For more than 150 years, Bayer has used science and imagination to advance health and nutrition. Science doesn’t just happen in labs – science is all around us and powers everything we do!
As many of us adjust to distance learning models or school closures as a result of the global spread of COVID-19, we would like to share some fun science education content you can use at home. Science at Home with Bayer will feature a bi-weekly themed package of articles, videos, activities, and experiments you and your kids can do together or depending on their age, on their own. Your child may not be able to attend school right now, but their curiosity and love for science can continue at home. We are in this together!
Insect Activities for Kids: Good Bugs vs Bad Bugs
Scientists estimate that there may be up to 30 million species of insects, while only around one million species have been identified so far. And yes, in case you’re not sure, insects are animals. In the scientific classification system for living organisms, the kingdom “Animalia” includes insects, mammals and even humans! A scientist who studies insects is called an entomologist. If you love collecting and learning about bugs, you should know that you could have a job that pays you to do this when you grow up!
To share the story of one child who did just that, Dr. Krishna Bayyareddy (pictured above) developed his love for bugs while growing up on a farm in India. Krishna’s family raised silkworms and a diversity of crops including cotton, corn, and various fruits and vegetables. He loved to see the magnificent cocoons spun by the silkworms, which are used to create silk fabric. But Krishna also saw how the cocoons and crops could be damaged by other bugs and moths, and watched as his family did everything they could to keep those pests away from their farm. Krishna’s teachers saw his interest in bugs and encouraged him to become an entomologist. He received his Ph.D. in Entomology in the U.S. at the University of Georgia. Today, he is currently helping to develop a new insecticide to control bad bugs that destroy various fruit and vegetable crops, while at the same time helping good bugs.
Kid Talk: Meet a Scientist
To learn more about Krishna’s work as an entomologist, 11-year-old Kellen Hayes talks to him and his six-year-old daughter, Krithi, in this week’s “Meet a Scientist” interview. As you’ll see, Krishna isn’t the only one in the family who can teach us some interesting facts about insects!
What Makes a Bug a Bug?
Most people use the word “bug" to describe almost any tiny flying or crawling creature. For simplicity, we’ll use this broader definition when talking about “good bugs” and “bad bugs” here. But if you continue to study bugs in school, you’ll also learn how they fit into the scientific classification system. Here are a few key differences:
- Insects belong to a group classified as “arthropods,” which means ''jointed legs.”
- All adult insects have six legs, an exoskeleton (a protective hard outer shell), and a three-segmented body (head, thorax, and abdomen). They also have a pair of antennae and compound eyes.
- In the scientific classification system, bugs are a specific group of insects that have a straw-shaped mouth with piercing and sucking mouth parts, and forewings that are hardened at the base.
- Spiders, ticks, and scorpions aren’t actually insects at all, but belong to a different class of arthropods called arachnids. Their defining traits include eight legs and a two-part body.
Good Bugs and Bad Bugs
The most common backyard bugs for many people are ants, flies, bees, mosquitoes, cockroaches, beetles, moths, and spiders. You might think of some of these bugs as bad, while others you view as good. You might also be surprised to learn that other people have different views about the same bugs, depending on how they interact with them. For example, you might think of honey bees as scary because you know they can sting you, while other people think of honey bees as very good because they are essential for pollinating plants and food crops people depend on. (And let’s not forget, they also make delicious honey!)
Watch and Learn:
Home gardeners and professional growers keep a watchful eye for many kinds of bugs. Some eat their plants, others help their plants to grow, and some even provide the plant with protection. One such insect is the ladybug.
To help us understand more about what makes bugs good or bad in certain situations, we can learn from our Bayer Hawaii team. Hawaii is a U.S. state made up of 8 major islands in the Pacific Ocean. It has a warm, tropical climate that makes it an ideal location for farmers to grow crops throughout the year, and also an ideal home for many bugs. In this interview, learn more about how farmers in Hawaii grow habitats that attract good bugs which, in turn, help control the bad bags!
As shown in the video, the Bayer Hawaii team has created a coloring book filled with interesting facts and beautiful drawings as a fun way to teach children about the importance of good bugs and their contributions to agriculture. Although the book is about Hawaii’s backyard bugs, you might be surprised to find that some of the same bugs live in your own backyard! As you read and color the pages, you can also answer these questions:
- Which of these bugs have you seen near your home?
