Tag Archives: mentos and diet coke

Toy Fair 2012 – The Effects of Launching Over 800 Mentos Geyser Cars

This year marked my 14th trip to the New York Toy Fair. And since Toy Fair is always scheduled during Valentine’s Day, this is my 14th year to be away from my wife. So, instead of sending her flowers or taking her to dinner, I just bring her home the latest X-Men action figures and a remote controlled helicopter. Yes, the marriage is going well… thanks for asking.

Almost 27,000 professionals involved in the toy or retail industries from over 100 countries converge on New York to attend the largest and most successful toy trade show. Buyers from over 6,000 retail outlets search through over 100,000 products for “gems” to sell in their stores. Wholesalers and inventors alike display their toys in hoping to find a gateway into the global toy market.

It’s always fun for me to get the opportunity to debut my newest toys at the Be Amazing Toys booth. This is a company that we started in 2002 to serve as the wholesale division for our science toys that were best suited for specialty toy stores and mass-market retailers around the world. After growing and selling the company in 2004, I continue to work in Product Development… which is just a fancy way of saying that I create new science toys and kits each year and market them through Be Amazing Toys.

This year’s hot products were the Mentos Geyser Car and the Energy Stick. Over the course of three days, we launched over 800 Geyser Cars in the booth as prospective buyers considered carrying the new product. Powered by a 2-liter bottle of diet soda and only three Mentos, the new Geyser Rocket Car will travel over 150 feet at a rate of about 12 miles per hour. The fancy Plexiglass enclosure created by our design guru, Jeff Brooks, kept the crowds from getting soaked with spewing diet soda, but the demonstrator (that’s yours truly for part of the time) was not completely protected from the erupting geyser. By the end of the day, my once pale white hands and arms were now a strange shade of carmel brown… which closely resembled the color of Diet Coke. Go figure.

The less messy but ever popular Energy Stick garnered lots of attention from a wide range of interested buyers. It’s a battery-powered device that turns your body into a human conductor of electricity. You and a friend hold onto each end of the Energy Stick while completing the circuit with your other hands. When the circuit is complete, the Energy Stick flashes and the buzzer lets you know that you’ve completed the circuit. Rest assured that there was lots of hand holding going on in the Be Amazing Toys booth at Toy Fair.

Both the Mentos Geyser Car and the Energy Stick are currently available at SteveSpanglerScience.com and will be coming to a toy store near you later this year.

But the best part of Toy Fair for me is being able to walk the exhibit floor to meet up with old friends and to make a few new acquaintances as well. Out of the clear blue, I turned the corner and ran into Cindy Burnham, one of the co-creators of the famous Tornado Tube product. Cindy’s husband, Craig, actually invented the toy many years ago, and it continues to be a best-seller today.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Shelly Brady, the creator of the original Tub Tints. Over the years, our team has created dozens of products that use her fizzing tablets to color water. Shelly is one of those success stories where a great idea gets teamed up with a big company and the rest is history.

I also did a live television segment with Christopher Byrne, the Toy Guy, to talk about the hottest toys this year.

 

It’s easy to gauge the success of Toy Fair by the number of business cards, postcards and other forms of wadded up paper that are bursting out of every pocket. There are lots of phone calls to make, e-mails to write and toys to ship in 2012.

 

Staff Spotlight on Copy Editor Debbie Leibold

Q: Tell us a little about who you are…
A: Let’s see… I’m definitely not a scientist, I’m not in a band, I’m not an ultra-creative graphic designer, I’m not on Ellen, I haven’t been featured on YouTube, I rarely blow things up.  My life is pretty boring compared to some of the people I work with.

I’m a mom, wife, dog walker, former high school English teacher, volunteer, taxi driver, sports fan (especially my kids’ sports), non-profit fund raiser, Duke grad, music lover, golfer, and avid reader. I have lived in Colorado most of my life and am passionate about education and the outdoors. I serve as a Trustee on a non-profit Board (the John Austin Cheley Foundation) that raises money to provide summer camp experiences for kids around the country.

