At-home resources for kids and parents during Covid-19

To our KiwiCo community:

As parents, we share the same concerns about the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus, and the impact it will have on our families. Here at KiwiCo, we asked our team to work from home. Many of us have children who will be home with us for the foreseeable future due to school closures.

We know a lot of you are also trying to find a new normal, including keeping your kids busy at home. So today, we’re launching a resource hub for parents to help support learning at home, with loads of stay-at-home educational activities for every age, tips from teachers on effective remote learning, and kid-friendly content that connects science with their daily lives. To start with, we’re bringing you an explanation of the science of handwashing, to help kids understand why it’s so important. We’re going to be adding new content and resources to the hub regularly. We’ll also be switching up our newsletter to bring you helpful resources more frequently, and you can follow us on Instagram for daily updates.

Please take care of yourself, and reach out if we can help. We’re here to support you and your family during this time. We’re in this together.

Founder & Mom of 3

Meet 5 Teachers Making a Difference in the KiwiCo Community

Every year, we celebrate teachers for all the amazing work they do in inspiring the next generation of innovators. This year in particular, we wanted to recognize teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students, while navigating new challenges that come with distance learning. So, we launched the Awesome Teacher Award as a way for our community to share stories about the incredible teachers in their lives.

We received hundreds of applications for our Awesome Teacher Award, and after careful consideration, we selected five exceptional winners! These teachers are not only awesome, but they also embody KiwiCo’s mission and values. They will receive awards of $2,000 in KiwiCo products and $500 in cash.

Mr. Wisam Patros

Grade & subject: 6th grade math & science
School: Cajon Valley Middle School in El Cajon, California

Go-to advice for students: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” If students want to be successful they have to take in the knowledge, the lessons, and the opportunities that come in front of them. No one else will do it for them. They have to be willing to seize life at the door, no matter what setting they are in. That is how success happens.

I have been teaching for seven amazing years! I can proudly say that I have been teaching all seven of those years at my alma mater of Cajon Valley Middle School. I feel extremely blessed giving back to the students and community that helped bring me up as a first generation Middle Eastern immigrant. Every one of my teachers was instrumental in my life because they played a pivotal role in my ability to fluently speak, read, write, problem solve, become curious, and take on what the real world has to offer.

Ms. Sapeg

Grade & subject: 5th grade math
School: P.S. 173 in New York City, New York

Go-to advice for students: Work hard at everything, nothing in life is promised. But if you want to achieve something even with natural talent, you must work for it!

Ever since I was in the first grade, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. I loved reading and learning new things. As I got older, my passion for this path became clearer. I chose my college, Pace University; intentionally with a great program in which I would graduate with my bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before starting my teaching career.

I started teaching in the LES at PS 140; the school where I had my student teaching experience. There, I had wonderful mentor teachers. They helped me improve my craft and showed me that while teaching can be hard, it is worth the while to make a difference in the life of children. I now teach in the neighborhood where I grew up!

Ms. Linda Ehlers

Grade & subject: 7th & 8th grade all subjects
School: Harrison Public School in Harrison, Montana

Go-to advice for students: “Pay attention to the details.” This is my advice for all the students I have met along the way. If you pay attention to the details, success will follow.

My mother was my 1st grade teacher. She fostered my love for the outdoors and the wonder of science and exploring how the world around us worked. Because of her, I was led down the path to sharing this love with others. I have been able to teach science concepts across many grade levels and subject areas, from 1st grade to 8th grade. Thanks to KiwiCo, many of the supplies provided will be used as building blocks to assist in reaching our end goals and understanding the physical science concepts behind what we are accomplishing!

Mr. Justin Mack

Grade & subject: TK- 6th grade STEM
School: Washington School in Santa Barbara, California

Go-to advice for students: Innovation, perseverance, and appropriate risks are the “secret sauce” to good living! Don’t be afraid to try, fail, make changes, and try again! Failure is a delightful teacher!

The following are a few fun facts about myself and the STEMeriffic life I am fortunate to enjoy. I have been married for over 26 years and love being a dad of two sons AND grandfather of one. For rest and relaxation I love surfing, tacos, reading, and naps….preferably all at the same time. I was born in Los Angeles, CA I have lived, studied, and worked in a variety of cities from Barstow, CA to Oxford, UK to Seattle, WA and back to Santa Barbara where I was raised. My “strange claim to fame” is that I have eaten snake and guinea pig in the Andes mountains as a 15 year old exchange student in beautiful Ecuador. Yes…they both taste like chicken! Finally, I love education and have enjoyed studies at Westmont College, Oxford University, and Fuller Theological Seminary before earning a second M.A. in Education and being hired for my dream job as a STEM Teacher fostering design and engineering thinking plus innovation in TK-6th grade students! Thank you again KiwiCo for your generous award!