- Which bug(s) have you have never heard of before?
- Which bug do you think is the most beautiful?
- If you could have a bug as a pet, which one would you pick?
More About Good Bugs
To recap, some bugs play an important role in making sure we have enough food to eat by pollinating crops or eating insects that damage crops. Other bugs help control insects that transmit human diseases. And there’s one other thing beneficial bugs eat that is extremely helpful for all of us: POOP! Yes, bugs act as the world’s sanitation system, eating dead plants, dead animals and animal waste. Can you imagine what it be like if these things didn’t eventually “disappear,” but instead piled up forever? There wouldn’t be much room left on the planet for us! Thankfully, there are many insects that feed on these resources and break them down into nutrients that help plants grow, making them an essential component of our ecosystem. Poop-eating insects, like dung beetles, are doing us all a big favor!
We talked about how important pollinator insects are – but what exactly is pollination and how does it happen? Learn more about how honey bees pollinate plants with this fun activity!
Would your family like to see more pollinators in your yard? One way to invite some bees to “move in” is to build them a house. Here’s how to do it!
More About Bad Bugs
When bugs cause problems for people or the environment, we call them “pests.” We’ve already learned a bit about pests that cause damage to farmers’ crops. There are approximately 600 insect species classified as destructive agricultural pests; if left unchecked, they could destroy more than half of global crop harvests in any given year. But some years, outbreaks of a single insect pest can wipe out an area’s entire food crop.
For example, large swarms of locusts are currently devastating crops in parts of Africa, which you may have seen news stories about. A “small” swarm of 40 to 80 million locusts can consume as much food as 35,000 people in a day; the largest swam in February consumed nearly 400,000 tons of food every 24 hours, which is equivalent to what 84 million people eat each day. This makes these locusts very “bad bugs,” who are a serious threat to the food security and health of the people who live in the region.
Some bugs cause harm to people and the planet indirectly by killing other insects. Varroa destructor mites are one of the greatest threats to the western honey bee. Untreated they can wipe out a bee colony within one to three years. This video shows you these tiny parasites are causing big problems.
The "Baddest" Bug of All
There is one tiny insect that all experts agree people should worry about – a bug so bad that it ranks as the deadliest animal in the world. What may be even scarier is that you’ve probably seen some in your own backyard. It’s the mosquito!
Mosquitoes carry devastating vector-borne diseases, which occur from infections following bites from blood-sucking insects. These diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever, are responsible for killing more than 700,000 people each year. Half our world’s population is at risk for malaria, which is also a preventable disease. Bayer and other leading agricultural companies have committed to eradicating malaria by 2040. Controlling the insects and other organisms spreading these disease (vectors) is the most effective way to eradicate malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
Watch and Learn:
Learn more about why mosquito control programs are important and how mosquito abatement professionals do their job in this fun, brief video.
Another career option for someone interested in bugs is protecting people from bad bugs as a professional pest manager. As the little boy in this video explains, there are many ways that professional pest management improves our world.
Watch and Do:
Did you know that there are some simple actions that you and your family can take to protect yourselves from mosquitoes? Watch this short video to find out how, and then download the checklist you can take on a “Mosquito Habitat Hunt” to make sure you’re not inviting these unwanted pests into your yard and home.
Recipe: Backyard Bug Lookalike Snacks
Last but not least, did you know that bugs are a popular food source for people in some parts of the world? There are more than 1,400 edible species of insects, and those who enjoy eating them say some species are very tasty!
While we’re not sharing any “real bug” recipes here, these fun snacks — one made to resemble backyard bugs and the other (in honor of bees!) made with honey — are the perfect companion to this week’s lesson! Plus, they’re both delicious and nutritious!
The bottom line is that insects are everywhere – on land, in the air, and in the sea. That makes them impossible to avoid – even inside our homes. This is why it’s important to have scientists who identify and study each bug’s function in the ecosystem. Thanks to the work of entomologists, we understand what we can do to protect the bugs that do the most good and have the option of using safe products that help protect us from bugs that cause the most harm.