Q: What do you do at Steve Spangler Science?
A: I edit Steve’s awesome books, specifically Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes and Fire Bubbles and Exploding Toothpaste.  I also review the catalog before it goes to print and many of the Experiments of the Week and other important emails and print materials that Steve Spangler Science produces.  Somehow, I have also earned the title of “Science Fair Expert,” so I have worked on revamping the science fair section of Steve’s website and adding Science Fair Connections to quite a few of our experiments–a perfect example of irony since I’m an English, not a science teacher. Basically, I guess you could call me the resident wordsmith, or (as some other people no doubt refer to me) that annoying grammar lady with the red pen.

Q: What do you like best about what you do?
A: I like that I get to be part of the Creative Team at Steve Spangler Science. I work with many very talented and creative people, and it is inspiring when we all bring our own skills to the table and work together to create an excellent final product. I learn new stuff all the time from my colleagues about technology, social media, website design, photography, video production, etc. You could say I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to all of that. It’s a good thing I represent just a very small piece of the puzzle!

Q:  What is your favorite Steve Spangler Science moment?
A: I’ve only been part of Steve Spangler Science for a couple of years, but I always enjoy Steve’s demonstrations on The Ellen Degeneres Show. I especially liked it when he blew up the trash can full of thousands of ping pong balls or when he had an audience member walk across a giant tub of cornstarch quicksand.  Steve is always aspiring to take a great idea and make it even bigger and better. It was also interesting the day that he shot an ethanol rocket across the office. I found out later that the same day he had launched a similar rocket across my son’s desk at school and set the top of his desk on fire… only momentarily until the ethanol burned itself out. No damage to the desk (or my son), but he definitely got my son’s attention.  How’s this for dinner conversation: “Mr. Spangler is so awesome! He set my desk on fire today!!”

Q: What is something you wish every SSS customer knew?
A: I wish every SSS customer knew how customer-centered the company is. Every decision that is made is based on doing what we feel would be best for the customer. We have an amazing customer service team, but behind the faces and voices of that team, everything else is also focused on providing the best shopping experience and the most unique learning resource for you that we possibly can.

Q: What is your favorite science experiment?
A: It’s hard not to love the Mentos and Diet Coke Geyser experiment, but I also think the Exploding Toothpaste experiment is one that a great teacher can use to get kids really excited about science. Bouncing Smoke Bubbles is another of my favorites. Playing with bubbles is always fun, but when the bubbles are big and white and full of carbon dioxide fog, they are downright awesome!

Q: What do you like to do when not on the job?
A: When I’m not on the job, I am probably driving my two boys (ages 14 and 11) to a sporting event or practice, managing homework, trying to figure out what’s for dinner (or which drive-thru we’re going to that night), or walking my dog. When I’m not at the kids’ activities or volunteering and actually have some time for myself, I like to play golf, ski, hike, read, and spend time in the mountains with my family and friends.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: I have known Steve since high school and it is fun to work for his company, collaborate on projects, and see his tremendous success. Who knew?? I will also be very embarrassed if, as copy editor, I missed any grammatical mistakes or typos in this Staff Spotlight. Who edits me?

Mentos Geyser Car – 12 Days of Wonder

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

We have reached Day #9 in our 12 Days of Wonder. Today’s spotlight science toy is Geyser Car.

Steve Spangler Science is celebrating the 12 Days of Wonder and highlighting our top 12 science toys and kits that are perfect to put under the tree. As blog editor, social media coordinator and mom of two budding scientists, I will share my review of each product. Steve Spangler Science also found 12 respected, popular mom bloggers to each test and review one of our 12 science gifts. I will include a link to their blogs and their honest reviews of each gift idea at the bottom of this post. Today, Sarah from Moose Tracks and Tater Stacks shares her review. The kit is also the Deal of the Day. So check our blog every day for the next few weeks to learn all about our 12 Days of Wonder.

Day 9 of the 12 Days of Wonder features the Geyser Car.

