Category Archives: Cool Products

Kid City Does Spangler Science!

Bloomington, Indiana’s Kid City had a Spangler Science experience this week at Ivy Tech Community College, and according to a very professional exit poll* it was a big hit!

Kid City Science started off with marshmallow/toothpick towers.  The goal:  HEIGHT.
Kid City Science started off with marshmallow/toothpick      towers. The goal: HEIGHT.

After this project (Prize:  Insta-Snow!) a trip to the restroom to wash all that marshmallow dust off our hands was in order.  Before the students left the room, however, each got a squirt of GlitterBug Lotion to rub all over his/her hands.  They were then told to wash their hands thoroughly.

A casual handwashing will NOT get all the dirt off your skin!

One black light viewing later, and the students decided to go back to the sinks and try again.

That official exit poll* indicated that the hit of the morning was Insta-Worms.  The excitement also indicated that Insta-Worms were a popular activity.  We used Atomic Insta Worms because, well, they’re COOL, and we already had the black light.

They GLOW!

Polymer science is awesome in so many ways, and Insta-Worms is one of those ways.


Kid City students agree:  Insta-Worms rocked.

Both boys and girls agreed: Insta-Worms were awesome!
Both boys and girls agreed: Insta-Worms were awesome!
If it breaks, you can just stick it back together!  Polymers!
If it breaks, you can just    stick it back together!    Polymers!
You can make those Insta-Worms really long, too!
You can make those Insta-Worms really long, too!
The Kid City counselors loved the Insta-Worms, too!
The Kid City counselors loved the Insta-Worms,    too!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, you’re NEVER too old to have fun with science – just ask those Kid City counselors up there!

And the QUESTIONS!  All morning, super questions about polymers, and pyramids, and black lights, and more.  When there are lots of questions, there is lots of learning going on.

QUESTIONS!  There were     questions!
QUESTIONS! There were    questions!

And there was tie dye – not the t-shirt kind – the milk kind!

Tie Dye Milk
Tie dye, using whole milk, food coloring, and Dawn dishwashing detergent!
And more tie dye!
And more tie dye!
. . . and MORE!
. . . and MORE!

Color-changing milk is such a simple experiment, and yet the results are beautiful.  All you need is a plate, a cotton swab, a dot of Dawn dishwashing detergent, and some whole milk.  I think it usually looks like tie dye, but some of the Kid City students thought theirs looked like stained glass.  It did, too.

We did a lot more in our three hours together – culminating with some ice cream in a zip-lock bag – but these were some highlights.

The morning with Kid City was a lot of fun, for the counselors, for me, and from the reactions, questions, and laughter, for the students as well.  And, as with most things that create genuine laughter and fun, there was a lot of learning, as well.  I hope much of the morning’s lab ended up at each student’s dinner table, because, as Steve Spangler himself often says, “If it ends up at the dinner table, it was a success.”

As for that exit poll I was referring to up there, I asked each student, as he/she exited the lab, what they liked best.  The Atomic Worms pretty much won, but every experiment we’d done that morning was mentioned, so I count them all a success.

A success.  You know – like each and every one of those wonderful Kid City kids are now and will be for the rest of their lives.


UV Beads: Experiments and Crafts!

There are so many creative things to make and do with Spangler Science’s Color Changing Beads – UV Beads – that we’re going to talk about just a few here.  We simply don’t have all day!

Spangler Science UV Beads!
Spangler Science UV Beads!

Our UV beads are pony beads that have been treated so that they react with the sun’s UV rays.  The beads are snow white when they are not in the sun, and they turn various colors when the sun’s rays hit them.

For this reason, our UV beads are fantastic when you or your children plan to spend some time at the beach or any place that is outdoors, in reach of the sun’s rays.

Many parents or childcare providers like to give each child a little bracelet made of UV beads, or weave a bead or two into a child’s hair, or safety-pin a single bead – or two or three – to a child’s swimsuit or play clothes.  When the sunscreen is applied to the child’s skin, some is also spread over the beads.  When the beads begin to turn color, it’s time for more sunscreen!  In this way, even very small children can help take responsibility for their own sunscreen application!

