Category Archives: Podcasts

Potato growers, scientists, teachers benefit by a little humor

Laughing is good for us. Those little neurons open up and our bodies react in positive ways. There are even people who study the science of laughter.

Magician, comedian and motivational speaker Brad Montgomery says that no matter what our job is, we could all do with an injection of humor in our day-to-day activities. This applies particularly to teachers – one of the hardest jobs on the planet.

In Brad’s experience, there are people who study humor techniques and those who are funny in front of groups professionally. Those who study what humor does to the body — the science of laughter — have long and detailed analyses of how laughter and smiling make physical changes in our bodies. Yes! There is hard science supporting this nebulous thing.

But really, humor just feels good. Somehow those scientists just need to sit down and laugh. People who are in front of groups every day, like teachers, need to laugh. And teachers who know how to get their students laughing are creating a wonderful learning environment that keeps them coming back for more.

Future podcasts will feature Brad Montgomery’s tips and suggestions to help teachers inject a little humor in their classrooms, as they convey all that really important information to their students.

And for more information about Brad Montgomery take a look at

Listen to my podcast on using humor to teach

(File size is 1.6 MB) (Show length 6 minutes 38 seconds)

My Inspiration… Don Herbert – The “Original” Mr. Wizard

A popular guest on the Johnny Carson Show, Don Herbert was truly an inspiration to an entire generation of science enthusiasts. I remember watching him as a kid and being impressed by the fact that while he was amazing, he didn’t have a laboratory or wear a lab coat. He just looked like a friendly guy who did amazingly cool science experiments in his garage… what a great neighbor!

In contrast to television today, I was struck by the fact that he would allow an experiment to fail. Why didn’t they edit it out? Because he believed that failure was so important for children to see.

In 1991 I was approached by NBC television to host a 3½-minute science spot in a program called News for Kids. Remember, this was pre “Bill Nye the Science Guy” or “Beakman”. As we planned the look and feel of the segment, something inside told me to call Don Herbert and get his advice… so I did. Here’s what Don Herbet said, “Don’t’ let them put you in a lab coat if you don’t want to look like a doctor or research scientist… just be yourself… and “… never let the ‘gee-whiz-factor’ overtake what you are trying to teach”.

In my 14 years on TV, I can’t let the “gee whiz” overtake what I am trying to teach. And television has changed my teaching greatly – to truly create an edutainment experience.

Read more about Don Herbert and his place in television history, or visit the official Mr. Wizard Website and discover why he continues to influence a new generation of science teachers.

Listen to my podcast on Don Herbert, my hero

(File size is 1.3 MB) (Show length 5 minutes 20 seconds)

News Anchor Gets Soaked! Mentos Experiment Sets a New Record

SpanglerMentosKim Christiansen thought that Monday would be just another fun, hands-on science segment with Steve Spangler. Little did she know that the bottles of soda would explode and she would be wearing the experiment. This is not the first time I’ve done the Mentos Soda Explosion on the air, but I can safely say that I’ve never gotten these great results either.

Learn how to do the Mentos Soda Explosion – read the experiment

SpanglerMentos Continue reading News Anchor Gets Soaked! Mentos Experiment Sets a New Record

When the tie dyed lab coat comes out, it’s time for science

You’re in for a treat today, because I’m posting my very first podcast interview.

Listen in on my discussion with Julie Gintzler, kindergarten teacher extraordinaire and instructor at the Hands-on Science Boot Camp as she shares one of her secrets to teaching science.

Julie doesn’t do diagrams on the board or long dissertations. Her secret is her lab coat. After 18 years of teaching, Julie has finally found something that sparks the kids’ imagination right off. The first time she introduces a science experiment, she wears her tie dyed lab coat. From it she pulls out a gem of the day. It might be a test tube. It might be a magnifying glass. It’s a great way to introduce the tools in a fun and exciting way. The kids know the minute her lab coat goes on, science is just around the corner.

Most lab coats are white. One of my teachers in high school had one with burns all over it. Julie tried a plain white one and the kids were frightened. They thought “doctor”? or “nurse”?. So Julie’s is tie dyed from head to toe in primary colors.

Not only is it a cue that it is time to talk about science, but the children get excited about science. Get them excited when they are young and while their minds are open.

Listen to my podcast interview of science teacher superstar Julie Gintzler

(File size is 1.2 MB) (Show length 5 minutes)

What’s your secret? Is there something you use like Julie’s lab coat to let your students know that they’re in for something special? Click on the comment button to share your ideas.

Magicians do the impossible first

People often ask how I got excited about science. Who was the great chemist who influenced my life?

I grew up in an unusual family. My first recollection was when I was three years old, peeking through the curtain at the Paramount Theater, watching my dad cut my mother into three pieces. Dad would close the show by eating fire. That my Dad could eat fire had amazing applications to my days in kindergarten – I took my Dad to “show and tell”?.

Growing up in a family of professional magicians, I learned how to think like a magician. Magicians always start with the impossible and move to the possible.

All things are possible. The difference between magic and science is the secret. Unlike magicians, science teachers get to create intrigue and wonder, but also reveal the secret. It is a beautiful approach to use when we are teaching science.

Listen to my podcast on magicians and teachers

(File size is 1.1 MB) (Show length 4 minutes 20 seconds)