Mrs. Brandy Gwatney

Grade & subject: 2nd grade all subjects
School: Mountain Springs Elementary in Cabot, Arkansas

Go-to advice for students: Always remember to dream BIG and reach for the stars!

When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer within a few days of Christmas. The love and care my teacher and principal showed me had nothing to do with academics. They were an example that teachers provide so much more in the daily life of a child. My teacher and principal showed me that relationships with students go beyond numbers, letters, and words. I was the child that needed the social and emotional stability before the academics.

Congratulations once again to these five awesome teachers!

As a company whose mission is to inspire future innovators and problem solvers, KiwiCo is honored to be standing hand-in-hand with all the schools and educators  who share this goal. We’re here to encourage students to work together, solve real problems, and create something amazing. See how KiwiCo can bring seriously fun STEAM learning into the classroom.

10 Handmade Gifts Kids Can Make for Their Teachers

Teachers have been through a lot the last two school years. Against immeasurable odds, they’ve continued to find creative ways to connect with our children. As this school year draws to a close, it’s time to make sure teachers know how appreciated they are. Celebrate the awesome teachers in your child’s life with this list of handmade gifts your child can make to say thank you!

Marbled Paperweights

These pretty rainbow rocks are perfect for brightening up your desk! With just some nail polish and water, you can transform an ordinary rock into your own marbled paperweight.

Handprint Keychain

These little hands are a sweet treasure and would make a great gift for any teacher. A bonus was the joy my kids had watching their hand cut-out shrink to the tiny size of a fairy, as my daughter put it.

Chalkboard Frame

These chalkboard frames would look great on any desk. Add a class photo & a chalk written message to your teacher to show them how much you care!

Liquid Watercolor Flowers

Watch your child’s face light up as he or she transforms a coffee filter into a beautiful watercolor flower. Making one is so simple and fun that your child will have a blooming bouquet in no time!

Fluffy Tree Pen Toppers

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a great read for a rainy day. These adorable pencil toppers, inspired by Truffula Trees, are great for taking notes in style or brightening up your desk with fun pops of color.

Hand-Shaped Dish

Try this twist on the classic handprint in clay to capture a memory of your little ones! Finally, you’ll be able to have their little hands hold on to something without them walking away.

Gratitude Box

These mini gratitude boxes are a great way to express your love & gratitude for the special people in your life.

Baking Soda Ocean Art

Even if your teacher can’t manage a seaside getaway, you can still bring them some beach fun with your own undersea collection, made from baking soda dough.

Paper Roses

These lovely paper roses are so easy to make! Put a few in a vase, put one on a package for a gift, or on a homemade card. Wherever you place them, they’re sure to be appreciated!

Rolled Paper Picture Frame

Nothing helps us remember the best moments of a year like a picture frame. Try making this one out of rolled paper for a stylish frame that will look great on anyone’s desk.

Behind the Design: KiwiCo’s Professions Starter Kits

Kids are often asked what they want to be when they grow up, so we created a hands-on experience to explore cool careers in STEM! The goal of KiwiCo’s Professions Starter Kits is to connect kids to real-life jobs and people using STEM skills to solve real problems and make new discoveries.

Each starter kit comes with a profession’s guide, materials for two projects, a poster with fun facts and a certificate of achievement. Keep reading to learn more about the Professions Starter Kits available in the KiwiCo Store!

Paleontology Starter Kit 

“We knew we HAD to have a dino dig! We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it but we’re really happy with how it turned out. This is one of my all-time favorite crates.”

– The KiwiCo Product Design Team

Uncover the ins-and-outs of a career in prehistoric exploration! Use tools to excavate bones, then assemble them into a dinosaur skeleton display. Make amazingly detailed fossil impressions with a set of mini dinosaurs, modeling clay, and plaster. Read about the geologic timescale, how fossils are formed, and the on-the-job adventures of a real paleontologist. Then hang up a poster featuring colossal fossil facts and some of the most dazzling dinosaurs of prehistory.

