From the Field

“From the Field”

Summer Science

Hemlock Hayden, High Touch High Tech of WNC

As a new Scientist to High Touch High Tech, having the opportunity of engaging and inspiring young minds to think about and get excited about science has been a very new, yet extremely rewarding experience. Not just doing fun experiments themselves but seeing the faces of the students light up just when seeing us enter the building gets me excited to teach even more!

In one particular case this summer, I had the opportunity to go to Emmanuel Lutheran’s Summer Rocks! Camp every day for a full week. Starting off, the kids seemed disheartened that they were going to have to learn more outside of school and during a summer camp, but once we started off with explaining all the cool things scientists do and performing a WOW! experiment, they instantly became engaged and wanted to learn more. After that first visit, the students lit up with excitement, yelling “Yay! Science time!” when I would walk through the door.

 From doing actual chemical reactions to make chalk and slime in programs like “Mystery Science”, to physics and engineering programs dealing with robots and rocket flight in programs like “Flight Command”, each experiment engaged the students more and more and pushed them to think harder about how each experiment worked on a scientific level. After each day, a new student would walk up to me, explaining how the experiments of that day were so fun and interesting to them, and that it made them want to pursue that respective branch of science when they were older.

Moments like these are truly the moments that make me love working as a Scientist for High Touch High Tech. Inspiring the next generation to even be just A LITTLE more interested in general science than they would have been, to me, is extremely important in an ever-changing world. Science doesn’t have to be hard, or scary. As long as you have an interest in it, then science is FUN!

High Touch High Tech is…..Science Made FUN!


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The History Of Sewing Machines


Sewing Machines


You can trace the origins of sewing all the way back to Central Asia to approximately the year 45,000 BCE. Before sewing, people used strips of furs or animal skins to tie their clothes together, but harsh weather in colder regions caused a search for a better way to keep clothing on. These desperate individuals started by using a sharp stone to pierce a hole in the animal hides, then used their fingers to push thin strips of animal hide through that hole. About 5,000 years after, someone had the idea to put a hole in the tip of this elementary awl so the string could be pulled through with the same motion! Later the first modern needle was invented, most likely carved from bone or ivory, then adapted to cast iron, and finally to sharpened steel needles!

Clothing continued to develop; people began wearing cloth made of yarn instead of animal skins. People began to hand spin yarn using plant, animal, and synthetic fibers into thread, then use this thread to make cloth! After many years of hand spinning yarn, the very first spinning wheel appeared in the 11th century! The spinning wheel was a much more efficient way to spin yarn and became widespread!

Even after the invention of the spinning wheel, making clothing was a lengthy process. It still took a long time to spin the thread, weave the cloth, dye it, and then sew the material into wearable clothing! Each piece of clothing was fitted for a specific person. The women of the family were left the task sewing and mending clothing for their families. When clothing became faded and worn, the cloth would then be re-purposed into quits or other household fabrics!

Making beautiful clothing and fabric became a form of art. Decorative needlework such as embroidery was a highly valued skill, and young women from wealthy families had time to practice and become adept at this delicate task! These women made beautiful tapestries, or a thick fabric decorated with intricate pictures or designs, and they were hung on walls as artwork. Tapestries also served the purpose of keeping the stone floors and walls warmer in the cold winter. Even small tapestries would take several months design and weave, and the larger tapestries could take longer than a year! At the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, there are many tapestries hanging on the walls and decorative sewn carpets on the floors. The home was built back in 1895, and these tapestries and carpets are still on display today!

In the year 1790, Thomas Saint invented the world’s first sewing machine. With the invention of the sewing machine aided by the Industrial Revolution production of textiles left the home and went into factory mills. Huge cotton plantations were located across the southern United States that produced the cotton necessary to make thread, so many of textile mills were established in this area. Cotton needs a long growing season, and the southern climate was prime! The plantations produced so much cotton that the plantation owners were exporting it all over the world! Europe developed their own mills and weaving factories, but cotton crops couldn’t grow successfully due to Europe’s wet climate. Most weaving in Europe was made of a stronger thread called wool, which is collected by shearing sheep! Wars and the Great Depression had an adverse impact on Europe’s ability to produce fabrics.

