Pumpkin Science on National Pumpkin Day!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

It’s that time of year again where the leaves are changing colors, little graveyards are popping up in neighborhoods and millions of pumpkins are going through a metamorphosis to become jack-o’-lanterns. It’s Halloween time! 

There are some interesting facts and science about the pumpkin.  In history, it was said that the jack-o-lantern was to fend of any evil spirits. Of course, there is no science of any kind to back up evil spirits being chased away by jack-o’-lanterns. BUT, scientists have found that pumpkins have a lot of science associated with them.

Here are some examples:

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Pollution Plucker

Scientists have found that pumpkins are incredibly good at taking pollution out of soil! When the scientists planted pumpkins on test areas polluted by dioxin, the large pumpkin plants pulled up the dioxin and deposited it into the plant. Leaving less of the pollutant in the soil and ultimately making the soil pollutant free!

 

 

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Pumpkin Antimicrobial 

Scientists from the American Chemical Society found that a substance in pumpkin skin fights off disease-causing microbes that try to harm and rot the pumpkin. Without that protective skin, the pumpkin would surely rot long before it was time to carve it. Later, scientists took out proteins from the pumpkin skins, and found that the proteins stopped not only infections in pumpkins but also some common human infections! 

 

 

Image Source: Pixabay.com


Pumpkin Genetics 

Growing the biggest pumpkin has become a popular sport among some farmers — it takes some science for the farmer to grow that monster pumpkin! They use genetics in order to grow bigger pumpkins. They do this by collecting the seeds from giant pumpkins each year and controlling how the flowers are pollinated. Winning pumpkins have weighed in at more than 2,000 pounds!

 

Check out the world’s heaviest pumpkin here: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/worlds-heaviest-pumpkin-tips-scales-2-096-pounds-n213846

 

For some fun at home pumpkin science experiments to try with your kids,

please visit our Pinterest page: 

https://www.pinterest.com/hthtworldwide/fall-fun-science/

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.

All Candy. All Science. All FUN – Make Your Halloween Scientifically Spooky!

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Drop a Warhead in baking soda water, and bubbles erupt. Leave a Skittle in water, and the S floats to the surface. Melt a Starburst, and shiny oil spots form. That’s right, next week is Halloween which means – All Candy. All Science. All FUN! 

Candy experiments are a great way to use up all of that candy & still enjoy all the sweetness Halloween has to offer.  Why not play with your candy? Any seasoned trick or treater knows that his loot is full of candy that brings lots of unwrapping and stirring and sticking things together – it’s one of the important parts of the trick or treating experience. We love candy experiments because they can teach basic science lessons about topics such as density, dissolving, and nutrition. Listed below are just a few ideas to get started. Have fun, and as always, let curiosity be your guide! 

Here’s A Few of our Favorite!

Acid Test: This experiment tests for the acid often found in sour candy. 

Chocolate Bloom: Chocolate is made of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, and other ingredients that have been mixed together. Can you take them apart? 

Color Separation (Chromatography): You know candy is colored with artificial dye. To see the different dyes for yourself, try this. 

Density Rainbow: Sugar water is denser than water—the more sugar, the denser. This experiment shows you how to layer different densities into a rainbow.

Dissolving Hot/Cold: See if candy dissolves faster in hot or cold water. 

Hidden Candy: Most candy is made from sugar, corn syrup, and flavorings. These ingredients are used to sweeten lots of different foods. Can you find the “hidden candy” in other varieties of food you eat? 

Lifesaver Lights: Do wintergreen Lifesavers really make a spark in the dark?

Sink/Float Most: candy sinks in water, because sugar is denser than water.  But some will float. Why? 

Oil Test: If you thought your candy was all sugar, think again. Many chewy candies also contain oil. This experiment uses heat to let you see the oil for yourself. 

Pop Rocks: What’s the secret ingredient in the candy that crackles? 

Sticky You: know candy can cling to your fingers—but how sticky can you make it?  

For step-by-step instructions and more information about these experiments, visit www.candyexperiments.com

The fun doesn’t stop there! Check out these additional resources on ways to make your Halloween scientifically spooky! 

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.

Chef’s on Bravo’s Hit Reality Show “Top Chef: Masters” Trade in Aprons for Goggles for Edible Science Fair!


For the contestants on Bravo’s hit reality show “Top Chef: Masters,” the chefs traded in their aprons for goggles and stovetops for Bunsen Burners in this past weeks “Blinded Me With Science” episode.  For the elimination challenge, the five remaining contestants had to choose from five scientific principles, and then make a dish that demonstrates the principle at the Edible Science Fair for students. Oh, and it had to taste good too!

With a group of actual scientists as their sous chefs, watch how these chefs experiment with emulsion, acidity, viscosity, elasticity and even the Maillard reaction (heat changing the color of meat). And if showing the scientific principle wasn’t enough – all chefs had to cook using lab tools, so we’re talking Bunsen burners and beakers instead of stove tops and pans and serve their creations in a petri dish!

Watch the video below or check out the slideshow of photos from the episode!

 

 

Read More About This Episode & Bravo’s Series- Top Chef:Masters by clicking here:

‘Top Chef: Masters’ blinded me with science