Category Archives: Informal Science Education

The Fresh Prince of Science Fair

“The Fresh Prince of Science Fair”
(To the tune of Will Smith’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”)

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.17.05 PM

Now these are some lyrics all about when
My board got judged with a pad and a pen.
If you have a few seconds, just hang right there,
I’ll tell you how I got a blue ribbon in the last science fair.

In back of the library, past the stairs,
that’s where my school has our science fairs.
Hypotheses, procedures, results, and conclusions
about weird topics like germs and pollution.

...and bowl cuts...
…and bowl cuts…

But a couple of kids didn’t do what they’re told,
forgot to test their guess with any variables.
All those kids got an “F” and then I got scared,
but I remembered all I learned and that I came prepared.

Poster board feelin’ fresh when the judges came near.
They were quickly impressed and said, “It’s looking so clear.
If there were a science band you’d be sitting first chair,
but for now here’s a ribbon. Good job, at this fair!”

I got back to my house about 3 or 3:30
and I yelled to my mama, “It’s cool to be nerdy!”
She smiled at me and had some ice cream to share.
Life is good, as the Prince of the Fair.

Time to invent a time machine.

© DJ Souza for Steve Spangler Science

Show us your Science Selfie & Win a Science Kit

Gone are the days of searching for a good-willed and trustworthy  passerby to ask to take a photo of you and your friend.  (Which has greatly decreased overall camera theft! )

No more sitting still while your Grandma took your picture. Well, I guess we still have to do that..

Actually, we LOVE this photo, and are so happy this grandma (Diane Gribosky) snapped it!
Actually, we LOVE this photo, and are so happy the kids sat still while this  amazing grandma (Diane Gribosky) snapped it!

Thank you technology, for allowing us to turn the camera face around to our selves and take …YES, you know what I’m talking about… The Selfie.

It seems everywhere you look, someone it taking a Selfie.  If you look over your shoulder, the girl who sits next to you at work is probably taking a selfie right now.

Yup, see…


You find Selfies splashed on Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. They are filling up your Snap Chats, and even being sung about on your radio! Maybe, you even see them on our website?!? (Hint, Hint)

So do you embrace the trend, or run away screaming?


No. Stop that… come back here!  We  want you to embrace the selfie.  Love your selfie.

Why, you ask?  Well, because we’d like to ask a favor.

I see you hesitantly nodding in agreement… you know this will be fun!  Ok, ready for the deets?  Here is what we want you to do:

Grab your favorite Steve Spangler Science experiment.  Did you find the one that makes you smile the biggest? Good! Now, get your trusty smart phone in hand, because…


That’s right! Get colorful, get geyser soaked,  slime it up,  wear growing gators as a mustache or whatever your heart desires.  Just make sure your selfie makes you smile!

Here are some examples:

Not a selfie!
Yay! Slime Selfie!


What do you do with your Science Selfie?  That’s a great question! Send them off to us! Share them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or email them to us. Use #SpanglerSelfie so we don’t miss them.

**Our favorite four selfies will win a science kit from Steve Spangler Science.**

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on Selfies by leaving a comment below!

**Send us your selfie by August 1st. Our team of science selfie experts will choose four favorites and notify the winners by Aug. 5th. Winners will have 24 hours to respond with email, phone and address. If they fail to do so in the time frame, another winner will be chosen in their place. Kits will be sent out after Aug. 6th.









No Lesson Plan – Just Insta-Snow

Meet Alan Marshall, who came with his dad to a meeting in our building today.  What a great kid!  Alan brought his iPad to pass the time, but when I saw him passing my office, I thought I’d see how he liked some Insta-Snow, as well.Alan Marshall, Insta-Snow

I think this picture sums up the experience.  Alan was excited about telling his dad what would happen if he put a long-stemmed white flower in some Insta-Snow that had food coloring in it.  (You already know, right?  RIGHT?)  (This works with colored water AND with colored polymers. )  The fact that this stuff lived inside disposable diapers made a bit of an impression, too.  

Alan liked the Insta-Snow so much that I gave him the jar.  He went across the street to the library to show the librarian how it worked.

This is how it happens, you see.  Learning.  True education.  When something makes it to the dinner table library, that something is going to be remembered.

Have fun with your Insta-Snow, Alan.  Polymer science is awesome!

My Time as a Teacher

I have a newfound respect for teachers and educators. Wow. On May 12th, I had my first solo experience in a classroom.

As a member of the Steve Spangler Science family for almost 5 years, I have helped perform science demonstrations on a few separate occasions. All of these were done with training and practice with Steve at the office. This time was different… I was on my own.

