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National Candy Month!

Jun-08, 2020

candy, lollipop, m&ms, gummy worms, sugar, peppermints, fruit slices, swirls

Did you know that June is National Candy Month? Talk about a sweet celebration. June is the month we celebrate all things sugar. Beyond its incredible taste, sugar is actually a fascinating molecule with some pretty remarkable scientific properties. Let’s take a closer look at what makes sugar such a special substance in our lives.

The molecule which we call sugar is officially known as sucrose. There are several different kinds of sugar molecules. Sucrose is actually a combination of two of them: fructose and glucose. Fructose is found in fruit and honey, and gives things like apples, oranges, and bananas their sweetness. Believe it or not, fructose is sweeter than sucrose! Glucose is often found in grains like wheat, rice, and corn, and is not as sweet as either fructose or sucrose. Another kind of sugar is lactose, the sweet molecule found in animal milk, perfect for growing babies who need lots of nutrition for healthy development. Lactose is the least sweet of the four major sugars, probably because it’s meant mostly for infants to eat.

So where does sucrose come from? Certain plants like sugar cane and sugar beets produce sucrose instead of fructose or glucose alone, combining the molecules and creating a more complex and pleasing flavor. Their juices are boiled, leaving sugar crystals behind. The byproduct of making sugar is called molasses, a thick syrupy substance with a smoky, complex flavor. Originally thrown away, molasses has become a staple of many cuisines for its distinct taste. White sugar contains no molasses, but brown sugar has some of the molasses mixed into it, creating a deeper flavor and adding moisture. Many baking recipes call for a mix of both white and brown sugars in various proportions. Products that only use white sugar tend to by dryer and more brittle, like sugar cookies or shortbread. Products that use mostly brown sugar tend to be chewier and sometimes stickier, like chocolate chip cookies or Dutch apple pie.

Candy makers, or confectioners as they’re know, have found many interesting ways to cook with sugar. By mixing sugar with water, flavorings, and other ingredients, and then heating and cooling their concoctions to various temperatures, they can produce different textures to the candy they make. Sometimes it can be stretchy and chewy like taffy, or hard and clear like lollipops. Which candy contains the most sugar? That would be cotton candy, or spun sugar. It’s about as pure a sugary candy as you can find! There’s actually a lot of science that goes into candy making, and confectioners use many of the same tools that scientists do when creating experiments in a lab!

So, what do you think? Interested in turning your home kitchen into a candy laboratory? There are lots of experiments you can do to learn more about the cool properties of sugar! Be sure to share any tasty results with your family, that way they can celebrate National Candy Month with you!

May 22nd Is National Sunscreen Day

May-20, 2020

family playing in the sand with kids in summer

Photo created by bearfotos

Memorial Day weekend usually means fun in the sun, time with family, and a preview of the summer to come. But it also means the observance of National Sunscreen Day, aka Don’t Fry Day. Created by the National Council on Skin Care Prevention, National Sunscreen Day is always observed on the Friday before Memorial Day. So, this year we will observe the holiday on Friday, May 22nd, 2020.

The Council provides promotional materials and resources to promote this day. Many local businesses and municipal organizations also get involved to promote awareness. But why is the Don’t Fry message so important? Isn’t going outside and enjoying the sunshine good for our bodies?

Sunlight is essential for the human body. When sunlight shines on our skin, it motivates our bodies to convert cholesterol to vitamin D, a very important vitamin for our bodies which is hard to come by in our diets. It’s estimated that 40% of American adults have a vitamin D deficiency. So, it certainly seems like we could all do with some serious time in the sun.

However, exposure to sunlight can also expose us to serious health risks. The UV radiation found in sunlight damages the skin cells. Over time, this damage can accumulate and create skin cancer. It will also cause spotting, wrinkles, and rough patches on the skin. There is no such thing as a safe tan, even from tanning beds, anyone is susceptible to sun damage, no matter how much melanin naturally occurs in their skin. This problem is so prevalent that currently, 1 in 5 people will develop some form of skin cancer by age 70. So much for a “healthy glow.”

Don’t Fry Day aka National Sunscreen Day is the perfect opportunity to teach good habits to kids regarding sun exposure and protection. Parents can teach proper application techniques, how to limit sun exposure, and how to recognize warning signs. Here are a few tips from us at Best Brains!

  • Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout your time in the sun, at least every two hours, and again after excessive sweating or swimming.
  • Do not use tanning beds. Ever. They are very unsafe for your skin and there are alternatives like spray tans which can give you the same effect.
  • Check yourself and your family’s skin every week in the summertime, and report any moles or dark spots to your family doctor. These will have to be monitored over time to check for growth or discoloration.

The most important message of National Sunscreen Day is that the risks posed by sun exposure can be mitigated with sunscreen and mindfulness. So, get out there and safely enjoy the sunshine!

Celebrate Earth Day with a Haiku

Apr-22, 2020

hugging earth cartoon

Photo created by pikisuperstar

What better way to honor Mother Earth than with a lovely haiku poem ? This traditional Japanese style of poetry is a favorite all over the world, so let’s write one together!

As you may know, as traditional haiku has 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line, and 5 syllables in the third line. This 5-7-5 scheme represents simplicity and calm. A haiku can capture the briefest moment and make it beautiful. Scientists estimate that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. That’s a lot of moments, and a lot of potential haiku!

When creating your haiku, choose a moment in nature which meant a great deal to you. A beautiful sunset, or a bird landing in your yard, or the way an icicle drips when the sun comes out. You can look around outside for moments like this to add to your memories. Breathe in the fresh air, walk between the trees, look and listen to the natural world around you.

