May the Force Be with You


Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

The movie Star Wars relied greatly on a mystical ability called “the Force.”  You can’t see it.  It’s an invisible energy that interacts with everything around it.  A little green guy named Yoda uses this mystical “Force” to move objects around.  Intriguing, sure, but it’s just Hollywood special effects.  However, thanks to science—and Sir Isaac Newton—we know that force is a real thing in our world.  In fact, we use it every day.  (And we don’t even need to summon Yoda!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Strawberry Patch Science


Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

Science really is everywhere – even in a strawberry patch! But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

I’m afraid of lunch ladies.  They’re intimidating.  I guess you need to be if you’re dealing with hundreds of hungry kids in a small cafeteria.  As a kid, I usually kept my head down and brown-bagged it (unless it was pizza day).  I didn’t want to do anything to upset the ladies who ran the lunchroom.  I carried that fear with me even after I became a teacher. 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Sound of Science


Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

Any teacher will tell you that kids can be noisy.  They make all kinds of sounds.  Clap their hands.  Click their tongues.  Snap their fingers.  Smack their cheeks.  Burp.  Fart.  Scream.  Sing. Most classrooms are a virtual cacophony of noises.   And where there is sound, there’s bound to be a whole lot of shaking going on.  So why not turn those noises into a teachable moment and explore the science of sound?   

Read the rest of this entry »

Composting Fun with Worms!


Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

First, the Story

Lizzie was in my fifth grade class about fifteen years ago.  She was a solid student academically, but her biggest struggle in life was her retainer.  Mom and Dad had invested a lot of money in that molded plastic-and-wire mouth guard.  Lizzie’s mom even emailed me to ask if I would make sure Lizzie was wearing her retainer throughout the day.  Apparently this little oral apparatus cost more than my car… which would explain why Lizzie’s mom was so upset when she lost it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Engineering Dissections


Educational Innovations Blog

By Jared Hottenstein

In the world of STEM learning, most teachers think about designing, building, and creating. But sometimes the best way to see how something is designed is to pull it apart. I’ve always thought that science dissections were awesome. Many of my students wouldn’t agree. Dissections can get a little gross for a classroom setting. Taking the time to carefully open something up to see what’s going on inside doesn’t have to be limited to once-living things. Why not dissect common objects?

Read the rest of this entry »