Astronaut Starter Kit

“Any kid who dreams of becoming an astronaut should start with this kit!”

– The KiwiCo Product Design Team

Blast off into STEM learning with this astronaut starter kit! Build and launch a pair of model orbiter spaceships using the power of pumps. Paint a set of model planets, then construct a miniature solar system that really spins. Learn more about space travel — from the history of space exploration, to the challenges of astronaut training, to amazing facts about life on the International Space Station. Ready for a space adventure that’s truly out of this world?

Veterinarian Starter Kit

“Little veterinarians-in-training will love using the tools in this crate (including a mini X-ray machine!) to patch up their stuffed animal friends.”

– The KiwiCo Product Design Team

Discover the important work that veterinarians do through hands-on play! Check up on a favorite stuffed animal with a stethoscope, syringe, and other handy vet tools. Explore animal anatomy by assembling organ and muscle systems. Play a “find the fracture” game using an x-ray lightbox and a set of animal cards. Learn to read cat and dog body language, and how vets understand animals when they can’t talk. (It’s ruff, but possible!)

You can also purchase the Professions Start Kit (3-Pack) to explore all of the careers at once!

5 Homemade Gifts for Mother’s Day

At KiwiCo, we believe that the best gifts are homemade and that there’s nothing better than quality time together. So, why not make this Mother’s Day extra special with a project or two from the KiwiCo Store! Kids can make these projects as a gift for a special person in their lives, or the whole family can make memories while creating something awesome together.

Crystal Ombre Soap Making

Make a splash — with soapy science! Craft and customize two kinds of colorful, crystal-inspired soaps. 

Textured Clay Luminaries 

Let your creativity shine — literally — by crafting a couple of candle-holders that are uniquely you. Learn to trim and texture clay with stripes, sprinkles, sunbursts, and more. 

Planet Bath Bombs

Give the gift of relaxation with this set of planet-themed bath bombs you crafted yourself!

Paper Pulp Art

Why paint on paper when you can use the paper itself to make a totally unique artwork? Learn how to take dried paper pulp, turn it into a colorful slurry, then turn it into a colorful painting. 

Punch Needle Pillow

Explore textile art, with a project that packs a serious punch! Plan your design for your punch-needle pillow and fill it in with colorful, fluffy yarn.

30 Screen-Free STEAM DIYs for Kids

In today’s day and age, it can be tough to tear our little humans away from the screens and devices we’ve all become so attached to. But there’s nothing quite as enriching and satisfying for kids as getting their hands dirty and making something themselves. And of course, it never hurts if they learn something new along the way! Keep those tiny hands and brains busy year round with this list of screen-free DIYs for kids of all ages.

Ages 3-4

Milk Swirl Experiment

This experiment is easy and safe enough for kids of all ages, and uses only ingredients you probably already have in the kitchen. The end result is an explosion of colors, and it almost looks like magic!

Learn more: Milk Swirl Experiment

Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils

Fossils need perfect conditions to form and they take a looong time to make. But what if you could make your own fossils in under two hours? Try out this project to find out how!

Learn more: Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils

Giant Bubble Wand

All you need are simple household items to make this giant bubble wand and a bubble solution for giant bubbles. Once they’ve got the hang of it, challenge your kids to take turns trying to see who could make the biggest bubbles! 

Learn more: Giant Bubble Wand

Celery Experiment

Has your child ever wondered how plants get water from their roots all the way to their leaves? This simple celery experiment shows how colored water travels up a celery stalk!

Learn more: Celery Experiment

Fizzy Colors

Turn your kitchen into a chemistry lab with this simple science experiment! You only need three ingredients: baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar.

Learn more: Fizzy Colors

Capillary Action Rainbow

Capillary action is a way of describing how water moves when it gets into tiny tubes or spaces, like in between hairs on your head or fibers in a piece of paper. Check out capillary action at work in this wild, water-wicking experiment!

Learn more: Capillary Action Rainbow

Ages 5-8

Erupting Apples

Why not get a little messy and do some kitchen science? When your kids inevitably try and find the remains of their apple in the mound of foam, be sure to ask them what it feels like.

Learn more: Erupting Apples

Make Your Own Garden

This easy CD garden gives your kids a front row seat to the magic of sprouting seeds. Wheatgrass seeds grow super fast, so make sure they check in on their growing garden every day!

