Texas High School Student Gives His History Teacher a Lesson

A video of Duncanville High School student Jeff Bliss has gone viral after a classmate recorded his rant in the classroom last week. Bliss is an 18-year-old sophomore who returned to 10th grade after dropping out. He says he realized the importance of an education for his future. He now takes his education and the learning of others very seriously.


Bliss had questioned why the teacher didn’t give the students more time to prepare for a test. She asked him to leave the classroom and he began sharing his opinions of why students were not reaching their true potential. He claimed the teacher only passed out worksheets and packets instead of creating lively and engaging discussions.

In Bliss’ opinion, the classroom time was a waste and challenged the teacher to get the students excited about learning. He also felt teachers must reach out and touch the hearts of their students to truly engage them.

“Just as much as the students need to give an effort, the teachers need to give an effort too.” said Jeff Bliss.

A local television station reached out the school district for comment. The district said they want both students and teachers to be engaging in the classroom but believe Bliss could have expressed his concern in a better way.

One of Steve Spangler’s mottos is to “get it to the dinner table.” Lessons should be so engaging and exciting that the kids can’t wait to share it at the dinner table. Packets and worksheets should support the lessons but not be the entire lesson. No one has ever gotten inspired over doing a worksheet.

So many teachers are inspiring and engaging but some fall short. Teaching shouldn’t be constantly entertaining, but it should spark and excite the students’ interest in learning. Students must meet the teachers halfway. Education is a collaboration.

Where do you land on this issue? Has the teacher been given a fair chance? Did Bliss unfairly rant about his teacher or did he have a point? He obviously touched a nerve, because his rant went viral.


What Is It Like to Share the Spotlight with Steve Spangler?

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

Earlier this week I had the extreme pleasure of shadowing some students from Rooney Ranch Elementary who came to our office before appearing on the Denver NBC affiliate 4:00 news program. The students’ were chosen to appear for their creative science fair projects and speaking abilities.

The students arrived with their parents at our offices around 3:00p.m. A little less than two hours before air time. Steve chatted with them and got them naturally talking and explaining their experiments. The kids were so excited and wound up, but Steve knew exactly how to get them to focus and share.

Next, they went into our studio at the Spangler Labs and did a little trial run to practice for the real television studio. The kids got a small-scale run through complete with bright lights and a desk. They had an opportunity to really begin to sharpen their chops.

After the kids were all prepped and TV-ready, Steve took a little time to share some of his latest experiments in his playroom. The playroom is the one area in our offices that Steve is allowed to make a mess and not clean it up. This is where he stores all of his toys and science materials and uses the space to practice his demonstrations. The group participated in one of the more memorable (and my least favorite) experiments, the Sissy Machine. The Sissy machine is a vintage telephone with a crank. When the phone is cranked, it generates a low voltage current. Everyone held hands and felt the current move through their bodies. The Sissy Machine is used to demonstrate how electricity travels through the body. Humans are conductors of electricity.

Steve ended the fun by lighting an alcohol rocket and setting fire to the table. A visit to Steve Spangler Science is never without some type of explosion or fire. Science definitely isn’t boring.

We loaded into cars and caravanned down to the news station. We all checked in at the front desk and headed to the studio. The kids got a quick lesson in behind the scenes news production before setting up at the guest desk and preparing for the appearance.

(My favorite part of the photo above is the little sister of one of the kids,
who almost snuck onto live television.)

Finally, their moment in the spotlight arrived. The kids all did a great job. It was fun to watch their parents’ responses to their presentations almost as much fun as it was to watch the kids do their thing. They all proved themselves worthy of the television lights. Watch their appearance on the video below. It’s not easy to go on live television in front of a million viewers and share your work. Congratulations to the kids – Zane, Julia, Dakota and Hunter and a special thank you to Steve Spangler for spotlighting some amazing science fair superstars.

Teaching Then and Now – How Have Things Changed?

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I recently discovered a fun downloadable from the very popular Teachers Pay Teachers site. This printable listed the rules for school marms or teachers in 1872. Educator and blogger Barbara Evans from It’s About Time Teachers, put the download together, however, it has been printed and shared in newspapers, books, museums and all over the Internet for over 50 years.

