Category Archives: It’s Not Science But…

Do You Love or Hate Back to School Supply Shopping?

The smell of 24 newly sharpened pencils is in the air – it must be time for Back to School supply shopping.

Back to School Supply Shopping - Do you Love it or Hate it? | Steve Spangler Science Blog
Is that a chisel-tipped low odor marker?

It’s an emotional and expensive time of year for parents. Their babies are taking another step towards adulthood – entering a new grade and sometimes even a new school – be it kindergarten, middle school, high school or college.

Don’t forget the added pressure of registration fees, bus passes and so many other expenses flying at parents from all directions.

Add to the todos a complicated list of required school supplies and you have the makings of hurricane mama spinning through the aisles at Target.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of parents complain about the number of pencils or glue sticks needed or size or materials of notebooks and folders. The question is always WHY? Why so many glue sticks? Why a SAFE-T 12″ View-Thru flexible Inch/CM ruler?

Here’s an example of a real school supply list I found online:

        • 2 Boxes Facial Tissues, 160 count box
        • 1 Ruler – SAFE-T, 12″, View-Thru, flexible, Inch/CM
        • 1 Calculator, Texas Instrument TI-108
        • 2  Notebook Filler Paper – Wide ruled, 150 pages, 8×10.5
        • 1 Scissors – Fiskars for Kids, 5″ pointed tip
        • 1  Notebook – Composition book, Mead, 100 pages, wide ruled (black and white)
        • 2  Glue stick, washable school glue (1.4 oz.)
        • 1 Pencil case – Zipper, Mesh pocket, 3 ring for binder
        • 9 Folders – 2 pocket, with fasteners, plastic, no paper – 2 yellow, 2 blue, 2 green, 2 red, 1 purple
        • 1  Markers – Crayola, 8 color pack, thin line (classic colors)
        • 2  Pen – BIC Round Stic, ballpoint, medium point, single (blue)
        • 4 Pen – BIC Round Stic, ballpoint, medium point, single (red)
        • 1 Index Cards – Ruled, 3×5, 100 count
        • 1  Protractor – SAFE-T “View-Thru,” 6″, clear
        • 2  Dry Erase Markers-Expo Low-Odor, 4 bold colors with chisel tip, and eraser

No wonder parents are losing it.

Those plastic, pocketed, 3-prong folders in specific colors are usually the items that drive me to the edge of sanity. How many stores do I have to visit before I can find 1 purple, plastic folder, with prongs and pockets?

Parents have a vision of teachers compiling these lists as they wring their hands and cackle about the torture their new parents suffer in August.

A recent post on People I Want to Punch in the Face vowed tongue-in-cheek revenge on a merciless teacher’s school supply list. The author claims it is a joke, but all parents understand the emotion, stress and general frustrating truth behind it. We’ve all been there.

Teachers can’t possibly choose the 8-crayon packet ($3.99) because they know the 24-crayon pack will be on sale for $0.25 just to spite parents and make them pay more.

Anytime I’ve talked to a teacher about the unattainable treasure on the supply list, they have a suggestion or a replacement. They don’t hold those lists to the letter – the 24 pack of crayons is usually just fine.

Teachers are also facing the stress of pulling together their classrooms and collecting supplies they need but may not have the budget.

Parents stop stressing and complaining over the supply lists. Work with your teacher and compromise. Stop taking the list as the end all vex from teachers to parents. They don’t intend it, I promise.

If you are a teacher,  share your thoughts and processes for creating the supply lists. Do you have a say in it? Does the school or ultimately the district that develops these lists? How strict are you with exact supplies?

If you are a parent, share your frustrations and let our teachers know what you are facing out there in the school supply jungle.

Let’s stop complaining and start working as a team.
We are all in this together.

While you do that, I’ll be out hunting down low odor Expo chisel-tipped markers…

 

Susan Wells Blog EditorSusan Wells is a mom of two girls who are growing up way too fast. She is the Marketing Manager and Blog Editor for Steve Spangler Science. In past lives, Susan has been a social media manager, web developer, web content manager, online news writer,  photographer, classical and jazz bass player and live sound technician. 

 

 

#SpanglerSelfie Winners!

Well, you’ve done it!

You’ve allowed yourself to be sucked in by the selfie craze… and we LOVE IT!!  We are ecstatic that you are enjoying Steve Spangler Science product, so much that you have chosen to include them in your #SpangerSelfie!

Our Spangler Team definitely had a tough time judging all the wonderful selfies that we have received.  But we finally came up with  the top picks.

Here are your #SpanglerSelfie Winners:

Brandy Kauffman‘s wonderful Worms Selfie!

Is that a worm sneeze?
Is that a worm sneeze?

 

Maliha Iqubal‘s super-staticy, plasma ball selfie!

Maliha and her daughter playing with one of their favorite experiments - the plasma ball!
Maliha and her daughter playing with one of their favorite experiments – the plasma ball!

 

Jessica & Ashlin Cook‘s fun-tasticly fizzy selfie!

First Grader Ashlin Cook gets fizzy with some pop rocks and soda!
First Grader Ashlin Cook gets fizzy with some pop rocks and soda!

Chris Carpec Trinckes‘ crazy conference creations selfie!

Chris with her conference pals making windbag structures at SITR14!
Chris with her conference pals making windbag structures at SITR14!

Kara Dahlberg‘s colorful Bubbling Concoction selfie!

Colors are so bright, you gotta wear shades!
Colors are so bright… you gotta wear shades! (Extra Points if you can name the song reference! Anybody?)

