Category Archives: Cool Products

The Big Bag of Science!

It seems like summer has only just begun, but the truth is, school will be starting in just a few weeks in many areas and nothing says preparation for school like Spangler Science’s Big Bag of Science!

Science is such an all-encompassing area, and one of our (many) goals here is to try to help as many kids (and adults, too!) learn just how awesome and interesting and fun science can be.  Remember, our goal here isn’t just to get kids excited about an explosion or a color change or a geyser, etc. – it’s to get kids excited about learning so that they become LIFELONG learners.

Our Big Bag of Science is just what your home needs to help everyone who lives there or visits there do experiments that will help a student (and we are ALL students) make connections and get a little sampling of all different kinds of science, each with experiments and explanations galore to make the process flow smoothly.  Physics, chemistry, biology. . . . measurements, observation. . . you name it, and this kit has it.

Check out the awesome – it’s Steve Spangler’s Big Bag of Science!

Just look at that Big Bag of Science – all those many possible experiments that will open up the world of science to your kids and help them greet the new school year with enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more and more!

While they’re at school, you’ll want to play with our Big Bag of Science, too.  Just try not to use anything up completely because, believe me, your kids know what was there when they were forced to leave this kit behind, and they’ll expect it all to still be there when they get home this afternoon.

There’s just nothing like our Big Bag of Science to get and keep kids interested in science.

They make great gifts, too.  The holidays aren’t that far away, you know.

Tornado Tube: Vortex in a Bottle!

You can use our tornado tube experiment to introduce students to kinetic energy, potential energy, and weather. This simple plastic tube can help kids discover how air pressure and density work together to create an incredible force of nature.  To put it simply, Spangler Science’s tornado tubes are all about the science of vortex energy, the swirling, twisting and spiraling action that can be found everywhere in nature – in the air, in the water, in the sky. . . everywhere!

When you let the water out of the sink or tub, that swirling that you see is vortex energy.  What you see in your bathtub is what Dorothy Gale and Toto saw right before they were whisked away to Oz, only theirs was in the air and yours is, well, in the bathtub.  Or sink.  Kitchen or bathroom – it doesn’t matter.  It’s a vortex.  Take cover.

Tornado tubes:  all different colors to create a vortex in a bottle!
Tornado tubes: all        different colors to         create a vortex in a                  bottle!

I like to do this experiment immediately after doing the Mentos/Diet Coke experiment, because after the Mentos Geyser goes off, you’ve got all those empty two-liter Diet Coke bottles anyway!

Mentos Geyser!  Don't throw the 2-liter bottles away!
Mentos Geyser! Don’t throw the 2-liter bottles away!

So rinse them out, peel off the label, and fill one of the bottles with water.  Add a little food coloring to make the vortex show up more clearly.

Screw your tornado tube to the filled bottle.  Turn the empty bottle upside down and screw it into the remaining half of the tube.  Make sure your seal is good.

Tornado TubeNow turn your bottles over so the one filled with water is on top.  Watch the water spiral through the tornado tube, creating a whirling vortex that looks exactly like a waterspout.  Or, in the air, a tornado.  Or, in your bathtub, a swirling tube of water that sometimes goes clockwise, and sometimes goes counterclockwise.  Google THAT.  Black holes are vortexes, too.  Wow.

Big Blue Vortex!
Big Blue Vortex!

Steve Spangler’s Tornado Tube is one of the simplest and most interesting science projects; it appeals to every age.  Very young children can use it, and so can everybody else!  It can introduce a unit on weather, and it can demonstrate quite a few aspects of physics.  It’s made of tough plastic, so if a child drops it, it probably won’t break.  If you order several, each student can have his/her own color so there won’t be any mix-ups.

And we all know that we all want our own tornado tube in our own color.  For our very own.  They’re inexpensive enough so that everybody in the group can have one.

Be ready to hear large groups of students muttering “I don’t think we’re in Kansas any more.”




UV Beads and Bracelets and Amber, Oh My!

Spangler Science’s UV Beads are one of my (many) favorites of Steve’s products, and there are so many interesting things that can be done with them!

Combining science and literature is also one of my favorite things to do with students, and since science can be teamed up with everything else, creating a combination mystery story/fairy tale/science project is easy!

I like mysteries, and I like fairy tales, and I like science. Let’s put them together!

What possible mystery could there be about UV Beads?  Well, for starters, they’re all identical in the package – snow white,  and not really very interesting in appearance.  Ah, but appearances can be deceiving. . . .

And what connection could we make between UV Beads and fairy tales?

What if an intrepid young person were to be given a goal, say, the King offered his kingdom as a prize to whoever brought him the most interesting object in the kingdom?  Young men and young women everywhere would flock to the palace in hordes, each with ideas and suggestions and examples, and it would be up to the King to select the most interesting object and award the prize.

Now, one young man in particular had an idea, and he knew it was a good one.But he needed to package his idea in such a way that he could easily transport it to the palace.

His idea?  UV Beads.  They were white and mysterious, and yet when exposed to the sunlight, they turned into a beautiful rainbow of bright colors.  That’s pretty interesting, don’t you think?  This young man thought so.  His name was Sol, and he was a young man of many talents.

One of his talents was needlework, and he decided to get out his crochet needle and work a simple bracelet containing five beads, one of each color, to bring to the King.

He started with a basic chain stitch.

Basic chain stitch, with five stitches.
Basic chain stitch, with five stitches.

After that fifth stitch, Sol slipped a UV bead over the loop.

Sol slipped a UV bead over the loop after every five stitches!
Sol slipped a UV bead over the loop after every five stitches!

Five plain white UV beads with five stitches in between layers, and Sol snipped the yard and tied the ends into a bracelet!

Sol's finished UV bracelet!
Sol’s finished UV bracelet!

Sol slipped the bracelet onto his arm, but on his way to the palace, he thought of some other ways to prove to the King that his contribution to the contest was the most interesting one.  He made a few more bracelets, and put them into amber medicine bottles!

Sol made a bracelet for everyone in the King's court, and put each in an amber medicine bottle!
Sol made a bracelet for everyone in the King’s court, and put each in an amber medicine bottle!

He put all the bottles in his backpack and set out to the palace to show the King.  The UV beads were so fascinating to Sol that he just knew the King would think so, too.

Here’s a closeup of what the bracelets looked like in their amber bottles:

UV bead bracelet in amber bottle
UV bead bracelet in amber bottle.

When Sol arrived at the palace, he presented a bottle to the King, who said, “What is this?  An amber bottle with a simple bracelet inside?  How is this interesting?”

“Just you wait, Your Majesty,” said Sol.  “Slip this bracelet on your wrist, and go stand by that window with your bottle.”

The King did so, and the moment the sun’s UV rays touched the plain white beads, they began to turn beautiful colors.

“This is amazing!” shouted the King.  “This is by far the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen! Please tell me more!”

So Sol explained to the King about the sun’s UV rays, and about the amber bottle being able to block these rays.

The sun , but the UV rays are invisible.
The sun , but the UV rays are invisible.

“So this is why my medicine always comes in an amber bottle!”  shouted the King.  “UV rays have the power to change things!”

“That’s right!” said Sol happily.  He had a feeling that he knew who was going to inherit the kingdom, and he was right, too.

“I brought enough amber bottles and bracelets for everybody in the court,” said the new King Sol.

And they all lived happily ever after, and nobody was ever sunburned again.

The end.


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!