Iron Science Teacher: At the Explo and Live Webcast
Saturday, June 25, and Friday, July 1 (12 pm)
July 8, 2011 (3 pm)
Come out to the Exploratorium or tune into the Iron Science Teacher webcast on Saturday, June 25 and Fridays, July 1 & 8. Cheer on the competitors in this zany science cook-off, where teachers compete before a live Exploratorium audience for the sought-after "Iron Science Teacher" title. Parodying the cult Japanese TV program, "Iron Chef," this competition showcases science teachers as they devise classroom activities using a particular ingredient—an everyday item such as a plastic bag, milk carton, or nail.
The Iron Science Teacher competition, a concept originated by the Exploratorium, is one of the programs of the Exploratorium's Teacher Institute. At the Institute, visiting middle and high school science teachers from around the San Francisco Bay Area and the nation, learn and share ways of teaching science that use and inspire inquiry. They build their own tabletop versions of Exploratorium exhibits for use in their classrooms and develop other hands-on activities during summer workshops as well as follow-up programs during the school year. There are over 3,000 alumni of the Teacher Institute, funded by the National Science Foundation, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Walter and Elise Haas Fund, Dean Witter Foundation, and The Farese Family Foundation.
According to astrophysicist Dr. Linda Shore, Director of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute and host of the competition, "We try to show we can do science with anything. We show teachers how to use low-tech materials to illustrate classic principles of science and math." As one contestant put it, "This helps teachers teach the $10 million state science standards on a $10 budget."
One recent competition, featuring a soda can as the secret ingredient, yielded a host of ingenious handiwork: A mathematician demonstrated the X, Y, and Z-axes of geometric shapes, a physicist illustrated the Bernoulli Effect (which affects such things as lift on an airplane’s wing), a biologist demonstrated that regular Coke is denser than Diet Coke, and a chemist rigged up alcohol burners.