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.

9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

I checked Snopes.com for the accuracy and legitimacy in this list of rules. They have it listed as a Legend, saying they cannot confirm the origins. Snopes also notes that this list was probably originally shared and continues to be shared to this day to demonstrate how much better off we are from almost 130 years ago. There is also another list of similar rules from 1915 that also circulates.

Whether or not this list is completely accurate and legitimate from that time period, I thought it would be fun to compare the rules to today’s expectations.

Obviously the old list is outdated. We are better off today than we were in 1872. Right? But then I began to really look at the list and and compare it to today’s teachers. By switching out a few materials and old fashioned political views, this list really hasn’t changed all that much…

1. Teachers arrive at school before their students. They ensure their classroom is organized, clean and ready for students every morning.

2. No scuttle of coal, but teachers purchase a lot of classroom materials and supplies out of their own pockets. Teachers pay for 77% of the supplies needed to keep their classroom full of educational materials for their students. That amounts to about $356 per teacher per year or $1.3 3 billion out of pocket. And that is just for basic classroom supplies. Teachers are also known to purchase snacks, lunches, school supplies and personal hygiene products and cover the cost of field trips for students whose parents are unable to cover these costs.

3. Today’s teachers can skip the whittling of nibs, but do keep a supply of pencils, scissors and paper for their students. Even if the students now take on the responsibility of sharpening their own pencils.

4. Teachers are no longer given time to court, but must work hard to squeeze in a personal life. They have meetings to attend before and after school, classes of their own to attend and don’t forget grading all of those papers. It is funny how students are shocked to discover their teachers actually shop at the same grocery stores and malls as they do. Aren’t teachers only found in schools?

5. Classroom teachers spend a lot of time and long days at school. They spend 6-7 hours in the classroom and then spend time in meetings, grading and planning. A teacher’s day does not end at 3:00 p.m. Many grade late into the night. And don’t forget teachers must continue to learn. By keeping up teaching certificates, they take hours of coursework every school year.

6. Women teachers not only marry these days, but also work incredibly hard to balance raising their own children with educating ours. Teachers miss their own children’s Halloween parades and Valentine exchanges. They aren’t there at the end of the day to meet their kids at the bus stop. These educators and disciplinarians, try as they might, use up their patience and energy during the school day. Their kids tend to get the short end and temper after 20-30 other kids burned out their parent. Teachers do  tend to be volunteered for Girl Scout leaders, enrichment clubs and other extra-curricular activities because they are good with children and love working with them. I enjoy my job too, but the last thing I want to do is go home and do it in my free time.

7. Teachers must set budgets and plan financially. Salaries aren’t through the roof, and many have experienced cuts and scaled back benefits. Teaching jobs are at a premium and many are not permanently employed, even if they are lucky enough to currently hold down a teaching job. These teachers must look every year for a new school or sub job. Tenure isn’t handed out as easily anymore. Permanent jobs are hard to find.

8. Today’s teacher behavior and rules aren’t spelled out as clearly as those from 1872, but teachers must work to maintain integrity and lead by example. Although their private lives may not be held under a microscope, certain behaviors or language can be terms for dismissal.

9. Let’s hope that teachers are receiving more than a 25 cent raise every five years (although it may feel like it.) It’s not the easiest thing to secure a permanent teaching position these days.

To help a classroom teacher with expenses, check out Adopt-a-Classroom so teachers and students can get what they need to succeed in school.

Pin Your Favorite Teacher Gifts to Give or Receive and Win a $100 Steve Spangler Gift Certificate

Contest Is Closed – Congratulations to our winners #4 & #13 comments – Sarah and Chelsey!






Parents – does your teacher have their fill of mugs, candles and smelly lotion? What are you giving your favorite teachers this year?

Teachers – what gifts do you appreciate the most? Gift cards, items for next year’s classroom, books, or hand-written notes and gifts?

