Category Archives: Informal Science Education

Scientific Super Bowl Predictions Using Chemistry

Who will win the Super Bowl on Sunday?

The big game is this weekend and everyone has their prediction of the winner. Our Steve Spangler went into the laboratory to find a scientific way to predict the outcome.

Scientific Super Bowl Predictions with Chemistry. Who will win the Super Bowl? | Steve Spangler Science

Steve began his predictions by using a classic Clock Reaction to tell how the Seattle Seahawks will perform – black with doom and destruction.

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Get an Email When the International Space Station is Overhead

The International Space Station is the third brightest object in the sky (after the sun and moon) – it can be seen without a telescope by the naked eye.

The ISS is even visible when spotted over a city and flies over about 90 percent of the Earth’s population.

Backdropped against the Caspian Sea, this full view of the international space station was photographed by a crewmember onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery after the undocking of the two spacecraft. Image credit: NASA

Backdropped against the Caspian Sea, this full view of the international space station was photographed by a crew member onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery after the undocking of the two spacecraft. Image credit: NASA

How do you know when to look up?

NASA is now offering a Spot the Station service. This provides a list of upcoming opportunities to spot the ISS from thousands of world locations. You can also sign up to receive an email or a message on your cell phone when it’s overhead. You will only receive alerts during prime viewing opportune times, like only when the station is high enough over the horizon and in view long enough. NASA believes most will receive alerts a few times a week to a few times a month.

The ISS looks like a fast moving airplane but is much higher and travels thousands of miles an hour faster. It orbits the Earth every 90 minutes.

The station is about the size of a football field and has more livable space than a six-bedroom house, including two bathrooms, a gym and a 360-degree bay window.

ISS Size Compared to a Football Field - Courtesy NASA

ISS Size Compared to a Football Field – Courtesy NASA

Sign up for ISS alerts at NASA

Here are some facts about the ISS, courtesy of NASA

  • The International Space Station marked its 10th anniversary of continuous human occupation on Nov. 2, 2010. Since Expedition 1, which launched Oct. 31, 2000, and docked Nov. 2, the space station has been visited by 204 individuals.
  • At the time of the anniversary, the station’s odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the Earth.
  • A total of 174 spacewalks have been conducted in support of space station assembly totaling almost 1,100 hours, or nearly 46 days.

The International Space Station is not only an orbiting laboratory, but also a space port for a variety of international spacecraft. As of June 2013, there have been:

  • 89 Russian launches
  • 37 Space Shuttle launches
  • 1 test flight and 2 operational flights by SpaceX’s Dragon
  • 3 Japanese HTVs
  • 3 European ATVs

 

 

 

Science Craft – Water Color Tie Dye Pillows

Are you looking for a last minute crafty Christmas present? Or something to do over the long holiday break? How about making tie dye pillows that use a little science to create a beautiful masterpiece.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

Materials

 

We used pillows from IKEA for $3.99 each. You can also do this technique on pillow cases, towels, t-shirts, or any material that is 100% cotton. This activity won’t work on synthetic fabrics.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ACTIVITY

Warning: Rubbing alcohol is very flammable and must be kept away from any open flames or heat. This experiment must be conducted in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors or in a room with open windows.  

You may want to start by practicing on a piece of scrap fabric or old t-shirt to experiment with color mixing and spreading.

1. Using the Sharpie markers, draw a design on your pillow. We drew our design straight onto the pillow and didn’t use a pillow case.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

2. Experiment with wider lines, dots, or abstracts. If you want a section to be one color, color it in closely or color more sparingly for a different result.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

This is a good step for an adult helper. Kids about 5 and up can drop the alcohol (and will want to) but they may need a little guidance to make sure they don’t drown the pillow. They may also pick up some of the ink if they place their hand or fingers on the wet fabric. Sharpie pen will come off skin using a cotton ball and a little rubbing alcohol.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

 

3. Sparingly drop the rubbing alcohol on the fabric. The alcohol will spread the ink and mix the colors. Go slowly and don’t use much at first. Watch the alcohol spread the ink. It may take several minutes before the ink has stopped spreading. Don’t over saturate your fabric.