Science Is in the Air
No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard expressions like “magic is in the air,” “love is in the air,” or even “spring is in the air.” People use these phrases to describe how they are feeling, even though we know that love isn’t literally floating in the air. On the other hand, if you say, “Science is in the air,” that’s really true!
As we learned in “Why Chemistry Matters,” air is matter (like everything else in the universe) and is made up of chemical gases like nitrogen and oxygen. People need to breathe in oxygen to live, so air is essential for human survival! But, as important as that job is, that’s not the only way that “air science” plays a role in our daily lives. Before we skydive into some of the other ways, let’s work our way up from some ground-level knowledge.
Air Is Matter? Prove It!
Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass, but this may seem confusing because air is usually invisible. How can we know that air has mass if we can’t see it? Join a Bayer scientist and mom, Dr. Kimberly Hodge-Bell, as she and her two “junior scientist” daughters try some simple experiments at home to find the answer.
Where Is Air? Everywhere! (Except Outer Space)
Where exactly is air? It’s all around us and stretches up for miles above us. Air makes up a blanket of gases known as the atmosphere that surrounds planet Earth, held in place by Earth’s gravity. If you were to travel so high in the sky that you went beyond the atmosphere into outer space (like astronauts on a spaceship), you’d better bring your own oxygen. There isn’t any air up there!
Read and Learn:
How many layers do you think the Earth’s atmosphere has? Read here to find out and learn more about each one.
Weather Is in the Air
Generally, when people think about air, we think about the weather. Does the air feel hot or cold? Is it wet or dry? Is it moving quickly or slowly? All these things are determined by the way air molecules respond to differences in pressure from gravity or heat from the sun.
Meteorologists are scientists who study the Earth's atmosphere to determine weather forecasts, which are data-based predictions about what atmospheric (air) conditions will be at a certain place and time. Looking at the weather forecast online or on the TV news may seem very routine to us now, but for most of human history people could only guess about what weather to expect in the days ahead. People have only been using science to forecast weather for about 160 years. Today meteorologists continue to improve their ability to develop accurate forecasts, extended for even longer periods of time, thanks to the use of advanced digital tools and data science.
Watch and Learn:
Want to know more about what meteorologists do? This week, 11-year-old Kellen Hayes talks to Jason Lindsey, also known as "Mr. Science," a TV news meteorologist and STEM educator. While Jason isn’t a Bayer scientist, he shares Bayer’s passion for getting kids “Hooked on Science,” as his STEM education program is aptly named. He has appeared on television stations across America, including the NBC Today Show, and visits hundreds of schools each year, inspiring kids to be inquisitive about the world around them. Watch as Jason explains what it takes to forecast the weather, and then shows Kellen (and the rest of us) how to make a real cloud!
Video: Kid Talk: Meet a Meteorologist
Let's Learn More about Weather Conditions
The weather conditions in an area include factors such as temperature, pressure and amounts of moisture in the air (humidity).
Practically speaking, air temperature tells us how hot or cold the air is. Scientifically speaking, air temperature is a measure of the energy in air molecules. What’s the main source of this energy? Heat from the sun! The more energy air molecules absorb, the faster they move; the faster they move, the more air temperature increases. Air temperature varies between day and night and from season to season due to differing amounts of sunlight reaching Earth's atmosphere.
Watch and Learn:
As air molecules heat and move faster, they are also moving apart. Because there is more space between the molecules, warm air is less dense than the surrounding matter…therefore, warm air rises and cool air sinks. When a warm air mass collides with a cold air mass, it can lead to dramatic and sometimes even dangerous weather conditions, including tornadoes. Watch this video to learn more about how tornadoes form.
You can learn more about the science of measuring air temperature by building your own thermometer. Check it out!
Atmospheric pressure is the force of air molecules within our atmosphere pressing down on the Earth. Since the molecules are being pulled by gravity, air pressure is generally highest at sea level, where the force of gravity is strongest, and is lower at higher elevations. But whether you live up on a mountain or right on the beach, the air pressure around you is constantly changing due to variations in moisture and temperature. You can measure these changes with a barometer to help forecast the weather. For example, warm air causes air pressure to rise, so a high pressure reading on a barometer usually means warm fair weather. Cool temperatures cause air pressure to drop, so a low pressure reading on a barometer signals clouds, rain and cooler temperatures.