Learn more: Make Your Own Garden

DIY Lava Lamp

We love watching the bubbles in a lava lamp dance. Make your own colorful, bubbling lamp with this fun science experiment about mixing up unmixable liquids! 

Learn more: DIY Lava Lamp

Fluffy Slime

Is your slime feeling mucky and dense? Could your slime use a little pep in its step? Try mixing together this special concoction and make fluffy slime!

Learn more: Fluffy Slime

Unpoppable Bubbles

This simple trick will make your soap bubbles stronger, leading to hours of play time and discovery! Make sure to check out the “What’s Going On?” section at the bottom of the instructions to learn the wild chemistry behind these nearly-unpoppable bubbles.

Learn more: Unpoppable Bubbles

Electric Jellyfish

Learn about creating static electricity with this simple project. Explore more by using this technique to create a living birthday cake with candles, campfire, or wetland scene!

Learn more: Electric Jellyfish

Conveyor Belt Cinema

With the help of a cardboard box and some wooden skewers, you can craft a small-scale conveyor belt and create a cinematic experience. Try it out with the provided printables, and then try making your own scene!

Learn more: Conveyor Belt Cinema

Underwater Fireworks

With your kitchen as your lab and baking supplies as your ingredients, create your own underwater firework spectacular!

Learn more: Underwater Fireworks

Egg in Vinegar Experiment

Want to see a chemical reaction in action? With this egg in vinegar experiment, watch a regular egg transform into a bouncy egg. 

Learn more: Egg in Vinegar Experiment

Ages 9-12

Desk Catapult 

This DIY catapult doubles as a desk toy! It’s easy to build from common office supplies and leads to hours of play time. Make it a game by adding some cups to toss your projectiles into!

Learn more: Desk Catapult 

Baking Soda-Powered Boat

Fizz, fizz, zoom! This baking soda experiment boat is easy to build and fun to race. If you’ve ever dropped a fizzy tablet into a cup of water or made a baking soda volcano, you’ve made the same chemical reaction used here. But this time, we’re using that reaction to power a soda bottle boat, for a short distance at least.

Learn more: Baking Soda-Powered Boat

Iridescent Paper 

Did you know that you can create a rainbow with clear nail polish? Try this quick experiment using clear nail polish and black paper to make a swirling mix of colors.

Learn more: Iridescent Paper 

DIY Parachute 

In this experiment, we create a parachute toy using a sandwich bag to learn about air resistance and see it in action.

Learn more: DIY Parachute 

Balloon Hovercraft

You don’t need high-tech gadgets to make your own hovercraft! This balloon-powered toy is easy to make with household materials and is a ton of fun to send zooming around! 

Learn more: Balloon Hovercraft

Marbled Paperweight

With just some nail polish and water, you can transform an ordinary rock into your own marbled paperweight.

Learn more: Marbled Paperweight

Bottle Cap Bot 

Here’s a fun project that recycles bottle caps into little robots that dance and scoot in all kinds of surprising ways!

Learn more: Bottle Cap Bot 

Wave Machine

We’re surrounded by waves! Sound and light travel as waves to our ears and eyes. Ocean waves crash onto the beach. Radio waves broadcast music to our cars. We even use waves to cook our food – in microwaves! Try making this wave machine to see how all different kinds of waves move!

Learn more: Wave Machine

Ages 12+

Pressure Bottle Rocket 

In this DIY project, we’ll learn how to use the exact sample principles found in water squirters to launch a water rocket sky-high! Follow along with these simple steps and you’ll be blasting off in no time.

Learn more: Pressure Bottle Rocket 

Melted Crayon Art 

Melting. It’s a natural process that we can see everyday: the ice in a glass of water, the butter on bread right after it’s toasted, the candles on a birthday cake. Let’s try to melt crayons into a work of art!

Learn more: Melted Crayon Art

Muscle Machine

In this muscle machine, you’ll be mimicking the action of a muscle by pulling a string. This is actually pretty similar to how your muscles work!

Learn more: Muscle Machine

Graphite Circuit

Can you complete an LED circuit using a graphite pencil? Learn about the conductive properties of graphite and draw your own design to see it light up! This is a super quick and easy science experiment that is entertaining for both kids and adults alike.

Learn more: Graphite Circuit

Rubber Band Helicopter

Learn about helicopters by making a rubber band powered flying toy!

Learn more: Rubber Band Helicopter

Lung Model 

Curious about how the innermost organs of your body work? Observe your lungs at work with this easy-to-make model!

