Test Tube Desk Organizers for a Teacher or Science Fan

The main purpose of all of our products at Steve Spangler Science is to make science fun. It’s even our slogan. But not everyone uses our science supplies for their intended purpose. We always enjoy hearing about innovative ways that our customers are using our products.

For your favorite teacher or science fan - a Test Tube desk organizer | Steve Spangler Science

We decided to take a step back from our science focus and look at some of our products more creatively. Our Baby Soda Bottle Test Tubes and Rack are purchased for so much more than lab supplies. Some use them to store beads and buttons and other sewing items, fishing lures and hooks, jewelry kit accessories, earrings, travel products like shampoo and anything and everything that should stay dry and fit into the tube. A woodworker even recommended Baby Soda Bottles for safe small saw blade storage.

Here’s a new idea we came up with  for the science fan or teacher in your life – use Baby Soda Bottles and a Rack for a desk organizer. The test tubes will hold all of your small pushpins, staples, paperclips, rubber bands and anything else you want to stuff into them. It’s also a safe place to store scissors.

The Baby Soda Bottle Desk Organizer is an inexpensive and creative gift or organizing solution for disorganized teachers, students and science fans.

For your favorite teacher or science fan - a Test Tube desk organizer | Steve Spangler Science

For thirty science activities that use Baby Soda Bottles, visit the experiment page.

To purchase a set of six Baby Soda Bottles and a Rack, visit the Steve Spangler Science store. Office supplies sold at local retailers.

Steve Spangler Explains the Science Behind on The Doctors Science Lab

Steve Spangler visited the set of The Doctors Science Lab this week to share lessons on the science behind some health discomforts…

Steve Spangler Explained the science behind food poisoning using Elephant's Toothpaste on The Doctors TV


With Steve as their lab instructor, The Doctors donned their lab coats and went to work. They used Red Cabbage Indicator, Milk of Magnesia, giant flasks and a few ‘glubs’ of vinegar to demonstrate how antacids work and the classic Elephant’s Toothpaste demonstration to show what happens with food poisoning in the stomach.

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High School Students Get a Kitchen Science Lesson with Homemade Ice Cream

Students taking a culinary class at Springs Valley High School in French Lick, Indiana experimented using our Sick Science! Homemade Ice Cream recipe in class last week. They were studying the different ways to make ice cream. They first made ice cream using a churn and then tried our way using a Zip-Loc bag and a lot of ice.

A high school student makes ice cream in a science lab.

The students and their instructor Lisa Wray, enjoyed all of their hard work. Their school building also includes a preschool and the class plans on making more ice cream and sharing it with their tiny counterparts.


Students show off their homemade ice cream in their science lab

You can also make homemade ice cream with some materials and ingredients found in your kitchen, although you may need to take a trip to the store for rock salt.

What You Will Need: 

  • Large (1 gallon) plastic jar (a coffee can works, too)
  • 2 quart-size zipper-lock bags
  • Half & Half
  • Crushed ice (or snow in the winter!)
  • Rock salt
  • Vanilla
  • Sugar
  • Towel (or winter gloves)

Prep Time: 

  • About 10 minutes to pull together the ingredients and supplies.

Time the Activity Will Take: 

  • Ice cream will take about 20 minutes to make. 


Let’s Do It! 

  • Fill the plastic jar about half full with crushed ice.
  • Add about 6 tablespoons of rock salt to the ice. Seal the plastic jar and shake the ice and salt for about five minutes. You’ll need to wear your gloves when you’re handling the jar. If you’re curious as to why you have to wear gloves, measure the temperature of the mixture with a thermometer. The rock salt and ice mixture gets down to about 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C)!
  • Use one quart-size zipper-lock bag to mix the following ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup of Half & Half
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Play and Freeze Ice Cream MakerSeal tightly, allowing as little air to remain in the bag as possible. Too much air left inside may force the bag open during shaking.
  • Place this bag inside the other quart-size bag, again leaving as little air inside as possible and sealing well. By double-bagging, the risk of salt and ice leaking into the ice cream is minimized.
  • Place the two bags inside the jar with the ice and seal the bag. Wrap the bag in the towel or put your gloves on. Shake, rock, roll, and mix that can! Your ice cream should be ready after about 15-20 minutes.
  • Once mixed, remove the inner bags from the jar and rinse them well with water. You don’t want any salt water accidentally getting into your ice cream.

Vanilla doesn’t have to be the only flavor. Add chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, fresh fruit or nuts to experiment with flavor.

With a classroom of kids, use small snack baggies to make individual servings.











The Anatomy of a Flood – The Science Behind Flooding

Were the deadly and destructive floods that devastated large sections of the Colorado Front Range last week the result of climate change? Some scientists say yes.

As a landlocked state, Colorado usually only has a few flood threats – from springtime runoff from mountain snow melt or summer thunderstorms that can dump a lot of rain in a small area. This is what happened during the 1976 Big Thompson or 1997 Fort Collins floods. But last week’s events were nothing people across 17 counties have ever experienced. Many called the drenching rains and deadly floods 100 or 1,000-year events.

The Science Behind Flooding | Steve Spangler Science

Courtesy 9News, Denver

What is a Flood? 

The simple definition of a flood is too much water in the wrong place.

