Desperately Seeking Goldenrod Paper


donna_giachettiby: Donna Giachetti

 In a February 2014 blog post we said goodbye to the last of our goldenrod paper supply, a beloved staple in many science teachers’ classrooms.

Truthfully, we can’t count how many times in these past months we’ve had to tell customers that our stock was gone—and unlikely to ever be replenished since the manufacturers had permanently ceased production.

Sure, it may not seem like such a big deal to the uninitiated.  Stationery fashions come and go, after all.

But this was not just colored paper—it was G O L D E N R O D !  If anything can prove the old idiom that appearances are sometimes deceiving, this was the stuff.

goldenrod paper SM-925

Goldenrod paper in action

Assuming you dampened a sheet with a bit of plain water… well, you’d be looking at some soggy golden-yellow paper. But try spraying it with a base solution such as washing soda or Windex® and stand back! Everywhere the liquid touched, the paper instantly turned bright red. (Blood red, in fact.) Immerse the paper in vinegar and it “magically” shifted back to its original color!

Customers lamented the loss, loudly and often. “How can it be gone?” they asked.  “Don’t you even have a few sheets left?”  They understood that our goldenrod paper was a guaranteed show-stopper—whether their audience was toddlers, teens or tenured educators.

Knowing this terrible shock had to be softened, we came up with our own recipe for Do-It-Yourself goldenrod paper, involving heaps of tumeric (a bright-yellow spice) and several hours of mess.  It wasn’t the same as our goldenrod paper, but in a pinch it would do.

Until now!

If you haven’t already figured it out, take another look at the first letters of the paragraphs above.

IT’S BACK!

Let the rejoicing—and experimenting—begin.

Reunited... and it feels so good!

Reunited… and it feels so good!

For a refresher course in all the wonderful experiments you can do to captivate students of all ages with a simple sheet of goldenrod paper, we refer you to master teacher Ron Perkins’ blog of simple and advanced activities. We also offer free lesson ideas online.  (Just scroll down to the tab marked “Lesson Ideas.”)

And don’t forget to stock up!

Finally, check out our new video below—consider it a little preview of some of the fun you can have with our wonderful goldenrod paper. Every time we watch it, we start humming Peaches & Herb’s classic, “Reunited (and It Feels So Good).”

PS: Is it our imagination, or does the color of that stamp on their album cover look a bit like goldenrod?

 

 


What It Means to Be a Teacher


donna_giachettiby:  Donna Giachetti

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a teacher.

If you spend more than an hour a day with kids—from 1 to 100 (in age and quantity)—chances are you’re a teacher.

If you’ve grinned at our Facebook comics or said “I need that!” while clicking through our website, chances are you’re a teacher.

But what is a teacher?

Here’s what the dictionary says:

teacher

The definition of a teacher

Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary online

Read the rest of this entry »


At Halloween, Science Is Cooler than Ever


donna_giachettiby: Donna Giachetti

In the spring
a young man’s fancy
lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

 —Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred may have a point, but these days our thoughts turn to darker, spookier things—zombies, ghouls, witches, monsters and ghosts (more about them later, scroll down to the end of the blog).

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Why is autumn one of our favorite times of year?

Let us count the ways:

  •     A new school year…
  •    Cooler temperatures…
  •    Warm, cozy sweaters and boots…
  •    A procession of colorful fall foliage…

But best of all, there’s the anticipation of HALLOWEEN! What a wonderful time to be a mad scientist! Read the rest of this entry »


The Microscale Vacuum Apparatus


Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor

After the birth of my youngest child I decided to get a teaching position at a school closer to home. Until that point, I had only taught in the elementary grades. As it turned out, a seventh grade science position had opened up in the middle school in the next town, and, shortly after I filed my application, I was called in for an interview. Because it was already early June when the opening occurred, things moved along rather quickly.

The day after my interview I was called back to schedule a time to present a lesson to a class of students. The only day available just happened to be the second to last day of school, and the only class available just happened to be an 8th grade class… The school only went up to 8th grade, and on the last day of school, these 8th graders were participating in their moving up “fun” day at a local amusement park…

Microscale Vacuum ApparatusNow, anyone reading this probably recognizes that these kids—on the second to last day of their eighth grade year—had absolutely no interest in learning anything more from any of their regular teachers – much less a teacher they had never seen before. So, to say I was a little nervous is an understatement. I learned that they had just completed a unit on space, so after scouring my brain to come up with an interesting hands-on lesson that related to space, I decided to bring in the microscale vacuum apparatus from Educational Innovations.

Since most middle schools don’t have access to one, very few eighth grade students had ever seen a vacuum bell, so I gambled that the lesson I selected would hold their interest. With two team teachers, the science department chair, and the principal in the room to observe, this really was a lesson on “pressure!” Read the rest of this entry »


The Poly Density Bottle


Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor

Poly Density BottleSo, do you ever bring discrepant events into your classroom to capture your students’ attention? If so, the Poly Density Bottle should be on your list of must-haves! As you can see, this is a one-liter bottle filled with clear liquid. Floating at mid-bottle are two bands of beads, with blue on top of the white.

Poly Density BottleOn its own, this is intriguing to many students. The head scratching begins, however, once the bottle is given a good shake. As soon as everything starts to settle, students will observe that the white beads now float at the top of the liquid while the blue beads sink to the bottom. The liquid, once clear, now appears to be slightly cloudy.

But wait, there’s more… After about 30 seconds something interesting begins to happen. The white beads gradually sink down, the blue beads gradually begin to float up, and the liquid above and below the beads is again clear. Now the stumper… Why is this happening? Read the rest of this entry »