Tag Archives: General

Make Your Own Prism

Editor’s Note:  A special thanks to guest blogger and good friend, Jane Goodwin, for this “colorful” post!

Remember how Pollyanna loved to see the rainbows all along the wall? Do you remember how she did that?

She made those rainbows with prisms from an old lamp. Prisms are a kind of many-sided piece of glass, and when the light shines on them, they make rainbows!

Pollyanna made rainbows back in the olden days, and you can make rainbows right now! If you don’t have a prism, you can use a kitchen glass, or a gemstone, or even an ice cube! Almost any clear glass thing can be used as a prism as long as it isn’t completely flat.

If the sun isn’t shining, you can use a flashlight. Just position your prism so that the light shines through it, and there should be rainbows dancing on the opposite wall! If you hung a prism in your bedroom window, you would wake up to rainbows!

Ryan Byers, of Pocatello, Idaho, is making rainbows right in his living room, using a large prism from his huge rock collection. If you’re a rock hound, check YOUR collection; you might be able to create rainbows in YOUR living room, too!

Next time you’re at Grandma’s house, look up at the lamp; maybe she’ll let you borrow one of the prisms hanging there.

What Really Happens at the Ellen Show

If you’re a fan of the Ellen Show, you know that the show recently moved to a new set on the Warner Bros Studio lot. The new studio is huge… great for exploding clouds of liquid nitrogen! Watch the video, but keep reading to learn what happens behind all of those clouds.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it deserves a second mention. Ellen DeGeneres and the people who make up her staff are absolutely top-notch, first-class, amazing people who love their jobs. From the moment we arrived on the lot, there was someone ready to help us with anything we needed. And unlike a normal guest, I have a bunch of weird stuff to set-up backstage. The request list that I turned into the producers for this segment included rain coats, fire extinguishers, liquid nitrogen and a huge jar of pickles. With lots of stuff comes lots of set-up time backstage and probably more interaction with the Ellen Show crew than most guests get.

Aside from having a great time, the big take away for me during this visit was the way the Ellen staff does their jobs. There’s a genuine sense of excitement and fun on the set. From the prop coordinators to the make-up artists to the camera people and the producers, everyone takes so much pride in what they do. Everyone seems to live by the motto – make it big, do it right, give it classor don’t do it. Right before rehearsal, the producer who handles my segment told me that one of the executive producers wanted to stand in for Ellen as we ran through each of the experiments. Normally I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he watches the demos for the first time and takes notes during the rehearsal. This time, instead of watching the demos, he wanted to participate and get his hands dirty (literally). That idea of having fun, being engaged (instead of just showing up) and doing everything possible to make the show great is exactly why the show is great.

Maybe that’s the secret… make sure you’re doing something you really love to do… or don’t do it.

Magicians Meet in Fort Collins to Share Secrets

The words pick a card must have been uttered a thousand times last weekend at the Marriott in Fort Collins as a few hundred magicians gathered to advance their craft. The 15th Annual Magic in the Rockies conference was a huge success by all accounts… and I had a blast. I’ve written about my involvement with magic in the past and even did the proud Dad thing by showing video of my kids performing their first magic routines on stage. I grew up in a family of magicians, so I’ve been to dozens and dozens of magicians conventions. I always come away from these experiences excited about the art and hopeful that young people will continue to show interest. The video below will give you a brief glimpse of what happened for three solid days at Magic in the Rockies.

4-H and Steve Spangler Science Team Up for National Youth Science Day

I’m excited to announce my partnership with the National 4-H Council to serve as their national spokesperson for the first-ever National Science Experiment. When I first spoke with the people at 4-H, I must admit that I was not aware of their dedication for teaching science, technology and engineering as part of their Youth Development Program. Their efforts to give youth more opportunities to engage hands-on science and to focus kids’ attention on environmental issues is right on target – that’s why I’m excited to be a part of their National Youth Science Day on October 8, 2008.

The National Science Experiment (NSE) will focus on the environment and will use science principles to teach youth across the country about the importance of water conservation. During the creative process, I had the opportunity to work closely with 4-H and Dr. Bob Horton, 4-H science education specialist for the Ohio State University Extension, to create the NSE and related activities, which will be made available to the 6 million 4-H youth plus parents, teachers, students, and youth organizations nationwide in the coming weeks.

Youth who participate in the National Science Experiment will examine the properties of water-absorbing polymers, which are long chains of molecules that can be used in environmental applications such as agriculture, erosion control, soil management, and environmental clean-ups. One of the aspects of the project that I like best is giving these young scientists the ability to conduct the test the tests and then to post their findings online to engage in dialogue with fellow youth nationwide. Continue reading

Science "Left Behind" in American Schools

One Nation Left Behind

You may have seen the recent commercials showing a child raising flags representing America’s standing in school ranking world-wide. I came across an article for the same campaign that shared some striking, but unfortunately not surprising, statistics. According to the “One Nation Left Behind” program, 20 countries outscore the US in science education and 93% of US middle school teachers have little or no science training.

As standardized testing becomes key in schools nation-wide, the decline in science education becomes widely apparent. The Strong American Schools Website offers more staggering statistics and eye-opening quizzes that help drive home the point that our children are not receiving enough science education. Check it out and be prepared for some shocking results.

However, the One Nation Left Behind campaign is committed to creating awareness about the growing education problem in America… from science, to math, to English.. and offers opportunities to get involved in your community.