Two simple words, but to programmers and coders, they mean a lot more. They represent both the history of computing and the future of every aspiring coder. And to parents looking to give their children a bright future, these words are the key to the most important skills of the 21st century. More
You know those baggie hand warmers you get at camping stores? With the latest lesson from Because Learning, “Hot Hands”, you and your kids can make those at home! Check out the video to one of our kids doing the experiment with our Sensor Kit:
With just a few simple ingredients, your kids can create hand warmers that increase in temperature. Then they’ll test different variables to discover the ideal ratio of ingredients to make a DIY hand warmer stay warm for the longest amount of time. Not only is this a fun activity, it’s a way for your kids to learn critical scientific principles that real-world scientists use every day. Here’s what our “Hot Hands” lesson teaches kids.
What Are Endothermic and Exothermic Reactions?
In chemistry, the terms endothermic and exothermic reactions refer to how energy is released or retained from a chemical reaction as heat.
- Endothermic reactions absorb heat, cooling the surrounding area and causing a drop in temperature
- Exothermic reactions are reactions that release heat, causing the surrounding temperature to rise
The chemical reaction that takes place in hand warmers is exothermic, meaning it releases excess energy as heat. That’s why you can mix a few chemicals to warm your hands!
Wait – Aren’t Chemical Reactions Dangerous?
In movies, the term “chemical reactions” usually means something that’s dangerous. “There’s a chemical reaction – it’s gonna blow!”
But in chemistry, a chemical reaction is simply a process where two or more substances interact and cause a chemical change. For example, rust on an old car is a chemical reaction. A burning log, Mentos and Diet Coke, and even bath bombs are all examples of chemical reactions.
That’s why the chemical reaction with the hand warmers in “Hot Hands” isn’t anything to be worried about. It’s just another example of one of the many chemical reactions happening around us all the time.
How the “Hot Hands” Lesson Teaches About Chemical Reactions
By seeing chemical reactions in the real world, kids start to realize there are scientific forces acting around them all the time. “Hot Hands” and making hand warmers helps kids understand how different amounts of chemicals change reactions and teachers them how to run a scientific experiment.
Professionals in many different fields conduct experiments just like this one, albeit with more complicated chemicals and precise measurements. New types of rubber, better batteries, and advanced computer hardware were all made possible through experiments very similar to the hand warmer lesson your kids can do at home.
This makes “Hot Hands” a great way to introduce key principles they’ll use throughout life, such as:
- Setting up experiment variables
- Measuring data
- Making hypotheses
- Testing variables and constants, then observing results
- Critical thinking
(For more information about this experiment such as NGSS alignment, pacing, essential questions, and inquiry-based teaching practices, check out the Experiment Guide included with the lesson. You can find an experiment guide at the bottom of every lesson!)
How Your Kids can Try the Hot Hands Lesson
Want to make your own hand warmers and run experiments at home? It’s immediately available to view for every Because Learning subscriber. You’ll find an ingredients list, step-by-step instructions, code for the temperature sensor, and more to help your experiment be a success.
If you’re not a subscriber yet, what’s stopping you? You get 5 new lessons like this one every month, plus we’ll rush a Sensor Kit to your home so your kids can measure chemical reactions – just like real scientists. Plus, you’ll get instant access to over 100 other lessons your child can try today. Click here to learn more and subscribe.
Recently, on a test speedway in Indiana, history was made. The Catalyst E2 Max electric bus went 1,102.2 miles on a single charge. The previous electric car record was set by a tiny, single-passenger electric vehicle traveling 28 miles per hour. You and I could actually fit in an electric bus. This means we’re one step closer to seeing electric buses on city streets – a major step forward for electric vehicle technology.
Other leading car manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, and others are also set to increase electric vehicle production in coming years. Ford announced that its first all-electric vehicle will have over 300 miles of range. The recently launched Chevy Bolt boasts over 200 miles of all-electric range.
As electric vehicles become more affordable, charge faster, and go farther, we’re all going to see a dramatic change in our transportation infrastructure. But right now, how these changes will look – and what specific technologies will drive them – aren’t 100% clear. We’re not entirely sure what that means for the skills our children need when they begin their careers someday.
How can we prepare our children to learn critical skills for the future if technology changes so quickly?
The Best Skills to Adapting to a Technologically Changing World
We’re not going to pretend our children are going to code in the same languages we use today – sorry, Python and Ruby. But the purpose of teaching coding isn’t just to learn a specific language.
As parents and educators, we’re always looking to the future to know how to prepare our children. We want to give them as much of a head start as possible.
With that in mind, we’re always asking the question, “What skills should our children learn today to set them up for success in the future?”
A study published by the World Economic Forum has some answers. The top skills needed by the next wave of workers include complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
Notice how none of these are specific technologies or skills. It’s the ability to learn that will prepare our children for the future.
Steps Educators Can Take Today to Prepare Our Students for Tomorrow
With this information, it’s clear we need to instill a love of learning and discovery in the children we teach. Yet this is easier said than done. The day-to-day work that happens in a classroom often doesn’t leave much time for exploration and discovery. This is especially true in states where classroom standards take a lot of time.
Fortunately, our work speaking with hundreds of educators across the world has given us some insight into creating learning environments where curiosity, exploration, and self-driven learning are rewarded.
What have we found? Educators who experiment find the greatest success. Sometimes it feels scary to step outside of the lessons plans we’ve used for years to try something new. But if we want our students to be lifelong learners and adapt to a changing world, then we have to try new things, too.
If that seems intimidating, the good news is you’re not alone. We’ve already shared some ideas that can help our students become better learners:
- We can learn how to engage students in science class.
- We can explore ways to add skills like coding into our curriculum, even if we haven’t coded before.
- We can choose experiments (like Brush Bot) that give students hands-on experience with real-world technologies and inspire their imaginations.
No matter what we do, our role as educators is to experiment along with our students. What works? What doesn’t? And what inspires our students to seek learning on their own?
We don’t know what technologies our children’s generation will need, but we do know what skills they’ll need. Our children will need to know how to solve complex problems, think critically, and be creative. Through experimenting ourselves, we can succeed as educators in providing these critical skills.
Want inspiration for how you can bring learning discovery into your classroom? Check out our recently redesigned Lessons where you’ll find activities by grade level, subject, and age. Plus, when you subscribe, you’ll get a free Sensor Kit worth $150 and access to over 100 lessons!