Floods are usually caused by a lot of rain in a short amount of time that causes rivers or oceans to overflow their banks. Floods are also caused by storm surges – the height the tides rise during a tropical storm or hurricane. Or spring run-off, when snow melts too quickly for streams and rivers to contain it and they overflow their banks.

Flash floods are the most deadliest type of flood, because they usually involve large walls of water that move quickly and without warning down riverbeds.  Flash floods can also occur in the desert where hard earth can’t hold a large amount of rain in a short period of time. The water runs over the landscape collecting until it becomes a flash flood.

Flood Facts from FloodSmart.gov

  • Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.
  • Everyone lives in a flood zone.
  • Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
  • Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 20 feet high.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.
  • In a high-risk area, your home is more likely to be damaged by flood than by fire.
  • From 2003 to 2012, total flood insurance claims averaged more than $3.0 billion per year.
The Science Behind Flooding - Floods wash away roads | Steve Spangler Science

Courtesy 9News, Denver
Submitted By: Kaylie from Evergreen

What Happened in Colorado? 

Several factors went into the flooding in Colorado. First, a slow-moving system pulled a large mass of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and pushed it west. When the air hit the Rocky Mountains, it was forced up into the atmosphere and fell as rain. The weather system then stalled out over the Front Range for multiple days. The arid west is not prepared for that type of tropical rain.

Second, September is one of the driest months of the year. Previous to this storm, Boulder’s record for rainfall during the month of September was 5.5 inches.

Thirdly, the area has suffered a long-term drought for over 14 years. Drought hardens the soil. When it does finally rain, the ground cannot absorb much, so it runs across the surface.

Finally, several of the flooded areas previously experienced wildfires which burn  and eliminate vegetation. The bare landscape cannot catch and slow down the running water, causing rainwater to move quickly over large areas and collect in lower ones. Two fires near Boulder changed the land – the 2012 Flagstaff Fire and 2010 Fourmile Canyon fire.

Heavy summer rains in Manitou Springs earlier this summer caused mudslides and  flooding after fires eliminated vegetation from the surrounding mountains.

The Science Behind Flooding | Steve Spangler Science

Courtesy 9News, Denver
Normally a small creek on CR2 just east of CR23E Submitted By: Julie from Berthoud

A Result of Climate Change? 

Clouds can hold more moisture in warmer air, which can lead to more rain.

In June, President Obama told an audience at Georgetown University, “Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times. But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet.”

Mark Udall, director of the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, told National Geographic that science can’t blame any specific weather event on global warming, but the extreme rain storm in Colorado has at least some connection to climate change.

The connection, Udall said, “might be 10 percent or it might be 90 percent, but it isn’t zero percent and it isn’t 100 percent.”

The Science Behind Flooding | Steve Spangler Science

Courtesy 9News, Denver
Comcast building and Vans flooded. Submitted By: John from near 1st & Taft, Loveland CO

What are the Effects of Flooding? 

Flooding is very dangerous and causes wide spread damage. About a foot (30.5 cm) of water can move a car and only 6 inches (15 cm) can knock a person off their feet. Fast moving water can carry large debris and sweep people downstream very quickly. Undercurrents and unknown depths in the water can also disorient and drown even the best swimmers.

Flood waters also wash away roads, bridges and railroad lines, preventing travel and even escape. They wash away telephone and power lines cutting off utilities. Drainage and sewer systems are also overwhelmed during flooding, which can carry bacteria and viruses. Aside from the water damage, toxic materials and mud carried by the extra water cause a lot of damage long after the flood waters recede.

In Colorado, many homes were spared from flooding, but still had to be evacuated due to lack of power, sewer, water, phone and unobstructed roads.

The Science Behind Flooding - Floods wash away roads | Steve Spangler Science

Courtesy 9News, Denver

How Can We Protect Ourselves from Floods?  

If your home is located in a flood plain, near a river or even in a wildland fire area, it is recommended that you get flood insurance. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage from floods. Special flood insurance is purchased through the government.

During soaking rains and other weather events, stay informed and watch for flood watches and warnings. Get out before the mandatory evacuations go in place. Roadways will be open, people calmer and more resources will be available. This also aides emergency personal who must go door to door during an emergency.Keep all emergency numbers and paperwork in one folder that can be grabbed at a moment’s noticeis also a great way to be prepared for any disaster. 

Levees and dams are built to contain and control flooding and large amounts of water. These are not fool-proof and can fail or even overflow. Here’s an interactive guide about levees and how they work -


Tragedy in Colorado – The Science Behind a '100 Year Flood'

The Colorado Front Range is still reeling after a major storm dumped more precipitation on areas in 24 to 48 hours than they receive in an entire year. The result was 20-foot walls of water rushing down the sides of mountains, rivers coming over their banks, roads and bridges washed away and houses flooded. Hundreds of roads and bridges washed away across the Front Range. Some places, like the town of Lyons, became islands completely surrounded by water.

The Science Behind 100-Year Floods

Lefthand Canyon washed away Submitted By: Laura
Courtesy 9News, Denver

The flooding has effected 17 Colorado counties with the most devastating in Boulder and Larimer counties. Parts of Jefferson County around Golden and Evergreen and Arapahoe County in Aurora are also affected.

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