Halloween: When Science Is Cooler than Ever

by: 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).


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!

At Educational Innovations, we get to experiment with slime, goo and plenty of other spooky materials with even more than our usual abandon. (Goes with the territory when you work at the world’s only source for Super! Wow! Neat!® science workshop supplies.)

Halloween is also the season when science teachers are cooler than ever. Who else knows the secrets of making slime from polyvinyl alcohol solution and Borax? (Hint: you can get our Do-It-Yourself slime formula here.) If you’d rather skip the homemade recipe, our Slime-Making Kits come with all the materials you need to make a positively perfect batch of slime—in less time than it takes to say “polymer” ten times fast.

Who but a science teacher would consider October the perfect time for a delicious dissection lab (using our Brain Mold with gelatin)? Turn your students into brain surgeons by scattering a handful of jellybean “tumors” into the gelatin. Check out our Brain Mold lesson ideas for other ways to keep your kids’ brains focused on science AND fun.

There aren’t many colors that shriek “Halloween” like fluorescent green (or should we say FLUORESCENT GREEN?) That’s why we now carry a new product—our Glow-Bright Concentrate. A two-ounce bottle will make more than two gallons of liquid that fluoresces a brilliant yellow-green under an ultraviolet light. Go ahead, add some to your slime!

When it comes to science and Halloween, nature has some surprises for your kids. Other trick-or-treaters might get Jolly Ranchers in their bags, but your students can relish the delicacy of a Cricket or Larva Licket lollipop (assorted flavors). Or if you want something more “conventional,” you can play it safe—with our Chocolate Covered Insects.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, how about some farm-raised crunchy Larvets? BBQ flavor is a big hit around our office. One staffer swears by the Crick-ettes, although he does complain that the little legs sometimes get stuck between his teeth. (Yes, Ted, we mean YOU.)

Diffusion Mist, anyone? Theaters rely on it to create special effects, but we think it’s an awesome way to create an eerie atmosphere for a laser demonstration in a darkened room. (And like all of our products, it’s non-toxic.) Pretty dramatic way to show off your jack o’lantern, too.

Now, time for those ghosts we promised. In the spirit of this spooky season, we’re sharing this simple lesson on invisible electrons and their positive/negative charge. We’re calling it “Ghost Afloat” but your students will probably call it magic.   Print out the instructions—right under the video—and have fun!


For printing, click on image to enlarge.

Ghosts Afloat! from Educational Innovations



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 »

Teaching the Periodic Table


Teaching with a 3D Model of the Periodic Table?

by: Roy Alexander

Who knew?

I never realized how easy is would be to teach with my 3D periodic table until I started listening to a science teacher at last year’s NSTA convention.

She recognized that the AAE (Alexander Arrangement of Elements) she was walking over to at my lunch table was pretty much the standard chart: rolled and folded (I knew that) and that the common 2D element arrangement is the same thing unrolled and unfolded with the familiar separations and multi-gaps. (I knew that too: it’s what I started with when fixing the gaps that annoyed me so much.)3-D teaching the Periodic Table

She (Allison) said that she’d had to make her own 3D periodic table ever since her professor showed her how much better it is for introduction of the idea for middle and high school students. That’s when I began to get a glimmer of its usefulness in the classroom – beyond the motivation of novelty and appeal of the logic I used to develop it!

The photos, she told me, bring reality to the common abstract chart, and are a terrific way to have the least academic of her students to immediately identify where metallic elements are, and by seeing, for instance, the Noble Gases looking like downtown at night.

3-D teaching the Periodic TableShe pointed out that the Main Group element’s ability to stay as a unit all the way to the last period would make her job of teaching trends simpler – as they are most obvious that way.

(I had NO idea!)

Earlier I’d learned that although Mendeleev got only half of his missing element predictions correct, being the first to leave space for the undiscovered was pretty gutsy, giving him the right to state “…the elements if arranged according to their atomic weight…” in his Periodic Law. Read the rest of this entry »

Energy Sources in a Classroom


Energy Sources in a Classroom – Scavenger Hunt

by: Roy Bentley

I had the opportunity to attend the NSTA Convention that was held last month in Boston. It was a great show with amazing displays, topics and speakers. And of course, we had the PowerWheel there demonstrating how easy it is to teach about energy.energy sources in a classroom

One of the points that came up during the show that struck me as worth exploring further was when we asked the teachers we were working with was “what sources of energy do we have in the classroom” The teachers at the show answered the lights, the power outlets, the sunshine through the windows and possibly the forced air from the heating/cooling system. No one referred to the faucet. When the teachers were asked if they had ever had the electricity fail in the school they all answered yes. When asked if they had ever experienced a water failure in the school they all answered no. It was concluded that the most reliable source of energy in the room was the faucet/(gravity).

Here is a simple classroom or home activity to help students realize how many energy sources are around them all the time! Read the rest of this entry »