Dear teachers, school and camp directors, and parents,
On behalf of all our High Touch High Tech scientists across the nation, and around the world, I would like to thank you all for boldly pursuing our science experiences for your students and children.
This has been a very challenging year for us all. Our passionate scientists will continue to inspire our children to become the next generation of scientists that will develop the lifesaving vaccines and medications that have made the end of this pandemic tangible.
The pandemic certainly changed how we engage with your students, driven by our desire to stimulate imagination and curiosity, we took our unique and inspiring programs and pivoted to deliver them as science kits to the students. Our scientist would then lead the science experience adventure by Zoom. While our fun scientists enjoyed the Zoom delivery of our programs, we are all anxious to work with students in person, and watch their faces light up with discovery. While this pivot is working well, we are all looking forward to bringing our hands-on science experiences back into the classroom.
As I have long said, our High Touch High Tech programs can be delivered anywhere learners are and can engage in exciting ways to learn. Because of this we can stimulate young minds, activate new curiosity, and nurture budding imaginations. This has been our approach for the last 29 years. We all have seen that following the science is bringing us out of this pandemic, and sparking curiosity among your students and future scientists assures us the world will continue to become a better place.
Daniel “Dinosaur Dan” Shaw
Founder, High Touch High Tech
The scientist is motivated primarily by curiosity and a desire for truth.
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating National Catfish Day June 25th!
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!
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating Space Day May 7th!
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.
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.
launched the Mercury, Apollo, and space shuttle programs over the next 20
years. The United States lead the world in space exploration and achievements.
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
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.
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.
this Space Day, be sure to let your imaginations soar, and tap into your own
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.
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating Richter Scale Day April 26th!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating National Garlic Day April 19th
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!
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
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!
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.
(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.
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.
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.
have even discovered garlic bulbs in the pyramids of Egypt. Ancient Egyptians
were known for their healing skills, preparations, and remedies.
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.
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!
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
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
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!
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating Find a Rainbow Day April 3rd
A rainbow is
caused by the collision of sunlight and certain atmospheric conditions. Light
enters a water droplet, slowing down and bending as it goes from air to denser
water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its
component wavelengths–or colors. When light exits the droplet, it makes
Now that you know the science behind rainbows, now we need to figure out a way to remember all those colors! Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Roy G. Biv. He is not a real person, but his name is the acronym that helps us remember the colors of the rainbow, or in more precise science terms, the colors that make up the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum! The colors are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.
Have you seen this fun video by They Might Be Giants? It teaches you about ROY G BIV & the electromagnetic spectrum!
Rainbows have held incredibly special meaning to people, forever. In fact, the rainbow flag was created and became known as the gay or LGBTQ symbol for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) pride and LGBTQ social movements. Rainbow flags have also served as a symbol of peace.
But there are many myths and
folklores surrounding rainbows. Here are some of
the more common tales and beliefs about rainbows:
Biblical accounts establish
the rainbow as a covenant, or promise, between God and every living
creature, that the earth will never again be destroyed by flood.
mythology rainbows were thought to be a path between Earth
and Heaven. The rainbow was called the “Bridge” in Norse mythology,
connecting Asgard, the home of the gods with Midgard, the home of humans.
A pot of gold at the end of every rainbow that is guarded by a tricky leprechaun. The legend goes like this… Once upon a time, the Vikings lived in Ireland, looting, and plundering as they pleased, then burying their ill-gotten treasures all over the countryside. When they eventually departed from the Emerald Isle, they inadvertently left behind some of their booty, which the leprechauns found. Now, the leprechauns knew the Vikings had gotten their treasures through stealing, which was wrong. This bad behavior made the leprechauns mistrust all people, Viking or not. To ensure no humans could take what they now considered their gold, the leprechauns reburied it in pots deep underground all over the island. When rainbows appear, they always end at a spot where a leprechaun’s pot of gold is buried.
you ever wondered if there are different kinds of rainbows? There are 12
different types of rainbows. When you see the typical rainbow that forms after
a storm, you may think that is all there is to it. But in truth, there are all
sorts of rainbows—some rarer than others. Each type of rainbow is created under
different circumstances and falls either into primary or secondary types.