Learn more: Lung Model 

Paper Airplane Launcher

Take your paper airplanes to new heights by making a motorized launcher for them.

Learn more: Paper Airplane Launcher

How to Make Math Fun for Kids

We chatted with a father-daughter duo who found a fun way to turn an intimidating subject into a creative adventure.

At KiwiCo, we love pie—sweet pie, savory pie, and especially the number pi. But we met a middle schooler whose dedication to pie is inspirationally infinite.

“There was this pie place that said that anyone that could recite a hundred digits got a free pie, but only on Pi Day, March 14th,” 12-year-old Sadie tells us.

So what did Sadie do? She started dishing out digits, of course. 

“I decided to write down the digits in permanent marker on my hand, and I did 20 at a time. And every time I looked at my hand, they’d be there,” she says. “So I just remembered them.”

After a few weeks of memorizing, Sadie earned herself a free pie. Sadie’s story shows that, when combined with tasty treats, math becomes a lot more approachable for kids—and grownups (let’s be honest). And that’s part of the reason we love celebrating Pi Day. The quirky holiday presents the opportunity to introduce an intimidating subject in a sweet and surprising way. We chatted with Sadie and her dad—who happens to be a physics professor at Harvard University—to learn some tips and tricks for making math more fun for everyone!

Sadie and her dad, Harvard Professor Dr. Jacob Barandes.

“Mathematics is fundamentally about exploration,” says Dr. Jacob Barandes. “This is an opportunity to go on an adventure with your kids.”

Pick Out Patterns

Sadie’s dad, Dr. Jacob Barandes, says looking for patterns can help with more than the memorization of hundreds of digits. To Dr. Barandes, it’s also key to developing a greater affinity for math overall.

“Mathematics is fundamentally about looking for patterns in the world around us,” he says. “It could be a game that you come up with and then you notice this thing seems to keep happening every time. I wonder if there’s a reason for that.”

Here are a few activities that put this thinking into practice: 

Pendulum Wave Project

As these pendulums move back and forth, they make amazing patterns. Challenge your kid to think mathematically by asking them why! 

Learn more: Pendulum Wave Project

Bell Curve Peg Board

By building a peg board and randomly dropping some beads, you can demonstrate one of the most important principles in statistics: the bell curve!

Learn more: Bell Curve Peg Board

Swinging Salt Pendulum

Make a swinging pendulum and trace its path with lines of colored salt! What patterns emerge?

Learn more:Swinging Salt Pendulum

Play with Pascal Triangles

Dr. Barandes tipped us off to another great tool for playing with mathematical patterns (and practicing addition while you’re at it): the Pascal Triangle. 

“You only have to know how to add simple numbers together to build one of these Pascal triangles,” he says. “But this is a wonderful example of where you find enormous numbers of patterns in structure.” 

So, grab your kids, a pencil, and some paper, and follow these simple steps to build your own Pascal Triangle at home. Watch the math-y magic unfold!

Step 1:  On your paper, make two sides of a triangle out of 1s like this: 

Step 2: Fill in your triangle by adding two numbers horizontally next to each other and placing their sum directly below them. For example, in row two, 1 + 1 =2. So, row 3 becomes 1-2-1.

Step 3: Keep going!

Step 4: Highlight or circle all the odd numbers in your triangle. What patterns do you notice?

Step 5: Keep expanding your triangle and highlighting odds for some neat pattern discoveries!

Meet Kid Engineers Building a Better Tomorrow

Here at KiwiCo, we believe in the power of small. And that’s because kids have a tendency to dream bigger and see possibilities through an unfiltered lens. It’s a core KiwiCo belief: That by learning the skills to problem-solve, innovate and create, kids can truly change the world tomorrow. And a lot of kids are already making their mark (after they finish their homework, of course). From detecting water contamination to creating human connections, we got to know four young engineers who are thinking big and building a better future. 

Mark Leschinsky, 14
Mark invented a self-disinfecting hazmat suit after seeing a newscast about the Ebola epidemic in 2014. He received a U.S. patent for the design in 2016.
STEAM snack: Chocolate to help short-term cognitive strength
STEAM superhero: Thomas Edison

What inspired you to be an inventor?

Mark: Whenever I create or design something, my end goal is always to be able to make an impact on society. It’s very rewarding for me to see that I can improve the life of someone else.

What advice would you give to other kids who want to start inventing and making?