We love and appreciate all teachers at Steve Spangler Science and want to help share ideas and favorites to help parents give their teachers the best this May. Our Teacher Appreciation Pinterest board has a ton of gift ideas for all kinds of budgets, teachers and craft levels.

What are your favorite gifts to give to your amazing teacher?

And teachers – what are your most memorable and favorite gifts to receive? Here is your chance to share with parents what teachers really appreciate and what gets re-gifted or forgotten. My daughter’s second grade teacher shared a clock that a student gave her a few years back. She still displays it proudly in her classroom.

Here’s how to Pin It to Win a $100 Gift Certificate to SteveSpanglerScience.com.

1. Visit Steve Spangler Science’s Pinterest page and Follow All.

2. Create a board on your Pinterest page and title it “Teacher Gifts.” For parents – in the description share why you appreciate your child’s teachers. For teachers – in the description, share why you enjoy teaching.

3. Pin at least 5 items from SteveSpanglerScience.com that you want to give to a teacher or want to receive as a teacher. You can start in our Teacher Gifts category, but don’t stop there, surf around and see what you can find. Don’t stop with 5 – pin away as long as you’d like. Please add other pins and ideas for teachers gifts that you have given, received, or found around the Internet. You are also welcome to repin from our Teacher Gifts board.

4. Include a Pin from this blog post on your Teacher Gifts board.

5. Leave a link to your board in the comments below. Two lucky winners will be chosen at random to win one of two $100 gift certificates to use on SteveSpanglerScience.com.

6. Complete your Teacher Gifts Pinterest board by midnight MST, Thursday May 23rd.

7. Steve Spangler Science will repin our favorite ideas found on your boards to share with our audience.

So what are you waiting for? Go get creative and get pinning!


Science in the Rockies Teacher Training Now Aligned to Next Gen and Common Core

As many of you know, the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards were just released in early April. Over the past few weeks, our team has been working feverishly to align Steve Spangler’s hands-on science curriculum from Science in the Rockies with these newly released standards. In addition to the science standards, we know that many of you are looking for creative strategies for connecting more hands-on science with the Common Core reading, writing and math objectives. That’s why we are very excited to share these integration strategies and creative methods for making science even more fun and meaningful for your students in the coming years.

Next Generation Science Standards are a voluntary set of rigorous and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education. Twenty-six states and their teams joined 41 writers and partners to compile science and engineering content that all students should learn to prepare for college and the real world.

“The Next Generation of Science Standards promise to help students understand why is it that we have to know science and help them use scientific learning to develop critical thinking skills-which may be applied throughout their lives, no matter the topic. Today, students see science as simply a list of facts and ideas that they are expected to memorize. In contrast to that approach education researchers have learned, particularly in the last 15 to 20 years, that if we cover fewer ideas, but go into more depth, students come away with a much richer understanding,” said Joseph S. Krajcik, Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at Michigan State University and a member of the writing team.

Common Core State Standards are standards set across states to create a clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, and to put both parents and teachers on the same education team. These standards provide skills and knowledge students need to prepare for college and beyond.

Please join us in Denver July 9th through 11th for Steve Spangler’s Science in the Rockies.

Not familiar with Science in the Rockies? Every July, 150 teachers from around the world come together for three days with a team of instructors who are over-the-top excited about teaching science.

The workshop focuses on ways to bring wonder, discovery, and exploration back into your classroom through Halloween activities, electricity, things that glow, or even launching a potato out of PVC pipes. This is not a “sit-and-watch” teacher training… this is a “get-up-and-do” learning experience featuring over 75 engaging activities that you can take home and immediately share with your students.

You’ll leave the workshop with all the tools you need to become the best science teacher possible, including over $300 of gizmos, gadgets, hands-on learning materials for your students, hard-to-find supplies, and cool resources that accompany the Science in the Rockies curriculum. You’ll also receive a 250-page training manual that details every aspect of your learning experience, from the detailed instructions and recipes to the in-depth explanations and real-world applications.

The enthusiasm for making science fun spreads like a virus! Steve Spangler and his staff will change the way you teach science… forever.