In 1863, Ebenezer Butterick, an American tailor, and his wife Ellen began to sell tissue paper dress pattern in graded, or sized, patterns. Ellen was frustrated with one sized patterns and wanted a better variety of style and size. They began selling men’s and boy’s clothing patterns, but they were such a huge success that they added women’s and girls clothing patterns in 1866. At the time these patterns cost anywhere from 0.25 to 0.75 cents apiece, which doesn’t seem like much today, but back in these days the average working person made $1 or $2 for a day’s work!

In the early 1900’s, ready to wear fashion became cheap and common. People no longer had to hand-make their clothes and could buy fashionable clothing from the store! Clothing brands, stores, and fashion designers emerged to create and sell this clothing. While many households still have a sewing machine today, it is no longer a necessity to make your families clothing and household materials. Sewing is still seen as art and a form of self-expression today!

Written By: Tammy Ducker
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Wild and Wonderful – Father’s of the Animal Kingdom!


Father’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate and honor devoted dads of every species.  Just like their human counterparts, there are some males in the animal world that play a vital role in raising and teaching their offspring.  As we prepare to sing paternal praises this Father’s Day, let us not forget that even in the animal kingdom, there are really some superb dads that do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of their offspring. Being a dutiful dad does have its evolutionary advantages. By boosting one’s offspring’s odds of survival, fathers can help to ensure that their genes get passed on to the next generation—and the next

From the pregnant papas to the ferocious fathers – these incredible animals take parenting seriously & always step-up when it comes to taking care of their kids.  So, in no particular order, here is our salute to the animal kingdom’s most devoted dads.

Nurturing Marmosets 

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Male Marmosets in South Americaare one of the best animal dads in the animal kingdom. Scientists believe that Marmoset dads are wired this way because of the high cost of birth for the mother. Baby marmosets are typically 25% of the mother’s body weight which can make giving birth a matter of life and death. Pregnancy and giving birth is an energy-sapping process for mama marmosets, so dad’s involvement is crucial to the offspring’s survival. They not only carry, feed and groom their twin babies, they actually act as midwives during the delivery by grooming and cleaning the newborns. If that isn’t sweet enough, consider this: After his babies are born, a marmoset daddy doesn’t look twice at another female. Studies have shown that male marmosets are serious family guys!

Proud Pouched Papa

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Seahorses are some of the most fascinating animal dads which is why they always make it to the top of the list for Father’s Day.  A male seahorse may be the ultimate catch. They not only get pregnant, brooding eggs in their pouch, but they’re monogamous which means that they mate for life. Here’s how it works: The male seahorse will woo his love with an integral dance resulting in them intertwining their tails. The female actually sends the eggs through a tube into a pouch. Inside the pouch, the male fertilizes the eggs and keeps them snug for two to three weeks, depending on the species. And like any good daddy, he monitors the salt levels inside his pouch to ensure they match the surrounding environment to keep the baby seahorses healthy. Male seahorses can carry up to an incredible 2000 babies during his 25 day long pregnancy! Daddy seahorses will proudly display their growing tummy’s to each other until they give birth to their baby seahorses.   

Loving Waterbugs 

The Giant water bug is yet another amazing dad that stands out in the animal kingdom. Giant water bugs, also known as toe-biters and alligator ticks, are not pleasant company due to their painful bite. But father water bugs are dedicated to their offspring. The female water bug will cement her fertilized eggs onto the male’s back with a natural and mysterious super glue. This could be as many as 150 eggs. Over the next 21 days, the male becomes a very effective dad, protecting the eggs from predators and periodically exposing them to air to prevent them from growing mold. When the eggs hatch, the father water bug takes full responsibility of looking after the hundred or so young ones until they are ready to go out on their own.

