The 3-minute interview with Erainya Neirro

With all the drama and bombast of television’s “Iron Chef,” a group of Bay Area science teachers will compete before a live audience at noon at the Exploratorium today to earn the revered title of “Iron Science Teacher.” The Examiner caught up with Neirro, who teaches science at San Francisco’s Presidio Hills School, as she did some last-minute training.

This isn’t your first time as a contender. Have you been training hard to claim the title? In the past I’ve done experiments with water, duct tape, dry ice and straws, and haven’t won. In preparing for this year’s competition, I tested two different experiments, but they flopped. Because I haven’t won before, I’m not taking a chance. I hear rumors some teachers might have some things explode, and I don’t like that, because they always win.

Without spoiling the surprise, tell us a little bit about your experiment. I can tell you that mine does not explode. It uses dry ice, which is always fun and uses the principle of density. It’s a great demonstration to do for many grades.

What’s the most unlikely object you use in the name of science? Toilet bowl cleaner. One of the components is hydrochloric acid. I use it if I need to dissolve something.

We could use more competitive science television shows. Why don’t science and showmanship go hand-in-hand more often? I think we have something like that with the show “American Inventor.” They’re using science to make products. I think there’s interest — they managed to get it on television. Hopefully, other things like that will continue.


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