UV bead bracelet


The beads will turn colors even when the day is cloudy, but the colors will be brighter in bright sunlight.  Remember, our skin is in danger from UV rays even on cloudy days, and the beads can help us stay alert!

Have you ever wondered why most prescription medicine is sold in those amber bottles?  UV rays can’t penetrate the amber, so your medication stays fresh; UV rays can actually change the chemical content of your pills.

A good experiment is to put a few UV beads in an empty amber medicine bottle and replace the lid.  Take the bottle outside; even the brightest sunlight can’t touch the beads!

The sun's UV rays can't touch the pills in this bottle!
The sun’s UV rays can’t touch the             pills in this bottle!

But if you open the lid and let the sunshine touch the beads, they will change colors.

UV beads in opened bottlePour the beads into your hand and the colors will really flow!

Just a few seconds in the sun, and the colors are showing!  They'll get even darker in less than a minute!
Just a few seconds in the sun, and the colors are showing! They’ll get even         darker in less than a minute!

The high school and college students in my community are wearing their UV beads in an even more creative way – they’re crocheting a long chain, with a bead placed every ten stitches or so, tying the ends together, and winding them around their wrists.  Apparently these wrist-wraps are quite popular, and with the UV beads, they’re quite useful as well!

UV bead crocheted loopI’ve seen some of the students wear this as a necklace, but most of them are using it as a wrist-wrap.

UV bead wrist-wrapPretty cool, huh.

Well, they made one for me, and I sure thought so!

By the way, water will not hurt your UV beads at all, but it will wash away the sunscreen you put on them.  Be sure to reapply your sunscreen the minute you see the beads start to turn colors!




Water Jelly Marbles Give Gardening a Novel Touch!

While people are still planting seeds for the summer’s gardens, why not be a little novel about it and use some polymers, specifically Water Jelly Marbles, or Clear Spheres?

Spangler Science’s Water Jelly Marbles – Clear Spheres –  have so many and varied uses, and gardening is one of those uses.  In fact, gardening itself has many and varied uses for Water Jelly Marbles!

Water Jelly Marbles


Both multi-colored and clear jelly marbles can be used for this experiment, and both work equally well, but you’ll be able to SEE the results better if you use the clear marbles.

Multi-colored or clear, any kind of water jelly marble will work for this experiment!
Multi-colored or clear, any kind of water jelly marble will work for this experiment!

First of all, you’ll need to hydrate the tiny polymer balls and let them grow.   I usually put some in a shallow pan and add water.

Growing jelly marble polymers
These water jelly marbles are almost full grown and ready!

For experimenting, I like to use nasturtium seeds because they grow so incredibly fast.  Any kind of seed, except the very large ones, may be used.

Using a VERY sharp knife, make a tiny slit in the jelly marble, and insert the seed.  It’s okay for the seed to stick out a little bit, but most of it should be inside the jelly marble.

seeds inside the water jelly marbles

My kids looked at the pan of seeds-inside-the-marbles and said, “Jeepers, Mom, it looks like a pan of fertilized eggs!”  They do, sort of.  That’s another kind of lesson, however.

Here's a closeup!
Here’s a closeup!

Like any kind of hydroponic garden, the nasturtium seeds should, within a few days, germinate and begin to grow.  When they are still pretty tiny, I’ll transplant them to some actual dirt, polymer ball and all!

The water jelly marble will continue to help hydrate the plant even after it blossoms; that’s one reason people put a pinch of polymer marbles under the root or with the seeds of both vegetable and flowering plants.  Polymers are the gardener’s best friend!

And now, we wait.


Insta-Snow: It’s a Ton of Fun!

Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow is not only a useful gardening/decorating product; it is also a ton of fun!  And when you play with it using martini glasses, it’s even more fun!  Okay, they were plastic martini glasses from the dollar store, but even so.  Tell me these aren’t elegant!

A blue scoop of Insta-Snow, and we're ready to go!
A blue scoop of Insta-Snow, and we’re ready to go!

(I always get the bucket of Insta-Snow because I use it all the time for a variety of different reasons.)  (So I need a lot of it.) bucket of Insta-SnoqMy daughter and two of her friends came by the other day with gooseberries to be made into pie, and strawberries to be made into jam, and these projects require a mommy if they’re to be successful.  While waiting for the pie to bake and the jam to gel, we brought out the Insta-Snow because Insta-Snow pretty much guarantees a good time to be had by all.

