Category Archives: Cool Products

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.

Drinking Problems

Steve Spangler, the Master Teacher himself, has admitted that most plants have a drinking problem, so I thought I’d see for myself if that was true.

I started out with four clear vases.  I didn’t have any two that were alike, but that just makes my experiment more interesting.

No two alike!
                      No two alike!

Since I would be dealing with fresh flowers, my next step was logical: I filled each vase with some full-blown Water Jelly Marbles.  I also got out the food coloring.

I never use fresh flowers without jelly marbles.  And sometimes, food coloring.
I never use fresh flowers without jelly marbles. And sometimes, food                                                                     coloring.

Next I filled each vase with water, and then put a few drops of food coloring in each vase.  This resulted in some interested formations.

It's beautiful, isn't it.
It’s beautiful, isn’t it.

Then, I got my sharpest kitchen knife and cut a diagonal piece off the end of each flower stem.  Steve likes to give each flower a split end and let it share two vases, but I thought I would try it another way and see what happened.    Each of my flowers got its own vase.

Aren't they pretty?  You should try this!
Aren’t they pretty? You should try                                this!

The big vase got two flowers, but the three smaller vases each got one flower.  Would the size of the vase influence which flower “changed” first?  We’ll see.

Each of my four vases got a different color: yellow, blue, red, and purple.  I wondered which color would show up first. . . .

I put all of this together on Sunday afternoon.  Today is Tuesday.  Look at which color showed up first!

The little vase with the blue water won!
The little vase with the blue water                                          won!

What exactly happened here?  It’s interesting!  (All science is interesting.)  We can compare the way flowers suck water up their stem to the tips of their petals with YOU, sucking soda up your straw into your mouth.  To quote Steve Spangler:

“Okay, now it’s time to get technical. There are two things that combine to move water through plants — transpiration and cohesion. Water evaporating from the leaves, buds, and petals (transpiration) pulls water up the stem of the plant. This works in the same way as sucking on a straw. Water that evaporates from the leaves “pulls” other water behind it up to fill the space left by the evaporating water, but instead of your mouth providing the suction (as with a straw) the movement is due to evaporating water. This can happen because water sticks to itself (called water cohesion) and because the tubes in the plant stem are very small (in a part of the plant called the xylem). This process is called capillary action.”

So much of science is also beauty.  Fresh flowers in the home add beauty and fragrance, and using them to do a little science adds to the enjoyment, especially when there are children in the home.

This is a science experiment that the whole family can enjoy.  It’s simple and pretty and inexpensive, and the science fair judges would be very impressed.

Now I can hardly wait to check on my flowers tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  If one day can show results, what will three days show?  I’ll update this post for you so you can all see what I’ll be seeing in my dining room.

 

Jelly Marbles: Oh, the Versatility of Polymers!

I love to play with jelly marbles!  These polymer orbs have so many uses, from play to gardening to home decorating to party fun and who only knows how many other uses!

Just add water!
Just add water!

Who could ever guess that a pinch of tiny rock-hard “things” would grow into beautiful crystal-clear orbs, hundreds of times their original size!

The snow is finally gone and the weather has been spring-like for a few days, and this always makes me want to have fresh flowers in my house.  In my house, fresh flowers in a vase also means getting out the jelly marbles.  The marbles are often used in gardening of all kinds because they are mostly water and will hydrate your plants for weeks.  That’s right.  If there are jelly marbles underneath each of your flowers or vegetables, you can go on vacation and not worry about your garden.  These jelly marbles are also used in dry areas, to help keep the plants hydrated.  But I digress.  Back to ME.

Just a pinch of dried-out jelly marbles in a vase, and in an hour they look like this:

These started out as just a pinch.  Seriously, just a pinch.
These started out as just a pinch. Seriously, just a pinch.

Now, I could have left the flowers in the jelly marbles and they would have been fine.  But I wanted to take the magic a step further.

Now you see 'em, now you don't.
Now you see ’em, now you don’t.

Oh, the water jelly marbles are still there.  I just added some water.  The clear water jelly marbles are now invisible.  If you put your hand in there, you would feel them; they would feel like eyeballs, but that’s for a Halloween post later on. . . .

When the orbs start to show, that means I need to add more water.

Fresh flowers brighten up  the home, don't you think?
Fresh flowers brighten up the home, don’t you think?

Polymer science is one of my favorite areas, and Spangler Science’s almost-magical Water Jelly Marbles are one of my favorite products.  They’re inexpensive, and a pinch goes a long way.  They’re also indestructible; if you get tired of the way you’ve been using them, just put them in a bowl and let them dry out.  When you’re ready to use them again, add water and they’ll burst into bloom.

Just a little pinch goes a loooong way!
Just a little pinch goes a loooong way!

Why not order some today?  It’s time to think about gardening. and it’s always time for some science play!

Today is St. Patrick’s Day – add a few drops of green food coloring to your vase of orbs!  They take the color beautifully!  Don’t know if you believe that?  Check this out, then:

Seven years old and still going strong!

And who WOULDN’T want a bowl of invisible eyeballs?  But you’ll have to wait for that one.

Presley from Act Out Games Loves the Spangler Science Club

One of our very favorite fellow YouTubers, ActOutGames, has reviewed several hot toys and kit of the month subscription boxes.

They have even honored us with several reviews of Sick Science kits and Spangler Science Club.

We always look forward to every video that Presley and her dad produce and really enjoy their reviews. Here’s Presley’s review of the January Spangler Science Club kit. Her excitement and enthusiasm for science is the reason we come to work every day.

Presley also reviewed the December kit –

Presley is truly a rock star, but don’t take our word for it. Check out her YouTube channel, ActOutGames and watch her videos on DIY, education, Cosplay and even Japanese Anime lessons! This kid is the complete package.

Holiday Science: Long-Lasting Christmas Jelly Marbles Polymer

Our polymers are more than just awesome, great fun, beautiful, and educational, you know.  Our polymers are awesome, great fun, beautiful, educational, and long-lasting.

How long-lasting are they, you ask?  I really don’t know yet.  The polymers in this Christmas decoration are seven years old and still going strong.

Seven years old and still beautiful!
Seven years old and still beautiful!

What you see up there is a Christmas candy jar with about a tablespoon of Spangler Science’s Clear Jelly Marbles, about three drops of green food coloring, and a cup of plain tap water.  Don’t put the lid on the jar until the jelly marbles and water reach the top of the jar.  THEN put the lid on.  Once you put the lid on the jar, the marbles won’t grow any more because they need a little air to help them grow.  (Please notice that this jar has a lid that seals!  That’s important.)

It took these Jelly Marbles only a few hours to grow to the size I wanted them.  If I removed the jar’s lid and drained off the water, the polymer Jelly Marbles would shrink back down to the size of rock salt again, but they wouldn’t be “dead;” when I added water again, they would grow again.

Would they still be green?  Nope.  Not if I rinsed off the food coloring.  I could keep them their own clear, invisible-in-the-water selves, or I could drop in some red, or blue, or green again, or create my own colors by combining primary colors.  I could drop in an Easter egg color tablet. I could use a Spangler Science True Color Tablet.

True Color Fizzers

The point is, seven years ago I made a pretty and decorative Christmas decoration using some simple polymers – clear jelly marbles – some food coloring, and some water, and I’m still using that pretty and decorative Christmas decoration this Christmas.

At Spangler Science, you will find many products and ideas that you can use during almost any holiday time – simple ideas, simple projects, ideas you can use by yourself or with your family, even with young children.

 

 

 

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.