Radical Rhea Dads

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One surprising animal that makes it into the running for Father of the Year is the South American Greater Rhea bird. For most birds, the mothers are responsible for handling the child care, but the Rhea bird is exactly the opposite. The male Rhea bird is responsible for creating a nest which is filled with the eggs of several different female Rhea’s. After laying their eggs, the mother Rhea’s move on & the dedicated dad stays with his nest to maintain and incubate the eggs over a 42 day period.  After the babies hatch, papa Rhea devotes all of his time to take personal care of the 50 or so hatched young ones. The Rhea father is known for being very protective of his young — and at 88 pounds and about 5 feet in height, he makes a formidable bodyguard. Scientists believe the parenting roles of this species are switched due to the mothers putting such a huge investment into laying the extremely large eggs leaving the rest of the parenting responsibility to be taken over by the father.

Papa Penguins

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Penguin dads are extremely hands-on (or should that be ‘wings-on?’) in caring for their chicks. This magnificent father makes the list every year as king of — Animal Father’s Day.  Although the females lay the eggs, it is up to the fathers to keep them warm for a full two months while the penguin mothers head out to sea to hunt for fish. These dedicated dads don’t even wander off for food.  They huddle together in temperatures that can reach 70 degrees below zero and keep their eggs warm by resting them on top of their feet.  When the chicks are hatched it’s dad who feeds them their first meal of a milky curd-like substance made from his body. Then, mom returns from hunting for fish and brings everyone in the family a real meal. 

Human fathers might pride themselves on being dedicated breadwinners, diligent carpool drivers or convenient camping buddies, but plenty of other dads in the natural world go above and beyond their average animal call of duty.

No matter the species, this June we say Happy Father’s Day to all of the great dads who have inspired and enriched the children in their lives. 

National Geographic: Quiz Your Noodle – Animal Dads

Education World: Daddies of the Animal Kingdom Scavenger Hunt

5 Amazing Life Lessons from the One & Only, Albert Einstein!!


Albert Einstein has long been considered a genius by the masses. He was a theoretical physicist, philosopher, author, and is perhaps the most influential scientists to ever live. In honor of this science icon and to say ‘Happy Birthday Einstein,” we thought we’d share one of our favorite archived e-news articles from March 2013! 

Einstein has made great contributions to the scientific world, including the theory of relativity, the founding of relativistic cosmology, the prediction of the deflection of light by gravity, the quantum theory of atomic motion in solids, the zero-point energy concept, and the quantum theory of a monatomic gas which predicted Bose–Einstein condensation, to name a few of his scientific contributions.

Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” He’s published more than 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works. Einstein is considered the father of modern physics and is probably the most successful scientist there ever was.

But, you don’t have to be a physicist or an elite research scientist to take away from what Einstein had to offer. We don’t tap often enough into the words of wisdom Einstein shared with the world. From the simply stated to the profoundly put, there’s a lot we can take away from Einstein’s words.

Everyday brings a new opportunity to put his teachings to good use in our personal lives. In celebration of Albert Einstein’s birthday, we bring you 5 Amazing Lessons You Can Learn from Albert Einstein! 

These quotes are just a few of our favorites that show how Einstein reached people all throughout  walks of life – Do you have a favorite lesson from Albert Einstein? We want to know which of them resonates with you in your life!

Leave us your thoughts below – We always look forward to hearing what our readers have to say!

Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton!

It’s Isaac Newton’s birthday. At least, it’s the anniversary of his birth – January 4, 1643, according the the Gregorian calendar.

If you’re a purist, you might have already marked the anniversary of his birth, on December 25th. As according to the Julian calendar, in use in England, at the time of his birth, the scientific great was born on Christmas Day, 1642. 

We’ve all heard the story. A young Isaac Newton is sitting beneath an apple tree contemplating the mysterious universe. Suddenly – boink! – an apple hits him on the head. “Aha!” he shouts, or perhaps, “Eureka!” In a flash, he experiences a stroke of brilliant insight & discovers the laws of gravity. Is the apple-falling business exactly what happened, or is it simply a mythical tale embellished by generations of story tellers over the course of time? In celebration of Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday, we decided to dig up one of our favorite e-news articles from the High Touch High Tech E-News Archives: “Newton’s Apple…The Real Story!” – We get to the core of the matter & investigate the truth behind the most famous apple in science! 