4. Experiment with drops of the rubbing alcohol – what happens when you drop it sparingly around your pillow and what happens when you place the drops close together?

5. Let air dry if it’s really wet and then place damp pillow in the dryer to set the colors.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

TAKE IT FURTHER!

Enjoy experimenting with various patterns, dot sizes, and color combinations. Instead of using dots, try drawing a small square with each side being a different color, or use primary colors to draw a geometric shape and accent it with dots of secondary colors. Half circles, wavy lines, and polygons all make unique patterns when rubbing alcohol travels across the ink. Your designs are only limited by your imagination. Try as many different patterns as you like.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

HOW DOES IT WORK?

This is really a lesson in the concepts of solubility, color mixing, and the movement of molecules. The Sharpie markers contain permanent ink, which will not wash away with water. Permanent ink is hydrophobic, meaning it is not soluble in water. However, the molecules of ink are soluble in another solvent called rubbing alcohol. This solvent carries the different colors of ink with it as it spreads in a circular pattern from the center of the shirt.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

ADDITIONAL INFO

Reference: The original Sharpie Pen activity is the creation of Bob Becker, a chemistry teacher in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Create tie dye water color pillows and fabrics with Sharpie Pen Science | Steve Spangler Science

Coolest Yule Log Video Ever! A New Science Twist on an Old Favorite

YouTube recently challenged our Spangler Effect team to create a new twist on an old favorite – come up with a Yule Log video that breaks the mold of the old, outdated looping fire in the fireplace.

By Far The Coolest Yule Log Video Ever | Steve Spangler Science | The Spangler Effect | #NowCasting #YouTubeFireplace

This is not your mama’s yule log video. It’s by far the coolest science yule log video ever.

Steve and his team came up with different techniques to light and reignite the yule log of the future.

So warm up your holidays by casting this YouTube fireplace from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your TV using Chromecast. The video loops over and over for about 60 minutes so you can put it on and let it play during your holiday celebrations.

If you enjoy our video, please share it with your friends using hashtags #NowCasting and/or #YouTubeFireplace. And don’t forget to subscribe to The Spangler Effect channel so you don’t miss an episode. 

By Far The Coolest Yule Log Video Ever | Steve Spangler Science | The Spangler Effect | #NowCasting #YouTubeFireplace

 

After watching the video (it loops about every 5 minutes) come back and watch our Making of The Spangler Effect Yule Log. In the video, Steve explains the science behind each of the ‘tricks’ and how they made each one.

Here’s a special Behind the Scenes look at how we put together and filmed the Yule Log video.

Greystone Elementary's Science Week Goes Beyond the Classroom

Each year, Greystone Elementary in Birmingham, Alabama chooses a topic for a school-wide enrichment week dedicated to help all students learn something they may not learn in the classroom.

Greystone Elementary Celebrates Science Week

This year, teacher Mandy Fox decided to make the week dedicated to science after watching experiment videos from Steve Spangler. Mandy and her co-teacher put together a schedule full of science activities and lessons. They chose activities based on what would “wow” the students and get them interested in science.

Mandy says, “it was great seeing so many kids excited about learning more about science.”

Greystone Elementary Celebrates Science Week

The week was packed with small and large group experiments like Walking on Eggs, Burning Money, Iron for Breakfast and Film Canister Rockets. They had guest speakers like an archeologist, forensic scientist, wildlife rescue officer, chemist, dog agility trainer and a robotics team. The week ended with a paper airplane building competition.

Do we even have to state that the kids had a great time? Mandy says the kids are still telling her that the science week was awesome. Some wish science week could be every week. Now that’s getting it to the dinner table.

Greystone Elementary Celebrates Science Week

The teaching staff also enjoyed  the week. One teacher told Mandy that she didn’t like teaching science because it always seemed so hard. Mandy shared, “with Steve Spangler experiments, it made it so easy and she LOVED sharing in the learning with the kids. She said it had made her a believer in the ease of getting kids to question and want to learn more about science. ”

Mandy Fox and all of the teachers and staff at Greystone Elementary are teachers making a difference. They don’t just teach with worksheets and to the test. They are inspiring their students by creating memorable, teachable moments. Our hats are off to these amazing educators.