forces it west toward land.

Add a wintry cold front moving in from the west and colliding with that storm. Mix in a blast of Arctic air from the north. Add a full moon and its usual effect, pulling in high tides. Factor in immense waves commonly thrashed up by a huge hurricane plus massive gale-force winds. Do all that and you get a stitched-together weather monster expected to unleash its power over 800 square miles, with predictions in some areas of 12 inches of rain, 2 feet of snow and sustained 40- to 50 mph winds.

“The total is greater than the sum of the individual parts” said Louis Uccellini, the environmental prediction chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists. “That is exactly what’s going on here.”  This storm is so dangerous and so unusual because it is coming at the tail end of hurricane season and beginning of winter storm season, “so it’s kind of taking something from both – part hurricane, part nor’easter, all trouble,” Jeff Masters, director of the private service Weather Underground, said Saturday.

With Sandy expected to lose tropical characteristics, NOAA is putting up warnings that aren’t hurricane or tropical for coastal areas north of North Carolina, causing some television meteorologists to complain that it is all too confusing. Nor is it merely a coastal issue anyway. Craig Fugate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told reporters Saturday: “This is not a coastal threat alone. This is a very large area. This is going to be well inland.”

It’s a topsy-turvy storm, too. The far northern areas of the East, around Maine, should get much warmer weather as the storm hits, practically shirt-sleeve weather for early November, Masters and Uccellini said. Around the Mason-Dixon line, look for much cooler temperatures. West Virginia and even as far south as North Carolina could see snow. Lots of it. It is what NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco meant Thursday when he called it “Frankenstorm” in a forecast, an allusion to Mary Shelley’s gothic creature of synthesized elements. 

Check out this real-time wind map to see just how far Sandy can reach: you can see the leading edge of the hurricane pushing into the East Coast. The National Hurricane Center will give you a map of the storm’s projected path, along with some other meteorological projections such as the risk of storm surge.

Google has also put together a map showing the path of the storm. Google’s version has toggles so you can turn cloud cover on and off, show the locations of webcams in the area and chart out the locations of Red Cross shelters. 

Learn more about Hurricane Sandy & stay up to date with these resources:

Yum! It’s National Chocolate Chip Day!

 

 

May 15 is Chocolate Chip Day! There is no better way to celebrate this wonderful chocolate holiday than with FUN science. If you are wanting to experiment with chocolate chips that is a little less traditional than chocolate chip cookies, how about using them in the bath to wash away the dirt & grime from your day. Yep, that’s right…you can use chocolate chips as a moisturizing soap! The Chocolate is full of oils that will moisturize your body and leave you smelling yummy too. Learn how to sweeten up your bath-time with this FUN, at-home experiment! 

Chocolate Chip Bath Cookies!

What You’ll Need: 

1/2 cup Baking soda 2 cups of Sea salt or rock salt 

1/2 cup Cornstarch 

2 tbs of Almond oil 

1 tsp Vitamin E oil 

1-2 eggs 

6 drops of Vanilla essence

How To Do It:

Mix it all together and then cut out with cookie cutters or flatten balls to form a cookie shape. Add the chocolate sprinkles into the mix or simply sprinkle on top.

– Bake at 350’F (180’C) for 10-12 minutes. 

– Allow to cool. 

– Use 1-2 per bath.

Wrap these in air tight packaging or seal them in an airtight container as with time these cookies do go moldy. The picture above is of chocolate chip bath cookies.

 

The Science Behind The Ice Cream Brain Freeze!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Delicious, beautiful, and bound to cause a headache.

The ice cream headache is one of the most common and most hated sources of headache.  When you’re tucking into a delicious ice cream treat or slurping down a milkshake, the last thing you want is that stabbing pain in your skull from getting a little too enthusiastic with your eating.  You get it, I get it, even Harvard students get it, which is why Harvard Medical School students have been inducing ice cream headaches in the lab in order to study them.  As it turns out, ice cream headaches are a close cousin to migraines and people who have migraines are more likely to get brain freeze.

“The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time,” said study researcher Jorge Serrador.  ”It’s fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilation [the widening of the blood vessels] might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm.”

Harvard brought 13 research subjects into their labs and hooked them up to various brain monitoring devices.  They gave the subjects ice-cold water to drink and told them to raise their hands when they felt the headache coming on and when it was going away.  While studying the brain freeze victims, they noticed that the anterior cerebral artery expanded, letting in more blood and causing the pressure.  When the artery constricted and reduced blood flow, the pain subsided.  So, basically, an ice cream headache is the brain trying to deal with excess cold, much like 3D headaches are the brain trying to deal with excess input.

Check out our FUN at-home experiment to learn how to make your own ice cream! 

