Category Archives: Education Today

BOOM! Flying Film Canisters!

Oh, come on now.  What kid doesn’t love things that explode?  When it comes to that – what person of any age doesn’t love things that explode?

Boom!  Those film canisters are better than firecrackers!  (Safer, too!)
Boom! Those film canisters are better than firecrackers!             (Safer, too!)

Everybody knows how much Steve Spangler loves to blow things up, and he can show you and your kids how to have fun with the BOOM safely.  My favorite BOOM is the film canister BOOM.

Spangler Science film canisters!
Spangler Science film               canisters!

Here’s Steve talking about the flying film canisters.  Notice that he’s wearing safety glasses – never blow anything up unless you’re wearing safety glasses – not even LITTLE explosions.  Safety is the first rule in science.

The Spangler Science exploding film canister experiments are easy and super fun.  All you need is a film canister, an Alka-Seltzer tablet, and a little water.  (Don’t forget the safety glasses!)

As you can see in the video above, just put half a tablet in the canister, fill the canister half full of plain water, put the cap on the canister, and stand back.  Even with your safety glasses on, STAND BACK.  The gas will build up inside the sealed-up canister until it blows the lid off with a loud POP.  The only hard part is finding the cap again; sometimes you’ll have to search.  Once you find the cap, you can use the same canister over and over.

As always, whenever you purchase a product or try to recreate an experiment from Steve Spangler Science, you get far more than just an experiment or a product.  You’ll also get all the science behind it, and more than one way to use it.  You’ll have access to videos and all kinds of information, and, unlike most other science websites and businesses, almost everything we offer to you is FREE!  (Well, except for the product, but you don’t have to buy anything to access our videos and science experiment information!)

You can check out all kinds of information about our Flying Film Canisters right here!

Don’t think for a moment that science class is the only place for science, either.  I use Steve Spangler’s Flying Film Canisters in my writing classes, as well as in my science classes.  They’re absolutely perfect for demonstrating how the idea for a good writing topic can pop into your mind when you least expect it.

Flying Film Canisters are perfect for demonstrating how good ideas pop into one's head without warning, sometimes!
Flying Film Canisters are perfect for demonstrating how good ideas pop into one’s head without warning, sometimes!

I put the canister in a cup so the water doesn’t explode into the computers.  But the cap goes flying and the whole thing goes BOOM.

Just as it all ought.

Cool Down With Insta-Snow!

With temperatures up in the high nineties, we’re all looking for ways to cool down – at least, to trick our minds into THINKING we’ve cooled down.

When we were breaking paths through all that snow last winter, who would have thought we’d be remembering that cold coolness so fondly in August?

With Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow, we can feel a little of winter’s cold right in our homes!


Insta-Snow is a polymer, and polymers increase in size DRASTICALLY when water is added.

You can create a pile of snow right on your kitchen table with just a couple of tablespoons of Insta-Snow and a couple of cups of plain tap water.  This polymer works well with any temperature of water, but if your water is just a tiny bit warm, it seems to work faster.

This is the same kind of polymer found inside a disposable diaper, by the way.  You can tear up the substance inside a diaper and do pretty much the same kind of thing by adding water.  Imagine what would happen if the inside of a disposable diaper didn’t absorb incredible amounts of liquid – what use would a diaper lined with tissue or cloth be?  No, disposable diapers use polymers to absorb all that, um, liquid.

Besides, Insta-Snow polymer powder is just an awesome amount of fun.

This is a large mixing bowl, overflowing.  Awesome, huh!
This is a large mixing bowl, overflowing. Awesome, huh!

After you’ve finished playing with Spangler’s Insta-Snow, you can let it sit, uncovered,  and after a few days, it will shrink back into its original powdery form.  In other words, it lasts forever.

That’s right – it lasts forever.  Just add water to create the snow, and let it dry and shrink to store it so you can use it again.

It might be sweltering summer outside, but in the kitchen, you can play with snow.  Keep it in the freezer and it will be even cooler.

Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow.  It’s good for any season, but in summer, just the idea of playing with it will cool you right down.  Why not create a Snow Day in Summer?

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.


SITR Encouraging Teachers to Fill Classrooms with STEAM

Steve Spangler Hosts a Hands-on Science Institute for Teachers – Science in the Rockies – that Explores Strategies for Incorporating the Arts with Current STEM Initiatives

Lanyards for teachers ready for Science in the Teachers SITR

With more emphasis being put on teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), teachers are eager to learn how to integrate more science and engineering challenges into their daily curriculum. 

The business community has also discovered that students need more than facts and concepts to compete for STEM-based jobs.

Learning how to effectively communicate scientific ideas and engineering solutions requires a connection to the arts (oral, written and visual communication). STEM is turning into STEAM, and Steve Spangler is leading the charge.

Teachers learning and having fun at Science in the Rockies #SITR

That’s why 168 teachers from 5 countries are attending Science in the Rockies this week at the Sheraton Denver West Conference Center. During the three-day training, teachers will participate in more than 75 hands-on science experiments and engineering challenges aimed at engaging students on many levels.

The leader for SITR is none other than Denver’s own Steve Spangler, who is well known throughout the country for his eye-catching science experiments and engaging presentation style as a science communicator. 

Science in the Rockies Flash drives and test tubes - take home learning materials for SITR

“I believe that at its root level STEM is all about creating the next generation of young scientists and engineers,” says Spangler, who started his career as a science teacher in the Cherry Creek Schools from 1991-2003. “Science in the Rockies is all about teaching teachers how to turn ordinary activities into unforgettable learning experiences that will spark passion and enthusiasm in the students they reach.” 

Given Spangler’s reputation for making things fun, participants never know what to expect. What’s in store for this year’s participants? If you’re a betting person, place your money on messy and memorable.

 Teachers Send Home Multiple Boxes of Take Home Supplies from Science in the Rockies SITR