Get to Know Us! Featuring Product Manager, Nancy Balter

How long have you worked at Educational Insights?

I started here in 2005, so eight years.

What drew you to working here?

I was a teacher. I had been a teacher for 11 years and I really enjoyed it, but I was ready for a change. I wanted to stay in education, and I found this job off monster.com and it looked interesting. That’s how I wound up here!

So, you taught math and science, right?

Yes, 7th and 8th grade. It’s fun because the kids are old enough to talk and interact with the teacher, but they’re young enough to come running into the room and say, “What are we doing today, Mrs. Balter!”

What was your favorite toy growing up?

It might have to be my stuffed rabbit, Marshmallow, which I still have in my closet.

What’s your favorite toy here at EI?

My current favorite might be the Solar System Mapping Tool, just because that’s my idea. I find it useful, and I think it’s fun and cool to take your class out. I love the idea that you instantaneously understand relative distances in the solar system with it.

In terms of my kids, my favorite toy is the Wonder World Map. It’s a gigantic map with velcro locations that you take on and off; it’s a map of the world. That thing has been growing with my kids since day one. As babies, it hung over the changing table, so when they were frustrated with their diaper changes, they could just pull the pieces off and throw them on the floor. And now as they’re getting older, they’re interested in what’s on the map, where things go, and where we live. My sister’s been doing that with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter (I gave her one). That map is just super cool. It looks good on the wall! It’s a really great product.

Are there any products that you got the okay for, but never got manufactured?

Oh yeah, there are a whole bunch of things. Last year, we had a math game that the inventor of Inching Along sent us that I liked that involved using a balance scale, and that never got manufactured.

How is your life outside of work? What is life like for Nancy outside of the office?

Chasing two children around. That is all I do. I do love it—sometimes it’s boring, but most of the time I love it. I either pick up the kids or have my husband home with the kids, and we chase them around or try to get them to consume something and change their diaper, or usher them into the potty!

How old are your kids?

I have a 3 –year-old and a sixteen-month old. They’re perfect and they stand around being cute all day.

Do you have any kind of thing you do that gets your creativity flowing?

Right now as my kids are getting older, watching them and seeing what they’re interested in and seeing what they’re doing in school helps a lot in terms of my creativity and coming up with product ideas. Searching online helps a lot. Just before I came here I was actually just looking on YouTube to see what people are doing with the metric system. Seeing what teachers are doing now also helps a lot.

I sometimes laugh that the only free time I have is when I shower or when I drive. And, honestly, that’s when I come up with most of my ideas because you can’t do anything else but think when you’re in the shower or driving. That’s pretty much where I get my inspiration.

List of Favorites:

Favorite animal?

Rabbits.

Favorite color?

Blue.

Favorite season?

Well, I was born on the first day of spring, so spring.

Favorite movie?

I love The Shawshank Redemption.

Favorite food?

There’s a coconut soup that I love at Thai restaurants…and really good pizza. Chocolate, always. The hip things that I love at the moment are goat cheese and balsamic vinegar. Over the summer, blackberries and mangoes.

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Bridge the Gap: Fun Summer Science Ideas!


Hey! Nancy here again, EI’s science product developer, and I’m here with some fun ways to slip science into your summer.

Summer is a great time to explore science with your child because nature’s all around you and its easy to get outside. So one thing we recommend that you to do is to go on a texture walk! You can walk around and find leaves and bark and explore the texture, and then you can get some crayons and some paper and do a rubbing. Another thing you can do is go on a nature treasure hunt, so you can make a list with your child of things you might find, and if they can write, actually this is great writing practice they can list the things they’re going to find on the treasure hunt and go out and try to find them. When you do, use a magnifying glass to observe them up close.

Summer is great time to observe longer-term science processes such as growth and decomposition since kids are home all summer anyway. If you have a clear container, you can grow plants in it. If you use water instead of soil, it’s a great way to get an up-close view of the roots that are growing. You can also break down things in the clear container. You can put an apple core for example or a banana peel in the clear container with some soil and watch it decompose within several weeks.For those of you who prefer a ready made kit, our compost bin and our hydroponics lab make growing and decomposing plants very simple and there’s no smell.

Taking a trip to the shore or to the beach? You can take a glass mason jar with you, kids can take a scoop and the water in the glass will naturally magnify what they see. Kids can take a closer look and see if they caught any plankton or fish.Another thing you can use is our plankton net. You can use this in the water. It has a jar at the bottom and it will collect plankton. The jar can be sealed and it has magnifying lenses on it. It comes with a chart so you can actually identify the plankton that you’ve caught.
The sea scope is another cool object to take with you to any body of water. You can stay dry while observing underwater life, and it actually as a flashlight on it so you can illuminate the view.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these summer science ideas and that you get out and start exploring!