Celebrate Oreo Cookie’s 100th Birthday With FUN Science!

It’s official! The worlds beloved ‘Oreo’ cookie has officially turned 100 years old, that makes this tasty treat older than the Russian Revolution & was created before the reign of the current Queen Elizabeth, while she was still Elizabeth.

In celebration of the cookies birthday, Nabisco has released a special ‘Birthday’ cookie featuring none other than the logo that was originally featured on the cookie in the 20th century.

Check out this FUN experiment that you can do at home. The best part is…. you can eat your research at the end! Science has never tasted so good! 

oreo logo

 

 

 

oreo moon phases

FUN Science: Make Your Own Buckyball!

 

If you’ve kicked around a soccer ball, you may have noticed the pattern on the ball’s surface. The ball is stitched together from 12 patches with five sides (pentagons) and 20 patches with six sides (hexagons).

About 20 years ago, chemists discovered that carbon can form into molecules with the same shape. This molecule is sometimes referred as the C60 molecule but is most commonly known for its nickname “the buckyball”.  The Buckyball, or C60 molecule was discovered by accident (in the lab) while trying to understand the chemistry between the stars in the Interstellar Medium ISM.  The discovery led to the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996.  

Each  Buckyball molecule is made up of 60 carbon atoms called a truncated icosahedron and belongs to a group of materials known as nano-materials. Nano-materials are created by scientists by manipulating individual atoms to build molecules of different shapes. Groups of these molecules form materials with particular characteristics, making them suitable for different jobs. For example, some nano-materials are already being used in makeup and sunscreens. 

The strong, hollow particles that make up the Buckyball may someday be used to carry medicine or even block the action of certain viruses.

Making your own Buckyball Molecule is simple with our cool molecule template! Get the template here

Here’s how you do it…

2. Cut out each cool molecule design & tape it together. It should resemble a soccer ball!

When assembled it will have 32 faces, of which 20 are regular hexagons and 12 are pentagons. We want to see how cool your buckyball turned out!

Send in your pictures of your cool Buckyball & they could end up published on our blog & facebook page! Email your pictures to info@ScienceMadeFun.net! 

 

Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Robins Oh My …Join the Backyard Bird Count 2012!

backyard bird count

The 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) takes place from Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 22. Each year, volunteers across the country tally the birds they see in backyards, parks and natural areas. Last year, GBBC participants racked up more than 11 million observations and identified 596 species! Counting birds during GBBC helps scientists gain a snapshot of how winter bird populations are changing across North America over the years by documenting things like:

  • Rare sightings: In 2011, a Brown Shrike was spotted in California, far from its home in Asia. A Swainson’s Thrush, which usually winters in Central and South America, was reported in North Carolina.
  • Population Changes: American Crow numbers fell after being hard hit by West Nile virus in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but recent GBBC data shows that the population may be rebounding. Future data will help scientists determine if the crow population is really recovering.
  • Spread of Invasive Species: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species that was introduced in Florida in the 1980s and has expanded its range ever since. In 1999, the dove’s range covered eight states. In 2011, it had expanded to 40 states, including Alaska – its most northerly reach yet.

Viewer Tip: Collecting all this data would be impossible without the help of thousands of volunteers. Anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count by tallying birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count. Simple instructions for counting and reporting birds are available at www.birdsource.org/gbbc/howto.html. You can also find regional bird checklists, photo galleries, resources for kids and more!

The Northern Cardinal and Mourning Dove were the two most frequently reported birds during last year’s count.Click here for high resolution photos for media use in conjunction with reports about the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Canadian High Schoolers Send Lego Astronaut Into Space!

lego astronaut

Canada’s first astronaut?

For four and a half months, Canadian high school students Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammed spent every Saturday working on a project.  No, it wasn’t restoring an old car, it was building a homemade satellite/space vehicle.  Somehow, they not only managed to build their spacecraft, they managed to send a Lego minifigure into space.  It’s a shame it wasn’t one of the official Lego astronauts, but the important thing is Canada has gotten someone into orbit!  It’s a victory for the Canadian space program!

The pair were inspired by other videos of people sending balloons into space, possibly these guys.  The two spent only $400 to build their spacecraft, though the planning was meticulous.  They wanted their Lego man to launch and return to them in Canada to avoid having to cross the border to retrieve him.  The ascent took an hour and five minutes; after the balloon popped, the descent took only 30 minutes.  The homemade spacecraft consisted of a lightweight Styrofoam box carrying three point-and-shoot cameras, a wide-angle video camera, and a cellphone with GPS to track the landing. The balloon was bought online and filled with helium from a party store; two mitten warmers were used to ensure the electronics didn’t get too cold on the trip into space.