Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating World Soil Day December 5th, 2020
of science is in soil? What is soil? So many questions…
Soil is a
material composed of five ingredients — minerals, organic plant matter,
living organisms, gas, and water. Are their soil scientists? Of
soil scientists do? A soil scientist is a person who is
qualified to evaluate and interpret soils and soil-related
data for the purpose of understanding soil resources as they
contribute to not only agricultural production, but as they affect
environmental quality and as they are managed for protection of human health
and the environment. WOW, soil scientists definitely play a key role in
protecting our health and environment.
to me that Soil is pretty easy to ignore. We might notice it when gardening or
playing outdoors. But even when we forget about it, soil is always there,
Most of what we see are mineral particles that we recognize as sand, silt, or clay. There is also plenty of water and air. But soil is also alive. It contains countless fungi and microbes. They help recycle dead and decaying matter by breaking down the remains of plants, animals, and other organisms. What if we could put on really cool goggles to see inside the soil, we would see an incredible microscopic world of fungi and bacteria? We need to talk about the bacteria in soil because they perform an incredible function. These bacteria are said to be symbiotic and are real helpers to the plants. These bacteria can convert nitrogen to ammonia, which the plants utilize for their development.
While soil science is fascinating, why are we talking about it now? Because World Soil Day is December 5, 2020. How do we celebrate World Soil Day, you might ask? The motto for World Soil Day is Keep soil alive and protect soil biodiversity! Plants nurture a whole world of creatures in the soil, that in return feed and protect the plants. This diverse community of living organisms keeps the soil healthy and fertile. This vast world constitutes soil biodiversity and determines the main biogeochemical processes that make life possible on Earth.
out soil is a living resource, home to more than 25% of our planet’s
biodiversity. Interestingly, up to 90% of living organisms live or spend part
of their lifecycle in soils.
you take a break and go outside, or maybe spend a few minutes in your backyard,
reach down and take a good look at the soil. If you have a magnifying glass,
bring it outside with you. When you look at the soil use your imagination and
think about how many microorganisms there are in the soil, and how remarkably
busy they all are!
One way to
celebrate World Soil Day is to provide your soil with rich nutrients like those
found in compost! Check out our at-home science experiment, Compost in a Cup!
Grab your supplies & celebrate soil!
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating Red Planet Day November 28th!
Who’s ready to go on a mission to Mars? If you are like me, you have already been on a mission to Mars, thanks to the classic ride at Disney World. Mission to Mars was an attraction located in Tomorrowland at Disneyland and at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I remember being on this ride as a child in the 1970’s. As you entered Mission to Mars, you were greeted first with a control room, featuring then cutting-edge animatronic figures that talked about what the first crewed mission to Mars would be like. While footage ran on screens, a robotic scientist talked about things like “the way crystals form in zero-G.” After that you were ushered into a circular theater that looked a lot like the inside of a modern airplane. Side screens showed the diagnostics associated with the trip, including how far away you were from earth and how close you were to the red planet. Narration would play about the nature of the voyage, with phrases like “Mars acquisition velocity” and “hyperspace penetration commencing”. Dangers like meteors and black holes were detected and barely avoided. There were also references to how this kind of space travel was “routine” but back in the 1970’s and 1980’s seemed like science fiction.
Let’s fast forward to 2020!
The SpaceX Mars & Beyond program has
a robust plan to facilitate the eventual colonization of Mars. Is this
even a real possibility?
It took billions of years for Earth to
become a hospitable planet for humans and I think you would agree we’ve been
very comfortable living on earth. So why travel to Mars? Because it’s the red
planet in our night sky! Because it’s there! To paraphrase President John F.
Kennedy, we want to go to Mars, not because it is easy, but because it is hard!
The program includes fully reusable
launch vehicles, human rated space craft, on orbit propellant tankers, raid
turnaround, launch and landing mounts, and local production of rocket fuel on
Mars via in situ resource utilization (ISRU). SpaceX and Elon Musk have named
2024 as their goal for an un-crewed mission, with a crewed mission to follow
A key element of the program is the SpaceX
starship, a fully reusable super heavy lift launch vehicle under development
since 2018. To achieve a large payload, the spacecraft would first enter Earth’s
orbit after launch, where it is expected to be refueled before it departs to
Mars. After landing on Mars, the spacecraft would be loaded with locally
produced propellants to return to Earth. The expected payload for the Starship
launch vehicle is between 100–150 tonnes (220,000–330,000 lbs.).