I’m recently married and blessed with two amazing step sons, the youngest in kindergarten. His teacher recently asked me if I’d like to help with their kindergarten & fourth grade science day, as she had purchased a substantial number of Steve Spangler Science kits. As if I could turn down an opportunity to play with science gear alongside six- and ten-year-olds.

Excitement filled me over the weekend. Quality time with my son coupled with awesome science and an opportunity to teach? Count me in, one hundred times. Monday morning, however, I felt like my kindergartner. Anxiety had coupled with excitement to create a concoction of nerves like I had never felt. Oh man… I was going to be teaching.

Arriving in the classroom saw my nerves spike to their zenith. All those tiny, little eyes fixated on me and my bag of science goodies. My face definitely flushed a bit, but it was broken by my son’s, “Hi, Dad!” I could do this. It’s just like coaching soccer!

The line-up of demonstrations the teacher and I had planned ranged from Insta-Snow (a HUGE hit) to Dancing Spaghetti, using both household items and Spangler-created kits, but we started with the Energy Stick. An eager volunteer hopped up in front of the classroom to help demonstrate the concept of an open or closed circuit. Eyes lit up and ears perked as the lights and sounds of the Energy Stick filled the classroom. I could TOTALLY do this.

(SIDE NOTE: A good friend’s son was in the 4th grade class. That night, she sent a text to tell me that her son wouldn’t stop talking about and designing open and closed circuits. Science success, I do declare.)

The Energy Stick led into polymer science: Insta-Worms, Insta-Snow, and Vanishing Jelly Marbles. The teacher read Diary of a Worm aloud to the class to help tie literature into the Insta-Worms demonstration. We discussed the ties between Insta-Snow and baby diapers, and we laughed at the squishy texture of Jelly Marbles. I didn’t have to worry about the occasional stutter or awkward pause. This group of kids stared and waited on my words like I was Neil deGrasse Tyson and they were a astrophysicist-filled lecture hall. Oh yeah… I was doing this.

We capped off the hands-on demos with candy science involving Gobstoppers and M&Ms, and the grand finale of Film Canister Explosions. I’ve seen and performed the Film Canister Explosion demo a bunch of times, for teachers and students. Never have I witnessed a reaction like this before. There were screams from some of the girls, “Awesome!” from a lot of the boys, and a massive gasp from the teacher. It was absolutely brilliant. Naturally, we did it twice more in the classroom, before finishing with a rocket launch in the rain. I did it!

Teachers! I get it. I understand exactly why you work for substantially less pay than you should. I know the feeling you get when a complex subject (i.e. carbon dioxide gas from vinegar and baking soda) clicks in a young mind. I can feel what makes you want to work extra hours on your evenings and weekends, just to make sure you can cover all you want to this year. I GET IT! You put so much out there, because you get so much back. It might not always be material, immediate, or it might not even be noticeable. It is, however, so worth it.

Look Up! The Night Sky is Full of Awesome!

Does this look like a Big Bear (Ursa Major) to you?
Does this look like a Big Bear (Ursa Major) to you?

You don’t need a big, strong telescope to see wonders in the night sky.   All the ancients had was their eyes, and since the air was unpolluted and without the interference of electric lights, they could see quite a lot up there.  I’ve often thought that the ancients must have been able to see a lot more stars in the constellations, because none of them looks much like its name these days.  These ancients, with only their eyes, charted and mapped the sky, and did it so well that we are still able to use these same charts and maps. We also still use the names the ancients gave to what they saw in the sky.

Add to your eyes a pair of binoculars, and your night sky wonders will increase more than you could ever imagine.  Those first telescopes, remember, weren’t nearly as powerful as those pink Happy Meal binoculars on the floor of your van.  If you have powerful big-boy/girl binoculars, all the better.

Without a telescope – with just binoculars – you’ll be able to see several of Jupiter’s moons, and Saturn’s rings (if it’s turned the right way) and Venus & Mars as discs, not just dots.

Remember how to spot a planet:  they don’t twinkle as stars do.  Only objects that shine with their own light will twinkle; the objects that shine with reflected light will just shine; they won’t twinkle.  Think about it: a twinkling moon would be more than just a little bit scary!

I used to be a little girl who sneaked outside late at night to lie on top of the car and scan the sky with those very same pink plastic binoculars.

Thank you, Santa, for granting my only wish that Christmas.  I still have the telescope; it’s leaning in the corner in the living room.  Thank telescope, Spangler Sciencethe elves for me, too; they did a great job.

So yes, I have known what it feels like to have a genuine wish come true.  While other little girls crossed their fingers and shut their eyes and hoped for Barbie under the tree that year, all I wanted was a telescope.  And I got it.  I can still remember the sensation of realizing my wish had been granted.

And with it, I could watch the universe, unfolding, closer and clearer than ever.  It’s not all science, you know.  It’s everything.  Science just helps us make sense of it.