Mark: I want to emphasize that you don’t need any sophisticated equipment or a lot of experience to make a positive difference in your community. The most important thing is to have passion, dedication, and a desire to achieve something positive. Never take “no” for an answer. Keep going until you have reached the stars. Believe it or not, children truly are the BEST inventors because we children are dreamers! Everything is possible for us!

What is one thing you want to change about the world?

Mark: One thing I want to change in the world is to combat the misconception that kids can’t create something meaningful in our society. Kids are the BEST inventors, creators, and tinkerers because our imagination is limitless! I want the world to recognize that we children are capable of creating the next groundbreaking technologies and innovations in our community, and that the best way to facilitate that is to encourage us to dream big and to invent!

Jordan Reeves, 15
Jordan is an activist, designer, and inventor who has been engineering innovative prosthetics for kids with limb differences since she was in elementary school.
STEAM snack: Gushers
STEAM superhero: Members of the STEAM Squad

What inspires you to invent new things?

Jordan: I like to look at things based on my personal experience and think of new ways to do it. I’m working on a whole new way to play the guitar because it’s hard for me to do since I was born with one full arm and the other stops before the elbow.

What advice would you give to other kids who want to be engineers?

Jordan: If you have an idea, try it out. It might not work at first. If you get upset and annoyed, walk away for a bit but come back to it. If you keep trying, you might come up with a whole new idea that no one has worked on before.

What change do you want to see in the world?

Jordan: I want to make sure people who are different are included in developing products and ideas from the beginning. I hope kids will think about making sure they include other kids they may not know in their work. Kids who may not be from their own neighborhood or have different life experiences. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you learn about perspectives you don’t have before you settle in on launching a big idea or event.

Laalitya Acharya, 17
Laalitya has been engineering solutions to problems since she was four. She’s currently working on Nereid, a method to detect bacteria contamination in water using AI analysis.
STEAM snack:
Carrots & hummus
STEAM superhero:
Dr. Jennifer Doudna who helped to develop the world-changing CRISPR technology

How long have you been interested in science?

Laalitya: I have always been curious about the world around me and always wanted to understand the “why”. One of the first experiences that I remember with science was when I decided to decipher the recipe of Coca-Cola! As I grew older, I saw the issues in our world and wanted to find solutions to these problems.

What got you interested in the issue of water contamination?

Laalitya: My inspiration came from a family trip to India when I saw the glaring water gap – there was a lack of access to clean water and many people, including myself, fell ill from drinking this contaminated water. There were no affordable and effective methods to detect this contamination, so I decided to create one!

What advice would you give to other kids who want to be engineers?

Laalitya: I would tell them to not be afraid of failure, and I know that this is easier said than done – but science is full of mistakes. You will fail and it’s important to pick yourself up after these instances and keep on working towards your goal.

Emma Yang, 17 
Emma invented a mobile app that helps Alzheimer’s patients stay engaged and connected to loved ones. She began work on the app at age 12, and has since founded a start-up and raised $120K to pursue the technology.
STEAM snack: Lychee candy
STEAM superhero: Megan Smith, former Chief Technology Officer of the United States

What inspires you to invent new things?

Emma: I’m fascinated by how technology can empower anyone to solve the problems they see in their family and in their community. What inspired me to innovate was seeing how, even though we see technology as being so ubiquitous and able to solve every problem, there are still many populations (like the elderly and Alzheimer’s patients) who aren’t being reached by the potential of computing. What grew out of the personal challenge of helping my grandmother cope with Alzheimer’s led to an innovation that I hope can contribute to changing the landscape of technology to include these underserved populations.

What advice would you give to other kids who want to be engineers?

Emma: Never let people tell you what is and isn’t possible. You have the potential to make a difference, no matter who you are.

What change do you want to see in the world?

Emma: You might have heard of the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” For most of the population, technology encompasses almost every part of our daily lives. However, there are still significant populations that remain underserved by technology. This is an issue that I want to change about the world. As young people, I believe we have a unique perspective on the issues around us. We can help to address the challenges faced by these underserved populations by raising awareness and, regardless of age or experience, being proactive in using STEM to create solutions for these populations.