SpaceX intends to concentrate its
resources on the transportation part of the Mars colonization project,
including the design of a plant based propellant utilizing the Sabatier
process that will be deployed on Mars to synthesize methane and
liquid oxygen as rocket propellants from the local supply of atmospheric
carbon dioxide and ground-accessible water & ice. Sound like
It’s an ambitious plan! Any successful
colonization would ultimately require involvement from many more economic
participants, whether individuals, companies, or governments—to facilitate the
growth of the human presence on Mars.
Here are some compelling reasons why this
plan is a good idea:
1. Enhanced national prestige, national
security, and economic vitality
2. Technological leadership and the development
of new technologies for non-space applications
3. New scientific discoveries not obtainable
from robotic missions to Mars
4. To inspire both the American public and the
next generation of scientist, technologist, engineer, and mathematician (STEM)
Some have suggested other reasons for colonizing
the Red Planet that are more catastrophic in nature, including Mars as a safe
haven for the survival of the human species and as a possible solution to the
exponential population explosion on our planet.
The trip will
take about nine months each way with a stay time on the surface of Mars of
several hundred days. The long length of the mission will provide an excellent
opportunity to engage the public and inspire students to pursue STEM-related
professions, products, and industries. We last witnessed a significant increase
in students studying STEM following the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957.
Why Mars? Scientists
think that early Mars was more hospitable and more Earth-like than present-day
Mars. Early Mars most probably possessed an atmosphere considerably denser than
its present-day atmosphere. The surface of present-day Mars is devoid of liquid
water. However, photographs of Mars from orbit and from the surface suggest
that early in its history Mars possessed abundant and widespread surface liquid
water in the form of lakes, rivers, and even planetary-scale oceans.
Why humans? Humans have unique capabilities for
performing scientific measurements, observations, and sample collecting. The attributes
needed for exploration and scientific discovery include intelligence,
adaptability, agility, dexterity, cognition, patience, and problem solving in
real-time. We possess the abilities to adapt to new and unexpected situations
in new and strange environments. With state-of-the-art scientific equipment and
instrumentation brought from Earth, the increased laboratory ability on Mars would
allow for dramatically more scientific return. Exploration of Mars would be
performed as a synergistic partnership between humans and robotic probes where
probes could traverse great distances/terrain too risky for human exploration.
However, the most exciting role for the human explorer/scientist is just beginning as we start the greatest adventure in human history, the human exploration of the Solar System starting with the Red Planet.
At Home Experiment:
The surface of present-day Mars is devoid of liquid
water. But if humans were to colonize the planet, water would be critical. Much
of the fresh water on Earth is contained in aquifers. Aquifers are layers of
soil, gravel, sand, and rock beneath the Earth’s crust. The water in aquifers
has been there for thousands of years. Check out our at-home experiment and
make your very own water aquifer – you never know, it may come in handy if you
ever find yourself on Mars! https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/WaterAquifer.pdf
Celebrating World Kindness Day – November 13th, 2020
Happy World Kindness Day! Do you remember how you felt the last time you experienced a “random act of kindness?” Ever had a stranger give you a compliment that made your day? When did you last give that universal little wave of thanks when another driver let you in on a busy street? Even in these challenging times, kindness is all around us, and the wonderful feeling of human connection through kindness is needed more than ever. The science of kindness is a rapidly evolving field encompassing several disciplines, and to make it even more complicated, it also touches on some of the biggest questions about ethics, morality, and what it means to be human. Where once the assumption was that humans are fundamentally competitive and selfish, more science is showing us that humans (and many non-human animals, too) may instead be fundamentally wired to be kind and compassionate. Even better, kindness can be taught, learned, and practiced daily for some amazing health benefits!
Many scientists have wrestled seriously with the question of kindness and compassion and why it exists. Charles Darwin wondered, if life was about the survival of the fittest, why then did animals sometimes act in an altruistic manner: sacrificing their own personal gain to help others, even those not related to them? Darwin’s answer was the idea of “inclusive fitness.” For example, a bee may sacrifice itself for the queen, and that sacrifice will help the entire hive to survive to reproduce. Darwin’s concept of inclusive fitness helped explain that altruism does have reason to exist, and further exploration of WHY it exists was taken up in the 1960’s by researcher Richard Dawkins. In his landmark book The Selfish Gene, he theorized that altruistic behaviors are wired into us by evolution because throwing yourself in front of a lion to protect your children helps your genes to survive, not because any inherent morality tells us to protect the weak. This is why kind behaviors are still selected for and exist today, but deep down everything we do is self-interested even if it appears kind and selfless.