Have you ever heard of a Fogbow? A
fogbow is a type of rainbow that occurs when fog or a small cloud experience sunlight
passing through them. The droplets of moisture from the fog work to diffract
that light. This type of rainbow is usually found in places where the fog in
the air is thin. It can also form above any body of water. Typically, this
rainbow consists of blue, white, and red. Much of a fogbow rainbow is white,
with blue appearing on the inside and red appearing at both ends.
Have you ever heard of a moonbow? A lunar rainbow (aka “moonbow”) is an unusual sight. This event occurs on the moon during a lunar month. The moon must be almost fully lit up for this type of rainbow to form. When it does, it appears as a white arc. Lunar rainbows line the moon’s outer rim. They are dull in appearance because the light on the moon is not as bright as the light on earth.
Can we have more than one rainbow at a time? Yes, they are called multiple rainbows. One of the rarest forms is multiple, or double, rainbows. They occur when several rainbows form in the same place at the same time. It takes at least one primary rainbow to generate this sight, as well as several other secondary rainbows. There is always space in between each one.
This space is referred to as
Alexander’s Band. In around 200 AD, Alexander of Aphrodisius observed that,
during rain, the area between primary and secondary rainbows appears
considerably darker than the surrounding sky. The phenomenon occurs because the
refractive index of light means that light from raindrops in the region of the
sky between the two rainbows cannot reach the observer. When sunlight is
reflected in raindrops, a double reflection occurs. White light reflects off
the colors of the primary rainbow, creating secondary ones.
There are even twin rainbows! A
twinned rainbow is also a rare sight to see. Though they have one base in
common, two rainbows are formed, with one being primary and one being
secondary. The colors of both rainbows are seen in the same sequence. When two
rain showers occur, the size of the raindrops can lead to the formation of a
twinned rainbow. With different shaped and sized raindrops from each storm, one
rainbow becomes two. In an even rarer sight, a twinned rainbow can include the
formation of as many as three.
Can the shape of rainbows change, or are they always an arc? Rainbows can change shapes, some can even be a full circle. In most cases, rainbows are semicircular arcs. Yet on rare occasions, it is possible to spot a full circle rainbow. This type of rainbow typically occurs in high altitude areas. At lower altitudes, the position of the sun prevents a full circle from being formed. Anything obstructing the sun also makes it impossible for this type of rainbow to form. When it does, it may include both primary and secondary rainbows.
High Touch High Tech’s February Podcast, Mission to Mars, is live! Join Dinosaur Dan, Narwhal Nina, and special guest Earthquake Ethan as they talk about space exploration, the Mars rover, and the future of humankind!
Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating National Pistachio Day February 26, 2021!
Pistachios are the seeds from the fruit of a small Persian tree, Pistachia vera. They have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, widely in Central Asia to the Mediterranean region. Green and slightly sweet, pistachios are called nuts, but botanically are seeds. Related botanically to cashews and mangoes, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.
ripen in late summer or early fall growing so energetically that the kernel
splits the shell. These trees are wind pollinated which means one male tree can
produce enough pollen for 25 seed-bearing female trees. Female trees produce
their first seeds at age five and can bear fruit for up to 200 years!
western Asia and Asia Minor, the trees grew wild in high desert regions and
legend has it that for the promise of good fortune, lovers met beneath the
trees to hear the pistachios crack open on moonlit nights.
their high nutritional value and long storage life, pistachios were an
indispensable form of sustenance among early explorers and traders, including
travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China with the West.
kernels can have different colors, ranging from yellow to shades of green. They
are usually about an inch long and half an inch in diameter. But if you want to
taste one, you’ll have to crack open its hard shell first.
ever seen a red pistachio? In the 1930s, importers began dyeing the shells
bright red to disguise blemishes that occurred during harvesting. This practice
made the pistachios more attractive to consumers. Though some enjoy the red
color, many believe the red dye adversely affects the taste of the pistachio
became a food as early as 7,000 B.C. They came to the United States in the
mid-19th century and commercial production began in the 1970s when farmers
began diversifying from the heavy almond industry. The first major commercial
crop was harvested in 1976.