Paper and Pencil

Photo created by jannoon028

Now that we have the subject of our haiku, let’s construct it. A haiku doesn’t need fancy words, complex metaphors, or witty jokes. Let the haiku express your honest and true feelings. Here are some examples.

A bird on the lawn,
Rests only a moment here.
I hope he returns.

Winter can be cold.
But when I think of summer,
My memory warms.

This tree is a home.
I see the squirrel within it.
Be safe, little squirrel.

Haikus take practice to create, but can so perfectly capture a memory or a feeling. Let’s write haiku this week and save some memories we can share with others. If you would like to share your Earth Day haiku with us, please comment below!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov-26, 2019


As we approach Thanksgiving Day, everyone at Best Brains want to wish each of you and your family a wonderful celebration of gratitude. We are grateful for you for entrusting us to be part of your family and allowing us the opportunities to help your students. It is a blessing and privilege for the Best Brains family to do what we do best, teach.

For Thanksgiving, please continue to express gratitude to your students and let them know you are so proud of how hard they are working to learn and grow. Let’s all be grateful for the little students in our lives. They might be little. They definitely have big hearts and do their best!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Digital Learning Day – February 28th

Feb-25, 2019


Photo Credit: Sean Freese from Flickr

Every fourth Thursday in the month of February is Digital Learning Day. This year it falls on the 28th. Before you get carried away thinking this day is meant to drown out the need for teachers and educational personnel in our school systems, just know that you are jumping to the wrong conclusion.

What is Digital Learning?

Digital learning is any kind of instruction given that uses technology for educational purposes. With digital learning, teachers and educators are able to give more individualized instruction, feedback, provide better assessments, access challenging information, and provide opportunities for learning anywhere or anytime.

This type of instruction is not limited by any one kind of technology either. It may incorporate digital, content, blended or hybrid learning, online courses, digital resources, and more. This is high-quality instruction to ensure that each child is able to reach their full potential.

Digital learning is not just beneficial for the student though. It also provides tremendous support and assistance to teachers and educational personnel across the board. Using different technologies, professional educators are able to increase productivity and effectiveness which allows for more time to devote to their students.

The History and Purpose of Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning

Photo Credit: Dee & Tula monstah from Flickr

In this day and age, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest form of technologies available and to make sure they are effective as learning tools. Technology gives us the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things for education. However, only a handful of schools and teachers typically have access to some of these technological advances.

This day was started in 2012 as a way to share these new innovations and technologies with teachers and educators to make sure that all children are given access to digital learning opportunities.

Every year teachers and educators from all over the country get together to celebrate this day. Thousands of events take place nationwide to participate. Classrooms, schools, districts, and states all host these events with the sole purpose of sharing ideas and learning new ones. These pooled resources, lessons, and digital innovations make it possible for students’ education to improve and for teachers to become better at their jobs.

Many educational websites, schools, and companies also host webinars, online classes, and video-conferences on this day to help promote the sharing of these ideas. This day is not about replacing a teacher with a screen or any other form of technology. It's about creating the most effective learning environment for all students with tools that are used everywhere else besides the education industry. Let’s create better classrooms for America by spreading innovation and effective technology. Our children’s education depends on it.

World Thinking Day

Feb-18, 2019

Thinking Day

Photo Credit: Jesper Sehested from Flickr

Upon first glance, you might think this day is one that requires some deep thinking, something very intellectual and brainy. However, you might be surprised to find out that it may be a little more closely related to the heart than the mind. While your thoughts may lead to educational innovations and leading-edge technology, this day is meant for thinking of others and what we can do to help them.

The History of World Thinking Day

In 1926, the Girl Scouts of the United States held their fourth Girl Guide/Girl Scout International Conference. It was decided that they needed a day to highlight important international issues and make an extra effort to bring awareness and support to those issues. It was called “Thinking Day.

Originally, the date, February 22nd, was chosen to honor the birthdays of Scouting and Guiding founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell. However, it is much more than a birthday celebration, although it does typically involve parties and “gifts”.

At the seventh World Conference, delegates agreed verbal support would not always be enough and therefore, created the Thinking Day Fund. The movement asks that every member of the association donate at least one penny in support. These funds go directly to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS) to contribute to the spreading of their organization and worldwide causes.

The 30th World Conference, the name of the day and its fund was changed to World Thinking Day as a way to point out the need for global effort. Since then Guides, Scouts, their sister and even brother organizations around the world seek to change the world for the better by thinking of others and their needs, as well as giving monetary and time donations.

How to Celebrate World Thinking Day

School Children

Photo Credit: Dan Wright from Flickr

On a global scale, the organization selects a theme each year for the day. The theme for 2019 is Leadership. An activity guide and many events worldwide are then organized to go along with that theme and bring support to issues that affect over 10 million young women in over 150 countries.

Many local Guide and Scout branches hold parties and events to aid in this effort and to celebrate their organization and its history. They may find ways to connect with “sisters” overseas through radio, video chat, etc. or they may raise funds for community projects. In Auckland, New Zealand, girls hike to the top of Maungawhau (Mount Eden) where they make camp, hoist the Guide World Flag, and watch the sunrise while singing the World Song. They also make a point to discuss big and important issues and what they can do make a positive change.

Many Guides and Scouts hold a tradition of sending postcards to sisters around the world with the purpose to let them know they are not alone and are positively thought of. Another tradition is to light a candle in their window at dusk that evening. This is to remind them that they can be a positive light and bring change to the darkness in the world.

For those not directly involved in Girl Guides/Scouts, today is a good day to show your support. Offer a donation to their organization or local chapter. Buy some cookies or find a way to volunteer your time for a great cause. We can all help make a difference in the world, we just have to be willing to think of others.