Steve Ignites a Passion for Science at Utah Early Childhood Conference

Recently, Steve Spangler was the keynote speaker at the Utah Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Salt Lake City.

He brought his exciting collection of flaming wallets, Smoke Rings and Wind Bags to an audience of early childhood professionals. Steve shared some of his favorite demos and antidotes along with his message about the state of education today. Money gets thrown where we think education needs to be improved – early education, high school, technology and then the next buzz. We can’t settle on a solution to solve the problems and issues facing education today because we need to realize that human beings are being educated. Educate the whole person while igniting their passions for learning and discovery.

Steve’s keynote grabbed the attention of one teacher blogger…

The first (and favorite) quote I jotted down from Steve came as he was talking about all the efforts made to improve education.  He said we throw money at early ed, then we say -WAIT! No, put it over here!- and we move our attention to high school, but then -WAIT- technology!  It’s technology where we need to focus, then no -WAIT – it’s this, that, no, the other thing.  Then he said, maybe we can’t seem to settle on the solution because we need to realize, “It’s a human being.”

Read Not Just Cute’s entire post about educating the human, not the system.

Spangler Takes His Message from the Classroom to Corporate Audiences

Steve Spangler took his education-focused show to the fifth annual State of DIA at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

George Peck with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce inflates windbags with other business leaders in a State of DIA presentation at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Tuesday. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Denver International Airport is the world’s 11th busiest airport. The ‘Science of a Successful Airport’ event focused on flights and finances at DIA as well as featured Spangler’s presentation.

The airport is one of Denver’s eight leading industry clusters for employment, economic impact, and future growth opportunities.

Spangler shared a presentation on making unforgettable experiences. His message, usually directed at teachers and other educators, shares ideas and demonstrations to make learning memorable in the classroom. If it makes it to the dinner table that night, Spangler believes that teacher and lesson made a difference.

This message can also translate into business…give your customers, or travelers in DIA’s case, a memorable experience, then they will return.

For more on this event, please read the following articles:

Science Explodes at the Cherry Creek Foundation Luncheon

Steve Spangler, a former teacher and educator for Cherry Creek Schools, brought Bernoulli’s Principle to life for 600 people during the 19th Annual Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Luncheon on March 15.

Courtesy: Cherry Creek Schools

The crowd of business leaders, city government officials, educators and foundation volunteers were on their feet filling plastic tubes with lots of hot air.

Spangler was the keynote speaker for the luncheon, held at the DTC Hyatt Regency. Retiring Superintendent Mary Chelsey was honored along with several educators and volunteers. The luncheon also serves as a fundraiser for the foundation.

“Learning is about engagement,” Spangler said during his presentation. “It’s about creating those ‘I’ll never forget the day’ kind of moments in the classroom.”

Courtesy: Cherry Creek Schools

As 600 Wind Bags danced around the ballroom, Spangler called it a Facebook moment. but the audience called it a memorable learning moment.

Attendees also dodged smoke rings and jumped when Spangler’s wallet ignited in flames.

Spangler was a teacher in the Cherry Creek School District for 12 years before taking his show on the road to educate teachers in how to engage and excite their students about science.

“Make it big, do it right, give it class,” said Spangler of education. “And if it makes it from the classroom to the dinner table, you know you’ve done it right — activities don’t make it to the dinner table. Experiences do.”

For more photos, check out the Foundation Luncheon photo album on the Cherry Creek Schools Facebook page!


The Science Behind Why Your Fingers and Toes Get Pruney

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I recently spent some quality time soaking in the hot springs pool in Salida, Colorado. After sitting there relaxing and watching the kids play, I noticed my fingers and toes were really pruney. It made me start wondering why and how this phenomena happens. Is there a reason why our skin becomes wrinkled and old-looking after soaking in water? Or is it just a side effect of getting wet?

I knew one thing – prunes turn into raisins by drying out. But we were IN the water. Our skin couldn’t be drying out in the water. It had to be soaking up the water.

Scientists once believed the same thing – that the pruning and wrinkling of fingers and toes was caused by the outermost layer of skin absorbing water. Recent studies by Kyriacos Kareklas and Tom Smulders of Newcastle University in England have showed the wrinkling comes from the nervous system constricting blood vessels in the skin.

When the blood constricts, it reduces the volume of the fingertips and pulls in the skin. So even though you feel like your fingers have swelled in the water, their volume has actually decreased.

If the nerves in your fingers are damaged or cut, your skin will no longer wrinkle in water.

But why does this happen? Is it just to give you that “just bathed” look or is there more to it? Kareklas and Smulders are working on finding the answer.

Kareklas hypothesized that wrinkled skin works the same way as tire treads on a car work – to allow the water to run off from between the fingers and the objects they are trying to pick up.

These wrinkles may have helped our ancestors pick up wet materials like gathering food in a stream or getting a better grip on wet rocks with toes.

Kareklas and Smulders experimented with marbles. They had their subjects manipulate marbles with pruney hands and with dry hands. They found it was easier to move the wet marbles from water faster when their fingers were wrinkled than not. Pruney fingers did not make a difference on how fast they could move the dry marbles.

So why aren’t our fingers and toes permanently pruney? Probably because it would diminish sensitivity and pruney skin doesn’t seem to help or hinder the manipulation of dry objects.

There is more research to be done on this topic. Do other primates and mammals have the same thing happen to their digits in water? Do the wrinkles work like tire treads or do they make the skin more sticky?

Next time you are in the bath or at the pool, try experimenting with this theory. Can you pick up slippery or wet objects easier when your fingers are pruney or smooth? What about when the object is dry? Is it easier to pick up with pruney or smooth fingers?

I smell a science fair project here…


Dancing Spaghetti – A Lesson in Density

Who knew noodles could dance? Head to the kitchen, grab a handful of pasta noodles along with a few other materials and get ready for a science pasta party. This is some kitchen science that will have you learning about volume and density in a brand new, hands-on way!


  • Clear drinking glasses
  • Pasta noodles (cooked or uncooked)
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Food coloring
  1. Measure 2 cups of water and pour the water into a clear drinking glass.
  2. Measure 2 cups of vinegar and add it into the clear drinking glass with the water.
  3. Add 3-6 drops of food coloring to the water and vinegar mixture.
  4. Add some pasta noodles to the glass. How much pasta? It’s up to you! (We used uncooked noodles)
  5. Drop 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the glass. Be ready… adding the baking soda into the mixture might get a little messy!
  6. Watch closely and check out all of those dancing noodles!
  7. Are your noodles done dancing? Add more baking soda to the glass and start the dance party all over again.
What will happen if you use other kitchen foods like raisins, candy hearts, beans or Cheerios? What else will work? Leave us a comment below with your favorite dancing food.

For the science behind this experiment, visit the Dancing Noodles experiment page.