Flying Potatoes at the Michigan Early Childhood Conference

I had the wonderful pleasure of presenting the keynote address at the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MIAEYC) 2005 conference. This presentation was, however, a little more challenging than most because of what DID NOT arrive in my suitcase. Oh, my luggage arrived but just not all of it. It seems that the nice screeners at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) decided that my bag looked particularly interesting and they decided to take a peek… without my knowing it. Someone also decided to help themselves to a few of my demonstrations and visual aids. When I opened my case on the morning of the presentation, all of my books were gone along with a few cool science gadgets and, most importantly, my potato launcher! Mind you, my potato launcher is a piece of plastic tubing and a wooden stick! It does a nice job of demonstrating the properties of air and it is in no way a threat to anyone. With less than one hour before my presentation, I scurried through the convention center and the exhibit hall in search of anything that might work as a temporary potato launcher. The science demo Gods must have had pitty on me because I was able to slap together a make-shift potato launcher out of a kid’s glitter wand and a giant pencil! No kidding! There was no time to even try it out before the presentation started, so I launched a chunk of spud in front of about 2,000 teachers and it easily few about 150 feet! Life is good. Hmmm? I wonder what else I could create in times of desparation?

Attending the MIAEYC conference reminded me of how fortunate we are to have such dedicated professionals who are constantly striving to raise the standards of excellence in early childhood education. Hats off to Keith Meyer and Laurie Nickson for creating another unforgettable experience.

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Comments (3)

  • Lora and Kris Reply

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for all of your marvelous energy and enthusiasm.  Kris and I were finally able to present a “Steve Spangler” workshop to over 100 preschool teachers at our Pinecrest School Early Childhood Development Professional Development Day.  We put on 5 separate workshops (50 minutes each) and crammed in everything we could, from the wind bag to the baby soda bottles, the Total, the growing alligator, snow, water play with the cup and mason jar and water gel, spinning balloons, etc.  Everyone received a 10 page (double sided) hand out with all of the experiments plus a Steve Spangler catalog. We even shook up the soda can and did the sink and float with the diet and regular sodas.
    The grand finale was held at the end of the day when we “volunteered” 2 teachers from each school (24 teachers) and had them each stand by a 2 liter soda bottle previously placed in the sand box.  With 200 teachers looking on, we gave them all the equipment and instructions along with the shower caps.  We did it right.  We made it big and we did it with class, just like you showed us. What an explosive ending!
    My boss asked me, “How are you going to top this next year?”  We’re counting on you, Steve, to give us the answer!
    We had a wonderful time and hope we inspired a lot of teachers to look at science in a new and (Steve Spangler) fun way.
    Thanks again.
    Lora True
    Kris Metzinger

    May 10, 2005 at 9:55 am
  • Chris@Custom Tote Reply

    … and, as a result, your site can now be found by people searching for stories about potato launcher improvisation! It’s like Science Jazz.

    March 30, 2009 at 7:21 pm
  • Jack@Find It Local - Michiana Reply

    Wow, its great that you could piece together a make shift one just in time. And luckily it worked too! Science can truly be so much more fun when applied practically. No memorizing is required thereafter. Kids naturally tend to remember what they have seen.

    April 5, 2009 at 5:13 am

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