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Wieland Elementary Wins CITGO “Fueling Education” Sweepstakes

November 6, 2018

Wieland Elementary Wins CITGO “Fueling Education” Sweepstakes

Renowned scientist Steve Spangler wows teachers with demonstrations

Vandewater Students at Wieland Elementary will have even more opportunities to learn about STEM thanks to being one of three schools in the nation to win the grand prize in the CITGO “Fueling Education” Sweepstakes.

CITGO is dedicated to educating and inspiring young students about science, technology, engineering and math through a variety of programs, and Wieland Elementary will benefit from that dedication with $5,000 worth of school supplies and an in-school workshop with Emmy award-winning TV personality and science educator Steve Spangler.

Spangler visited Wieland last month for a workshop with district staff and showed them ways to inspire learning through activities that can help students connect learning with the experience.

“Part of the secret of this kind of training is not to tell them about how to create an experience but it is to actually create an experience,” Spangler said. “What happens when a kid wraps his or her arms around a teacher and says, ‘best day ever’? What they’re really saying is you connected with me. You engaged me and there was a sense of unexpected.”

Spangler is a STEM teacher, presenter and speaker. He won an Emmy in 1997 for his show “News for Kids.” His current project “Xploration DIY Sci” on Amazon Prime Video has been nominated for a total of five Daytime Emmy awards through its first two seasons, including Outstanding Education or Informational Series. He also has had a successful show on YouTube called “The Spangler Effect” and produced a series of short films titled “Sick Science.”

But Spangler may be best known for his 2005 YouTube video that went viral and sparked the Mentos and Diet Coke geyser craze.

Teachers from Wieland got some of that sense of the unexpected when they witnessed firsthand Spangler perform a series of experiments and turned the teachers back into students through their participation so they might be inspired to create experiences in their own classrooms to inspire their students.

“Teaching adults, especially teachers, is like teaching children if they will trust you to let them become children once again. They have to be in a situation like this, let down their walls and engage and want to be kids,” Spangler said of his method of teaching other educators through his workshops.

“Our job as STEM teachers is not to teach science, technology, engineering and math, because nobody knows what that means, we’ve been doing that for years, it is to create an experience that makes the child even consider a career as a scientist or engineer. That’s what we have to do. So if you’re a STEM teacher, and truly on your job description it says, ‘inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers,’ and how you do that is your own creative way.”

Wieland Elementary was awarded one of three grand prizes in the nation thanks to a submission by librarian Susan Vandewater. Ninety other schools in the U.S. were awarded first prize, which included a $1,000 voucher from National School Supply to use toward classroom supplies and one online Steve Spangler STEM education course.

Principal Jared Stevenson said it was an invaluable experience to have a teacher and presenter as respected and well-known as Spangler on their campus to share his knowledge with teachers and provide them with their own learning experience to spark ideation in the classroom.

“I feel lucky and grateful,” Stevenson said. “This is a phenomenal opportunity for our teachers to have a national presenter of this caliber come and share hands-on learning with teachers who will then be able to apply their learning with students.”

Click here to view and download photos from the event!