In addition to laying out the Laws of Motion, he also did innovative work on the properties of light, as can be seen in this Lego re-enactment. And of course the logo for Apple, Inc. would only have half the symbolism it does if it weren’t for him.

You can discover Newton’s famous contributions to science for yourself with this cool Laws of Motion Interactive! 



High Touch High Tech is the leader in innovative hands-on science and nature experiences for children, serving over 4 million children annually with 27 franchise locations across the United States, Canada, Turkey, Singapore and South Korea.To learn more about franchise opportunities with High Touch High Tech, visit us online at

Scoop in Some FUN – July is National Ice Cream Month!

Ahhh, ice cream. A rite of summer. Whether a simple cone, a sundae or a huge banana split- ice cream is the indulgence of choice for families across America. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday as National Ice Cream Day. The President recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that’s enjoyed by 90% of the nation’s population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of theUnited States to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”  

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the evolution of ice cream began as early as the 4th century B.C. Historians have found records of Roman emperor Nero ordering ice with fruit on it. King Tang of China was the first to experiment with different methods of mixing ice & milk.  Ice cream started in China, and was then brought back to Europe and last but not least America. History books note that some of the greats to enjoy the frosty treat included Alexander the Great, Solomon, Caesar and even Marco Polo. 

Ice Cream remained a treat for the wealthy until 1851, when Jacob Fussell of Baltimore realized the best way to avoid wasting cream was to freeze the excess. Ian Harrison said in The Book of Firsts, that Fussell’s iced cream was so popular he set up a factory. On June 15, 1851 he made the first delivery of mass produced ice cream, at a third of the price of his competitors.

Ice cream is similar to hot dogs, everyone has their own accessory or add-on to make it perfect for their palate. Think about all the stuff you can buy that is made to put on your ice cream. You have ice cream cones, bowls, flavored syrups, sprinkles, nuts, caramel, marshmallows, and the list could go on and on.  

In 1896, the first ice-cream cone was made by an Italian-American named Marcioni, but the idea was not all the rage until the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Other ice cream treats were soon to follow. After an American confectioner watched a boy agonize over which treat he wanted, chocolate or vanilla ice cream, he began to experiment and launched the first Eskimo Pie when he combined the two in 1921. 

An ice-cream seller in Wisconsin always ran low of goods on Sunday, so he served smaller portions and added chocolate sauce or fruit syrup to compensate. The idea became so popular that customers began asking for the “Sunday ice cream” during the week. The Popsicle was also a mishap. An American lemonade salesman left a glass of lemonade with a spoon in it on a cold windowsill overnight. By morning the drink had frozen. When he tried removing it, he was holding the world’s first Popsicle.

The history of ice cream is closely associated with the scientific developments that took place from the 17th century on. As the fields of chemistry and refrigeration techniques expanded, so did ice cream.  One of these major discoveries was that when dissolving salts in water, it would produce a cooling effect.

Today, the U.S. ice cream industry generates more than $21 billion in annual sales and provides jobs for thousands of citizens. About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry. Ice cream consumption is the highest during the months of July & August.  The number one flavor among U.S. consumers is vanilla, with chocolate, Neapolitan, strawberry, and cookies ‘n’ cream rounding out the top five.

There are some brands of ice cream that are just as American as ice cream itself. Have you ever met anyone who didn’t know about Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream? Blue Bunny, Hagan Daas and Hershey ice cream are huge favorites as well. Whether you prefer a store bought brand or making your own, celebrate National Ice Cream month with a bowl or a cone of your favorite flavor & scoop a little sweetness into your summer! 

Make Way For The New Energy Moo-vement!

When it comes to finding cleaner greener sources of electrical power, people across the globe are starting to think outside of the box in order to reduce carbon emissions and increase efficiency. Coal, solar, wind and hydro may be the most common sources to power your home, but there is a new energy moo-vement catching on that could be a win-win for everybody.  A dairy farm produces milk, of course, but new technology has allowed farmers to begin producing their own electricity – using that least-desirable by-product of cows: manure.  Dairy farms full of livestock are being transformed into modern day power plants. 

