Tag Archives: steve spangler

Rocket Boy Homer Hickam Ignites Passion for Science in 4th Grade Engineers

The 4th graders at Willow Creek Elementary and their amazing teacher, Lisa Heaton, took a lesson out of the books, literally, and tested their rocket-building skills.

They read Homer Hickam’s book, Rocket Boys. Then they set out on their own to design and build a rocket out of construction paper, tape and clay. That’s it. No engines or explosives helped launch these rockets into the air. They simply used air pressure.

I first learned how to make the PVC Rocket Launcher several years ago while speaking to teachers at Space Camp for Educators in Huntsville, Alabama. This hands-on rocket activity is an extension of the normal space unit that is standard at this grade level across the school district.

Each student was given two launch tries. Some of the rocket designs were great while others just blew up on the launch pad. For those that failed the first attempt, they had to go back to the drawing board to reanalyze their designs, fix the flaws and head back out for the second launch. The success rate for the second launch was well above 80%… and the young rocket engineers were amazed to see their success.

Every student placed their rocket on the launch pad and expected success. When some experienced failure, it gave them a chance to go back, learn from their mistakes, and try again. Failure is the best learning tool a student can acquire.

This is what sets spectacular teachers apart from ordinary teachers – taking a grade-level standard, adding a hands-on activity and making it home to the dinner table that night. This lesson made a book come alive, taught the science of rocket design and air pressure, success and failure skills and so much more.

If you have any question of the impact this one activity made on Ms. Heaton’s students, visit her teacher blog, LisaHeaton.com and read their comments.

Homer Hickam’s 1998 book, Rocket Boys: A Memoir,was based on his life as a young boy in Coalwood, West Virginia, as an aspiring rocket scientist. It was made into a movie, October Sky, in 1999.

Rocket Boys has been translated into eight languages and has received many awards. It was selected by the New York Times as one of its Great Books of 1998 and was an alternate Book-of-the-Month selection for both the Literary Guild and Doubleday book clubs. It was also nominated by the National Book Critics Circle as best Biography of 1998.

If you are a teacher and are interested in making your space unit come alive, here are some resources offered with permission from the Space Academy for Educators and the U.S. Space Camp.

Steve Spangler Graces the Cover of Speaker Magazine

By Blog Editor Susan Wells

We can now add Cover Model to the list of accomplishments that Steve Spangler has achieved. He is on the cover of Speaker Magazine this month as The New Mr. Wizard.

Steve has been a member of the National Speaker Association for years and has been a keynote speaker at its conferences.

The article chronicles Steve’s rise to success from performing at church and birthday party events on the weekends with his parents, to doing over 4,500 school assemblies, to toy designer and teacher trainer.

Magic and speaking have always been an important part of Steve’s life and career. Pick up a copy of Speaker Magazine and find out how he turned a few videos on a fledgling website called YouTube into a paid gig on their new network.

Another interesting fact about Steve – he knows how to surround himself with talent. Our own Shawn Campbell took the photo for the cover.


Wrecking Ball Science – Will the Bowling Ball Smash the News Anchor's Face?

Who else but Steve shows up at a television studio and makes a request to hang a 16-pound bowling ball from the ceiling? It’s for science, silly, and a lesson in the Laws of Motion.

9News Anchorman Mark Koebrich helped Steve demonstrate energy and motion. When hung on a rope, the bowling ball becomes a pendulum. The ball swings back and forth. If Steve swings the ball and adds energy by pushing it like a kid on a swing, the ball will swing back farther than where it started.

If Steve asks Mark to stand in front of the swinging ball and lets it go, the ball should return only to its starting point and not go beyond it. This demonstrates that you only get out what you put in.

The key is not to move when the bowling ball comes swinging back at your head.

There is a life lesson in this experiment as well – you only get out what you put in.

Join Steve Spangler and Kathy Sabine for Weather and Science Day 2012 at Coors Field

Join us for the third annual Weather & Science Day on Wednesday, May 2nd at 10:30 AM, before the Rockies game against the Dodgers at Coors Field.