Arizona, and New Mexico make up all of America’s commercial pistachio
production. You can buy pistachios shelled or unshelled, roasted, or salted. They
are available in most grocery stores, and you can buy them in bulk from
is second only to Iran in pistachio production, according to the Agricultural
Marketing Resource Center, a group of experts from Iowa State University,
Kansas State University and the University of California, who serve as an
information resource for agricultural producers.
universally known for producing some of the best quality pistachios in the
world. In 2018, the global production of pistachios was about 1.4 million metric
tons, with Iran and the United States as leading producers,
together accounting for 72% of the total. Secondary producers were Turkey,
China, and Syria.
pistachios are known as the smiling nut. In China, they are called the
happy nut. Pistachios are also known as the green almond. No matter the name,
they are delicious!
We all know that pistachios are good, but we only eat the seeds.
What happens to all those shells? What would you do with thousands of tons of
leftover nutshells? It is a question that Turkey — the world’s third-biggest
producer of pistachios, behind Iran and the USA, has been asking itself
Usually discarded pistachio shells end up in landfills, but
pistachio-loving Turks think they have found a far better solution by turning the
shells into a biogas, an alternative fuel produced by the breakdown of organic
Now Turkey wants to use pistachio shells to power its first
eco-city, which will require fermenting tons of the green waste in so-called
digesters, and then using the resulting gases, mostly methane, to generate
The idea is not as odd as it sounds. For starters, the green city
will be built in what is arguably the best possible location: Gaziantep
Province. This southern region near the Syrian border is the heart of Turkey’s
pistachio production, yielding more than half of the country’s pistachios!
“When you plan such environment-friendly systems, you take a
look at the natural resources you have. So, we thought the ecological city
could be heated by burning pistachio shells,” explains Seda Muftuoglu
Gulec, the municipality’s expert on green architecture.
This peculiar source of energy is renewable and cheap because
Turkey has plenty of shells to go around, so much so that it exported 6,800
tons of pistachios last year! 500 tons shy of the weight of the Eiffel Tower, according
to the Southeast Anatolia Exporters Union.
Experts say turning pistachios into biogas, while untested, is not
only technically feasible but also extremely convenient. Turkey claims
that nutshells are the most efficient source of alternative energy in the
region and could satisfy up to 60 percent of the city’s heating needs.
The planned 7,900-acre, nut-fueled city will be six miles from the
province’s capital city, Gaziantep, and is expected to become home to 200,000
This is Turkey’s first attempt at building an eco-city, and it will be the only one in the world that is heated by pistachios. In Australia, macadamia nutshells are already being turned into biomass. Meanwhile in Monterrey, Mexico, the methane generated from decaying garbage is being turned into electricity to illuminate city lights.
Clever people and scientists the world over are turning to green energy as a useful substitute for fossil fuels. Think about that next time you eat some pistachios!
Now, we all know that nuts contain fat….good fat, but fat none the less. The team at High Touch High Tech has come up with a FUN way to test if foods have fat. Check out the lesson plan, grab your supplies…and a handful of nuts, and try our Nutty Nutrients Fat Tester at home experiment!
Join HTHT in celebrating Appreciate a Dragon Day January 16th!
Since it is Appreciate a Dragon Day on January
16th, we started wondering, just where does the idea of Dragons come
from, anyway? Why does this mythical
beast appear in ancient myths and legends all over the world, from The British
Isles all the way to East Asia?
Ancient people did not have the kind of
scientific knowledge that we do today, but to survive in a world without
supermarkets, antibiotics, or electricity, they had to become close observers
of the natural world and experts in their environment. This means that legends of Dragons in many
world cultures were actually based on careful observations of the natural
In Ancient Greece around 500 BC, some amazing philosophers were hard at work observing nature. One of them, Xenophanes, was one of the first known people to identify and examine fossils, suggesting that the world had been through many changes and the existence of shells deep in the rock of high cliffs must be evidence of that. We know the Greeks were aware of fossils, and some may even have seen the types of dinosaur fossils that so closely resemble the classic European-style dragon. Herodotus, the Ancient Greek traveler, and historian went deep into the deserts of Arabia and observed “the backbones and ribs of such serpents as it is impossible to describe: of the ribs there were a multitude of heaps. . . ” He ascribed these bones to winged serpents that had been killed by ibises. Thinkers like Herodotus influenced the European conception of dragons as a fearsome, fire-breathing, flying reptile. Because Dragons were perceived in their fossil state as fierce beings coming out of the Earth, today the European Dragon is often found deep in a cave, crankily hoarding the earth’s wealth, like Smaug in The Hobbit.
