Holiday Science—5 Festive Facts

The holiday season is just around the corner, so why not surprise your class with some fascinating facts about the holidays? Here are a few of our favorites…

1. How does Santa visit all the children in the world? According to NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command), he would have to travel 317,000,000 miles, at a speed of 1,800 miles per second, visiting 390,000 homes every minute! That’s 6,500 homes every second… 

2. Why does Rudolph’s nose glow red? A Norwegian scientist suggested it might be because of a parasitic or bacterial infection, while scientists at the University of Brighton think Rudolph could have a new adaptive trait: bioluminescence, or the ability to produce light through a chemical reaction, in the same way as some fireflies and deep sea creatures do. 

3. December 21st marks the shortest day of the year—the winter solstice. In fact, the solstice occurs at an exact moment—December 21 at 8:19pm PST—which is when the Sun reaches its farthest southward point in the sky for the year. We in the Northern Hemisphere experience the shortest day and longest night of the year—while those in the Southern Hemisphere are at the height of summer.

4. The world’s tallest “snow person” was a snow woman built by Robin Zinchuk in Bethel, Maine, in 2008. The snow woman was 37 metres (or 122 ft) tall, and 13 million pounds of snow was needed to build her.

5. Astronauts on the International Space Station get a day off on Christmas Day, enjoying a special meal and even opening presents. But because it only takes 92 minutes for the ISS spacecraft to go around the Earth, the astronauts will see 15 Christmas mornings in one day!

At Twig Education, we believe that connecting science to real life and to current events really helps get students engaged. We hope these facts have helped to get you into the holiday mood!

Discover the Magic of Twig Science Next Gen

At Twig we are committed to the NGSS vision of “All students, all standards.” Through our programs, we provide experiences and opportunities to inspire each and every student. 

Elementary School

Twig Science Next Gen is a complete Pre-K–8 program built for the NGSS, in which students investigate, design, build, and understand phenomena using a blend of hands-on, digital, video, and print resources. 

Find out more about how Twig Science Next Gen can inspire your students in this video…


Research shows students decide how they feel about science at an early age, so Twig Science Next Gen makes sure to get them excited from the very start. Through story-led modules, Pre-K students explore phenomena with hands-on investigations, captivating videos, fun interactives, and songs. 

Find out more!

Middle School

Are you teaching Middle School students? We’ve got your back. In Twig Science Next Gen, students become immersed in multimedia storylines, embark on virtual field trips, and experience how people from all backgrounds achieve success in STEAM careers. They collaborate with scientists, make sense of phenomena, and solve problems using cutting-edge technology. Get a taste:

If you’d like to find out more about what we can do for you, feel free to get in touch at

A bar chart showing the amount of CARES Act Funding unspent across the US as a whole (25%) and in Arkansas (29%), California (25%), Florida (88%), Louisiana (69%), Michigan (92%), Nevada (82%), Oklahoma (95%), and Texas (88%).

CARES Act Funding: Use it or Lose It

A bar chart showing the amount of CARES Act Funding unspent across the US as a whole (25%) and in Arkansas (29%), California (25%), Florida (88%), Louisiana (69%), Michigan (92%), Nevada (82%), Oklahoma (95%), and Texas (88%).

The US Treasury recently announced that the CARES Act funding program will come to a close at the end of the year. After that time, any coronavirus relief money left unspent by states will need to be returned. This means that states—which on average have spent just 25% of their funding to date—are in a position where they must use their remaining CARES Act allocation or lose it. 

The emergency relief fund created by the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a total of $2 trillion to mitigate the economic and public health consequences of COVID-19. Part of this funding was set aside for K–12 schools to deal with issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—around $13.2 billion in funding was specifically earmarked for Grades K–12. 

The funding can be put toward a wide range of uses, but a significant purpose of the funding is to target education technology deficits in the wake of the switch to long-term hybrid and/or distance learning. For example: 

  • Managing and coordinating long-term remote learning, including ensuring all students have the resources they need to receive virtual instruction
  • Addressing the needs of at-risk students, including English Learners, students with special needs, ethnic minority students, etc.
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and programs) to facilitate regular, substantive interaction between instructors and students
  • Purchasing assistive technology or adaptive equipment for students with disabilities

Many states have addressed these needs by applying CARES funding to the purchase of solutions for hybrid/distance learning, such as our own comprehensive, cost-effective Twig Distance Learning program. The advantage Twig Distance Learning has over other programs is that it works just as effectively for hybrid, in-person, or remote instruction.

With Twig Coach video lessons, students enjoy the benefit of being able to view science lessons at their convenience—struggling students can even rewatch as needed to solidify their understanding. Hands-on Video Labs allow students to experience complete laboratory activities, remotely, developing skills in observation, gathering and analyzing evidence, and constructing explanations, without needing to have the materials on hand. As a result, the unique Twig Coach and Video Labs features allow teachers to assign lessons for asynchronous learning in which students work independently, but they also integrate seamlessly with in-person sessions to provide a comprehensive, standards-based solution.

