Share it! Science : 2024

Plant a "Garden Friends" Themed Garden for Kids [Seed Giveaway!]

Gardening with children is rewarding for adults and children alike. It can teach important science principles such as life cycles, botany, wildlife habitats, food webs and ecosystems. It is also full of character-building life lessons like a sense of place and responsibility, sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

Planning and growing a themed garden is a great way to get children excited about their plants. In the past we have explored growing a Pizza or Taco garden, growing an Alphabet garden and growing a Rainbow or Pollinator garden. This time around we are going to give you some inspiration for a "Garden Friends" themed garden, otherwise known as companion planting.

Companion planting kids garden

This post contains affiliate links meaning I make a small commission from purchases made from these links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures for more information.  

We are also excited to be hosting a Renee's Garden seed giveaway. If you aren’t already familiar with Renee’s Garden seeds, I highly recommend exploring their offerings as you plan your garden. I love all of the unique varieties. With unusual heirlooms and plants that thrive in containers and small spaces they offer many good choices for a small home garden or school garden.

You will find details and the giveaway entry form at the bottom of this post.

Garden Friends: What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is the concept of growing plants that compliment each other or are helpful to one another together. For example, planting something that grows tall, like peas on a trellis, where they can shade a friend that needs cooler conditions like lettuce from the mid-day sun. 

Plants can be friends because one repels or traps insect pests that are damaging to another. Planting basil around tomato plants can deter tomato pests. Planting flowers like nasturtium act as attractive insect traps. 

Plant friends can be those that do not compete for the same nutrients in the soil. Radishes that grow quickly and grow to shallow depths can be grown with carrots that grow deeper in the soil.  

gardening with kids themed gardens


The Three Sisters

An ancient method of companion planting comes from the Native Americans. Originating in North America around 3,000 years ago, corn, beans and squash were some of the first garden friends. Each plant has features that are beneficial to the others. 

Corn provides support as it grows tall and strong like a trellis. Beans add nitrogen to the soil and can climb the corn stalks. Squash is planted at the base to protect the beans and corn. The large squash leaves help provide shade and hold moisture in the ground. The shading of the squash can help prevent weed growth. Prickly squash stems can deter pests.

The Three Sisters garden is magical as it is like its own self-sustaining ecosystem. You can tell the native story of the Three Sisters to your students or children to inspire the planting of these three crops together. Scroll through this post to read the story and learn how to plant your three sisters garden.

Learn how you can win a pack of Native American Three Sisters Seeds at the end of this post! This big bonus pack of seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds includes Earth Tones Indian Dent Corn, Rattlesnake Bean and Sugar Pie Pumpkin seeds. 

Kids Gardening has Three Sisters lesson plans available when you sign up for their newsletter (which I highly recommend!) You can find the Three Sisters Lesson plan resource here

Pairs of Garden Friends to Plant

Here are some plant pairings that make good garden friends. Some of these are based on science, some based on folklore, but all make beautiful and tasty gardens! 
  • Cucumbers and Nasturtium- Grow cucumbers up a trellis with nasturtium down below to repel and trap pests. Nasturtium flowers are pretty and edible. They taste a bit like a radish.
  • Potatoes and Garlic- Garlic helps to keep away pests! 
  • Broccoli and Oregano- the Oregano serves as an insecticide
  • Carrots and Chives- Chives improve carrot growth and flavor as well as well as deterring pests
  • Lettuce and Radishes- radishes trap insect pests
  • Peas and Alyssum- Alyssum helps to bring in beneficial pollinators
  • Melons or Squash and Dill- Dill flowers attract beneficial insects
  • Tomatoes and Basil- Basil repels some pests, including helping to prevent tomato hornworm.
    The list could go on and on! Check out the Farmers Almanac for an extensive list of good garden friends.

    kids themed garden friends companion planting


    Garden Planning

    Gardening with kids can be such a blast. My friend Christina at Little Sprouts Learning is a master at gardening with children. You can grab her helpful garden planner here as well as some other helpful resources for kids.
    There is more to gardening than just the plants and seeds! Kids love to decorate garden markers and using them helps them to learn their plants. Kids can design their own with these blank bamboo garden markers. These 3-D printed garden markers are so colorful and these bright vegetable shaped markers would be great for a kid's themed garden. 

