You Might Have Missed the Point…

According to Guinness World Records, the 973 Mentos-powered soda geysers launched at Arena Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri is an official new record. Jason Lindsey from KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau shared his goal with us for setting a new world record back in August and needed just a few Geyser Tubes and Mentos® chewy mints to make it happen. “Contributing the materials was the easy part. Our hats are off to the team at KFVS-TV and Jason for setting the record and convincing 1,000 people to show and and get wet,” says Carly Reed from Steve Spangler Science.

Whenever a big geyser launch like this one makes the press, there’s no end to the number of people who complain that this is a huge waste of candy and soda. Let me respond by saying this… YOU COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT! The goal is to get people of all ages engaged in doing a science activity, thinking about the science behind the reaction, testing a variation on the reaction, and ultimately sharing their excitement about doing a science experiment. Honestly, name another time or event when a thousand people got this excited about doing a simple science experiment!

For the cost of a bottle of soda and a roll of chewy mints, a teacher just might pique a kid’s curiosity and get them to show more interest in science. Who knows? Ask any teacher what kind of price tag he or she would put on that kind of motivation.

Your thoughts?

16 replies
  1. Angela
    Angela says:

    As a teacher of young children it is always exciting to hear people promoting science both in the classroom and outside the classroom. Unfortunatly there will always be a few who will criticize the good fortune and excitement of others. I say continue the LAUNCES and when you hear “GEYSER” RUN!!

  2. Julie Gintzler
    Julie Gintzler says:

    As a teacher of 20 years and a HUGE fan of the SCIENCE BEHIND the mentos/diet coke experiment, I, also, have heard many people complain about the mentos experiment being a waste of food. I think the last time a science experiment went viral like this people around the world were mixing vinegar and baking soda – I cannot even fathom how much of those two ingredients have been used in the name of science during my lifetime! Yet I never hear anyone complaining about wasting vinegar! How often does a science experiment come around that kids actually ask to do at home? Here is what I think… People tend to get enthusiastic about science when the experiment is first of all exciting, but also if it is something they can replicate, wonder about, and try again. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use inexpensive materials that are easily accessible (i.e. household items or…FOOD)!!! I say GO FORTH and create this valuable learning experience in your classrooms and backyards. Experience it WITH your children and TALK about it! Plant the “what if we tried this…” idea in their heads and I think you will agree that at less than $2.00 a pop (no pun intended) the mentos/diet coke experiment is a worthwhile experience! Bottom line: It is NOT a waste of food if you have LEARNED SOMETHING!

  3. Mary Pat
    Mary Pat says:

    Not all food is meant solely for nourishment of the body. Some of it is meant to heal the soul because it seems to soothe what ails you(hence the saying “soul food”). Other foods are used as emotional crutches, such as chocolate and many other sweet treats. Why can’t we use food for nourishing the mind too? How can it be wrong to use these tools to captivate, excite, motivate, and teach? Give me a break! Mentos and Coke were meant to be together. Just watch the smiles on a person’s face when they see the reaction for the first time. It’s awesome! What’s even better, though, is what you hear after that – “How did it do that?” “Can I try?” and best of all “I wonder what would happen if…”. That’s powerful stuff either in or out of the classroom. So, those who choose to criticize the use of these foods for the sake of science are missing the point. Give a child a Diet Coke and he will drink for hours, teach a child to add Mentos to the Coke and he will be learning for a lifetime.

  4. Pat Comeaux
    Pat Comeaux says:

    I have taught 25 years and I am convinced that experimentation, that can easily be replicated gets people excited and inquisative about science. These excited people get involved in awesome learning experiences and go on to do great things that enhance the world we live in. It seems like such a small price to pay, to positively touch the lives of many.

  5. Connie Isenburg
    Connie Isenburg says:

    Mentos and diet coke a waste of FOOD? If so, I suppose FOOD is also being wasted in these hands-on science experiments:
    1. Cabbage for the discovery of acids and bases
    2. Eggs to explore air pressure and inertia
    3. Bread to learn about molds
    4. Potatoes and lemons to create an electric current
    To see the excitement when students use FOOD for scientific inquiry and exploration is a moment to treasure.

  6. Lisa Heaton
    Lisa Heaton says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Julie G.!! Well said! I have taught for 30 years, the past 10 in a classroom with Gifted and Talented students. When I read that people were complaining about wasted food, my first reactions were incredulous disbelief!! I also have to ask: “Since when are we so concerned about wasting such a highly nutritious beverage as Diet Coke? Who is being deprived?” And I’d much rather my own kids use the Mentos in a science experiment than eat them. Candy isn’t something I worry about wasting! In fact, after Halloween, I ask my own three kids to pick out their favorite 25 pieces and then the “Candy Fairy” comes and takes away the rest of the haul. I can’t bear to have my children eating the pounds of candy received on their night of ghouling and ghosting! More than one year I have found the Candy Fairy’s stash long months later, hidden, forgotten and WASTED–AH–I think NOT! So, as Julie so succinctly put it, at less than $2.00 a pop, I can’t think of a better way to learn something, and to provoke wonder, awe and excitement.