Want to see some demonstrations of air pressure in action? Here are a couple of fun experiments to try.
Did you know that wind, or moving air, is caused by differences in atmospheric pressure? Warm air from an area of high pressure moves toward cooler areas of lower pressure; the bigger the difference in pressure (and temperature), the faster the air flows. Have you ever been outside when a storm was moving in? If so, you probably noticed the drastic temperature change and stronger winds that came along with it. Wind speed and direction can be measured by an anemometer. Here’s how to make one of your own!
The term “humidity” refers to the amount of moisture, or water vapor, in the air. Water vapor enters the air mostly through evaporation from the surface of bodies of water, like lakes and oceans. How much water vapor the air can hold depends greatly on its temperature. Warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air can.
Watch and Learn:
Have you ever seen a jet airplane fly across the sky and leave a trail behind it? Sometimes people think this is smoke, but it’s actually frozen water vapor! Here’s the scientific explanation you can share with your friends.
Clouds are formed when moisture is collected in the air. When you see a cloud, you’re looking at water vapor that has attached itself to tiny particles of dust and other substances in the sky. When the cloud becomes too heavy to hold all the water vapor in the air, it becomes saturated. What do you think happens next? Try creating your own cloud in this activity, and then watch what happens at the moment saturation is reached!
Listen and Learn:
A Rainbow (Recipe) to Follow the Storm
If you’ve ever been outside after a storm, when the sun is just starting to peak through the clouds you’ve probably seen a rainbow. This meteorological phenomenon occurs when water droplets in the air break apart white light from the sun. This process of separating light, called refraction, is what allows us to see all the spectacular colors that make up white light. Although every single shade of light can be seen in a rainbow, we generally think of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
We are often encouraged to “eat a rainbow,” which is a way of reminding us that a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in our diet will give us the vitamins and minerals we need. Here’s an easy and fun way to get your kids to eat healthy and learn a little science too!
Bonus Recipe: Sparkling Water Pancakes
Did you know that you can add air to your pancakes to make them extra fluffy?
The next time you go out for some fresh air, just remember that those invisible molecules all around you have led to innovations that improve our lives in many visible ways. The ability to predict dangerous weather like tornadoes and blizzards saves lives. By learning how air molecules move and interact with other chemicals and forces, scientists and engineers have made it possible for us to cool or heat the air inside our homes, keep our food fresh with super cold refrigerated air, even travel on airplanes (when we’re not under quarantine). At The Climate Corporation, a Bayer subsidiary, scientists use weather data to help farmers make better decisions about what seeds to plant…and when…and how. These insights can help farmers grow bigger harvests, which in turn, provides more food and fiber for the rest of us. And of course, without air, there would be no “us.”
Why Chemistry Matters
Chemistry matters because it’s branch of science that deals with the properties, composition and structure of matter.
What is matter, you ask?Everything! Matter is defined as anything that has mass and takes up space (which means, it has volume), whether it’s a solid, liquid or gas. A chemical is any substance made up of matter (again: everything). To help connect the dots, this means that your toys are made of chemicals. So is the water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and even the air we breathe. Our pets are made of chemicals. WE are made of chemicals.
Sometimes people think the word “chemical” means something that’s bad and scary. But are any of those things bad or scary? No. Learning more about chemicals helps us to gain a better understanding of ourselves and everything in the world around us.
The Basic Building Blocks of Matter
There is a LOT to know about chemistry – certainly much more than we can cover in one week – but let’s learn a little about the basics.
- Atoms are the smallest unique particles of matter. They are so tiny that billions of atoms bunched together would still be smaller than a single grain of sand!
- Elements are chemical substances that are made from one type of atom. An element cannot be broken down into any other substance. Everything in the universe, both living and non-living, is made from these basic building blocks combined in countless different ways.
Read and Learn (Interactive):
Want to know more about the 118 known elements? You can learn more about each one, including information about how it’s used, with this interactive periodic table from Making Science Make Sense®.
Putting It All Together: Molecules, Compunds and Mixtures
If you think of atoms as individual toy building bricks, and elements as the 118 different types of bricks one could choose from, matter (or chemicals) would be the structures you could build with them.
