It’s Spring: Get Your Science On!

Spring and summer mark the start of severe weather including tornadoes; they also mark the arrival of bees and butterflies.  Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors but a great time to learn! Children are fascinated (or terrified) by tornadoes; we all are somewhat.  So, why not help children face their fears and learn what a tornado is while making their own. While you’re at it, it would be beneficial to review how to stay safe when a tornado warning occurs.   It is also a great time to teach children about the importance of pollinators and how to help their populations grow while at the same time adding some charm and appeal to your garden. And the best part? You get to play in the dirt!

Be Like Dorothy Without Leaving Kansas: Make A Tornado In A Jar

Materials:

  • 8 ounce with a lid (pickle, mayonnaise, or canning jars are perfect.
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Food Coloring
  • Dish soap
  • (Old Glitter is Optional – and a lot of glitter isn’t environmentally friendly)
  1. Fill the jar with water leaving about an inch at the top.  
  2. Add a teaspoon of vinegar, dish soap, and glitter (optional). ***if the jar is bigger than 8 oz. try doubling the measurements, for example 16 oz. water to 2 tsp. of vinegar and soap.
  3. Add the lid and tighten.  
  4. Swirl the jar in a fast circular motion for 10 seconds.  Lay it down on the table and watch the tornado.

Discuss with children words like: vortex-a whirling mass (water, air) moving in a circular path and centipedal-a force that makes an element or object follow a curved circular path.  Share with children that a tornado is a column of air that is created when cold air meets warm air and that they typically appear out of cumulonimbus clouds. The really extreme tornadoes can have winds as high as 300 mph and can be bigger than two miles in diameter.

Tornado safety is important, so this would be a good time to discuss the family’s plan during a tornado warning.  Choose a spot in the interior of the home and explain to children that this is to avoid outside doors and windows.  You can also discuss the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

Bees, Butterflies, and Dirt, Oh My!

Spring is an awesome time to talk about pollinators and the importance they have on our food sources.  Learn all about bees and butterflies, including: how they help the environment, how they help your family and how they can help the insect populations grow.  

Plants need pollinators as much as they need sunshine, dirt, and water, and pollinators, like bees and butterflies, need plants.  If plants like corn and other fruits and vegetables are going to produce more plants to feed people, the Earth needs lots of pollinators.  

Design a bee and butterfly garden and get planting!

Materials:

  • Seedlings or plants: salvia, bee balm, black-eyed Susans, penstemon, snap dragons, verbena, cleome, coreopsis, milkweed, echinacea, buttonbush and some herbs like fennel, dill, oregano, and parsley are great for caterpillars to feed on, raspberry bushes and vegetable plants
  • Potting Soil
  • Plant food (fertilizer)
  • Water
  1. Prepare an area for the plants.  Rake up the soil and add in some new potting/top soil and plant food.  
  2. Dig holes as big as the containers.
  3. Lay the plants in the holes.
  4. Surround the plants with extra soil and pat firmly.
  5. Water

Bees and butterflies are attracted to flowers.  Bees particularly like white and yellow flowers and butterflies like big areas of red and purple flowers.  With older children, make a map (plan) when things will bloom and for how long so that you have a combination of plants that will continually bloom all summer long.

Another great addition to your bee and butterfly garden is a bird bath where they can get a drink of water.  And if you want to take it a step further, do some research on creating insect nesting grounds where you can further encourage the growth of bee populations.

Spring is a great time to experiment, to be outdoors, to be immersed in nature, and best of all, to dig in the dirt, so get to it.

Colorado Gives Silicon Valley a Run For Its Tech Company Money!

“Sayonara, Silicon Valley!”  According to USA Today, PCMag.com, and a considerable number of other sources, Denver is growing into one of the largest tech hubs in the United States.  Some of the rankings, like the one determined by CBRE (a commercial real estate firm) use a combination of factors including availability of tech talent, outlook for jobs, and rental costs for employees and companies. While San Francisco and Portland still rank up at the top, Denver slid into the Top 10 in 2019.

Startups and Well-knowns

Not only is it becoming a popular place for start-ups to open up shop – look at the success of Denver-Based companies like Ibotta, Guild Education, Home Advisor, Zillow and more – but also for long-established major companies as well, including Google, Twitter, Oracle, Level3, Liberty, Amazon and IBM.   

Denver Attracting the Home Grown and Migrants

Also making it a hot spot is the number of millennials with high tech IQs and experience who are making Denver their home. This mainstay of “highly-educated home grown millennials” is providing the tech industry with a work force that well-established tech companies and start-ups are looking for.  Amy Zupon, CEO of Vertafore told PCMag.com that she agrees that Denver has a “great startup culture and a young, technology-literate, educated workforce from which to recruit.” Another reason for such quick growth is the “relatively low cost of wages,” CBRE Senior V.P. of Tech and Media Alex Hammerstein told BisNow.com.

According to Kore1 (a recruiting and staffing agency), Denver is highly attractive to many of the young pros looking for IT jobs because of the growing tech community, steady employment levels, and a good market.  Not only are people migrating in droves to the city, but many of the skilled professionals the IT companies are looking for are graduating from local colleges like the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University.

Incubator Heaven

Another reason for Denver’s tech growth is the presence of incubators and accelerators that are helping startups to grow.  The state is in the top 10 in receiving investor capital from not only private investors, but the city of Denver and its government are working hard to contribute to the tech industry’s growth throughout the city.

STEM Education a Contributor

Kore1 also mentions the inclusion of STEM education throughout the state as well as a culture where innovation is valued and promoted. Organizations where young people are encouraged to explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are big contributors to the Gen Z talent pool.  In order for Denver to continue to build on its momentum, it’s important that the city and surrounding communities like Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs continue to foster programs that are contributing to future job pools; well-established large tech companies and those startups just coming out of the gates will need young, innovative minds to fuel their growth and progress.

Resources to learn more

Want to learn more about the Colorado Tech culture and growth?  

BuiltinColorado.com