Adam surfing in Puerto Rico.

Adam surfing in Puerto Rico.

Teaching Traveling: Know a Science teacher anywhere in the world who wants some great lesson ideas? Read on to hear the wonderful curriculum that my colleague, Adam Shopis has created!

Adam, tell us about yourself.

Why Science Fair Sucks, and How You Can Save It! Adam's incredibly useful new book.

Why Science Fair Sucks, and How You Can Save It! Adam’s incredibly useful new book.

Adam: I grew up in suburban Connecticut. I went to Cornell University for a year and a half to study engineering, but dropped out. I ended up graduating from Bowdoin College with a degree in English. I now teach in Boston Public Schools.

TT: Speaking of English, what is this Science Fair book you’ve written that is sweeping the globe?

A: After over a decade of dreading Science Fair time, I radically transformed the way I do it in my classroom. Actually, it wasn’t so much radical as it was just applying normal teaching techniques to Science Fair. In addition, the awesome 7th grade team (including you!) at my school embraced the idea and used Science Fair as a grade level interdisciplinary experience.

My book “Why Science Fair Sucks and How You Can Save it” focuses on how any Science teacher can finally tame the Science Fair beast. I think there are many Science teachers out there that pull their hair out every year when Science Fair comes around.

My book can help them with that through detailed unit and lesson plans, examples, handouts, links to online documents, and the rationale for each piece.

The teachers who have used the book so far say that it’s totally changed the way they run Science Fair for the better. Science Fair is now both easier to run, and much more useful for student learning.

Zip-lining in Puerto Rico!

Zip-lining in Puerto Rico! That’s an adventurous Science teacher.

TT: Tell us about your Science Fair Podcast and your website.

A: I’ve been podcasting my day to day experiences with Science Fair in my “Science Fair Podcast“. You know this because you were a guest on Episode 7! Each day I do a lesson on Science Fair and report on what I did and how it went.

I record it on my drive to work. There’s a tense moment in almost every episode where I almost get into an accident. I’m hoping to give real on-the-ground experiences to teachers out there struggling with Science Fair. I write a little blurb about each episode on my web site,

Wow -- Adam really can surf!

In addition to podcasting, writing, and teaching, Adam can surf!

TT: What have you realized about how social media can spread curriculum ideas internationally?

A: I’ve had individuals and organizations from around the work retweet my podcast topics. I hope that social media is planting seeds of reform for Science Fair teaching in schools all around the globe.

Adam about to order some delicious mofongo in Puerto Rico.

Adam, about to order some delicious mofongo in Puerto Rico.

TT: On the topic of global movement, tell us about some fun travels you’ve undertaken.

A: My grandmother is Puerto Rican, but I never visited PR until I was an adult. The first time I went was during my April vacation from school. I went to beautiful Rincon on a surf trip with my wife’s two brothers. This was an awesome chance to connect with my family roots, since my grandmother grew up one town over. It was also an experience that allowed me to bond with her.

I’ve also traveled to Costa Rica with my wife on a great, relaxing, and enriching vacation. We’ve also taken sojourns to London, Paris, Montreal, and Quebec. We haven’t traveled out of the country since our two children (Jorge, 4 and Julian, 2) were born, but we’re getting psyched to start taking them on adventures with us. I think our first trip will be back to my ancestral Puerto Rico.

May Adam's book, podcast, and website be as helpful to teachers around the globe as this beautiful Puerto Rico ocean is to the soul!

May Adam’s book, podcast, and website be as helpful to teachers around the globe as this beautiful Puerto Rico ocean is to the soul!

TT: Thanks so much, Adam! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?


  1. This would be a great resource for science teachers. All too often teachers make science seems so intimidating, when it can be fun to learn too.


  2. I loved science in school! Thanks so much for taking charge and making a difference :-)


  3. We’re fans of any tools or activities that get children interested in learning more about science.


    1. Me too! I’m trying hard to turn science fair from fiasco to genuine learning experience!


  4. I loved the science fair! I did this cool project on holograms… I was obsessed :)


    1. That’s awesome!!! I’m still waiting for the hologram projectors (like the princess Leia hologram in the original Star Wars). hehe.

      Every year I have kids who can really take off with science fair. I hope my book makes that come true for all kids!


  5. word of advice: be very careful surfing with one’s wife’s brothers.


    1. Hah! Methinks there’s a story behind this.


  6. Sharing! I love science education!


    1. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for the lemon tart recipe!


  7. Frank, Thanks for the kind words. Here’s a quote I love about surfing from Nathan Meyers: “Surfing is the hardest thing you will ever try to learn, and if you end up loving it, it will ruin your life.” ;)


  8. Awesome that you made your dent in the teaching world with your amazing book. Keep up the good work with your podcast, and having such great balance in your life (I need to try surfing again)!


  9. Lillie, thanks for sharing my travels and Science Fair forays! I’m happy to answer questions about either!


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