Spangler Salutes Wally Keesecker

Our week-long salute to amazing science teachers wraps up.

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.

Experiment

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. For 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, adding a squirt of Dawn dish soap to the water and dropping in a chunk of dry ice. Bubbles filled with carbon dioxide gas will ooze from the front of the pumpkin – very cool!

Finally, the chemistry students wrapped up our visit with a big bang – the famous self-carving pumpkin trick. Back in the lab, Mr. Keesecker worked with the students to formulate a special mixture that would explode inside the pumpkin. Prior to triggering the reaction, each pumpkin was carved and the pieces reassembled. At the push of a button, the explosion in each of the pumpkins blew the pieces out, revealing the letters H H S (for Heritage High School) and 9 NEWS. That’s right, this is not an experiment to try at home. As Mr. Keesecker put it, “These are the kinds of cool demos you can expect to see in your high school chemistry class – TAKE CHEMISTRY!”