A European Dragon is generally not a nice animal, but a Chinese Dragon is! Chinese Dragons bring blessings, abundance, and luck, particularly in the form of much-needed water for life. Why? In China, there is no shortage of fossils, and ancient naturalists certainly encountered them from time to time. As far as we know, the conception of the Dragon in Ancient China goes back even beyond the time of the Greeks, to the time Chinese people were starting to build their 5,000-year-old culture. In the heartland of Ancient China, water was scarce and difficult to manage, but desperately needed in order to support a growing population. The Ancient Chinese became experts in observing the patterns of clouds, the movement of air and rain, and the flow of water. Think of a long, curving river seen from the air, a rainbow, or a gracefully curving, wispy cloud high in the sky and you can see the basic natural pattern that inspired the Chinese Dragon. Chinese Dragons are creatures of the water, and instead of fierce guardians of treasure deep in the earth, much Chinese mythology sees Dragons as intelligent, benevolent creatures that dwell in rich palaces under the water, especially in rivers. When a Chinese Dragon appears, it means luck and prosperity, not fire and blood!
We may think of Ancient people as superstitious because they did not have the detailed scientific understanding of the world that we do today. But in fact, mythological things like Dragons were based on careful observations of the natural world. Whether it was observing fossils or the movement of rain clouds, Ancient people were doing their own kind of “proto-scientific” observations and experiments which allowed them to survive in a harsh world without the technology that we as modern people take for granted. Thanks our Ancient ancestor’s observations and their creativity, we have been able to enjoy the magic of Dragons for millennia.
It is not a very
big stretch of the imagination to look at modern day birds and see
characteristics that overlap with dinosaurs and even the mythical dragon. Well,
we have learned through science that birds are actually descendants of
dinosaurs. Join us for this week’s at-home experiment of the month and explore
the various species of birds, their most popular attribute – their beaks, and
how they have adapted to survive in every climate & environment! Check out the
lesson plan, grab your supplies, and take our Bird Beak Challenge!
is almost New Year’s eve! Although most people are happy to be saying goodbye
to the year 2020, it has certainly been a year to remember! Of course, when we
talk about New Year’s eve, the words of Auld Lang Syne will surely come up! Why
is that? What’s the song about?
song’s melody is synonymous with the new year (and the theme of change) in the
English-speaking world, despite nearly incomprehensible words. The problem is
that the text on which the song is based is not in English at all — it’s
18th-century Scots, a similar but distinct language responsible for lyrics in
the song such as “We twa hae run about the braes / and pou’d the gowans
fine” that are utterly incomprehensible to Americans.
the story of how an 18th-century Scottish ballad became
synonymous with the new year is tangled, involving both Calvinist theology’s
traditional aversion to Christmas and the uniquely central role that watching
television plays in American New Year’s celebrations. Bridging the gap is a
once-famous, now-forgotten Canadian big band leader who for decades defined New
Year’s Eve and transformed a Scottish folk custom into a global phenomenon.
old acquaintance be forgot?” is a rhetorical question the song asks?
answer is that it’s a rhetorical question. The song is asking whether old
friends should be forgotten, as a way of stating that obviously one should not
forget one’s old friends. The version of the song we sing today is based on
a poem published by Robert Burns, which he attributed to “an old
man’s singing,” noting that it was a traditional Scottish song.
remember to not forget about your old friends! And on that note, let’s dive deeper
into the cultural history of New Years.
earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new
year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon.