Cows produce a lot of manure. One cow can create an incredible 30 gallons of manure each day. Now imagine the output of the US’ 100 million cattle. That’s one big pile of cow pies.

When farmers clean their barns, they put the manure in a big heap, and spread most of it on their fields for fertilizer. But now, farmers have a new way to handle their cow manure. They use it to make electricity. Manure can be converted on site to a form of fuel called biogas. Biogas can be burned for heat, cooking, generate electricity, or it can be sold to power utility companies elsewhere.

Here’s how it works: A big pooper scooper that looks like a giant squeegee moves back and forth cleaning the barn floor. The scooper pushes the manure into a big 600-gallon concrete tank, similar to a swimming pool. The tank is called a digester because what happens there is just like what happens inside a cow: bacteria called anaerobic digesters get to work and continue to break down the manure. 

Methane gas in the atmosphere is known as a “greenhouse” gas because it traps heat just like a greenhouse does, causing our planet to warm up. That’s an environmental concern. But the digester process has a positive outcome and provides an environmental benefit. The methane gas is captured and used as a fuel to power electric generators. Capturing the methane to use for electricity prevents it from entering the atmosphere.  The product that is left after the digester is finished is a byproduct that is a nutrient rich, odor-free fertilizer that can be used for compost or even cow bedding.
Many believe this cow green energy moo-vement is the global future of fuel. Many parts of the world have started to move away from the other types of biofuels like corn ethanol and even biodiesel. Both of these fuels use a food source as a main component which has created a growing controversy, particularly with the growing food shortages that have been on the rise.

The amazing power of poo is a renewable resource that is capable of saving over 200 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year in theUSalone! Scientists have estimated that converting manure from the 100 million cows in theUnited States, would produce renewable energy equal to 8 billion gallons of gasoline, or 1% of the total energy consumption in the nation. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what cows can do! Converting cow manure into a renewable source of fuel is one of those rare situations in which everybody and everything wins – especially the environment!   

 Learn More About Cow Power by visiting Central Vermont Public Service

June E-News: Celebrate National Donut Day!

Donuts – Those warm gooey fried rings of dough covered with sugar or sprinkles and filled with custard or jelly. While you don’t really need an excuse to eat a few (or a few dozen), it’s always a nice treat to have one! – On Friday, June 1st you will have the perfect reason, for it’s National Donut Day! This great holiday got us thinking…how much do we actually know about the poignant, patriotic history of our favorite fried food product? 

Many are shocked to learn that donuts have been around for hundreds of years! Archaeologists have turned up several fossilized fried cakes with holes in the center in prehistoric ruins in the Southwestern United States. How these early Native Americans prepared their donuts is still unknown.

Most historians talk about donut history as starting in the mid-19th century, when the Dutch wrote down their recipes for “olykoeks,” or “oily cakes,” which were balls of sweet dough fried in pork fat, with apples, prunes or raisins in the middle. Soon after, the Pilgrims brought the tasty snack with them to America. There was just one little problem with donuts back then – when the olykoeks were pulled out of the hot oil, the centers were hardly ever cooked through.

So how did donuts get their modern-day name? There’s a story about a woman from New England, Elizabeth Gregory, who was known for her yummy olykoeks. Her secret was to add a hint of nutmeg and fill the center with hazelnuts or walnuts. She even had a special name for her creation, “dough-nuts.” (She may have gotten the idea for the name from an instruction in the recipe, which said to make “little nuts of dough” and place them into the hot oil.)

And how did donuts get the whole in the center? Well, the story of Elizabeth Gregory continues, though there are a few different endings. In one, she gives her son – a sea captain – some dough-nuts to take with him on one of his ocean journeys. But when a storm started at sea, the captain found himself having a hard time holding the treat and steering the ship. So he impaled the dough-nut on one of the steering wheel’s spokes, creating a hole in the middle of it.

