A Brief History Of Educational Innovations


Tami O'Connorby:  Tami O’Connor

Ron Perkins Educational Innovations History

Ron as Paracelsus for his high school Chemistry students

In 1994, Educational Innovations was founded by Ron Perkins, an award winning Chemistry Teacher from Greenwich High School. Along with a number of other awards, Ron was Connecticut’s first recipient of the President’s Award for Teaching.  He was not only a renowned educator, but Ron was also an incredibly creative presenter.  Ron’s passion for science and teaching took him around the globe, giving over 800 teacher workshops for teachers of elementary grades through college!  It was because of his impressive and dynamic presentations that Educational Innovations came to be.

When preparing for his classes and workshops, Ron would hatch ideas, gather materials, and then tinker in his basement.  His demonstrative presentations always generated Oooooooh’s and Aaaaaaaah’s from the people in attendance, whether young students or seasoned teachers.  When the smoke cleared and echoes stopped, teachers would crowd around him and ask where they could find the materials that he used to generate so much science excitement.

Ron Perkins Educational InnovationsResponding to the needs of these other educators, Ron finally put together a two-page flier with the materials, and teachers would send checks or even cash through the mail, and Ron would send their packages.  In the early days, Ron would wait for the mailman to arrive, hoping for an order.  Now almost 20 years later, Educational Innovations supplies teachers, parents, schools, and workshop presenters from every state in the US and over 69 countries around the world!  We are proud to carry forward the spark that ignited interest in science for generations of students.

Ron Perkins Educational Innovations History

Ron’s high school science fair entry


What is a Radiometer?


Tami O'Connorby: Tami O’Connor – Taken From Litetronics

The radiometer is a light bulb-shaped device containing an object that looks like a weather vane (wings arranged in a circle like spokes of a wheel).  Developed to measure the intensity of radiant energy, or heat, the radiometer will:

  1. Help you understand the principles of energy conversion.
  2. Show how heat and mechanical energy are products of energy conversion.

Most of us don’t realize how important energy is in our lives.  In actuality, every facet of our life involves energy.  One of the reasons we tend to take energy for granted is that it is constantly changing from one form to another.  We call this change conversion.

During this conversion, energy is changing from one form to another.  In all energy conversions, the useful energy output is less than the energy input.  This is because some energy is used to do work, and some energy is converted to heat.Radiometer

Sir William Crookes invented the original radiometer in the mid-nineteenth century.  The device was developed to measure the intensity of radiant energy, or heat.

What causes the vanes of the radiometer to spin?

Read the rest of this entry »


Demonstrating Density: Who Knew They Could Be So Dense?


Tami O'Connorby:  Tami O’Connor

Density is not typically an easy concept for most middle school students and even more difficult for younger students, but it doesn’t need to be.  We all know that D=m/V, but the easiest way I found to explain it to my students was to have them visualize a common dilemma in my home immediately preceding a vacation.  For years, as a poor starving teacher, I only had one suitcase, and it was actually a hand-me-down from my mother.  It was a medium sized Samsonite, hard cased piece of luggage.  When approaching the topic of density in my classroom, down from the attic it came.demonstrating density

My explanation began with an imaginary week-long summer vacation to a low-key resort.  The class and I would brainstorm the items I needed to pack for my trip.  Generally, the list included items such as a few bathing suits, shorts, t-shirts, a pair of flip flops, some PJs, underwear and a few toiletries.  It was obvious by looking at the size of my suitcase that in addition to my meager belongings, I could have probably also fit one of my students in my bag…  ok, perhaps one of the smaller kids.

I explained that when I closed the suitcase, it was hard to see, simply by looking at it, how heavy it was.  The lesson didn’t stop there.  We now planned my one-week ski vacation to Vermont during the February break.  Once again, my students and I made up my pack list.  The list included a couple of heavy sweaters, long johns, gloves, a hat, boots… as you can imagine, the list went on and on.  The question was, where to put it all.  Of course, since I had only one suitcase, the answer was easy. Read the rest of this entry »