I love to watch actual students doing actual experiments, and my college students and their screaming balloons turned an ordinary writing lab into a writing AND science lab!
Starting at the Stonegate Arts and Education Center in Bedford, Indiana, my Ivy Tech students and I ended our writing lab by discussing how writers sometimes have to describe something in an unusual way. Mention was made of the South African vuvuzela of soccer World Cup infamy, and so my aspiring writers created this sound with balloons and hex nuts.
Incidentally, the Stonegate Arts & Education Center is an Ingress portal, in case you might be interested in that. And I hope you are.
That was all on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday night my students at Ivy Tech at Springs Valley Learning Center in French Lick, Indiana had this same lesson. Different town, different students, same concept. Similar reactions. Even the facial expressions were similar!
It’s not just little kids who love science, you know. College students and adults love science, too!
Steve Spangler warned me to bring earplugs to class this past week. I should have taken his advice!
Jane 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.
Some of us grew up with fantastic science teachers. Mrs. Russell, Mr. Steward, and Mr. Landis are names that you won’t necessarily recognize, but they’re the three science teachers I’ve had in my entire lifetime. I will never forget them, because they were and are awesome science teachers. (Forget the fact that I graduated with less than 20 kids in my class and that the last of those teachers is my best friend’s dad, or that my sister married my best friend’s little brother… Hooray small towns!) But some kids will never have that, that’s why you need to get hands-on science at home.
I assume that not everyone had the beneficial science teacher experience that I did, but it blows my mind. How can that even be possible? Then I discovered that the “science teacher” is an endangered species.
Especially when it comes to elementary-aged chitlens, there aren’t teachers dedicated to educating 6- to 12-year-olds on the FREAKING AMAZING WORLD OF SCIENCE! If you were to remove science education from my elementary education, I can personally guarantee that I would not have graduated. Math never made sense unless there was a scientific application. Science is the answer to “when will I ever use this?”
I’m definitely NOT saying that the current teachers being tasked with educating the youth on science are incompetent. They’re already stretched beyond their means, for Bill Nye’s sake. I’m saying that science deserves its own special time, teacher, and even room in the school. I want to scream, because it isn’t getting the attention it deserves.
When I worked in customer service here at Steve Spangler Science, I cannot count on all of my fingers and toes how many times I heard that there’s no budget for science, or that it is being cut, or that teachers had to squeeze it into after-school programs. DEAR SCHOOL BOARDS: Science is the reason that there is a school in the first place, that your children aren’t dropping dead from small pox, and is the basis of all advancement for our planet.
Math = important. Language = important. History = important. Science = meh.
That just doesn’t add up. And again, I’m not arguing importance of anything except science, here. Without language, how could results be replicated? Without math, how would we understand measurements necessary to science? And history… well, there’s the whole saying about it repeating itself. Then there’s science, down at the bottom of the budget list below the coffee expenses.
But, as we’ve seen in recent history, schools take for-eh-ver to change their ways, and the government takes even longer. So how do you inject science into your children’s education? YOU have to do it. You don’t need to home school your kids, but I’ve got all kinds of props for parent/teacher hybrids that I like to call Parajucators. But, take some time out after dinner, before bed, or when the kids get home from school to do some hands-on science.
Don’t have a lot of dough for science supplies? You don’t need it! There are plenty of simple experiments, projects, and activities that can be done right at home and there are plenty of resources to go off of… *cough* SteveSpanglerScience.com *cough*
I’m not going to toot my own horn. Instead, I’m going to conduct the entire band. Have you seen our Sick Science videos? They’re less than 10 minutes long, every time, and walk you through the steps of simple hands-on science projects to do at home. Worried about cost? You probably have well over 90% of what you need right at home!
I’ve spent over 4 years writing the step-by-step instructions for our write-ups, but when I finally started doing the activities with my 6- and 8-year-olds at home, I realized just how easy it is to get them excited about ciencia (that’s science in Spanish). Now, even if there just isn’t time for the actual hands-on experience, they mix in science how-to videos with all of their usual video games and talking cats. Your kids can do it, too, I bet. But I don’t gamble.
Fresh Prince of the Science Fair. Writer for Steve Spangler Science. Dad of 2. Expecting 1 more. Husband. Amateur adventurer.
*Note: This blog post is the opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinions of Steve Spangler Science or it’s affiliates. Also, keep in mind that this is a humorous column and should be read with a light heart and mind.
Vinegar is a smelly staple of science educators everywhere. The solution of acetic acid is the most often-used, simple acidic solution in the lab, and it’s non-toxic and safe to be handled. It’s no wonder that vinegar is a key component of tons of activities and projects for all sorts of chemically based experiences. What’s that? You only know that classic vinegar and baking soda volcano? C’mon, science-based blog reader!
Ordinarily, I talk about how students and young people of all types and sizes adore Insta-Snow and other products and experiments featured here. However, don’t think for even a second that you have to be a child to have fun with science. It’s not just children who are fascinated by Insta-Snow. Polymer science has the power to fascinate grown men and women – sensible adults who are attending a serious conference and sharing business techniques and practices and products and advice, for example. I’ve seen it happen.