Weather and Science Day 2009 resulted in a Guinness World Record for the Largest Physics Lesson. Weather and Science Day 2011 resulted in the stands exploding with a choreographed song played by everyone in unison and a giant cannon shooting clouds across the outfield. What will happen at this year’s Weather and Science Day? You’d better sign up to make sure you don’t miss the fun.

Students and their teachers can purchase special rate tickets for Weather and Science Day and stay for the game. The science demonstrations and weather lessons will be along the first base line. Students will then move to their assigned seats for the game.

Weather and Science Day is for school groups, but any science enthusiast who has a ticket to the game can come early and join in the excitement for learning.


Schedule May 2, 2012 – Coors Field

9:30 a.m.                        Gates A, B, and C Open
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.       Weather & Science Wonders
1:10 p.m.                          Rockies vs. Dodgers

Special ticket rates are available for schools, and bus parking is free:

  • Rockpile: $4
  • Upper level: $11
  • Mid-level: $15
  • Outfield Box: $18

Schools will receive a special bus pass and parking.

The Rockies ask that everyone attending Weather and Science Day arrive as early as possible. The wait to enter the ballpark could take up to 30 minutes.

For additional information and to purchase tickets, call 303-312-2208 or email donnellyr@coloradorockies.com. Or visit the 9News.com story about Weather and Science Day.

Prohibited Items
*Glass bottles and aluminum or metal cans (including aerosol cans, aerosol sunscreen)
*All hard-sided coolers and containers, regardless of size
*All soft-sided bags and containers larger than 16″x16″x8″
*Sticks or clubs (including signs attached to sticks)
*Beachballs, balloons and other inflatables
*Any fruit or vegetable larger than a grapefruit must be sliced
*Insulated coolers, cups and thermoses larger than 22 oz.
*Boxes (to hold sack lunches, etc.)

Permitted Items
*Plastic beverage containers
*Soft-sided bags or containers 16″x 16″x 8″ or smaller
*Insulated cups or thermoses 22 ounces or smaller
*Food items
*Umbrellas during the threat of inclement weather. Please only compact umbrellas (28″ – 34″ span).
*Paper or plastic cups with permitted beverages
*Potato chip or nut cardboard cans with metal tops or bottoms

Curious about what happened last year or want to relive the fun? Visit our Science and Weather Day page.

The "Take the Stairs" Tour Rolls into Steve Spangler Science

Blog Editor Susan Wells

All of us at Steve Spangler Science know we do not work at your average company. We don’t even work at a normal company. When you show up in the morning you never know what is in store for the day.

So when Steve made the announcement that author Rory Vaden was going to stop by and bring his large tour bus into our parking lot, we didn’t know if he was kidding or serious. At 1:30 p.m., when the huge, black tour bus pulled into our parking lot, we realized Steve was actually serious this time. We all went out to meet the bus and Rory.

Steve and Rory know each other through the National Speakers Association. Rory was in Denver to promote his book, Take the Stairs.

Take the Stairs will help you get motivated, improve your self-discipline and learn strategies for taking action in your life. The book is #1 on USA Today, #1 Wall Street Journal, #1 Amazon and #2 New York Times Best Seller. The Take the Stairs bus tour is going across the country hosting live events to raise money for America’s schools. He hosted three events in the Denver area. To see where Rory will be next and register for an event, please visit his website.

Rory gave us all a tour of his deluxe rock star bus. Did I mention that it was huge? Rory and his staff are traveling the country in style. They have a flat screen TV and Wii just in case they get bored. I wish my house was as supreme as this bus.

Steve gave Rory some science toys to help break the boredom if the Wii loses its appeal. We loaded up his bus with Screaming Balloons, BoomWhackers and Geyser Tubes. Rory gave us all a copy of his book.

Thanks, Rory, and the entire Take the Stairs team for stopping by and breaking up the doldrums of just another day at Steve Spangler Science.