Weld North Education Acquires Twig Education

Weld North Education, the largest provider of digital curriculum solutions in the US, has announced the acquisition of Twig Education, creators of high-quality science curriculum products designed to improve science literacy globally. Based in the UK, with a strong team in the US, Twig’s flagship product, Twig Science Next Gen, is a highly engaging, multimedia-rich, digital-first science program, grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), with unique partnerships with Imperial College London, Stanford University, and BBC Studios.

The acquisition of Twig is an important step forward as Weld North continues to expand its digital core curriculum offerings, delivering on its mission to empower educators to drive learning breakthroughs and support each student’s unique learning journey. Founded in 2009, Twig entered the US market in 2018 with an innovative program designed to meet the NGSS, integrating visual, digital, and hands-on learning. Today, Twig has a 30% share of the elementary science market in California with plans to expand across the US. Twig CEO Catherine Cahn, based in California, will continue to manage the business.

 “Our purpose—to ignite learning breakthroughs—has never been more important as we partner with schools, districts, parents, and students to unlock the power of digital solutions to enrich the learning experience,” said Jonathan Grayer, founder and CEO of Weld North Education, “Twig’s engaging science curriculum fits perfectly with our other K–12 core offerings in math and English Language Arts—LearnZillion and StudySync—and has an exceptional reputation among educators using the program. By expanding Twig’s footprint across the country, we can inspire more students to understand the world around us and pursue STEM careers.”

Twig Science Next Gen is a phenomena-based core science program embracing the investigative, hands-on nature of NGSS, with a focus on storytelling and making science relevant for learners through a multimedia-rich product that is visually appealing. It has been adopted by major school districts, such as Irvine and Garden Grove, CA; Beaverton, OR; and Oklahoma City.

“In Weld North we have found a partner who shares our goal to improve global science literacy and understands the important role that science education plays in the development of 21st-century citizens,” said Catherine Cahn. “We are excited to introduce our products to many more classrooms across the US through Weld North’s unrivaled reach and to provide teachers the tools they need to create aha! moments for their students.”

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10 Exciting STEM Careers for 2021… and Beyond


It doesn’t have to be hard to get students excited about STEM careers! There are so many different STEM careers out there, many of them in new fields that didn’t exist a few years ago, and you can really help to inspire your students to think about things they would truly love doing with their lives.

We’ve put together some of the most exciting career opportunities for 2020, but these are just the tip of the iceberg…


1. Gameplay Engineer/Programmer

These are great career choices for students who love video and computer games—and kids don’t need to wait till they’re older to get started. Both roles involve quite a bit of coding, but in slightly different ways. A gameplay engineer generally works more on the broader game “engine,” while a gameplay programmer is more involved at a later stage—with the nitty-gritty details. Either way, these careers involve designing whole worlds and seeing them come to life! 


2. Certified Ethical Hacker

As we become more and more reliant on integrated networks, hackers who attack computer systems to steal valuable information have become a bigger threat. To combat these attacks, ethical hackers use exactly the same techniques in order to find weaknesses in computer systems so that companies can then figure out how to improve their security. Pretty cool, huh?


3. Underwater Archeologist

Water covers about 71% of Earth’s surface, so there’s a lot to discover at the bottom of seas and lakes! Underwater archeology is a bit trickier than normal archeology, involving techniques such as surveying sites with sonar, depth gauges, and tape measurements, and sending down divers or ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles). It’s an exciting and challenging field, with a great deal of depth!


4. Nanosystems Engineer

This is a very new career, but one that is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. It’s something of a mind-boggling one, as it involves working with material that is about 1/100,000th the width of a strand of human hair! Materials interact very differently when they’re this small, and a nanosystems engineer investigates these microscopic interactions to come up with new ways to use different materials—for example carbon nanotubes, which are the strongest and stiffest materials ever discovered!


5. Atmospheric Scientist/Storm Tracker

People in these roles study the atmosphere of the Earth by measuring properties such as temperature and air pressure to predict and track weather phenomena. Storm trackers are atmospheric scientists who specialize in studying serious weather issues such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. This is a really important job as it involves making sure people have enough time to move somewhere safe before a severe storm hits. 


6. LEGO Designer

There doesn’t have to be a reason to stop playing with LEGO! This job combines an eye for design and art with a talent for engineering. LEGO designers need to come up with new and exciting ideas for LEGO sets, while also making sure that they work as actual structures! It’s a competitive career with few openings, but with the right combination of creativity and eye for detail, there is no reason not to aim for it.


7. Mobile Application Developer

Think about how many apps you use every day. Behind every single one of them are people who work as app developers and designers. Depending on which route a developer goes down, they can either focus on the “User Experience” (UX) and the outward design or be part of writing the underlying code. There are so many different types of apps to work on—games, social media, photo-editing, to name just a few—which makes this a really varied career. 