Sara is used to Spangler Science experiments and projects, but Mary and Arwa were newbies.  Sometimes I’m not sure which is the most fun to do experiments with, but I think it’s a tie.

All three young ladies put the exact same amount of snow into their martini glasses and added the exact same amount of water.  Naturally, they ended up with three different reactions.

Sara‘s glass was full of slush.  Mary‘s glass was half-full of snow and half-full of powder.  But Arwa – the Insta-Snow powder in Arwa’s glass swelled and overflowed into the plate and she ended up with a pile of perfect Insta-Snow.

Arwa Merriman, polymer scientist!
Arwa Merriman, polymer scientist!

Now, upon examination, even though it seemed that each girl was doing exactly the same thing, Sara actually put too much water in her glass and Mary stopped and started too much.  But Arwa did it exactly right and her results are proof of that.

I was kind of surprised at Sara’s results – she grew up in this house and has done Spangler Science experiments all her life!  But to be fair, she was concentrating on her pizza. . . .

Mary is a beginner, so I cut her some slack.  She also had her wisdom teeth removed that day so we’re not really sure she was mentally there all night.  Those dental drugs are fine, you know.  Her haircut was really cute, though.

Arwa is a beginner, too, but she turned out to be absolutely excellent at following directions, and she also has a lovely innate instinct for doing things well.  And she did.

Insta-Snow, Arwa's glass


Just look at that.  Don’t you wish you had some Insta-Snow?  You can, you know.  You can order some Insta-Snow right here!   Just choose how much you want and proceed from there!

Science experiments, remember, are just that:  experiments.  We think we are doing the same thing in the same way, but the truth is, there will always be variations, big and small, and even the smallest variation can mean a different result.

Summer’s here – finally – so what better time to order some Insta-Snow, and anything else you want – to make sure your kids are never bored this summer.

In fact, to make ABSOLUTELY sure your kids are not bored, why not sign up for the Spangler Science Experiment of the Week?  Every week, you’ll get a free experiment, complete with videos and clear instructions, in your email!  FREE!

Experiment of the Week

You can also sign up for the Spangler Science Club; it doesn’t cost much, and you’ll get a box full of awesome science swag every month, to keep your kids busy learning and having fun all summer long!

Spangler Science Club


Go on, click both of those links and sign up!  Then you and your family can play with Insta-Snow and other awesome things, too!

Families that do science experiments together have more fun.  Seriously.  They do.

We do.  You can, too.  Go for it!

Thank A Teacher This Week!

This is Teacher Appreciation Week, and this week, more than ever, we should all be thinking about all the teachers who have influenced us in a positive way.

Most of them, anyway!
Most of them, anyway!

I’ve posted here before about some of my favorite teachers, and those facts haven’t changed.  I still think of Mrs. Harrod, Mrs. Endris, and Dr. Jenkinson with all the loving feelings in the world.  They let a smallish, nerdy girl feel important, and if you’ve ever been a smallish, nerdy girl, you’ll know how wonderful that is.  And how rare.  (If you were a smallish, nerdy boy, you’ll know, too.)  No matter what kind of kid you were, you’ll know.  In fact, this applies to students of any age.  Teenage and adult students like to feel appreciated, too.

Steve Spangler understands this.  All of the products and all of the freebies and all of the experiments are made and meant to open worlds of wonder for all kids.  For all adults, too – nobody is ever too old to like to blow things up and learn the why and wherefore of the universe.  (Bonus points if you know why that expression is redundant.)

If you’re wondering about a gift for your favorite teacher, or your child’s teacher, look no further than Steve Spangler’s website, because our Gift Certificate will solve all your gift-giving problems.  I’m a teacher, and I’ll tell you the truth:  Teachers love gift certificates or gift cards.  After a single year in the classroom, a teacher will have collected enough mugs, candles, figurines, ornaments, and picture frames to start a gift shop.  Gift cards/certificates solve YOUR dilemma and give a teacher the chance to buy something he/she really wants or needs.

The best Teacher Appreciation gift possible!

Be sure to include a personal note with the certificate/card.  A personal remembrance is the most precious gift any teacher could ever receive.