In chemistry, atomic structures are built in different ways:
- Molecules are formed when two or more atoms are joined by chemical bonds. They can be the same element or different elements. For example, oxygen (O2) is a molecule composed of two oxygen atoms bonded together.
- Mixtures are made by simply mixing together elements, molecules, and compounds. They are not chemically joined and their individual properties remain the same. For example, this is the case when you blend different ingredients to create a cupcake or muffin batter.
- Compounds are types of molecules that form when atoms of different elements are joined by chemical bonds. The new substance looks different from the starting materials and has different properties. When one oxygen (O) atom chemically bonds to two hydrogen (H) atoms to form a water molecule (H2O), it qualifies as both a compound and a molecule. In the example of muffin batter, when cooked at the proper temperature, the heat causes the ingredients to react to one another and change their physical properties – turning the batter mixture into a delicious dessert “compound.”
A mixture can be separated back into its original components using a number of different methods. A compound can only be separated by chemical reactions. Therefore, it is much harder to separate a compound than a mixture.
Learn More about Mixtures:
Some mixtures can be easily separated, like picking vegetables off your pizza. But what happens if you mix together objects in different states of matter? Find out in this experiment!
Learn More about Chemical Reactions:
Chemical reactions happen when two or more substances combine to form a new substance. Some telltale signs that a chemical reaction has occurred include color changes, temperature changes, or gas production. Do you think you’ve ever seen one before? Actually, we are surrounded by chemical reactions every single day, but we may not recognize them as such. Some examples include:
- Cleaning (chemical reactions are what makes soaps and detergents work)
- Combustion (a car engine uses a chemical reaction to push its pistons)
- Digestion (your body uses chemical reactions to break down your food into energy)
- Batteries producing electricity (similarly, uses chemical reactions to create energy)
It’s not magic…it’s chemistry! Find out what happens when the acid in grape juice reacts with baking soda. You can use this trick to send your friends “secret” messages until you can reconnect in person!
A very different chemical reaction happens when you combine baking soda with vinegar. In fact, it can help you power a model boat.
Some molecules just refuse to get together. Find out why polar molecules and non-polar molecules will never combine.
What Do Chemists Do?
Now that you know more about chemistry, what do you think a chemist does? Hint: chemists are not cartoon scientists brewing mysterious liquid “potions” in a lab. Instead, they are people who specialize in understanding the properties of the tiniest particles of matter. Using that information, chemists look for ways to develop new products that can improve our lives, from baby formula to building supplies, and from vaccines to vitamins, and so much more! In Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division, for example, chemists work to develop medications that can be used effectively to treat or prevent certain types of diseases.
It takes an average of ten to twelve years to develop a new drug. That means scientists have been working on some medicines for longer than you have been alive! What takes so long? To provide a quick overview, here is what you need to find a cure for a disease in eight steps.
Kid Talk: Meet a Scientist
In years past, nearly all research used to identify and test molecules for new medications was done in the lab. Today, computers and chemistry work hand-in-hand. In this week’s “Meet a Scientist” interview, 11-year-old Kellen Hayes talks to an expert in both types of research. Dr. Alexander Hillisch, Head of Computational Molecular Design for Bayer Pharmaceuticals, leads a team of researchers working to help people suffering from cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease or stroke. Learn more about this cool job, and how scientists like Dr. Hillisch are thinking about ways they can help in the global fight against the coronavirus.
Finally... Two Kid-Friendly Recipes (and Chemical Reactions)
Cooking wouldn’t be possible without chemical reactions! To learn more, let’s head into the kitchen lab to watch the different reactions involved with cooking a pizza, and then mixing up a delicious desert.
Pizza dough is a basic mix of flour, salt, yeast and warm water. When you combine them together, it causes a chemical reaction that makes the dough rise into a perfect crust.
Root beer floats are not just a tasty treat, but are a really fun way to learn about the reaction between a liquid and a solid that released a gas.
Although you may not have thought about it before, hopefully now you will recognize some of the chemical reactions that are always happening around you. Remember: “chemical” isn’t a dirty word! Everything is made of matter, and therefore, everything is made of chemicals. By studying how chemicals work and interact, scientists have been able to develop all the products we use in our daily lives, and future scientists (maybe you!) will shape the innovations still to come.