For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal
equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and
darkness—heralded the start of a new year. In 45 B.C., New Year’s Day is
celebrated on January 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar
after becoming Roman dictator, Julius Caesar decided that the traditional
Roman calendar was in dire need of reform. Introduced around the seventh
century B.C., the Roman calendar attempted to follow the lunar cycle but
frequently fell out of phase with the seasons and had to be corrected. In addition,
the college of priests, the Roman body charged with overseeing the calendar,
often abused its authority by adding days to extend political terms or
interfere with elections.
of the oldest traditions still celebrated today is Chinese New Year, which is
believed to have originated over 3,000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty. The
holiday began as a way of celebrating the new beginnings of the spring planting
season, but it later became entangled with myth and legend. According to one
popular tale, there was once a bloodthirsty creature called Nian—now the
Chinese word for “year”—that preyed on villages every New Year. To frighten the
hungry beast, the villagers took to decorating their homes with red trimmings,
burning bamboo, and making loud noises. The ruse worked, and the bright colors
and lights associated with scaring off Nian eventually became integrated into
traditionally last 15 days and tend to center on the home and the family.
People clean their houses to rid them of bad luck, and some repay old debts as
a way of settling the previous year’s affairs. To encourage an auspicious start
to the year they also decorate their doors with paper scrolls and gather with
relatives for a feast. Following the invention of gunpowder in the 10th
century, the Chinese were also the first to ring in the New Year with
fireworks. Since Chinese New Year is still based on a lunar calendar that dates
to the second millennium BC, the holiday typically falls in late January or
early February on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Each year is
associated with one of 12 zodiacal animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon,
snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Modern
celebrations of the Lunar New Year include the tradition of giving the
gift of a bright, beautiful red envelope (known as hóngbāo) to your
friends and family. These envelopes are filled with money – and symbolize good
wishes, luck, and prosperity for the new year ahead.
Iran and other parts of the Middle East and Asia, the roots of Nowruz (or “New
Day”) reach far back into antiquity. Often called the “Persian New Year,” this
13-day spring festival falls on or around the vernal equinox in March and is
believed to have originated in modern day Iran as part of the Zoroastrian
religion. Official records of Nowruz did not appear until the 2nd century, but
most historians believe its celebration dates back as far as the 6th century
B.C. and the rule of the Achaemenid Empire. Unlike many other ancient Persian
festivals, Nowruz persisted as an important holiday even after Iran’s conquest
by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. and the rise of Islamic rule in the 7th
observances of Nowruz focused on the rebirth that accompanied the return of
spring. Traditions included feasts, exchanging presents with family members and
neighbors, lighting bonfires, dyeing eggs, and sprinkling water to symbolize
creation. One unique ritual that arose around the 10th century involved
electing a “Nowruzian Ruler”: a commoner who would pretend to be king for
several days before being “dethroned” near the end of the festival. Nowruz has
evolved considerably over time, but many of its ancient traditions—particularly
the use of bonfires and colored eggs—remain a part of the modern holiday, which
is observed by an estimated 300 million people each year.
the same region, ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River,
and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the
Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the
brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence.
Better known as a heliacal rising, this phenomenon typically occurred in
mid-July just before the annual inundation of the Nile River, which helped
ensure that farmlands remained fertile for the coming year. Egyptians
celebrated this new beginning with a festival known as Wepet Renpet, which
means “opening of the year.” The New Year was a time of rebirth and
rejuvenation, and it was honored with feasts and special religious rites.
unlike many people today, the Egyptians may have also used this as an excuse
for getting a bit tipsy. Recent discoveries at the Temple of Mut show that
during the reign of Hatshepsut the first month of the year played host to a
“Festival of Drunkenness.” This massive party was tied to the myth of Sekhmet,
a war goddess who had planned to kill all of humanity until the sun god Ra
tricked her into drinking herself unconscious. In honor of mankind’s salvation,
the Egyptians would celebrate with music, revelry, and—perhaps most important
of all—copious amounts of beer.
you look toward 2021, no matter how you choose to celebrate, we at High Touch
High Tech – Science Made Fun, wish each one of you a safe, happy, and joyous
you’d like to kick off the new year with your very own fireworks, try out our
at-home experiment, “Exploding Colors”!