10 Children’s Books that Celebrate Black Scientists, Artists, & Innovators

February marks Black History Month—a time to celebrate the experiences and accomplishments of Black Americans. And while this should be a focus of education year round, learning resources highlighting Black history are often missing from schools. In fact, that’s a big part of why Black History Month came to fruition in the first place. In the 1920s, Carter G. Woodson—the second Black American to receive a Ph.D. in history from Harvard—created “Negro History Week” as a way to provide schools with resources that would teach children about Black history. Over the past century, the week-long movement evolved into a month-long celebration of Black experiences and accomplishments.

At KiwiCo, we’re on a mission to inspire kids to become the next generation of STEAM leaders and innovators. So during Black History Month, and throughout the year, we look to the trailblazers who laid a path for kids to follow. With help from our friends at The Conscious Kid, we collected a list of some of our favorite books about Black scientists, artists, and innovators who changed the world for the better.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison 

Featuring forty trailblazing Black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

A beautiful picture book for sharing and marking special occasions such as graduation, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s, but before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks

The life story of Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician who developed the first procedure used to perform open-heart surgery on children.

The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just by Melina Mangal

Ernest was not like other scientists. He saw the whole, where others saw only parts. And he noticed details others failed to see. Through stunning illustrations and lyrical prose, this picture book presents the life and accomplishments of Ernest Everett Just, an African American biologist who made important discoveries about the cell in the 1930s.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award-nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four Black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!

Young, Gifted, and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present by Jamia Wilson

This book is a journey across borders, through time and even through space to meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in a celebration of achievement.

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

Buzzing With Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington

Can spiders learn? How do ants find their way home? Can bugs see color? All of these questions buzzed endlessly in Charles Henry Turner’s mind. As the first Black entomologist, he was fascinated by plants and animals and bugs. And even when he faced racial prejudice, Turner did not stop wondering. He constantly read, researched, and experimented. Author Janice Harrington and artist Theodore Taylor III capture the life of this scientist and educator in this nonfiction picture book, highlighting Turner’s unstoppable curiosity and his passion for science.

Want more books like these? Check out this list: 30 Children’s Books That Inspire Creativity, Inclusion & Resilience

These 10 Space Activities for Kids Are Out of This World

From distant stars, to black holes, to the search for life on other planets, outer space has so much to explore. Inspire your child to think out of the box (and out of this world!) with our favorite space-themed science projects.

Straw Rockets (Ages 3-16)

How fast do you think a rocket needs to go in order to launch into orbit? A shuttle needs to go from zero to 18,000 miles per hour (29,000 kilometers per hour) to get to space! (This is nine times faster than the speed of a rifle bullet!) While these paper straw rockets don’t fly nearly as fast, we had a bunch of fun watching them zoom off. Give it a try and see how well your rockets fly!

Learn more: Straw Rockets

Galactic Art (Ages 4-9)

A toothbrush (yes, a toothbrush!) is the secret to these imaginary galaxies. Add your own black holes, planets, rockets, or alien spaceships!

Learn more: Galactic Art

Glowing Planets (Ages 4-10)

With this stellar DIY you can create your own light up planets using simple, household materials. Take it one step further and craft a whole solar system to light up your child’s room at night! 

Learn more: Glowing Planets

Solar System (Ages 5+)

This outer space project kit includes watercolors to create beautiful paper planets. Use your planets to create your own solar system mobile, complete with a light-up sun in the center. Play a game and create a meteor launcher to test your skill shooting for the moon!

Learn more: Solar System

Astronaut Starter Kit (Ages 5+)

Blast off into STEM learning with this astronaut starter kit! Build and launch a pair of model orbiter spaceships using the power of pumps. Paint a set of model planets, then construct a miniature solar system that really spins.

Learn more: Astronaut Starter Kit

Moon Crater Experiment (Ages 5-8)

Have you ever wondered how the moon’s craters are formed? If the answer is yes, then this experiment is just right for you. Make your own moon surface with flour and oil and then drop meteorites (small rocks and pebbles) from varying heights to create your own craters!

Learn more: Moon Crater Experiment

Planet Bath Bombs (Ages 5+)

Dive into kid-friendly chemistry with a set of planet-themed bath bombs you crafted yourself! Mix together citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, and food coloring to make a variety of colorful bath bomb powders. Use a set of molds to shape the powders into multi-layered bath bombs inspired by the layers of the Earth.

Learn more: Planet Bath Bombs

Exploring Stars (Ages 5+)

Learn about the constellations in the night sky and then imagine and design your own! Play with gears and use them to engineer a model system of the Sun, Earth, and Moon.