The Science of Protecting Planet Earth
April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which serves as an annual reminder that we only have one planet, and we have to take good care of it! The science of protecting planet Earth revolves around developing new innovations that help people live more sustainably – which means, doing what we can to protect the earth’s atmosphere and natural resources.
For example, your family probably recycles some of your household trash made from materials like plastic, glass and metal – right? That’s science! Recycling wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the scientists and engineers who figured out how to sort these materials, melt them down, and then re-mold them into new products. You might also be familiar with Earth-friendly innovations like energy-saving light bulbs or electric cars with zero tailpipe emissions…both brought to you by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Behind every innovative product are people who come up with the ideas and figure out how to make them work. So science isn’t just something that happens in a lab…it powers every innovation that makes the planet a better place!
Why Is It so Important That We Take Good Care of Our Planet?
It can be hard to understand what it means when people say our planet has “limited resources” – especially when we are so small and the Earth seems so very big! While there is a lot of water in the Earth’s oceans, there is only a limited amount of fresh water that humans and animals can actually use. There are vast amounts of land, but only a tiny fraction of it can be farmed to grow the food and fiber we need. Here’s a simple activity that can help make these huge concepts easier to understand.
What Is the Biggest Challenge?
In recent years, scientific research has also helped people understand that the biggest threat to the future of our planet is climate change. You may have heard about climate change, but don’t worry if you’re not exactly sure what it means – it’s a concept that even adults have a hard time understanding. Here’s a short video that helps explain.
How Are Farmers Helping?
There’s no way the world could slow down climate change without the cooperation of farmers, large and small, who collectively play a major role in managing the planet’s most precious resources. Through the videos below, we can visit family farms in different parts of the world to learn how technology is helping them be more sustainable.
How Can We Help?
No one can stop climate change alone. And there isn’t just one solution. There are many, many different solutions that individuals, governments, companies and other organizations all over the world are working on. When you add these efforts together, they make a much bigger impact. Every little bit helps! Here are a few simple ways we can all contribute toward protecting our planet, even at home:
- Reducing food waste
- Reducing water usage
- Protecting soil health
Keep scrolling down to learn more about each of these areas with a brief video and some fun activities.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE
Kid Talk: Meet a Scientist
To help kids everywhere understand more about the work different types of scientists do, 11-year-old student Kellen Hayes is stepping in to ask the questions. This week, Kellen talks with Dr. John Purcell to find out how he is using science to help protect the planet at work, and also in his own backyard!
REDUCING WATER USAGE
Water is one of the world’s most valuable resources, but it is becoming increasingly scarce. Farmers and scientists are counteracting this issue by applying methods to use water more efficiently in agriculture.
Another way we could reduce water is to find ways to reuse it. Find out how you can use charcoal to filter water?
PROTECTING SOIL HEALTH
Healthy soil is essential for our food security: 95% of our food comes from the earth. It is also the planet’s largest natural water filter, helping supply the world with clean water. Soil even helps regulate the climate – storing more carbon than all the world’s forests put together. Here’s a look at some of the ways farmers are protecting soil health.
How can you protect soil health at home? Spreading composted scraps on your garden or lawn is a great way to build healthy soil and keep food waste out of the trash can.
There are so many reasons why soil is important! This activity will help you understand some of them as you build a soil profile model and a yummy snack at the same time!
And to celebrate the Earth’s bounty…another kid-friendly recipe!
The Science of Growing Food
Did you know that every seed for every food crop has a history filled with science? Since the beginning of civilization, farmers have been selecting and improving crops using the science of plant breeding: crossing two plants to produce offspring that, ideally, share the best characteristics of the two parent plants. Virtually every plant we grow for food today is the result of many generations of breeding. For example, about 5,000 years ago, watermelons were only two inches in diameter and had a bitter taste. That’s very different from the large, sweet-tasting fruit that many of us enjoy today!
In the same way, yummy vegetables such as corn, carrots and broccoli haven’t always just “existed” as we know them now. They each descended from wild plants thanks to careful breeding by farmers over thousands of years. In fact, as you can see in this illustration, broccoli descended from the same wild mustard plant as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and even cabbage.
