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Alden J. Balmer

July 08, 2011

Alden J. Balmer is a teacher, an inventor, an entrepreneur, an artist, a chess master, a self proclaimed answer man, a shade tree auto-mechanic, a philanthropist, a cowboy, a showman, and a raconteur.

Doc Fizzix Products was founded in 1995 by Alden J. Balmer, an award-winning science teacher with more than 20 years of teaching experience who's unique teaching style and methods brought him recognition throughout the country.  In 1996 Alden J. Balmer received the Texas Science Teacher of the Year Award in large part due to his hands-on activity based teaching style. Doc Fizzix (pronounced Doc Physics) was originally the nick-name given to Alden J. Balmer by his students and this nickname would eventually became the name of the company he founded in 1995. Alden J. Balmer has appeared on several national aired television shows performing science experiments and demonstrating his mousetrap powered vehicles.  Alden J. Balmer has written and/or has been a contributing author on more than fifty books and articles. Alden J. Balmer holds the title of authoring the very first book exclusively written about mousetrap powered vehicles and as is the world record distance traveling mousetrap powered car holder. Alden J. Balmer is considered by many to be the worlds foremost mousetrap-vehicle expert.  

Alden J. Balmer graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1989 with a degree in secondary science education and that same year, Alden J. Balmer and his wife Carol Balmer moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Round Rock, Texas where he was taught six-grade general science at Chisholm Trail Middle School in the Round Rock Independent School District.  In 1992 Alden J. Balmer was moved to help open the new high school, McNeil High School in the same district where he taught AP physics and honors physics from 1992-2003.  In 2003 Alden J. Balmer accepted a position in the UTeach Program in the College of Natural Science at the University of Texas.  Since 2006 Alden J. Balmer has been working exclusively as the president and CEO of Doc Fizzix products running the daily operations and developing new products. 

In the classroom

As a classroom instructor Alden J. Balmer created a fun and exciting environment filled with hands on activities, exciting demonstrations, and projects that were designed to excite and inspire student learning. Boring lectures were replaced with exciting and interactive presentations filled with attention grabbing demonstrations. Some students who did not have a class and even some students who did have a class would skip their own class just come in and watch the lessons and participate in the excitement. In his 12 years at McNeil High School, Alden J. Balmer was voted favorite teacher 5 times and was the very first recipient of the Golden Horseshoe Award, an award given out by the student body to their teacher of the year.

The Physics Circus

In 1990 after his first year of teaching Alden J. Balmer was accepted into a special program at the University of Texas in the Department of Physics called lecture and demonstration taught by Dr. Karl Trappy.  Alden J. Balmer would spend the next five summers working closely with Dr. Karl Trappy developing and designing physics demonstrations and equipment to be used in the classroom in order to demonstrate the basic concepts of physics.  While at the University of Texas, Alden J. Balmer also helped with the UT Physics Circus designing/building equipment and performing on stage. From his time at the University of Texas and from the guidance of Dr. Karl Trappy, Alden J. Balmer began designing and building demonstrations equipment on his own and soon started traveling around the country where he became a frequent presenter at state, regional, and national science conventions.  Alden J. Balmer soon became well known for his exciting and dynamic presentations where the world of physics would came alive; as his presentations gained in popularity there would be standing room only in the largest auditorium rooms.

Mousetrap Powered Cars

In 1992, Alden J. Balmer decided to try something very different with his AP Physics students; instead of the traditional semester example, Alden J. Balmer wanted to have his students build a vehicle to compete in a challenge in order to see how his students would apply the concepts they had learned thereby demonstrating their mastery of the content. In 1992 Alden J. Balmer passed out the semester exam and it was a design challenge to build a mousetrap powered vehicle that would travel the longest linear distance; the challenge would require his students to use the concepts they had learned over the course of the first semester and apply them to a real world situation.  As the students were building their mousetrap powered cars, Alden J. Balmer walk around the room and ask each student to explain how the physics concepts they had learned were applied to their project.  The exam challenge was a great success and the students had more fun than they had ever dreamed of having on an exam.  From this point forward all exams would be replaced by some kind of "real world" challenge and/or contest. Many of these challenges were preformed in hallways, gymnasium, and cafeteria around the school where non-physics students could see all the fun that the physics students were having and consequently each year more and more students were signing-up to take physics making physics one of the most popular classes at McNeil High School.

Perfect Timing!

In 1996 Alden J. Balmer started working with Chris Cotter on an idea for a new board game that was based on time perception called Perfect Timing. Perfect Timing challenged players to compete against one-and-another to estimating time on a stopwatch. Players would moving around a game board and by landing on various spaces players would be instructed to perform a time challenge with their stopwatch; players would then try to start-and-stop their stopwatch as closely and as accurately as possible to the instructed time in order to wins a reward. Perfect Timing was the first ever game played with digital stopwatches that involved the estimating of time. Alden J. Balmer and Chris Cotter spend 5 years designing and developing their board game for the retail market. In 1997 the two created a company called Cotmer Productions and spent the next three years traveling the country promoting their new game idea and finding investors who could supply them with the much needed capital that would be required for manufacture the first 10,000 games. In 2000 Perfect Timing made its official debut at the New York Toy Fair. Perfect Timing was a fast paced game perfect great for all ages and there was noting else like it. Perfect Timing would again bring Alden J. Balmer and Chris Cotter local and national notoriety as they would be frequent guests on local radio and news stations talking about Perfect Timing and the challenges of bringing a game to the market place.

In 2002, after seeing Perfect Timing from concept to the market place Alden J. Balmer would leave Cotmer Productions so that he could focus his energy on his own growing business. Perfect Timing went on to win several awards including the National Parents' Choice Award but the game would ultimately struggle in a market that was moving away from board games and towards video games. In 2003 Cotmer Productions experienced its greatest success when it released a two player version of the original board game designed by Alden J. Balmer just before he left the company; this two player game did not require the original board and was sold as a travel game making it the perfect way to have fun while passing time on a long trip.

Current status

Today, Alden J. Balmer continues to work as the president and CEO of Doc Fizzix Products and is involved in almost all of the daily operations but recently has been focusing his energies on developing and designing demonstration equipment.  Alden J. Balmer is currently working on a new site to house all his physics activities, experiments, demonstrations, and curriculum developed during his time in the classroom. This new site is scheduled to be up and running very within the coming months.  Alden J. Balmer has also started his own personal website where you can learn more about Alden J. Balmer, his experiences, his thoughts, his life philosophies, and his rants; this new personal site will give his fans and friends a place to stay current and in touch with this modern renaissance man.

Workshops and presenting

Alden J. Balmer is available for workshops, in-service, guest speaking, motivational speaking, and presentations. To have Alden J. Balmer come to your school and/or business, do not hesitate to call us directly and/or send us an email. Alden J. Balmer makes several appearances around the country and his speaking schedule is located on this site and on his own personal website. Transcripts and handouts are also available for those who attended and/or where not able to attend any of Alden J. Balmer's workshop on this site and Alden J. Balmer's personal website.

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