8. Aerospace Engineer

You’ve probably heard of this one, but we thought it would be worth including, as it’s a field where exciting things keep happening! Aerospace engineers work on researching, designing, developing, and testing aircraft, missiles, satellites, and space vehicles. Engineers in this field have the chance to be part of developing groundbreaking new technology—even sending people to new planets!


9. Photonics Engineer

Light is a powerful and diverse energy source, and photonics engineers work on systems such as optical telecommunications (transmitting information via optical fibers) and laser manufacturing for everything from eye surgeries to navigation. This is a growing field with many different branches of photonics emerging, so who knows what will next be discovered!


10. 3D Printing Engineer

3D printing is used in many different fields, such as medicine and architecture. Most of the time, 3D printing experts are needed to carry out these jobs. This role requires a combination of creativity with engineering skills and, depending on the field, medical or architectural knowledge. While there are at-home 3D printers that anyone can use, more complex things really require someone with expertise! 


There you go—10 exciting STEM careers for 2020! If you’ve missed our earlier blog posts about exciting and unusual STEM careers, take a look here and here as well. Of course, Twig Science gives students experience in dozens of STEM careers, as well as introducing them to real-life scientists and engineers.

Environmental Principles and Concepts (EPCs) and the NGSS

You might’ve heard about California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EPCs)—but what are they, actually? And how do they affect teaching the NGSS? 

The EPCs were developed in 2004 by over 100 scientists and technical experts, with the purpose of highlighting the strong link between human societies and the natural world. The EPCs consist of five overarching environmental principles and 15 supporting concepts, which are meant to influence the topics that are taught in K–12 schools. In science teaching, they are additional standards that should be covered, in addition to the NGSS standards described by the California Framework.

For Twig Science, we have taken great care to cover all of the EPCs across all grades, so that you don’t need to worry about them. You can simply teach lesson by lesson, safe in the knowledge that you will be covering all NGSS standards and all EPCs. 

Let’s break down the EPCs to see what’s going on—and take a look at some examples of how they work in the context of Twig Science.

Principle 1: People Depend on Natural Systems

The first EPC highlights that humans rely on the natural world for food and other goods and services. As a result, the health of the planet directly affects the health of human life and the future of our societies and communities. 

An example of how we implement this is in Grade 5, Module 3: H2O Response Team. Here, students become hydrologists, investigating the growing problem of water scarcity. They investigate why humans rely so heavily on freshwater and what can threaten our supply of it. Finally, they come up with a campaign to save water.  

Principle 2: People Influence Natural Systems

The life and health of wildlife, marine life, trees and plants are all affected by human behavior, especially with growing populations and increased consumption. This principle stresses that everything from politics and economics to agriculture has a noticeable effect on natural systems.

In The Red List (Grade 6, Module 3) students take on the roles of ecologists on a mission to save endangered species from extinction. They research the threats these species face and what conservationists do to protect them, before coming up with their own conservation plan. 

Principle 3: Natural Systems Change in Ways that People Benefit From and Can Influence

Natural systems depend on cycles and processes—such as the changing seasons. This principle highlights how these natural cycles are also crucial to human life, and how human activity can change them—both in harmful and in positive ways.

As an example, students examine the way that landforms change, in Save the Island (Grade 2, Module 4). They research ways that landforms change and discover how humans have come up with engineering solutions to, for example, hold back floods or slow down erosions. Using what they’ve learned, they come up with a plan to save the island of Tangier, which is at risk of disappearing because of coastal erosion. 

Principle 4: There are no Permanent or Impermeable Boundaries that Prevent Matter from Flowing Between Systems

Principle 4 emphasizes that anything created by humans can easily end up in natural systems—and vice versa. Some things, like plastic waste and oil spills can be very damaging, whereas other things may have a neutral (or sometimes even a beneficial) effect. 

To apply this, students become science journalists in Sparks Energy, Inc. (Grade 4, Module 2), and investigate the consequences of how we get energy: from coal, oil and nuclear, to renewable sources like air and wind. In teams, students carry out research, investigations and interviews, and write an exclusive article from their findings.  

Principle 5: Decisions Affecting Resources and Natural Systems are Complex and Involve Many Factors

This principle considers how politicians and other people in power must take into account social, economic, political and environmental factors when making decisions about the use of natural resources—and how these factors are changing over time. 

In Cities of the Future (Grade 6, Module 4), students become decision-makers as they design an environmentally friendly city of the future. After investigating the impact of human activities on the environment—using case studies, real-life examples, and data—they must balance the needs of a population with the protection of the natural environment, as they plan their cities. 

It is becoming increasingly obvious that human activities can have a detrimental effect on the natural world, and individuals are becoming increasingly aware of these issues, as last week’s global climate march demonstrated.

Your students are growing up in a tumultuous time. Given the right guidance, they may become future scientists, making groundbreaking discoveries and creating revolutionary inventions. Through incorporating the EPCs, Twig Science ensures that students get a thorough understanding of current issues and the chance to think of ways to create solutions.