Cindy Bither
Administrative Assistant
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‘I’m Pretty Excited’

Spangler Engages Audience with Balloons and Smoke Rings in Conference Keynote on Engaging with Science


 Spangler shoots fog rings from a plastic trashcan to topple polystyrene foam cups from audience members’ heads. – VMI Video by John Robertson IV. 

LEXINGTON, Va., Oct. 9, 2013 – Teacher, author, toy designer, and television personality Steve Spangler delivered the STEM Education Conference’s keynote address in Cameron Hall earlier today.

Highlighting the importance of engagement in America’s classrooms, Spangler entertained and delighted the audience with demonstrations and anecdotes.

“What we’re talking about today is engagement. We’re talking about the difference between good teachers and great teachers,” said Spangler. “It’s an experience, not an activity.”

Spangler emphasized that science education should provide memorable experiences to students, and with that in mind, he set about creating an unforgettable science experience for the conference participants and the Corps of Cadets.

“The world is changing and it will be better because of the STEM movement,” said Spangler. “We have a challenge, we have a cause, we’re moving forward, we’re engaged and I’m pretty excited.”

Spangler shared that excitement with demonstrations, including a flaming wallet, neodymium magnets, and a potato gun.

Spangler gave the audience the chance to cut loose during one demonstration. Audience members received large colorful plastic bags, which they were able to inflate with a single breath thanks to Spangler’s guidance.

As the inflated bags popped and flew through the air, Spangler appreciated the crowd’s enthusiasm.

“This is something, from the stage, that I will never forget for the rest of my life,” said Spangler.

The grand finale came as Spangler welcomed 2nd Lt. Sean Noll to the stage and placed a polystyrene foam cup on his head. Spangler then produced a trashcan, a fog machine, and a mallet. Filling the trashcan with fog, Spangler was able to strike it and shoot fog rings to knock the cup from Noll’s head.

Spangler then fired off a volley of fog rings into the audience, knocking similar cups off the heads of those seated nearby.

These demonstrations produced the kind of excitement that Spangler sees as vital to STEM education. As he sees it, the challenge is keeping students excited and engaged.

 “When do kids stop wondering? When do kids stop engaging? When do the kids stop raising their hands?” asked Spangler. “That’s what we’ve got to figure out.”

– John Robertson IV