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 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?


Favorite color?


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.

EI on Fox’s Save me Steve: Fall Toy Preview

If you’ve ever heard of the Fall Toy Preview, then you probably know that it’s one of the biggest toy conventions of the year where hundreds of toy manufacturers privately show their newest product lines to long lead buyers like Target, Costco, and Walmart. The 2012 FTP took place in Dallas last week and to our pleasant surprise, one of our products was chosen to be featured on a Fox segment called “Save Me Steve”, airing on Fox affiliates throughout the country.  Our very own Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope was one of a handful of toys chosen for this feature by the Toy Industry Association. This is great news for us, and we couldn’t be happier! If you missed the segment and you want to get a sneak peek of one of our 2013 lines, check out the video through the link below.

Are you interested in being ahead of the curve? Take a look at Steve Noviello’s take on the hot new toys for NEXT year, at the Fall Toy Preview in Dallas. Watch the video here:

Septemeber 1st, 2012 Deal of the Day: Classroom Quilt Pocket Chart

It’s the first day of September and we wanted to start off the month with one of our fan favorite pocket charts: the Classroom Quilt Pocket Chart!

A time–tested favorite, now available as a reusable pocket chart! Reinforce lessons and display student work across the curriculum all year long, and year after year. This Pocket chart measures 6.25″L x 6.25″H and includes a teacher tip sheet with a reproducible quilt square to make additions to the quilt hassle-free and seamless! Use it to reinforce lessons in symmetry, fractions, weather, life science, creative writing, art, and more. This chart features 30 clear vinyl pockets to display the work of every student and sturdy grommets that allow you hang it on the wall, bulletin board, or pocket chart stand.

This pocket chart normally retails for $29.99, but for today only until midnight tonight (PST), you can get it for just $14.99! Not to mention that we’re also including free shipping with this Deal of the Day purchase (Simply enter EIFREE at checkout).

Get your Classroom Quilt Pocket Chart here:

Nancy B.’s Helpful Handouts: Pluto and its History

Nancy Balter, a 7th & 8th grade math and science teacher for more than 10 years and our math and science product manager, always has cool ideas for teaching and helping kids learn! Here is a helpful out-of-this-world handout that will be sure to grab your kids’ attention and launch it to new heights!

A word from Nancy about the handout:
“This worksheet would be useful to teachers who have students asking about why “poor” Pluto was downgraded from its planet status to dwarf planet. This worksheet also helps students understand the new definition that is being used to define a planet.”

Fun Fact: Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is often credited with being the first one to downgrade Pluto (he’s gotten some hate mail from 3rd graders over this!). Dr. Tyson’s voice is on our new Planet Scale!

Fun Metric Worksheets from Nancy B.

Nancy Balter is our math and science product developer here at Educational Insights. Not only is she brilliant in developing educational toys and games in her area of expertise, but she was also a teacher for 11 years! Today she has graciously shared with us some very helpful worksheets to help your kids learn their metric system.

A word from Nancy:
These two fun worksheets help students to learn the Metric System. The 2-page Optical Illusions worksheet has students using a ruler to practice measuring in metric (using centimeters and millimeters). Kids love optical illusions so it’s fun to do. The Cinderella worksheet has kids converting between metric units. (BTW: the answer to the riddle ‘Why did Cinderella get thrown off the baseball team?’ is: Because she ran away from the ball!) Both worksheets list the skill used on the bottom left corner of the page.

We hope you enjoy them!

August 4th, 2012 Deal of the Day

It’s Saturday August 4th, 2012 and our featured product for Deal of the Day is…. GeoSafari® Talking Electron Microscope™!

View more than 180 amazing, up-close images with the Talking Electron Microscope! View various zoomed versions of 60 images and hear 5 fun facts about each image in Learning Mode – then switch to Quiz Mode and test your knowledge! Images include the human body, viruses and bacteria, plants, animals, and other “stuff.” Great for kids ages 2-8.

This product is normally priced at $64.99, but today until midnight PST, it’s priced at $39.99! Hurry on over to before this deal ends! As a bonus, type in the keyword EIFREE at checkout for free shipping with this Deal of the Day purchase!

August 1st, 2012 Deal of the Day

A ghost submarine … a hole in the palm of your hand … a barrel rolling uphill…Learn the science behind 30 amazing experiments with today’s Deal of the Day, Science of Special Effects!

This fully assembled kit is normally $39.99, but you
can get it for $14.99 today only! This deal is only good until midnight (PST), so don’t delay and head over to to purchase this hot deal!

Enter in our super special Deal of the Day promo code EIFREE to get free standard shipping on your order.

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!

July 16th, 2012 Deal of the Day

Hey everyone it’s Riley Wilkinson with today’s Deal of the Day. It’s Monday July 16th, and I’d like to tell you about Science Challenge of the Week.

This product is really, kinda fantastic because it does the work for you. It teaches your students about science: Earth Science, physical science and life science during the course of the week. We have designed 40 fully illustrated cards, one for every week of the school year. You put this up on week one and you tell your students, “There is an image, and in this image, something is scientifically wrong. It’s your job as a student to find out what’s wrong.” For example, this one has a spider hanging from its web in front of a window over some toys, what’s wrong with this image?

Well, in the instruction manual, there’s a full explanation for each of them that tells you as a teacher what the problem is, what the science challenge is that the students are solving. In this case, the spider has 6 legs; we all know that spiders have eight legs. So, the lucky student who drew a spider with eight legs would have their drawing put into the pouch at the end of the week.

It’s really a great way to get students interested in science and to get them talking about science at home with the family and with each other in your classroom. $24.99 Regularly priced, and today’s deal of the day makes it $14.99 until midnight PST. So go to and check it out!