Cheer on the competitors at the Exploratorium’s Iron Science Teacher, the popular, zany cook-off, where teachers compete before a live 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 an egg, a magnet or a piece of chalk.
Come in person on Friday, June 29, July 6 and July 13 at 12 noon, or tune into the webcast at /iron_science
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 ofingenious 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.
The Iron Science Teacher competition, a concept originated by the Exploratorium, is hosted by the Exploratorium’s Teacher Institute. The Teacher Institute brings together middle and high school science teachers, from around the San Francisco Bay Area and the nation, to learn and share ways of teaching science that use and inspire inquiry. Teachers learn to build their own tabletop versions of Exploratorium exhibits for use in their classrooms, and develop other hands-on activities during summer workshops, and in follow-up programs throughout the school year. There are over 3,000 alumni of the Teacher Institute, which is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Award, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, the Dean Witter Foundation, the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation, the Christian Humann Foundation, the Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Rogers Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chevron.