  7. Max Mitchell
    Max Mitchell says:

    Well, they do have a point. I mean lets look at science education as a whole, what a WASTE! Think of all the paper, pencils, and pens used in taking notes and learning science – WHAT A WASTE! Think of all the batteries, wires, and light bulbs used in teaching electricity – WHAT A WASTE! Think of all materials used in making microscopes so we can learn about the “unseen” world – WHAT A WASTE! All the glass used to make Test Tubes, Beakers, Flasks, Cylinders so we can mix elements and chemicals to make new inventions – WHAT A WASTE!

    This whole “scientific method” with the testing you do – so much WASTED in perfecting a new invention, medication, or understanding one of the worlds unknowns – WHAT A WASTE!

    So OF COURSE some diet soda and mentos is a WASTE! I mean come on! Why would I waste precious supplies to just get my kids excited about science. To spark a discovery, an idea, or to make a kid say I want to be scientist!


  8. Judy Matthews
    Judy Matthews says:

    There is no price tag on the amount of enthusiasm and motivation the mentos/coke experiment experiment can bring to a classroom. I have been teaching pre-school for over 25 years and the WOW factor is simply amazing when my 4 and 5 year olds do this experiment. Then come the “what if” questions my “little scientists” come up with. What an easy experiment to share with the family, drawing education into a team approach.
    All this for the price of a coke and a packet of mentos! There is no comparison!! You either want to lay the foundation for future scientists or you want to gripe. My vote is keep the eruptions coming!

  9. Steve Spangler
    Steve Spangler says:

    Well… I guess this one hit a nerve! Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts on this. Out of respect (I use that term loosely) for the people who send e-mails my way, I’m not posting them on this blog. But you wouldn’t believe the kinds of things people write about promoting “non book related” activities and wasting food for a stupid science experiment when you can just watch “dumb people do this stuff on TV.”

    As for Max’s post… your sarcasm is top-notch! You almost had me believing the stuff.

  10. Jonathan Sanderson
    Jonathan Sanderson says:

    You’re not alone in this, Steve. I used to make science programmes for children’s TV in the UK, and every time we did something involving foodstuffs we’d get complaints. Most were ridiculous, but some were well-reasoned critiques on sending out the wrong message about wastage at a time when so many people elsewhere on the planet are going hungry.

    This is, at least, a principled and honourable viewpoint, and I think there are times when one needs to be careful with phrasing and manner in order to respect such views. The Coke & Mentos experiment isn’t such an occasion, however – it’s too much fun.

  11. Adam
    Adam says:

    I am a first year teacher working with struggling and difficult to motivate high school students in New York City. I have used several of your experiments including the mentos geyser in my class. Not only did the students love the mentos experiment, but so did the throng of onlookers who stopped to watch as we performed it in front of our school in midtown Manhattan. One of my students loved the experiment so much that she came running into class the next day ecstatic to do the next experiment. I’ve now got friends of students coming into our class to ask if they can participate in our experiments. The materials used for this experiment were indeed well worth it. Besides, in this day of childhood obesity I’d rather have students blowing up candy and soda then eating it! Thanks Steve!

  12. Laura Gurley
    Laura Gurley says:

    I believe that the use of a bottle of soda and a package of candy is a small price to pay to actually get kids motivated and interested in science. I own a small teacher’s store and I cannot keep your geyser tubes on the shelf! Teachers are buying them for their students. Home-schoolers are buying them for their children. Parents are buying them for their kids. And kids are choosing to buy them for themselves… with their own money! It is so awesome to see how excited everyone is to take their geyser tube home to try it out. Yes, this experiment may waste a small amount of food, but I don’t think that there is another experiment that could intrigue students so much. Thanks for helping our teachers make science exciting and fun!

  13. gracie
    gracie says:

    wouldn’t it be wonderful, and worthwhile, if a student who may be apathetic and unmotivated sees this experiment. imagine the possibilities…

    as for me, i know that someday a student who is uninspired will see this silly wasteful experiment, have an “ah hah” moment, discover an unexplored passion, and then show us a method to cure cancer.

    seems worth it to me. i’m sure mr einstein would agree.

  14. neil schulman
    neil schulman says:

    Hey Steve you are the man.Look you like science-are a showman-and can make a buck out this.I say stick with it-keep investing in your company.I say what the hell let her rip.This comment was from a former chemistry teacher in high school.Remember what frank sinatra said-I did it my way


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