    You might also want to invest in a sturdy kid-sized set of garden tools like this for digging and exploring throughout the growing season. 

    Win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack!

    Enter below to win a Native American Three Sisters Garden Seed Pack from Renee's Garden Seeds. This giveaway starts March 23rd, 2024 and ends at midnight March 29th, 2024. The winner will be announced in our newsletter, listed on this post and notified by e-mail once the giveaway has ended. 
    Must be a United States resident to enter, for further terms and conditions see Rafflecopter box below.
    Renees garden seeds three sisters garden giveaway


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    K-12 Enrichment Company Brains & Motion Education (BAM!) Launches Today

    I'm excited to have Brains and Motion Education (BAM!) as a guest blogger. Read on to learn about the new STEM, arts, and sports enrichment after-school and summer camp programs they are offering nationwide. 

    After-School and Summer STEM, Arts and Sports Programs

    Today marks the launch of enrichment provider Brains & Motion Education (BAM!), a tech-enabled company unlocking the potential of students year-round through after-school, structured recess, and summer camp with STEM, arts, and sports programs. As the only nationwide provider with a focus on whole-child development, BAM! aims to stimulate young minds while keeping growing bodies joyfully active. 

    This post contains affiliate links meaning I receive a commission from purchases made from these links. Please see disclosures for more information.


    In an ideal world, formal education inspires students and prepares them for the future in ways that build social and emotional skills, confidence, and subject matter expertise through a wide variety of hands-on, project-based activities. In reality, too much of the formal school day is boring for students due to constraints caused by standardized testing, teacher shortages, and how difficult it is for teachers to provide differentiated instruction to large groups of students. Additionally, more than 25 million students have no place to go after school and lack access to structured opportunities to develop skills outside of the school day.

    “Many schools would love to teach students how to play chess, program robots, develop computational thinking skills, create sophisticated digital artwork, become strong creative writers, and provide students with meaningful exposure to artificial intelligence systems through project-based learning,” said Bart Epstein, BAM!’s CEO. “There just isn’t enough time in the school day. These types of enrichment activities can and should be available to every student, regardless of their zip code.”

    Epstein, an education industry veteran, was brought in to launch the company from the assets of an enrichment company. An entrepreneur with decades of experience, Epstein’s work has impacted over twenty million students through his leadership at companies including, The Jefferson Education Accelerator, The Princeton Review, ASCD, ISTE, and as the first general manager of a Department of Defense education program that supports U.S. military families worldwide. During his years as a professor at the University of Virginia School of Education, Epstein founded and ran a national nonprofit that helps schools learn how to effectively implement complex STEM programs.

    Epstein credits much of his success in life to the teachers who sparked his curiosity and confidence through an after-school aviation and rocketry enrichment program. Twenty years later, he became a commercial pilot and civilian test pilot for NASA, and then an educator and entrepreneur.

    The BAM! leadership team features other executives with extensive experience driving growth, scale, and successful implementations, including COO Kristopher Kasper, CMO Christina Yu, VP of Sales Lori Todd, VP of Product Jody Nova, and CFO Jennifer Thresher.

    Due in part to the success of its after-school programs, BAM! has received extraordinary interest in its summer 2024 camp programs that include RoboKids, GameCraft, and MakersQuest which reflect new career exploration curriculum and new interdisciplinary STEAM programs, including animation, game design, creative writing, and machine learning.

    For schools, offering high-quality enrichment that includes a mix of physical activity and inspirational hands-on learning addresses an array of challenges in an easy, practical, and cost-effective way. “Providing our families with access to enrichment activities after 3 pm and during dedicated break times throughout the academic day helps us with some of the biggest problems in education at a fraction of the cost of formal education and at a small percentage more than basic after-care,” said Lesem Puerto, Community School Partnership Manager at the Children's Institute. “Students who attend inspiring project-based enrichment programs during recess and lunch, and beyond, are more engaged during the school day. That’s something that we all love to see.”