Today only, this kit is our DEAL of the Day for $12.50. Regular price is $24.99.

My Review: 

I brought the Geyser Car to our Thanksgiving dinner. It served as our after dinner entertainment.

Continue reading

Are Some Science Educators Playing with Fire? When Does Sharing an Experiment Cross a Line?

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

I am frustrated. As our children grow up, they want to experiment. Explore. Discover. The internet is a wonderful tool to use in their education and growing independence. Growing up, I had to use encyclopedias, libraries, books. Now, everything is at our children’s fingertips. We all know dangers exist on the internet. Today’s kids have to learn how to navigate through the dangers and decipher the pitfalls. But what about when they are researching and learning? What if they are on a website aimed at children and their education? Will they recognize the dangers?

We get numerous requests to share how Steve does the Exploding Pumpkin demonstration. He is very clear that it is a demonstration, not an experiment, and does not give the chemicals or the instructions on how to do it yourself at home. It isn’t a magic trick or a secret. It is dangerous for children.

With knowledge comes power and with power comes responsibility.

Chemistry can be dangerous… and explosive. Mixing chemicals, discovering the flammable elements, and playing with fire; no wonder chemistry also involves safety goggles, hot pads, lab coats and eye wash. Chemistry can also be cool. Making things explode, ignite and react is exciting. And tempting.

That is why chemistry teachers share demonstrations in a controlled, safe environment.

My husband shared stories with me last night about how he experimented with gun powder and fireworks in his youth. He has the burns to prove it. My cousin burned his hand attempting to throw a firework when we were young. Even though we teach them not to, kids are going to play with fire.

Today, I love to see all of the science shows, science channels, science websites, science educators and science talk. But science isn’t just a bunch of explosions and flames.

The internet is currently full of science enthusiasts. Science is buzzing, which is a great thing, except with that buzz comes a lot of imitators and people jumping on the bandwagon.

Just because you know how to make homemade fireworks and fuses, breathe fire, juggle fire or have 4 ways to start a chemical fire without the use of matches, does not mean you should share it. Especially on a blog that is geared towards children and their parents.

And no, a disclaimer at the bottom stating “Wear proper safety gear and work on a fire-safe surface” does not remove your responsibility if someone is hurt. Giving out a recipe for a chemical fire that includes sugar and sulfuric acid is not the responsible act of a science educator.

My dad was a chemist and my brother currently works in a lab. They both have burn scars from chemicals. Some chemicals, like sulfuric acid, will burn through jeans. Just the fumes from some chemicals can burn sinuses. This is not child’s play. Even the pros get hurt.

As a mother, it makes me shudder to think there are children who are finding science lessons online and learning how to scrape match heads with a screw driver to add to a fireworks mixture. That isn’t science education and those are certainly not proper hands-on science experiments for children. We (parents, teachers, online educators) all need to teach our children how to not only dig deeper and explore science but also to respect it. There is so much more to science and chemistry behind just the big boom.

The inexperienced science educator can easily fall into the trap that bigger is better. Bigger fire, bigger boom, bigger audience. But that is not true. One of our most popular experiments is Color Changing Milk. It’s simple, it’s safe and it’s science.

Steve’s Mentos and Diet Coke experiment went viral because it was safe, okay for kids to do and had a wow factor. Not everything has to catch on fire to be cool.

I have a request to all science educators – please be responsible with what you share with all of our children. They have plenty of resources and creativity to get into trouble. They do not need to find recipes for disaster next to recipes for bubble solution. Don’t aim for more page views, buzz or content at the expense of having a child get hurt.

The explosions are cool, but safe learning is where it’s at.


Mentos Geyser Explodes on Photography Blog

In our continuing quest to find interesting blogs and bloggers, we ran into Leah Simmers Photography Blog, where she was capturing her experience with Mentos and Diet Coke. Thanks to Leah for letting us share some her unique geyser pictures here. Check out Leah’s full blog post here. And yes, that is the Geyser Tube she’s using to launch that screaming geyser.