Today, science helps plant breeders develop crops that can thrive in challenging environments, or that can grow more food using fewer resources. But plant breeding isn’t the only science involved in growing food! Scientists who specialize in soil health, weeds, insects, plant diseases, and chemistry are just some of the others who play an important role in helping farmers grow enough for our world. In addition, technology enables image scans that help farmers evaluate crop health and diagnose disease before it threatens harvests. Engineering allows variable rate irrigation to precisely water crops, using fewer natural resources. Mathematical models provide data to help predict the weather. Together, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) drive innovation, helping farmers to be more precise and effective. That’s good for you, and good for the planet too!
Kid Talk: Meet a Scientist
Right now, just as kids all over the world are learning from home, many of our Bayer scientists are working at home. So…we thought this would be a great time to bring them together! To help kids everywhere understand more about the work different types of scientists do, 11-year-old student Kellen Hayes is stepping in to ask the questions his generation might want to know.
“Farm-to-table” is not just a trend – it’s a social movement.
Farm-to-table spawned consumer interest in where food comes from and how it is produced. Consumers have higher expectations about the quality, nutritional value and taste of their food. Consumers are now self-defining as “foodies” – but what does that mean and what is Bayer doing about it? Time to test your Food IQ.
Read and Learn
People have been eating carrots for over 5,000 years – but where did they come from? You and your child can take a deeper dive into the history and growing cycle – from planting to harvest – of carrots and other fruits and vegetables. Discover how plants “make their own food” through photosynthesis. Older kids (and adults too) can learn about genetic inheritance and take an introductory look into advanced plant breeding techniques like biotechnology and gene editing.
Watch and Learn
Understanding Plant Breeding (Runs 2:20)
Andrew Burchett, Bayer’s Global Vegetable Industry Affairs Lead, uses peppers from his garden to explain plant breeding, and how it benefits everyone.
The Science of Sensory - Flavor (Runs 1:40)
“Better tasting produce translates to less waste.” Have you ever heard of a consumer sensory scientist?
Meet “Dr. Yummy” and see he how uses data to help plant breeders uncover the mystery of flavor… because when food tastes better, less of it is wasted!
Give it a Minute: GMOs (Runs 1:26)
What are GMOs? Why do some farmers choose to grow GMOs? Give it a minute to find out.
Marker Lab by Marker (Runs 1:43)
When you have a thousand plants that all look the same, how can you tell which ones have the right characteristics to help farmers grow enough while using less? Learn how plant breeders use technology to make their research more efficient.
The Drought Team (Runs 2:20)
Too much or too little water can adversely impact crop production. See how this group works collaboratively to create solutions for the most complex problems.
Hands-on STEM Activities for Kids
And for Dessert... A Kid-friendly Recipe!
A science lab can be anywhere, including your very own kitchen! Everybody loves ice cream. Here’s a fun, tasty recipe you and your kids can do together to learn about molecules.
The Science of Staying Healthy
Staying healthy is especially top of mind these days. In honor of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day on April 7, we have focused our first week’s content on the science behind our health:
3 Readings for All Ages
Life sciences studies living things and includes biology, botany, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology and physiology. Understanding how our own bodies work helps us make better lifestyle choices. Read the Mystery of the Groovy Googles with your youngster to unravel the mystery of seemingly ordinary things. Older kids (and parents too!) can learn about the 12 major body systems. Healthy living also requires us to get moving. Getting your “groove on” is not only fun but has many benefits – read about the science of dance.
Check out These Science Video Tutorials for Kids
In many parts of the world, it is the start of allergy season. We hear about the importance of sneezing into the inside of your elbow ( “the sneeze pocket” ) for mitigating the spread of germs a lot these days, but do you know what happens when you sneeze? Watch and learn what causes allergies and learn all about sneezes.
Get Started with This Stem Activity for Kids
Did you know that the carbohydrates we eat are absorbed by our bloodstream? Does the type of carbohydrate you eat determine how quickly it is absorbed? Well we have a way you can find out: this week’s activity recreates that journey of the bloodstream using items you likely already have in your kitchen pantry.
We hope you find these resources a way to engage your kids and inspire their curiosity about science and innovation. Visit us next week to learn about the science of growing food!