    The company currently has a presence in ten key regions - notably San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and Seattle - and intends to scale its after-school, summer camp, and structured recess programs nationwide.

    BAM! is supported by institutional investors including New Markets Venture Partners, LearnStart, Sand Hill Angels, Women’s Venture Capital Fund, JFFVentures, and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, whose collective investments in the venture now total more than $18 million.

    The company’s Board includes Gerard Robinson (former Secretary of Education in Virginia and Commissioner of Education in Florida), Juan Zavala (New Markets Venture Partners), Mark Chernis (Princeton Review, SchoolNet, Pearson), and Rob Cohen (2U, Princeton Review, Oasis).

    “We believe there is strong demand for BAM!’s products and are excited to support the company in driving improved academic outcomes and equitable access to enrichment beyond the school day for students across the country”, said Juan Zavala, Principal at New Markets Venture Partners, the lead investor in BAM!. “Bart and his leadership team have deep industry expertise and experience in scaling solutions for student success. Their mission is perfectly aligned with New Markets Venture Partners’ double-bottom line investment goals.”

    “In after-school and summer programs, students are given the chance to discover their strengths, explore their interests, and connect the dots between disciplines in a safe, supportive, and fun environment,” said Gerard Robinson, now professor of practice at the UVA Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and former Virginia Secretary of Education. 



    Everything You Need to Know to Safely View Total Solar Eclipse 2024

    On April 8th, 2024 there will be a total solar eclipse viewable across North America, passing through the United States from Texas to Maine. A partial eclipse will be visible across all 48 contiguous states. 

    Will you be observing this awesome celestial event? Did you catch the "Great American Solar Eclipse" in 2017? These total eclipses have been such a fantastic opportunity to bring so many of us together to observe a scientific phenomenon. I love it when we all have something science-related to get excited about! 

    Find out here what happens during a solar eclipse, when and where to observe the solar eclipse in April, and most importantly, how to observe it safely.  

    How to Observe Total Solar Eclipse 2024 Safely

    This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission from purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Please see disclosures for more information.

    What is a Solar Eclipse?

    There are two types of eclipses, a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon, blocking the Sun's light and casting a shadow on the Moon. You probably have observed at least one of these in your lifetime. 
    A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. In this case, the Moon blocks the Sun's light from reaching Earth. It is a little more rare that we are able to view a solar eclipse. 

    The diagram below helps to illustrate these concepts. See how little of the Earth is in darkness during the solar eclipse on the top half of the diagram? This is why it is rare that we get a chance to see it. 
    The Lunar Eclipse, in the bottom half of the diagram, is visible from any place on Earth that is facing the moon at that time. This is why it is easier to catch a glimpse of a lunar eclipse.  
    solar and lunar eclipse diagram 2024

    How to View a Solar Eclipse Safely 

    SAFETY FIRST! Whether you are in the path of totality for the next eclipse or will only see the sun partially obstructed, it is not safe to look directly at an eclipse! Just as looking at the sun can cause permanent damage to your retinas, so can looking at the sun during an eclipse. Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes for this!

    Solar Eclipse Glasses

    There are several ways you can avoid damaging your precious eyes while eclipse viewing. You can purchase ISO 12312-2 certified solar eclipse glasses. Be cautious about your solar eclipse glasses purchase. Back in 2017 many counterfeit, unsafe glasses labeled with the ISO certification were on the market. Pretty icky stuff. Hopefully that is not the case this time around. Luckily, there are many companies that are well-known and trusted by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) as well as being certified safe. 

    These are a few examples of AAS trusted solar eclipse glasses:
    1. Celestron: EclipSmart Safe Solar Eclipse Glasses
    2. American Paper Optics Eclipse Safety Glasses
    3. Lunt Solar Eclipse Glasses
    If you are a public school looking for funding for solar eclipse glasses you can apply for a grant here.