Some of the key benefits of Twig Distance Learning for hybrid instruction include:

  • Rich, high-quality videos, visuals, and interactives for genuine engagement away from the classroom
  • Comprehensive coverage of 3-D science standards
  • Cross-curricular applications: Arts, Math, ELA
  • Opportunities to differentiate for ELL, SPED, on-level, and advanced students
  • On-demand sessions with the Twig Coach and Video Labs

To discuss how Twig Distance Learning can help you to make great use of your CARES Act funding before you lose it—or to request a free trial—get in touch today

What Are Vaccines?

A scientist working at our partners Imperial College London explains what vaccines are and what the latest developments mean.

If you have ever had a cold or the flu, it was probably caused by a virus. If you have had a cold sore, it was definitely caused by a virus. Viruses are tiny particles that can enter our bodies and make us ill. Some viruses are more harmful than others. It is hard to avoid them. We can breathe some viruses in without even realising it.

Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria that make us ill, but they don’t affect viruses. But vaccines can stop us getting ill from a virus. We take a vaccine – or get vaccinated – by swallowing medicine or having an injection. Vaccines are like Superman’s Kryptonite for viruses – the best thing to defeat them! 

Scientists spend years working on vaccines to prevent viruses from infecting us. The first-ever vaccine was for a disease called smallpox. This disease killed 30% of people who caught it. The smallpox vaccine was developed over 220 years ago by English scientist Edward Jenner. Thanks to the vaccine, smallpox was wiped from the face of the Earth. Nobody will ever catch the disease again! Scientists think ancient Egyptians suffered from smallpox, over 2,300 years ago. It can take a long time and a lot of work to find a vaccine.

Currently, a virus called SARS-CoV-2 is causing illness and death around the world. This virus comes from a family of viruses called coronaviruses. You can say that SARS-CoV-2 is a type, or strain, of coronavirus. If this virus enters your body, it causes a disease called COVID-19.

Many scientists all over the world, including those at Imperial College London, are working hard to find a vaccine that stops COVID-19, and recently this hard work produced some great news. Scientists from two companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, have put their heads together and it looks like they might found a vaccine – they say that their vaccine is 90% effective. Another company, Moderna, has discovered a vaccine that they say is almost 95% effective. This means that if 100 people caught the virus, 95 of them would not get ill. And other companies and universities are trialling a number of vaccines right now.

This exciting news means the world might soon be able to go back more or less to how things were previously. Watch this space for more updates! We hope to have some more exciting news from the hardworking and dedicated scientists at Imperial soon!

Digital learning for young people and educators most in need

Twig Education and Imperial College London are honored to announce a new initiative to create science content for UNICEF’s Learning Passport, a digital personalized learning platform for children and young people. 

Through the partnership, science content created by Twig’s remote learning team and Imperial expert educators will be available to children and young people using the Learning Passport in Jordan, Puntland (Somalia), Timor-Leste and Ukraine, with expansion to more countries expected in the coming months. 

The Learning Passport has already been recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Projects of 2020 by the Project Management Institute. The ranking highlights the ingenious ways project managers and change-makers have found to keep initiatives moving forward in the face of unexpected obstacles associated with the global pandemic.

Catherine Cahn, Chief Executive of Twig Education, said:

“Last year’s global climate strikes demonstrated how the next generation will use their voices and knowledge to shape the future of our planet. Together with UNICEF and the Learning Passport, Twig Education and Imperial College London are honored to provide digital STEM resources for young people around the globe who might otherwise be excluded from this conversation.”

The Learning Passport was initially developed by UNICEF and partners to provide quality education to displaced and refugee children, and young people whose education had been disrupted due to conflict and emergencies. When COVID-19 shuttered schools for more than 90 per cent of the world’s schoolchildren, the platform underwent rapid expansion to help children access their school curriculum and other learning materials remotely.

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: 

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Twig Education on this important UNICEF project, the Learning Passport.  We are excited about the benefits this project will bring to those young people and educators most in need. We are honored that Imperial College London will be part of this legacy.”

What does the Passport focus on?

The Passport covers a range of key topics frequently covered by primary schools internationally, including:

  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Humanities and social sciences

These are integrated into a cohesive curriculum and offered on a unique online platform.

Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Chief of Education, said:

“The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated a long-standing learning crisis and digital divide. The most marginalized children, who have to fight the hardest to get an education, are at greatest risk of losing it altogether. As the impact on education deepens, these partnerships are a powerful reminder that by working together we can create innovative, scalable solutions that keep children learning.”

The urgency of providing a high-quality education

With disruption due to the pandemic continuing to impact the life chances of millions of children, fostering local, national, and international leaders of future generations has never been so critical. 

In the UK in response to the rise in home-schooling due to COVID-19, Imperial is offering free, online material based on the UK school curriculum. Partnering with UNICEF means Imperial and Twig are now able to reach an even larger audience of primary school children in need of an accessible and high-quality STEM education.

Learn more