Written by Susan Wells
Over twenty Denver-area home schooling moms visited the Steve Spangler Science laboratories this week for a special Halloween science workshop.
We have never done a workshop specifically for parents. Steve Spangler offers many opportunities for teachers across the country to take part in a science Boot Camp, but this was the first time parents were invited to come to our labs and learn how to bring more science into their lessons.
Steve Spangler offered the workshop as an opportunity to share some Halloween science experiments and activities with the moms (and one dad) to help enhance their science curriculum as well as give them the tools to go out and share with other parents.
After years of doing school science shows and student and teacher workshops, the Spangler Science team has come to understand the essence of what we do – we teach people to be amazing by providing them with products and innovations that are educational, entertaining, and inspire the imagination.
Steve began the workshop by shocking the moms, literally. Steve has a machine that all of us in the office dread…the Sissy Machine. The Sissy Machine is a hand-crank electricity generator. When he hooked the moms up to the Sissy Machine, I cringed. It was very interesting to actually watch the electric current travel through the participants. Everyone jumped and “ooh’d” or “ack’d” as they became human conductors of electricity. I enjoy watching the Sissy Machine in action, but don’t necessarily enjoy being a participant. I wonder if the moms would volunteer again.
Everyone received an Energy Ball and learned about the difference between an experiment and using the scientific method. An experiment is an activity that you perform. Using the scientific method involves using an experiment to test a theory. Using the Energy Ball as a tool, instead of an experiment, the moms tested what did and did not conduct electricity.
For example, skin is a great conductor of electricity, but a shirt acts as an insulator.
The workshop continued with glowing, bubbling and oozing dry ice activities. The moms learned how to make spooky Halloween cylinders full of dry ice, dish soap and warm water bubble over. It’s a perfect activity for Halloween that kids (and parents) can’t keep their hands off.
Another favorite was the Crystal Ball Bubble. This demonstration brings out the kid in everyone. Stretch a cloth across a large bowl filled with dry ice and water, and watch a huge bubble form with swirling vapor pools. The best part is when the bubble gets so big, it spills over the sides of the bowl, pops and releases a huge flow of fog. The moms had big eyes and everyone wanted to try to make a bubble, pop it and watch the fog roll off. No one can resist “oooing” and “ahhing” while watching the bubble grow and then burst.
Ghost Boo Bubbles is another irresistible activity. Bounce the ghostly bubbles and watch the fog as they burst in hands.
Steve also reinforced dry ice safety for children and adults. A fun snack at Halloween is to carbonate apple juice with dry ice. Use a caldron and ladle the apple juice to ensure no dry ice gets into the glasses.
The workshop wrapped up with a discussion about homeschooling and how Steve Spangler Science better work with home schooling parents to help enrich their childrens’ science education. What do you think are the needs and challenges for home schooling parents in teaching science in their curriculum? Please leave a comment below.
Thank you to all who attended. It was a fun afternoon filled with laughter and learning at the Steve Spangler Science labs. Science should not just be an extracurricular activity or a magic show. It’s a very important part of our children’s education that should not be tread upon lightly. Science toys and tools are important for learning, but learning how to use them and encourage a sense of wonder and exploration is equally important.
If you attended the workshop, we’d love to hear your feedback and comments about it. Please leave us a comment.