Another version of the story says the captain simply didn’t like the nuts his mother put in the center of the dough-nuts, so he poked them out, leaving an empty whole in the middle. Whatever the real story is, there were benefits to making doughnuts with holes. They cooked more evenly and their unique shape made them extremely popular. During World War I, donuts achieved the ultimate food status as an American favorite. Young American men fighting oversees were served donuts as a reminder of the food back home. 

Since 1938, every first Friday in June is designated as National Doughnut Day! Contrary to popular belief, this American ‘holiday’ is not a marketing ploy by the big donut companies, but a tradition that dates all the way back to the Great Depression. National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. 


Over the decades, National Doughnut Day has become a revered tradition in the USA. Each year, millions of Americans celebrate the occasion by chowing down on the nation’s top-selling baked dessert. With over 10 billion sold each year, the doughnut is second only to bread in total baked good sales nationwide. Donut shops such as Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme & even some of the small neighborhood shops, give away free donuts on this fun holiday!   

While donuts may be an American tradition, many countries around the world have a donut-like incarnation that they enjoy. In the horn of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea ), the ball-shaped Lagayamats are fried and covered with powdered sugar, while the Tunisian Yo-Yo’s, are smothered in honey or even sesame seeds. India has a savory version called Vada, while Indonesians make their Donut Kentang with mashed potatoes and flour and, . . . . . . . the list goes on and on. The bottom line is, no matter where you live, you will be able to celebrate this holiday!

If you are one of the minority that simply don’t like donuts, you can still get into the spirit with charity – sell donuts to your friends and neighbors and donate the proceeds to your local Salvation Army. After all, it’s thanks to their ingenious idea that we have this yummy holiday!

Whether it’s powdered, jelly-filled, or frosted, this classic treat is always delicious, making National Donut Day a great reason to celebrate. You can share the excitement of this unique holiday with friends and family with a Free Donut Day eCard! 


– Make A Solar Cell with Powdered Donuts!

– VIDEO: How Donuts Are Made

– 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Donuts

Ahoy! Safe Sailing for Memorial Day!

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For those that are thinking of setting sail for the holiday weekend, remembering the rules of boating safety can ensure a fun & memorable holiday for everyone. You can keep your holiday excursion filled with excitement by making safety a priority and incorporating it into your regular boating routine. Experts from the National Safe Boating Council suggest practicing these 5 guidelines when out on the water: 

  1. Always wear your life jacket from the time you step onto the boat until the time you arrive back on land.
  2. Make sure you file a float plan with a responsible adult so they know where you are going and when you should return.
  3. Study and know the rules of the road so you are aware of which boat has the right of way.
  4. Keep a good look out for other boats. Even if you know the rules others may not, so you have to operate defensively.
  5. Always operate at a safe speed, at a safe distance from the shore and other boats, and in a responsible manner.

For more tips & safety guidelines, visit the National Safe Boating Council’s website!

The long Memorial Day weekend means there’s lots of time to get out, get active, and have some fun during the traditional start to the summer. This year, we encourage you to be a smart Skipper! Have fun out on the water, and don’t forget your sunscreen!


Looking for more resources? Check out these great sites: Get summer safety tips, great learning activities & experience all things nautical. This site teaches kids about personal flotation devices, distress signals, storm warnings, and many other aspects of boating safety. Find answers to questions, how to’s, boating checklists, life jacket tic-tac-toe & more!

The U.S. Coast Guard: If you aren’t able to teach safety hands on, there are lots of other ways you can teach your kids about safe fun in the water. Find coloring books and activity books to teach kids about water safety.


Mr. Sonic Shares The Wonder of Butterflies to Students Across San Antonio


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High Touch High Tech of San Antonio shares the wonder of butterflies in the most recent Write On Imagination Magazine. Write On Imagination is a quarterly magazine published for kids by kids. It is a free publication, distributed all across San Antonio & surrounding areas to elementary students in grades K-5.

The October issue of Write On Imagination magazine was themed around butterflies. Popular HTHT Scientist, Mr. Sonic, makes science fun as he brings to life the catapillar’s transformation and how it becomes a beautiful butterfly.  Check out his column from this months issue:


In the San Antonio area? Learn more about your local High Touch High Tech by visiting them online at or contact them at:

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