Science in the Rockies – 2006

It’s been called a “Mr. Wizard-style” training camp for teachers where they learn how to be amazing science educators. The three-day “boot camp” is the creation of science education expert, Steve Spangler. Making slime, shooting potatoes, and vacuum-packing friends are just a few of the 200 plus activities that Steve and his staff from the National Hands-on Science Institute will be sharing with 160 teachers from across the country.

Experiment

Here are a few of the demonstrations that workshop participants shared on television…

“Our goal is to give teachers the necessary training and tools to do more science in their classrooms in the coming year,” according to Steve Spangler, Executive Director of the National Hands-on Science Institute and lead trainer at Science in the Rockies. “The problem is one of time: teachers want to do more science with their students, but many elementary teachers just cannot find the time needed to give students the opportunity to really do science,” says Spangler. “Some elementary teachers are forced to put science on the back burner until early Spring when state testing in other curriculum areas is finished. Science education cannot withstand that kind of assault… and this sort of ‘boot camp’ training is so important to the future of science education.”

During the three-day training, teachers will participate in more than 200 hands-on science experiments and demonstrations aimed at getting students to use the scientific method to solve problems and make their own discoveries. For example, as a way of demonstrating the incredible power of air, workshop instructor Doug Hodous vacuum-packs a willing teacher participant in a giant plastic bag. “Once you’re sealed in a bag from the neck down and the air is removed, you understand what it feels like to have 14.7 pounds of air pushing on every square inch of your body… and every kid in class wants to be vacuum packed!”

Steve Spangler and his staff firmly believe in the old adage that says… people learn best by doing. But Spangler adds, “… and teachers master what they’ve learned when they get the opportunity to teach someone else.” That’s why it’s so important for the participants to take home the necessary materials to recreate each of the learning experiences in their classrooms. Funding for a portion of the take-home materials is provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Amgen Corporation. Both sponsors realize the critical role teachers play in motivating students to explore science and pursue science-related careers and in helping create science-literate communities.