Learn more: Exploring Stars

Spinning Space Orrery  (Ages 9-16)

An orrery is a mechanical model of the motion of the planets in our solar system. Try making your own orrery with this printable DIY! 

Learn more: Spinning Space Orrery

Pressure Bottle Rocket (Ages 9-16)

In this DIY project, we’ll learn how to use the exact sample principles found in water squirters to launch a water rocket sky-high! Follow along with these simple steps and you’ll be blasting off in no time.

Learn more: Pressure Bottle Rocket

Stellar Activities to Teach Kids About NASA’s Newest Mars Rover

Credit: NASA

NASA’s newest Mars rover, Perseverance, is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet on February 18th, 2021. NASA is inviting everyone to be a part of history by holding live streams leading up to the landing and on the big day (see the live stream schedule here). This huge step for human space exploration is a great opportunity to inspire your kids to learn more about space! We collected some of out-of-this-world activities to help you transport your kids to the cosmos!

The Science of Mars Exploration 

Have you ever wanted to visit other planets? Well, many scientists think we could someday – and the first place they plan to go is Mars! Mars is one of the eight planets in the Solar System. It’s the fourth one from the Sun, right next door to Earth! 

To study Mars up close, scientists have to send robots called rovers. How do they get them there, you ask? Rockets, of course! Check out the projects below to learn more about the physics of rockets.

Straw Rockets (Ages 3-8)

How fast do you think a rocket needs to go in order to launch into orbit? A shuttle needs to go from zero to 18,000 miles per hour (29,000 kilometers per hour) to get to space! (This is nine times faster than the speed of a rifle bullet!) While these paper straw rockets don’t fly nearly as fast, we had a bunch of fun watching them zoom off. Give it a try and see how well your rockets fly!

Pressure Bottle Rocket (Ages 9-16)

In this DIY project, we’ll learn how to use the exact sample principles found in water squirters to launch a water rocket sky-high! Follow along with these simple steps and you’ll be blasting off in no time.

Meet the Mars Rovers

The robots that scientists send to explore the surface of Mars are called rovers. Only a few special rovers have been made, and each one was designed with specific features to help it investigate the Red Planet. The previous four rovers (Curiosity, Spirit, Opportunity, and Sojourner) studied the formation and geology of Mars. Back in 2012, the Curiosity rover found evidence that there were once lakes and rivers of flowing water there!  

Now, scientists have sent Perseverance, the newest rover, which is designed to search for signs of ancient life. It has more science instruments than any other rover, with a whopping 23 cameras and two microphones that it will use to look for signs of ancient bacteria and single-celled organisms on the Red Planet.

Make a Cardboard Rover

Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

As you and your child learn more about the rovers, challenge them to make a cardboard rover courtesy of NASA!

Mars Helicopter

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Along with a brand new rover, the Red Planet will also be receiving its very first helicopter on the 18th! The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is uniquely designed to fly in the Martian atmosphere, and it will mark humanity’s first attempt to fly on another planet. 

Build your very own Mars Helicopter at home with one of these DIY projects!

Paper Spinning Helicopters

If you’ve ever been near a maple tree in the late summer or early fall, you’ve probably watched their seeds twirl down from high branches and fall near the base of the tree. These seeds are a natural example of how helicopters work by creating lift!

Rubber Band Helicopter

Learn about helicopters by making a rubber band powered flying toy! Ask your child to imagine how their helicopter would fly on Mars. What design changes would they make?

How to Land on Mars

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Landing on Mars is seriously hard.  So hard, that less than half of the missions humans have sent there have landed successfully. Share these fun facts about landing on Mars with your child, then try the activity below!

7 Minutes of Terror | It will take about 7 minutes for Perseverance to travel from the top of Mars’s atmosphere to its surface. Scientists call this part of a mission the “Seven Minutes of Terror.”

Autonomous Landing | Perseverance is designed to land on Mars all by itself, meaning no humans will be controlling it during the landing sequence! 

Supersonic Parachute | To help it land safely, engineers have equipped Perseverance’s spacecraft with a supersonic parachute. The parachute is over 70 feet (21 meters) in diameter, about the size of a tennis court!

DIY Parachute

Follow this activity to stage a Mars landing at home with your very own parachute! What would you land on Mars?

Watch the Perseverance landing LIVE!

The NASA TV broadcast from Mission Control starts at 11:15 a.m. PST/2:15 p.m. EST on February 18th. Watch it here.