Dr. Fred A Day With Dr. Fred



This program, developed from the keynote address for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory's second annual Science and Engineering Exposition and the 2002 Snake River Roaring Youth Jam, is most appropriate for students from grade 3 up. It can be adapted for younger audiences.

Dr. Fred presents "Our Next Planet," August 7, 2002
Photo courtesy Ron Paarmann, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

Anonymous feedback from teachers and media specialists who experienced the "Our Next Planet" program at the 10th annual Children's Literature Conference at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, May 5, 2006:
  • Excellent.
  • I think students would love this presentation. Very thought provoking.
  • Whooo I want to be on his spaceship!
  • Helped me remember what it was like to be 10 & fascinated with astronomy
  • Very knowledgeable about subject.
Other recent comments:
  • Your presentation sparked some interesting and thoughtful debate from the students, which is always great to hear. (Greater Latrobe High School - PA, Dec. 2007)
  • Thanks again for coming and jump-starting our 'love to read' week. We're all wearing bow ties today in your honor. (Hambden Elementary School, Chardon, OH, grades K-5, May 2008)
  • On behalf of the students and staff at Schechter, I want to thank you for the science presentations last week. Students continue to ask questions and think about the issues you raised. Exactly what we want to happen. (Gross Schechter Day School, Pepper Pike, OH, grades 3-5, May 2008)

If you'd like to download a colorful one-page "Day with Dr. Fred" brochure to share with others in your school or town, this link should get you a printable Adobe .pdf version (680 Kbyte).

"Dr. Fred" at Nye Elementary School, Hummelstown, PA, March 23, 2001
Click here to see where Dr. Fred is going and where he's been!
You will also find links to references at that page.

QUESTIONS? E-mail Dr. Fred

Click here for Dr. Fred's other program, "The Truth About Space Aliens".


The "Day With Dr. Fred" Program was developed especially to:

If teachers are unfamiliar with or wish to reinforce their knowledge of techniques effective techniques in inquiry-based science teaching, Dr. Fred highly recommends Nurturing Inquiry: Real Science for the Elementary Classroom by Charles R. Pearce (Heinemann, 1999).

coverClick here or on book cover for Amazon.com description of this book.

Program Description

Dr. Fred's visit and his books naturally encourage inquiry. One of his favorite expressions is "follow your questions," and that theme will pervade his visit as well as his optional pre-visit e-mail correspondence (see below).

Beginning with a large-group assembly program entitled "Our Next Planet" and continuing with smaller group sessions driven by student questions on the many areas of science and technology on which he has written, Dr. Fred can bring fresh insight to many topics of the curriculum and beyond, including:

Preparations for the Visit

A few weeks prior to the visit, librarian and teachers should begin introducing Dr. Fred's books and his website (www.fredbortz.com).

Pre-visit E-mail Correspondence

A week to ten days prior to the visit, the school may begin an e-mail exchange with Dr. Fred, sending one question per day for up to six days. Before sending any questions, the teacher or librarian who mediates the exchange should discuss with the students what makes a productive question. (There is a modest extra fee for this activity.)

Here are some suggestions:

Dr. Fred's e-mail replies will usually have a light tone to show his enthusiasm for the topic and the pleasure of following questions. The correspondence often serves as an ice-breaker, so the students are excited from the moment they see Dr. Fred and his bow tie in their building.

The Day of the Visit -- The "Our Next Planet" Talk

At the opening assembly, Dr. Fred involves the whole school immediately with a hearty opening of:


After a pause, Dr. Fred says:
Let's try that again. I say, "Hell-o-o-o-o-o, Earthlings!" You say, "Hell-o-o-o-o, Dr. Fred!" Ready?


After another pause:
That's much better! Now let's try something else.


Then, depending on the response, he continues:
What, no aliens out there?
-- OR --
Don't laugh, maybe they really are aliens.

You see, I'm pretty sure there are one or two space aliens out there in the audience. One might even be in the seat next to you.


The mention of space aliens keeps the students hooked as the talk turns scientific. The aliens in the audience are later revealed to be future astronauts who will visit Mars. They will be creatures from another planet, settling in for a visit of probably 18 months.

The talk covers these topics:

The Day of the Visit -- Small Group Sessions and Other Activities

Following the talk, Dr. Fred will meet with smaller groups (20-60 students) and discuss their questions from any area of science or writing. He will schedule up to six half-hour sessions or up to nine twenty-minute sessions, depending on the age of the students and the school's needs.

An autographing session is always welcome, as is an end-of-day reception for selected students (chosen in a way that reflects their involvement with science, writing, or both). The selected students should not be required to have bought books, though they should have read one or more of Dr. Fred's books in the school or classroom libraries.

An evening session for parents and teachers can be arranged for a modest additional honorarium.

Suggested Follow-Up Activities

Follow-up activities can include study of the Sun, the Moon, particular planets of the Solar System and some of their moons, comets, asteroids, etc. Individual students can report about the characteristics of one body in the Solar System. They should be encouraged to go beyond the facts and to discuss the scientific questions or techniques that led to those facts.

Alternatively, students could follow up with discussions of Dr. Fred's books (or chapters of a book in the case of TO THE YOUNG SCIENTIST) and how questions are important in every one of them.

A class willing to plan a year-long activity could use DR. FRED'S WEATHER WATCH as a basis for measuring local weather conditions. Students could build home-made devices as described in the book, or the school could provide inexpensive commercial or educational weather instruments. Advanced students or "weather weenies" might be allowed to work with more expensive weather instruments and equipment, interfaced to a computer for keeping and analyzing data logs.

Another long-term activity might be the production of a weekly science newspaper for the school's website. It will enable them to maintain the enthusiasm for inquiry-based science that Dr. Fred hopes to create in his visit.

Additional Information for Schools Considering A Day with Dr. Fred

Dr. Fred will travel from his home in Monroeville, PA near Pittsburgh, to visit schools anywhere in the United States or Canada. He does not charge for travel expenses in schools he considers to be local. Those include schools within a one-hour drive of Monroeville or near Cleveland or Canton, OH, where Dr. Fred has close family.

For references, rates, or to arrange for "A day with Dr. Fred" click here


For details on Dr. Fred's unique year-long Scientist-Author in Electronic Residence program, click here.

Click here for Dr. Fred's other program "The Truth About Space Aliens".

For excellent general advice on planning an author visit, please click here for two ladies who literally wrote the book on the subject.

Text copyright 2002-8 by Alfred B. Bortz, all rights reserved
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