Texas Teachers Make Science Come Alive!

Houston Hands-on ScienceOur Hands-on Science Boot Camp team just returned from two great days in Houston and Dallas where we were privileged to spend some time with teachers who are in the trenches… motivating students… teaching science… and assessing student progress. As I often say, these one-day science workshops serve as a catalyst to get teachers talking about and sharing their best practices and strategies to engage students in the process of doing real science (and having fun at the same time). We talked at length about the value of turning ordinary activities into unforgettable learning experiences and finding ways to integrate science with other parts of the curriculum. I was really impressed with the number of teacher "teams" that attended the workshops – groups of teachers from the same school working together to make their science teaching more effective in grades K-5. It's also encouraging to see teachers developing their own curriculum support materials to further enhance the science benchmarks at the district and state level. All of this aside, I guess the most impressive part to me was to spend time with early childhood and elementary teachers who are truly excited about teaching their students how to think critically, to test variables, to experiment with new ideas and to use their problem-solving skills to make new discoveries. Science education is alive and well in Texas.

Houston Teachers at Spangler Boot Camp

If you attended either the Dallas or Houston science boot camp, what did you take away from the experience?

23 replies
  1. Jan Teeters
    Jan Teeters says:


    I attended the Dallas workshop! I can’t begin to thank you so much for such a fantastic experience! My only regret is that my whole staff didn’t get to come and attend your boot camp. I spent the whole day in total delight as I watched and listened to you. You put the fun back in teaching and learning. Thanks for the ideas, motivation, inspiration, and fun! You are terrific!

  2. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:


    I attended the Dallas Boot Camp and it was amazing. Tonight at my preschool staff meeting I am going to WOW everyone with my inertia demonstrations! I was the one who got to experience the whipping off of the table cloth with you and I think I am totally cool now that I can do that! Thanks for all you do and I am looking forward to practicing a little of your philosophy in my teaching career.

    Cheryl English

  3. Jeri Leonard, Science Curriculum Coordinator
    Jeri Leonard, Science Curriculum Coordinator says:

    FANTASTIC!!!!!!! Five of us from Wylie ISD went to the Dallas Boot Camp. We were totally blown away with the excitement, ideas, enthusiasm and so willing and ready to share with our staff and students what we learned. We plan on presenting a professional learning opportunity to our teachers in our district soon. Thanks for you passion and love of learning and your obvious dedication to our profession. It is so deeply appreciated by each one of us!! Rock On! Science Rules!

  4. Rachel Rockwell
    Rachel Rockwell says:

    Awesome!! I attended the Houston Boot Camp, and brought back several of the dry ice demos. for my kids. They LOVED them. I can’t wait to try some more of your great labs with my students! Thanks!

  5. Rosie Cantu
    Rosie Cantu says:

    I am a first grade teacher and usually have only about 30minutes to teach Science but it is my first love. That night I went home and did all the demonstrations for my husband and he loved it. I have not tried them with my students but I know they are going to enjoy it. This was the best science workshop I have been to so far, it was a like a magic show!

  6. Heather
    Heather says:

    I attended the Houston Boot Camp and I loved it! We had a team meeting that afternoon and the only person excited and energetic about learning was me! I showed all of the other first grade teachers what I had learned and I also shared it with the parents of the kids in my class! I did the mentos experiment on a Friday afternoon and the kids were begging for more! Yesterday was Halloween and I did some of the dry ice experiments. It was more of a hit than the actual holiday! Thanks for sharing all your fabulous science knowledge and for making it so exciting! I WILL be back for more!

  7. Leagh
    Leagh says:

    It wasn’t all Texas teachers… we drove in from Baton Rouge, LA and it was well worth the trip! I am on a “science high” right now, and my kids are equally excited!! I am hoping to attend the trip in Denver so I can learn even more! Thanks, Steve!

  8. Ashley Dean
    Ashley Dean says:

    This is the 2nd year I have attended this workshop. I always leave motivated and ready to implement the great experiments into my curriculum. Your motivation and passion for the Science is awesome. I have a mad scientist lab every year. The kids love it.

  9. Melanie Wingerson
    Melanie Wingerson says:

    I was so excited to go but the actual experience was fantastic! I have done many of the experiments already and couldn’t wait to tell my students, and the parents of my first graders what I had learned. I believe if all science teachers could excite their students with your wonderful ideas we could help change the growing problem of science education or lack of it in the U.S. I truly want to go to your workshop in Denver next summer and learn more. I want to be that science teacher you spoke of that kids remember because of their enthusiasm for teaching.

  10. Sandra Raymond
    Sandra Raymond says:

    Three of us were fortunate enough to attend the Houston Boot
    Camp; we came back so very excited that we are now planning to address our preschool board in an attempt to have a time slot devoted to only science! If we can get that “wow” factor going early, everyone’s future looks brighter.

    Thanks for everything!

  11. Greg Lovelis
    Greg Lovelis says:

    Hello from Stonewall, Oklahoma…Your workshop was awesome! I have been utilizing your website for two years now in my classroom and can’t begin to tell you what it has done for student motivation, the students love my class. The only part I didn’t like was the end. When I came back to school I showed the students the water gel demonstrations, the boo bubble generator, and all the other dry ice demonstrations. Thanks so much Steve!