For years it has been generally accepted that human kindness is a thin veneer over our animal nature, and most of animal nature is selfish and competitive. In the 21st century, there are growing numbers of scientists and thinkers who see that there is much more to the story of human kindness and compassion than once thought, and the concept of humans as fundamentally self-interested competitors may not be completely accurate. Kindness and compassion appear to have numerous health benefits, right down to the molecular level, that go far beyond mere survival.
The field of neuroscience especially has shown that our brains and bodies are deeply oriented towards kindness. Dr. Dacher Keltner, head of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley, has shown that our brains are designed to release a burst of oxytocin, “the love hormone,” from even small acts of kindness. In fact, it has been recently proven that we have a network in our brain called “mirror cells” that literally predisposes us to empathy on the cellular level. The GGSC studies show that over time, through just one act of kindness a day, participants were able to increase their overall life satisfaction and decrease chronic pain, partly because kindness releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin and helps lower inflammatory hormones like cortisol. People who did Buddhist Loving-Kindness meditations for just 8 weeks, sending out unconditional love to the world each day, were even found to have longer telomeres, the part of DNA that is thought to control aging. From the results, it has been theorized that daily kindness is just as much a predictor of health as smoking, and Dr. Keltner theorizes that a life focused on kindness could increase lifespan as much as six to ten years!
Recent science has proven that kindness is one of the only things in the world that doubles when you share it: kindness releases a boost of endorphins and hormones in the giver and receiver alike! Just seven days of kind acts were seen to have a significant benefit on subjects’ stress levels, overall sense of wellbeing, and even chronic pain. How can you share in the benefits of kindness? Fortunately, researchers indicate that it can be learned and practiced just like any skill. You don’t have to do something grand like paying off your neighbor’s mortgage to get the health benefits of altruism, and you don’t have to be born a saint to be kind each day. In Dr. Keltner’s study, small things like paying off an expired meter, helping someone carry something, or even a great, genuine compliment are enough to start accruing the health benefits of kindness. The potential for kind and helpful acts is everywhere, but it’s not always easy to know what to do or how to do it. We know that your own body rewards you tremendously for being kind, just as it does when you exercise. So why not practice building your “kindness muscle” and challenge yourself for seven days? The Random Acts of Kindness Project, sponsors of World Kindness Day, have a seven day menu of small acts you can do, and many more resources for learning, teaching, and understanding the wonderful – and still mysterious — phenomenon of human kindness.
Follow the links below for suggestions and inspiration, try one kind act a day for at least a week, and see how you feel.
Many of the schools and organizations who choose to book
summer programs with us, continue to book year after year. This may be a result
of the benefits that teachers and parents see when their students are involved
in summer learning programs.
Studies suggest that students lose roughly a month of
learning during the summer. Though a child can regain much of the knowledge
lost during summer break, it is important to remember that learning loss is
cumulative. Many believe that over time, the summer slide directly contributes
to the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
One of the most common reasons for deciding against summer
learning opportunities is a matter of cost or funding. High Touch High Tech
recognizes the importance of making summer programming accessible to every
student, parent, teacher, and schooling district. We will always put the
ability to educate our community first, by providing the same high quality
science experience at every location, accepting grant funding for programs, and
giving every student the opportunity to receive the high-quality STEM education
that they deserve.
Often the schools that book High Touch High Tech for summer
camps year after year also choose to take advantage of our low priced, high
quality elementary programs and after school enrichment programs. We offer a
range of program types in such a wide variety of grades and academic settings
because we realize how important it is for students to have access to hands-on
STEM education year-round. We believe this creates an environment that is
conducive to prolonged interest in the STEM fields and sets students up for
Summer is fast approaching, and our eye is on the important
topics. What is the true cost of all the time spent away from the classroom?
How can we continue to stimulate and inspire bright young minds, in a way that
feels fun and exciting to both kids and parents?
Research shows that students that stay actively involved in programs that involve physical and mental health exercises have tended to score higher on standardized tests than those who are not engaged in such activities during the summer break. More than that, studies have revealed that keeping students in such beneficial programs may ultimately affect the likelihood of those students to advance beyond the socioeconomic classes that they were born into.
High Touch High Tech aims to make itself available to any
community, organization, or school where there is a need or desire for
educational enrichment. We believe that we can be an asset to students learning
how to interact with scientific concepts, and that learning can be fun.
