Mr. Rheineck got science. You could tell he still felt like a kid in a candy shop, overwhelmed by the enormousness of science, so many things to learn, so much to teach. Without a doubt, he’s my favorite teacher.
He prepared students through engagement. I never once asked how this would be helpful in real life, because all of it was. We tested viscosity of liquids, made models of atoms and learned about DNA. And he always mixed enough fun into it. When we finished the DNA unit with time to spare, we watched Jurassic Park. It helped us realize the future of the sciences, and what was possible if we tried, plus there were dinosaurs. At the end of seventh and eighth grade, we would bring in food and cookware, and make breakfast together. When we learned about stages of water and temperatures, we made ice cream, and bread when we learned about yeast. This taught me to be aggressive with my learning, and by applying what I was learning, I gained a better understanding of it.
When we learned about the ocean, we decorated hallways with construction paper and glue, with sections dedicated to different regions of the ocean, from shallow reefs to deep dwellers, everything was there. Then we would walk through the hall as a class and teach each other about our section. Mine was the Sunlight zone, inhabited by most typical sea life and all coral reefs, and I still remember it.
My favorite moment was when we made model rockets in eighth grade. We had a design contest and figured out whose rocket went highest. A rumor went around that someone put hand sanitizer in their rocket to give it an extra boost, and when he heard, instead of yelling, he explained to everyone why it wouldn’t work (it's because the flammable ingredient in hand sanitizer - alcohol - would have evaporated in a couple of minutes, and that's why your hands get cold when you use it). When we learned about gasses, I got to hold a balloon full of hydrogen gas, and when he poked it with a hot metal rod, It burst into a fireball.
Mr. Rheineck was like a textbook of science experiments and bad jokes, and this is what makes him my favorite teacher.