Just stick your head above the crowd and someone will shoot at it. One Colorado elementary teacher is getting hit in the head with flying film canisters powered by water and Alka-Seltzer… and the kids are being praised. Colorado Association of Science Teachers selected Shannon Koppenfafer as the Science Teacher of the Year for the state’s elementary school teachers. She was nominated by John McConnell, the Grand Valley’s version of Mr. Science who runs the Western Colorado Math and Science Center.
Here’s a secret that I learned years ago… constantly seek out amazing teachers. Read about them… watch them in action… study their writings… find out what makes them tick. As teachers, we all benefit when one of our own receives this type of well-deserved recognition. Continue reading Colorado Science Teacher of the Year
Our week-long salute to amazing science teachers wraps up with a visit to Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado, where chemistry teacher Wally Keesecker gets students fired up about science. Wally is well-known for his attention-grabbing science demos that introduce students to real-world connections to everyday chemistry.
Video: The Steve Spangler Mad Scientist Tour finishes the week with a bang at Heritage High School. 6 a.m. October 7, 2005.
This is an especially fun visit for Steve since Wally Keesecker was his 8th grade science teacher in the Littleton Public Schools. “People like me make the decision to go into education after being inspired by an amazing teacher. While I didn’t exactly know that I would one day become a science teacher, I knew that I wanted to do something in education after experiencing someone as amazing as Wally Keesecker,” says Steve Spangler who is like a kid in a candy store whenever he pays a visit to his former science teacher.
Wally and his teaching colleagues dazzled us with two demonstrations centered around a Halloween theme. The first demo illustrated a chemical reaction that oozed from the eyes and mouth of a carved pumpkin. Because of safety reasons, Mr. Keesecker did not share his secret recipe for the reaction he featured on television, but we learned that a similar effect can be achieved by placing a glass of hot water in the carved out pumpkin, add a squirt of Dawn dish soap to the water and drop in a chunk of dry ice. Bubbles filled with carbon dioxide gas will ooze from front of the pumpkin – very cool! Here are more Halloween Science demos you can try with dry ice.
The next stop on our week-long tour was Hamilton Middle School in the Denver Public Schools to shine the spotlight on Ms. Emily Pringle, science teacher extraordinaire. Emily Pringle has taught there for eight years and uses the scientific method to make the light bulbs come on in her bright, young eager students. She and the kids showed us her candle lab experiment, also known as the “composition of air” demonstration. Here’s the concept… A candle sits in the bottom of a dish full of colored water. The candle is lighted and covered with a test tube or jar. When the candle burns out (because of the lack of oxygen), the water rises in the test tube. Data is gathered as to the volume of water that displaces the air in the tube. Ms. Pringle’s class concluded from the experiment that 21% of the air that we breathe is oxygen (and the students are correct!). Read more.
Video: On Day 4 of Mad Scientist Week Steve Spangler visits an enlightened science class at Hamilton Middle School. 6 a.m. October 6, 2005.
When it comes to doing science, I’ll volunteer for anything – fear is not a factor for me. Then I visited Pam Schmidt’s class at Thunder Ridge Middle School in Centennial, Colorado… and 49 of her pet snakes! That’s right, at 5:30 in the morning, I was greeted by a room full of enthusiastic kids all holding snakes – big snakes. Each snake has a name – there’s Phantom, a 12′ 11″ Albino Burmese Python and Jazira, a 16″ Blotched King snake. Pam loves snakes, and shares that passion with all her students who learn plenty about their biology, habitat and eating habits. Read more.
Video: Day three of the Steve Spangler Mad Scientist Tour slithers to Thunder Ridge Middle School for a reptilian experience. 6 a.m. October 5, 2005.
When you work on the morning show of a news station, getting up early is just a way of life. The alarm clock went off at 3 AM this morning and I was on my way to meet another great teacher. The kids at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lakewood love Fred Scherrer. He makes science come alive for 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Most days you’ll find him in his white lab coat, hunched over some kind of hands-on experiment that gets his kids all amped up and ready to learn. Read more
Video: Day two of the Mad Scientist Tour takes 9NEWS Science Guy Steve Spangler to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lakewood. 6 a.m. October 4, 2005.