 

Isn’t alliteration fun?

Congratulations winners!  Now it’s time to get ready for some cool Spangler products to head your way! All winners were notified via email and accepted their prizes.

Much appreciation to everyone who submitted a #SpanglerSelfie!  We hope that more of you out there will continue to send  and cpost your favorite photos (selfies and standard) of you with your science experiments.

Need more science experiments to fill your days?? Itching for some of our new Sick Science Kits??  Well good news, we have some!! Why not try out the Egg in a Bottle , the Rising Water Secret or the Density Divers?

As always, don’t forget to leave comments below to let us know what you think!

Teacher Passion Project – Get to Know Your Teacher

Steve Spangler Science wants to team up with students and parents to make a lucky teacher’s Passion Project come to life! Turn an idea into an experience with the perfect opportunity to really KNOW who your teacher is and all about their passions.

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All of us at Steve Spangler Science have a passion for ongoing learning, a passion for making science fun, a passion for teaching a love of science and a passion for educators.

Teacher Passion Project - Get To Know Your Teacher's Passion

We are introducing a new campaign for the 2014-2015 school year – the Teacher Passion Project. This is an opportunity for students and parents to get to know their teacher and make their passion a reality.

The first step in the Teacher Passion Project is for you to get to know your new teacher.

Find their passion. Is it Algebra? Short stories?  American History?  Writing Haiku?

Or … SCIENCE?

Teacher Passion Project - Discover Your Teacher's Passion and Win

(If you are a homeschooler or part of a homeschool co-op, share your homeschooling teaching passions with us!)

Make a quick video (90 seconds or less), take a picture or create a graphic that explains what your teacher’s passion is all about.

If you are a teacher – make your own video or photo and share it with your students and parents. Remember, passion fuels passion.

Teacher Passion Project - Discover Your Teacher's Passion and Win

Then share your passion or your teacher’s passion with us in the comments below or use #SpanglerProject on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or emaill us.

Submit your teacher’s passion by September 12th . Our staff will pick our favorites from all channels and ask our fans to vote on the finalists.

Finalists will be announced September 17th.
Voting will close September 24th.
Winner announced September 25th.

Teacher Passion Project - Get to know your teacher, discover their passion, make it a reality from Steve Spangler Science

One lucky teacher will receive a Virtual Science Workshop from Steve Spangler (a $250 value), $250 in materials and a $100 gift certificate to SteveSpanglerScience.com.

That’s a grand prize valued at $600!

Four runners up will receive the First Days of School Kit for their classroom along with a $25 gift certificate to Steve Spangler Science – a prize valued at $65!

Ease & Engage Your Students Back into the Learning Routine with  First Days of School Kit from Steve Spangler Science

So what are you waiting for? Get to know your teacher and discover their passions.

Hang on to those passions – we will have more throughout the year on the Teacher’s Passion Project. Keep watching our social channels and this blog for additional posts.

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**By submitting videos and photos to #SpanglerProject gives  permission for Steve Spangler Science to use and share on all of our social channels, website and blog.

**International nominees are welcome – if they become a finalist, their prize will be a gift certificate for the total prize value. Gift certificates will be emailed.

Little House Science: Greased Paper Windows

Animals and birds are limited  to what kind of house or nest they can build. When we discover an animal’s home, we can almost always tell what sort of animal it belongs to.  Even with birds, no two kinds will build the same sort of nest.  Some nests are tidy and tight and look just like a bird’s nest from a picture book, while other kinds of birds will be content in a nest that looks like a pile of grass or straw with no visible means of support.  Some birds don’t build at all; they just lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and take off!

Little House Science: Greased Paper Windows

 

People, on the other hand, can build any kind of house they can imagine.

As Charles Ingalls reminds Laura in “The Long Winter,” p. 13, “. . . look at that muskrat house.  Muskrats have to build that kind of house.  muskrat houseThey always have and they always will.  It’s plain they can’t build any other kind.  But folks build all kinds of houses.  A man can build any kind of house he can think of.”

In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie,  p. 11, she describes their latest little house in Minnesota, which was a dugout.  Now, a dugout is really nothing more than a dirt cave with a door and, if you’re lucky, one window.  The Ingalls’ dugout had a door and a window beside the door, so there was some natural light inside.  “But the wall was so thick that the light from the window stayed near the window.”

Little House dugoutThat window was made of greased paper, not glass.  Pioneers didn’t put glass in their windows until they were sure they were going to stay a good long while; glass was expensive.  It was an investment in longevity.  A house with glass windows represented people who were there for the duration.

Most pioneers started out with greased paper windows because they weren’t sure how long they might be in that particular house.log cabin with greased windowsThe window had to be covered so the insects and wild animals couldn’t get in, but it also needed to let the light in.  Whatever the window cover was, it had to be super cheap.  Voila:  greased paper.

Now, you might be wondering how a window covered with paper could be of much use.  How much light could get through paper?

Not much.  But GREASED paper, now, that was an entirely different thing.

When you grease a piece of paper, the grease fills in all the fiber gaps, and any light that hits it doesn’t scatter; it passes right through. Water doesn’t do this; it dissolves the paper, whereas grease or oil just reinforces the paper and lets the light pass though.  Not transparent, exactly, but certainly translucent. It let enough light through to be useful.

Until someone accidently poked a hole in the paper, or a bear punched through, the family inside had enough light to get by until they could afford glass.

 

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.