    Solar eclipse watch party

    Build a Pinhole Camera

    Another safe way to view an eclipse is to find a way to project the image of the eclipse somewhere else. One method is to make a pinhole camera, or pinhole projector. There are many easy ways to DIY your own. You can use the instructions here to make one out of a cardboard box.

    Build a solar eclipse projector with me! If you have kids ages 8-11 then they can join me for my online class on solar eclipses. We will learn all about eclipses as well as how to view this one. Then we will make a solar eclipse projector out of common household materials. 
    Check out more details for my class on Outschool- Solar Eclipse Science: Build Your Own Solar Eclipse Projector! here. (Even better, you may be able to enroll for FREE with my referral code or at a discount with my coupon code. You will find the codes and details here.

    Outschool class build your own solar eclipse projector

    When and Where to View Total Solar Eclipse 2024

    On April 8th, 2024 the solar eclipse will pass over Mexico, the United States and Canada. The eclipse will reach Mexico's Pacific coast shortly after 11:00 AM, PDT. States in the U.S. that will experience a total eclipse include: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 
    You can learn more about the path and the timing for the total eclipse here on NASA's solar eclipse site.
    You can also research when the eclipse will be arriving to your location on the Great American Eclipse site.
    Even if you are not in the path of totality, you will witness a partial eclipse in any of the 48 contiguous states. It's sure to be a fascinating event! 

    2024 Total Solar Eclipse NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
    credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

    During the Solar Eclipse

    During the total eclipse you will see the sky darken and it will seem like night time. The birds and other animals will stop making noise as if night has come. What a strange and beautiful experience!

    Some people may witness the "diamond ring effect" which occurs just a few seconds before the Moon completely covers the Sun. For just a second there is a a ring shape and a flash of bright light on one side of it. Pink or reddish flickers are solar prominences, or little bursts of hot material that shoot out from the Sun.

    If you will view a partial eclipse you will see the Moon's shadow pass over a portion of the Sun.
    Eclipse Progression from Batam, Indonesia

    Funny Science-Themed Valentine's Day Card Downloads

    My kids and I love a good science joke or pun, and these funny science Valentine's cards deliver! Perfect for your science-loving kids to hand out at school, to give to your science students or send the scientist you admire. These are all downloadable Valentine's Day cards that you can print out at home over and over. You are sure to find something here to tickle your funny bone and make this Valentine's Day extra special. 

    Geology? Robotics? Biology? These cards cover all sorts of science and STEM topics. I bet there is even an idea for a science lesson in here. Let me know which is your favorite and what you come up with. 

    funny science themed valentine's day cards for kids


    This post contains affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission from purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Please see disclosures for more information. 

    Funny Science-Themed Valentine's Day Cards

    40 Science Jokes- printable download
    These are so cute! With 40 different science jokes you have plenty to give your whole class a different giggle. Stick a candy on and you've got a super science Valentine treat!
    Funny Geology Valentine's- printable download
    Valentine- You're a Gem! These are sweet Valentine's cards for your favorite rock hound. 9 unique rock designs on these geology themed Valentine's.
    This set of 6 science-themed joke Valentine's made me chuckle. If you like a good play on words, these are for you.

    16 Science Pun Valentine's- printable download
    These are particularly funny for the older kids or college science students. If you love a good pun, you'll find cards with scientists such as Mendel and Darwin, periodic table, DNA, etc. You'll be glad you downloaded these! 
    This set of 4 chemistry themed Valentine's cards are very "punny" and CuTe (copper and tellerium, anyone?). A must for your chemistry class
    Set of 8 famous scientists on these amusing Valentine's cards. Nikola Tesla, Rosalind Franklin, Ada Lovelace, Erwin Schrodinger, just to name a few. A fun opportunity to introduce some great scientists to your kids!

    9 different science-themed Valentine's cards with word-play that even the younger kids will understand and enjoy. Dinosaurs, volcanoes, butterflies and more! 
    6 Cute Science Puns- printable download
    These are adorable. "I've got my ion you!"

    Check out this freebie. More fun science-themed Valentine's cards.   

    Valentine's Day STEAM Activities