Steve Spangler

Who doesn’t wish they had a science teacher like Steve Spangler? Not only is he an authority on STEM education, he’s also an Emmy award-winning TV personality, with a syndicated series called Xploration DIY Sci, and a regular slot on the Ellen Show, conducting large-scale experiments that usually include big bangs and enjoyably messy concoctions. He’s also a YouTube favorite (you’ve probably seen his Diet Coke and Mentos experiment), a best-selling author, and an inductee to the National Speaker Hall of Fame. After 25 years in the market place, his Steve Spangler Science brand of educational toys was acquired by Excelligence Learning Corporation, with an intention to expand the brand to international markets.

We met Steve at South Street Seaport, NYC, and talked about making science relevant and memorable, and how Zachary helped style his outfit for an Ellen Show appearance after a chance encounter.

Your father was a chemical engineer and a successful magician. He clearly had a big influence on you. Can you tell us more about him and the impact he had on what you do today?

My father’s influence in my life extends well beyond his love of science and chemical engineering. As a professional magician, my father taught me the value of creating moments of amazement that brought joy to people and allowed them to escape reality for a few minutes. As consultants to other leading professional magicians of the time, my parents introduced me to people who dared to think differently and use their creativity for the sole purpose of bringing joy to others.

The wow factor of your experiments undoubtedly get kids interested in science, but how do you retain their interest to keep them studying?

My job as a STEM educator is to go beyond teaching the facts and to create experiences that engage students on many levels. I’m always searching for the most creative ways to make science fun and to engage the learner as they build connections to real-world experiences. As a teacher, I’ve learned that students don’t remember what you tell them as much as they remember how you made them feel. My job as an educator is to get kids to fall in love with science, and the way to do that is to create emotional experiences that make students care deeply about any area of science that makes them wonder, discover, and explore the world.

Steve is pictured wearing ZACHARY PRELL’s Oxford jacket, Cadler polo, and Aster pants
You clearly have boundless energy and ideas, and are involved in numerous projects. Any advice on how to make it all work?

It’s important to make sure that every decision you make is consistent with your core values, both as a person and as a business leader. Ever since my wife, Renee, and I started our business in 1991, we’ve lived by the motto: “Make it big, do it right, give it class.” Regardless of the magnitude of the project, we strive to exceed expectations, to honor our ethical standards, and to give it a sense of class that makes us proud. 

As a busy man, do you tend to rely on one style for all areas of your life, or do you dress differently depending on which project you’re working on?

When you think of a TV science guy, the fashion of the day is typically an over-sized lab coat, oxford shirt, and poorly fitting khaki pants. Thanks to some great advice I received years ago, I purposely made the decision to throw out the lab coat and search for someone who could help me find my style. Anything I could do to remove the “science guy” stigma was a step in the right direction. I discovered ZACHARY PRELL at Nordstrom (again, not a place where scientists typically hang out) five years ago and I couldn’t believe how well the clothes fit. Whether I’m speaking to educators at a conference or making a guest appearance on the Ellen Show, ZP gives me a sense of style that totally fits my personality. It’s probably safe to say ZP helped me find my sense of style.

You won’t believe this story… before my 22nd appearance on the Ellen Show last December, I headed to my favorite Nordstrom in Denver (Cherry Creek), and the sales person who has helped me for years couldn’t have been more excited to see me. “Get over here right now,” she exclaimed! “I want you to meet someone special… Zachary Prell.” I couldn’t believe it. When I explained that I was on a quest for something cool to wear on the show, Zachary was kind enough to personally style an outfit. Talk about an unforgettable customer experience.

You’ve tried the Aster pants, Higgins sweater, Madorin short-sleeve shirt, Cadler polo, and Oxford jacket. What did you think and where would you wear them?

The Aster pants are incredibly comfortable, stylish, and versatile enough to wear with most anything. Paired with the Higgins sweater or the Cadler polo, the outfit is perfect for a television appearance or a speaking engagement.

I would guess that most guys don’t get compliments on the clothes they wear, but my ZP outfits solicit nice comments all the time. ZP makes it easy for me to put together simple combinations that just work. The Oxford jacket is now my favorite piece of clothing!

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