Back to School with Steve Spangler Science

Do I smell freshly sharpened pencils?  Is that the clicking sound of a brand new protractor?  Are you surrounded by notebooks, fun new pens and markers that you’re dying to use?

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Back to School with Steve Spangler Science!

Yes!  It’s back to school time!

Not ready for back to school?   Wondering who do you turn to for help to start your new school year off right?   Back to School with Steve Spangler Science is always a great place to start! We’ve never let you down in the past, have we?

Now that you know where to go, you’re probably wondering what should you buy first? Well, the First Days of School Kit, of course!  It’s packed with a little bit of everything to get the kids excited about science.  Jelly Marbles, Water Gel, Windbags, UV beads and more – what else could you need?

First Days of School
First Days of School

Oh yeah, stuff for the rest of the year!

Here’s the good news!  You know that Steve Spangler Science  has all the reliable products that you and your students have come to know and love in the years past.  I mean, who can go a whole school year without  Insta-Snow, Windbags, Jelly Crystals, Slime and Worms?  BUT..did you know that most of the experiments you love come in Classroom Kits, too?  The classroom kits provide enough product for 24-30 kids. Plus, you will also find a teacher guide and even a student guide (in most classroom kits) to help ease the pain of lesson planning.

I see that glimmer in your eye… now, you’re getting excited about the new school year! Which is great, because we have so many more new and  exciting products  coming for 2014-2015.

If you been on the website at all this summer, you probably noticed things like new digital experiment guides, but did you notice that there has been a new Sick Science kit  released each week?

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New Sick Science Kits – Only from Steve Spangler Science!

No? Here are the 6 new Sick Science Kits you may have missed, but were newly released this summer:

Plus,  5 more new Sick Science Kits are still on the way!

Not sure how to incorporate more Science into your curriculum for the year? Your friends at Steve Spangler Science can help with that, too!

With younger students, you might want to try connecting Science to Children’s Literature.  Here are some great stories that keep the kids interested and inspire thought, paired up with fun science experiments: Axle Annie with Insta-Snow, Put Me in the Zoo with Spot Dot, Diary of a Worm with Insta-Worms and Zack’s Alligator (you get not just one, but two growing alligators with this activity set).

Zack's Alligator Kit
Zack’s Alligator Kit

Need more ideas on Science and Literature connections but like to learn in the privacy of your own home?  You say you also need more continuing education credits, but prefer a hands-on workshop? Then you’ll probably want to take Julie Gintzler’s Story Time Slime Online and Steve Spangler’s Virtual Science Workshop!

Story time Slime
Story Time Slime Online

Steve’s putting the “S” back in STEM! The Virtual Science Workshop will teach you how to use inquiry-based experiments and eye-catching demonstrations to promote independent exploration, increase student engagement and open the opportunity for STEM careers.

So go ahead, click that bookmarked SteveSpanglerScience.com webpage and start ordering up some Back to School fun!  If you need help finding experiments or activities to fill your lesson plans, don’t hesitate to call our friendly Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-223-9080, or leave a comment below!

Joy Gintzler's Bio
Joy Gintzler’s Bio

Bio: Joy Gintzler is a jack of all trades.  Currently a Customer Service Guru and Blogger for Steve Spangler Science.    She mixes cereal without remorse and loves engaging with customers, especially when helping plan events. 

 

 

 

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!

Backyard Archaeology

There is genuine archaeology in your back yard; you don’t have to travel to Greece, or Pompeii, or the La Brea Tar Pits to discover archaeological artifacts and fossils, you know.  More often than you think, these things (maybe not the dinosaur bones, but you never know!) can be found in the back yard.  Let’s talk about artifacts first and save the fossils for next time.

arrowheads kn gravel These two arrowheads, for example, were found by my husband and my son on two different occasions as they plowed and planted our garden. Arrowheads and spearheads will often turn up when the earth is turned up!

We lived out in the country in a big house that sat well off the road, and every year we had to buy a huge load arrowheads2of limestone gravel. After the gravel was spread over the quarter-mile driveway, the excited search began. Almost without fail, at least one arrowhead would turn up in the load. Finding it kept my two children busy for at least three days, and while they almost always found at least one, sometimes there were as many as six or seven.  The arrowheads were often chipped or broken, but there were always enough intact ones to make the search thrilling.

What my family liked best, though, was walking through the woods behind our house and glancing down to see a spearhead.  This didn’t happen often, but it happened often enough that even today, we all walk through the woods with our eyes on the ground.  Of course, this is also how people here find morel mushrooms in season, so, you know, double coolness.

spearheadsWe lived in that house for over twenty years, and in that time my kids and my husband collected a lot of arrowheads.  Only a few spearheads, but a lot of arrowheads.

This experience was an incredibly awesome combination of general science, history, archaeology, local culture, geography, geology, craftsmanship, man-made tools, warfare, cooking, biology, indigenous people, and observation.

As are most lessons if they’re done right.

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.

Back Yard Geology: Crinoid Stems

There are crinoid stems everywhere; they were once so prolific they covered the bottom of the sea like a crop of wheat! The Midwest was once part of a great prehistoric sea, and where there is a sea, there are sea creatures. Where there WAS a sea, there are sea creature fossils. And limestone, which is a sedimentary rock made up, mostly, of calcium-rich fragments of ancient sea animal skeletons, specifically crinoids.

crinoid  Crinoids are often called “sea lilies” because of their resemblance to an underwater flower.  Crinoids were not plants, however; crinoids were animals.  Madeleine L’Engle wrote about farandolae in A Wind in the Door, and her character Sporos and his fellows were meant to resemble crinoids.  Literature and science!

There are still some types of crinoids, but it’s the extinct crinoids that crinoid stemswe’ll be talking about here.  If you live in the Midwest, you already know what part of an ancient crinoid looked like because you probably had a pile of crinoid stems crinoid coinssomewhere in your bedroom, and a necklace of threaded crinoid “coins” around your neck in the summertime.  (If you ever hear of or see a necklace or rosary threaded with St. Cuthbert’s beads, you’re looking at crinoids!)  (Sometimes crinoid stems and coins are called Indian Beads, but that’s very misleading, even though some  Native Americans did use crinoid stems and coins to make jewelry.)

If you have access to a lapidary (rock tumbler), crinoids shine up beautifully!  They can be painted, too!

Don’t forget that there are still crinoids in the ocean; they’re echinoderms, like starfish and sea urchins.

The ancient, now-extinct crinoids are seldom found as an intact fossil crinoids- the arms were too fragile and the pieces were scattered by ocean currents.  But the stalk, or stem, can be found, fossilized, all over the Midwest.  In fact, it’s the state fossil of Missouri!

The next time you’re walking by a creek or stream, take off your shoes and wade right in there.  You’ll probably feel the crinoid stems under your feet.  Start a collection.  If you look really closely, you might even find a fossil imprint of an intact crinoid!

You might also find geodes and arrowheads and caddis shells, but that’s another post.

Take a walk outside.  Look around at all the stone.  Imagine what the land where you are standing might have looked like a million years ago.  Everything you see today is here now because of what was there then.

 

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.