Not only is it crucial to keep young minds engaged and
learning during time spent away from the classroom, but early involvement in
STEM based education is a monumental factor when considering which students
will go on to get degrees in STEM related fields. Research finds that students
who are interested in STEM fields early on in their education, by 8th
grade, are more likely to graduate with a degree in a related field than those
who performed highly on tests in STEM fields.
High Touch High Tech puts an emphasis on fun, hands-on
methods of learning. We strive to
deliver exciting programs year-round, helping guide a student’s engagement with
scientific concepts by way of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning
methods. This allows us to the opportunity to reach the child where they are at,
through which ever learning style is most suitable to their naturally preferred
The focus on education is ever increasing. In our
technological, fast paced world, the focus on providing a well-rounded, ample
education is critical. To develop into intelligent, innovated adults, the
foundation of education must be engaging and copious.
Lifelong success begins early. Studies have shown that
children who enter the K-12 system unprepared rarely catch up to their peers.
The effects of early education are sustained into adulthood. Children having
participated in high quality preschool and elementary programs yielding better
academic achievements, increased employment and earnings, as well as reduced
crime and delinquency. Investments in early childhood educations have the
highest return-on-investment, seeing a return rate of 15-17% each year.
For students to perform at a competitive level, STEM
literacy in early education must be highlighted. STEM education teaches much
more than science and mathematics. By focusing on hands-on learning, students
can comprehend real world situations while developing problem solving,
leadership, critical thinking and creative thinking skills.
By instilling creative and critical thinking at a young age,
we establish a basis of innovation. Innovation is critical to building a
better, safer world. High Touch High Tech has worked for over 25 years to
establish early STEM education as a priority around the world. The foundation
of an enriching science education will propel modernization and minds on the
High Touch High Tech
offers programs to satisfy all STEM domains for students of preschool to middle
school ages. Our mission of STEM literacy in early education was founded more
than 25 years ago, and research continues to prove our approach to be most
effective. Future scientists will
remember High Touch High Tech as their science inspiration.
In recent years, the slime trend has taken the internet by
storm. There are over 13 million posts with #Slime on Instagram! This trend has
even been responsible for glue shortages at craft stores around the world!
High Touch High Tech brought slime to students 25 years ago!
We were the original slime makers!
How is slime made? What makes slime so slimy? Science, of
course! To understand how this non-Newtonian fluid is created, we must
understand a little bit of chemistry. A non-Newtonian fluid is a substance that
is neither a liquid nor a solid! Slime will ooze out of your hands like a
liquid but can be picked up like a solid!
What makes slime so stretchy? We can thank polymers for
slime’s gooey, oozy qualities! Polymers are substances that are made of several
repeating until, these units joining like train cars! To create these polymers,
you must make the chemical reaction to create these polymers! Polymerization,
the chemical reaction that creates a polymer, happens when you mix all the
slime ingredients together!
In our ChemFun program, students are introduced to the world
of chemistry! Your students will become chemists, exploring chemical reactions.
They’ll even get to take home their very own slime!
For more than 25 years, High Touch High Tech has brought
students hands-on science! Throughout the years slime has been a fan favorite,
with a ‘how it works’ lesson at the very core!
This Thursday is not only Thanksgiving, but for our friends who are Jewish, it’s also the first full day and the second evening of Hanukkah. The meeting of these two holidays is being called Thanksgivukkah. How rare is it for these two holidays to meet this way? Well, it’s not going to happen for another 76-80,000 years or so.
How does this happen? Well, Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday every November and doesn’t change from year to year. But then there’s the Jewish calendar that’s a little more complicated and by complicated, I mean that things change every year- a month here, a month there.
The Jewish calendar moves forward very slowly- about four days every thousand years so that’s why it’ll take 70 to 80 thousand years before Thanksgiving and Hanukkah meet again.
Earth Day is April 22nd, but many people extend the celebration to make it Earth Week. Depending on how you choose to celebrate, Earth Week runs from April 16th to Earth Day, April 22nd, or it is the week that includes Earth Day, which is April 17-23, 2011. Make a difference this week! Try making a small change that will benefit the environment. Keep at it all week so that by the time Earth Day arrives it might become a lifelong habit. Turn down your water heater or only water your lawn in the early morning or install energy efficient light bulbs or recycle. Be conscious of chemical wastes you produce and how you return them to the environment. Happy Earth Week!
Check out our latest E-News for ways you can contribute this year for Earth Day PLUS download a cool at home experiment – Compost in a Cup!