No one has to twist my arm to visit highly motivated teachers in Florida. Our Hands-on Science Boot Camp kicked off its fall tour with stops in Tampa and Orlando. We consider a boot camp to be one-day, highly intensive, roll-up-your-sleeves and get messy training with a single, strategic focus: To find new ways to get students fully engaged and excited about learning science. I’m always honored to have repeat participants from past years, and I always seek these people out and ask them this question… Why did you come back? Without fail, these returning participants are focused on some aspect of their science teaching and they’re looking for some creative ways to solve their problems.
We had a great group of returning teachers from the Brevard Public School who shared their latest plan for engaging students in their hands-on/minds-on approach to learning… and it’s called Brevard Public Schools HSSS Team (Harris Super Science Saturday Program). Science trainers at the district level target schools that could benefit from modeling and training of their students and staff. For six weeks, the students and teachers at the school show up for a few hours in the afternoon to explore some cool, hands-on science activities that model the scientific process and help to strengthen critical thinking skills. The program is in its third year and the results are very encouraging. Thanks to Ed Short and his cadre in the Brevard Public Schools for breaking away for lunch and sharing their cool program.
It’s been quite a year for us at Steve Spangler Science… in fact, when the year starts out with 50 off your closest friends helping you wish Ellen DeGeneres a Happy Birthday, you know big things are in store. Whether we were letting fans ride on the infamous Bed of Nails at NAEYC 2009 or launching trash cans with a police force audience, we can guarantee that 2009 was never boring. We’ve compiled some of our favorite highlights from the year, so feel free to browse through them and go back with us as we reminisce about our favorite moments from 2009… can you imagine what 2010 has in store?
Happy Birthday Ellen!
Our 2009 Boot Camp tour kicks off in Oklahoma City, with a great group of teachers.
Our team stormed Toy Fair and set off a few geysers in the process.
Steve Spangler Science Jelly Marbles were featured on the prime-time hit series Numb3rs.
I debuted what would become one of our most requested experiments… Laminar Flow.
The face of our Insta-Snow product, Arianne Heaton, headed to college, years after she was my student at Willow Creek Elementary.
I spoke to an awesome group of teachers at the Junior League of Greater Princeton.
I was honored to have the amazing opportunity to visit Ireland and present a seminar for the Irish Science Teacher’s Association.
My St. Patrick’s Day festivities earned me a (prestigious?) Geek Dad Honor.
We debuted our Experiment of the Week widget for fans and friends to post on their blogs and the downloads haven’t stopped since!
I had the opportunity to let Ellen DeGeneres ride the Bed of Nails on my March appearance on Ellen’s show.
We honored some amazing teachers when we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Month at SteveSpanglerScience.com.
We enlisted an unexpected “audience” when our Flying Trash Can experiments brought the police to our offices.
I am proud to say that we won two Multi-Chanel Merchant awards, including Best Website of the Year.
We received a Guinness World Record and educated over 5,000 students with our first annual Weather and Science Day at Coor’s Field.
We took our teacher training experience to a whole new level with our first-ever Science at Sea program.
In conjunction with Klutz Press, we launched a new book, Boom Splat Kablooey!, and a new depth charge for our Geyser Tube.
I had the chance to spend some time with the Evolution of Dance guy, Judson Laipply, and record one really cool video.
I took on the media hype and helped 9News determine if the “Balloon Boy” balloon could have lifted the weight of a small child.
We launched one of my favorite products at SteveSpanglerScience.com this year… Film Canister Rockets!
After the huge success of the Bed of Nails on the Ellen DeGeneres show, we decided to bring the experience to the teachers at NAEYC 2009.
I had the opportunity to speak to a great group of teachers at the Reach Them to Teach Them conference.
Our Spangler Science team pulled off a surprise assembly for some deserving kids in the community… and taught them how to make “snow.”
My son, Jack, tackled that age-old question, “Is double-dipping your chip as bad as licking the whole bowl?”
We debuted another line of educational toys in conjunction with SONIC restaurants.
Our Fall Boot Camp Tour kicked off September 23rd in Grand Rapids, MI, with a second stop just two days later in Chicago, IL… and it was a blast! What an enthusiastic group of teachers awaited us in both cities. I love the Windbag demonstration because who wouldn’t want to make a paying customer look silly up on stage? Our teacher volunteer was a great sport and we had a fun Windbag Challenge before discussing the properties of Bernoulli’s Principle. Our teachers picked up very quickly on my hex nut drop and didn’t even seem to mind the “music” created by the Screaming Balloons. It was a great day and an awesome opportunity to meet some of the amazing teachers who are bringing science to their classrooms.
Chicago was equally amazing… especially with our Egg Drop demonstration. I had a fun volunteer, who did a great job getting those eggs in the cups on the very first try!
Check out these videos of our Grand Rapids and Chicago Boot Camps to see what you’ve been missing. If you attended one of the workshops, I’d love to hear your comments on how you are using some of the demonstrations and strategies in your classrooms.
I love when our Boot-camp alumni teachers write in to tell us about how they are using science in their classrooms. Shirley Snowden attended our Anaheim Boot-camp last year and emailed us with a great story about her experience with Kid-Friendly Elephant’s Toothpaste.
Thought you’d enjoy a picture of one of my super scientists. We tried the kid friendly elephant toothpaste and the kid’s enjoyed it a lot. We did it over and over again. My friends are four and a half and they really like science!
The kids look like they are having a blast… When kids yell, “Do it again!”, it’s the ultimate compliment. Keep up the good work Shirley and happy experimenting!
One of the benefits of traveling around the country with our Science Boot Camp Tour is getting to talk with teachers and learn from their insights. The Science Museum Oklahoma hosted a one-day workshop for area teachers and the response was great. I’ve invited participants to share some of their take-home ideas and ways they’re using the content from the workshop in their classroom (although it’s only been a few weeks).
I also heard two comments that I thought were interesting. One of the content areas we talk about in the workshop is the importance of recycling as it applies to soda bottles. A teacher commented that she hosted a group of foreign exchange students over the summer and was surprised to hear them comment about the size of our trashcans. Out of all of their experiences in the U.S. over the summer, they were amazed by the volume of trash Americans produce on a weekly basis. Enough said.
The second comment came from a pre-service teacher who shared this… “I was taught to use science as something the kids got to do at the end of the week… if they were good.” It’s reaffirming to know that kids love to do science and might possibly “be good” for an opportunity to get to do more science in class. But… it’s also important to realize that science is too often treated as an extra-curricular activity – something that is fun to do at the end of the week… if the kids are good.
Did these comments strike you in the same way? What are your thoughts?
Thanks to Sherry Marshall from the Science Museum Oklahoma and her staff for their great hospitality. If you’re ever in Oklahoma City, stop by the museum and be sure to catch the Science LIVE show. The presenters do an amazing job!
Getting to test drive one of the Segways at the museum is just another added perk.