  12. Geli Marquis
    Geli Marquis says:

    I also attended your Dallas workshop and enjoyed it immensely! I have been ordering from your catalog for about a year now, but watching you conduct the experiments, with all your enthusiasm and sense of humor was awesome! We have made alka seltzer rockets when I taught K and also now in first, but I never even thought about measuring the distance by placing the rockets inside a tube before “lift off!!” You “wowed” me and I left with so many more ideas to make learning fun and hands-on for the kids. Visiting your boot camp was truly a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to filling our first grade classroom with hands-on science. Thanks a bunch!

  13. Mary Cummings
    Mary Cummings says:

    I attended the Houston workshop and you were spectacular as always! The following day my science club did the Crystal Bubble dry ice experiment! They absolutely loved it!! We used the flashlight as well as glow sticks and they were a huge hit. The students even made a crystal bubble appear on their graduated cylinders. I wasn’t sure if it was possible but they did it! Next week we tackle the Boo Bubbles! I can’t hardly wait! We were so motivated by you that now our Principal has scheduled a school-wide “Mad Science Spectacular” program!! I just hope our experiments are as successful as yours. Two years ago you couldn’t have paid me enough to teach science -and now I volunteer to teach it after school! Thank you Steve for your passion and your expertise! You truly are making a difference in today’s education.

  14. Angelia Vandver-Wright
    Angelia Vandver-Wright says:

    I attended the Houston workshop and all I can say is “WOW!”
    I had a wonderful time. I have used the BOO Bubble experiment and my students loved it. Their parents said they were talking about it at home. (Dinner table talk) I have told several of my friends from my district and others to make a workshop with you. My students made slime for Halloween and we will be making a White Christmas with the Insta-Snow. They are working hard to stay on their best behavior to see what I will pull out of the science box next. So, keep sending ideas. Thanks!

  15. Kiah Anderson
    Kiah Anderson says:

    I loved the workshop. Science is not a strong area for me, but I am determined to let my students experience as much as they can. Not only did my 4 year olds love the demonstrations I did, but they asked me at the end of the week if they could do more science the following week. Their faces are priceless after a demonstration and I am glad I had training at the boot camp. I’m ready to learn more! I think I’ve convinced my 6 year old, soon to be seven in a few weeks, daughter to have a science birthday party. Thanks for making science fun and teachable!

  16. Peggy Ford
    Peggy Ford says:

    Steve, I really enjoyed your Houston workshop. Your humor made the time fly by and kept everyone happy and interested. I also appreciate the time you took to point out the safety factors and how important safety is. When you explained that the Intel(?) CEO said America is falling behind in the areas of math and science, and he will not hire us anymore because we are not producing the new ideas, it really hit a nerve. I wish he could see the interest, curiousity, new ideas, and questions generated in my classes of four and five year olds. I just hope the science is not “bored” out of them in their older grades. I forced myself to not do “boo bubbles” at Halloween and save them for when we could really spend some time exploring bubbles from the inside out. Peggy Ford

  17. Cindy Dyke
    Cindy Dyke says:

    Steve –
    Funny thing happened driving back to Owasso, OK after your Dallas workshop. We heard this odd sound and immediately thought we were having car trouble. It was the bolt in the balloon vibrating in the trunk! Too funny. Lori and I came back and got all ready for Halloween science. Our 6th graders loved the bleeding paper from your website, the dry ice of course was a hit, and we showed the video of the self-carving jack-o-lanterns. Nonetheless, we were tired after teaching Halloween day. We’re working on solids, liquids and gases soon and modified our Alka-seltzer film cannister acitivity with your suggestions. We’re applying for a scholarship to attend your Summer in the Rockies seminar. We hope to see you then.

  18. Betsy Groce
    Betsy Groce says:

    I attended the Dallas workshop and was so excited to learn all the new ideas to use in teaching Science. It makes Science come alive in the classroom. I can see where kids who have some of these experiences in their classroom will do better on the state tests. Thanks so much for coming to Dallas.

  19. K Erwin
    K Erwin says:

    What a blast! I attended the Houston session and learned so much, not to mention had fun with science. We created a Mad Science workshop for our teachers from what we experimented with during the session and some of the experiments that we receive via e-mail. Thanks! I can’t wait for the next one.

  20. Eva Stockett
    Eva Stockett says:

    Steve, I can not tell you how much I enjoyed your workshop. It has changed the way I do children’s ministry. Engaging a child is so very important in our world today. Without their attention, we can not impart a thing to them. Your demonstrations are the key to grabbing their attention and using it as a springboard to pour into their lives. I am excited about where this is headed. There will be no more “business as usual”. If we want results, then change is a must. Thanks for opening our eyes to see what education should be. Thank you!

  21. J Smith
    J Smith says:

    I attended the Dallas Workshop and had a blast!
    I did several of the halloween experiments on the 31st and the kids went wild, as I did. Being a first year teacher, anytime I get an experiment to work is a blast!
    thanks a lot

  22. Helen
    Helen says:

    I have already implemented the jelly crystals and insta snow in the classroom and the kids love it! Also, in math we are using the growing alligator to study inches and measurement as we follow it’s growth. The children have named him “Spike”.

  23. Patty Rojas
    Patty Rojas says:

    I attended the Houston Boot Camp and was totally blown away!
    Steve is the best and the ideas he presented were awesome.
    I can say that I like science! and I enjoy teaching science!
    Thanks so much Steve and I hope to take a trip to Colorado next summer.
    Patty in Houston


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