Holidays Month in Genius Numbers: Meet Russ & Daughters’ Niki Russ Federman and Experiment with Candles

November 16, 2021 / DIY & Printable

Genius content refreshes every month! This December, dive into the world of winter holidays—Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa—and the geniuses who’ve helped us celebrate them.

We’ve compiled limited-time game updates, real-life genius stories, and educator-approved activities into interactive printables, designed to enhance your little one’s learning. Access this week’s printable by clicking the button below:

Game Update

Check out Osmo Numbers for a limited-time “trip” to the Mediterranean Sea (only available this month!).  From here, we’re close to where Hanukkah first began.

Genius Spotlight: Niki Russ Federman

Imagine if the job you have when you grow up is the same one that your dad, grandma, and great-granddad all had…in the exact same building, too. For Niki Russ Federman, that’s real life! She is the co-owner of Russ and Daughters, a famous food shop and cafe in New York City.

Over 100 years ago, Niki’s great-grandfather Joel started a shop to provide his fellow Jewish neighbors with some of their favorite foods. His three daughters worked there growing up and became his business partners. 

Russ and Daughters is the first business in the US to have “and Daughters” in its name. Businesses ending with “and Sons” are more common because family businesses were usually passed down to men.

Niki’s grandma Anne was one of Joel’s daughters. In 2009, Niki and her cousin Josh took over Russ and Daughters from her father. Under their leadership, the business expanded locations, becoming an even bigger part of its community. People around the world come to Russ and Daughters for their bagels, fish, latkes, and more.

It’s very special for a family business to survive for four generations. Not only has Niki helped keep her family legacy alive, she’s helping keep a very important (and very delicious) slice of culture alive, too.

Real-World Activity: Drinking Candles

Try this educator-approved activity at home. This week’s printable (button above) has instructions with photos!

Candles are part of many holidays, from birthdays to the ones we celebrate during winter. When a candle is lit, many scientific things start happening. For example, air pressure around it changes!

To see for yourself, you’ll need a grownup’s help. Never play with candles or matches by yourself.

Materials list:

  • Clear drinking glass or jar
  • Small candle (votive, birthday, or candlestick tip)
  • Lighter or match
  • Small plate
  • ⅓ cup water
  • Optional: food coloring
  • Optional: play dough
  1. Place your candle in the middle of the plate. If it can’t stand up on its own, have a grownup melt some wax at the bottom or use playdough to stick it down. It needs to stay upright during the experiment!
  2. Fill the plate with water. Color it if you have food coloring.
  3. Have a grownup light the candle.
  4. Carefully place the glass/jar upside down over the candle.
  5. Watch what happens!

Explanation: As the candle burned and went out, air pressure inside the glass changed. It looked like it was drinking the water, but that was just outside air being drawn up into the low pressure glass.