Scientist ‘Grand Hank’ inspires Philly students to delve deeper into the world of STEM careers

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Tyraine Ragsdale, affectionately known as the “Master Scientist Grand Hank,” is once again sharing his love of science and math with local students.

“I had a vision for this, that if we could just get to the masses and demonstrate to them up close and personal, so they can see, you can do this too. I’ve done it and I’m here to show you, you can do it,” said Ragsdale.

A former research chemist for Johnson & Johnson, Ragsdale founded Grand Hank Productions, Incorporated, a multimedia education company, in 1989.

Ragsdale, who said he grew up poor in Philly’s public housing, was motivated by a teacher in the district to pursue college and become a scientist. He now shares his story and his love of STEM through fun, hands-on learning workshops.

Ragsdale’s story stands as a living reminder that anything is possible; the scientist has had a profound impact on STEM education, reaching more than 10 million students, parents and teachers globally.

On Tuesday at Allen M. Stearne School in Philly, eighth grade students were in awe as Ragsdale demonstrated different cool and innovative explanations of science.

Eighth-grade student Khasir Phillips volunteered for one science experiment where Ragsdale said he would pull blood from the anxious student’s hand.

But it’s not what you think. There wasn’t any real blood, but Ragsdale asked Phillips to place his hand in a bowl, and while he counted down students began murmuring as Ragsdale warned students that Phillips’ hand would come out of the bowl, bloody.

“How does your hand feel,” Hank asked Phillips.

Phillips nervously replied, “It feels weird but a good kind of weird,” before telling the crowd he felt something happening to his hand.

Khasir Phillips, 14, (left) helps Tyraine Ragsdale, aka Grand Hank (right), during an experiment for Phillips’ 8th grade class at the Allen M. Stearne School in Philadelphia on February 6, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A few moments later Ragsdale pulled Phillips’ hand out of the bowl and wiped it on a piece of paper, where red markings appeared.

The room of more than two dozen 8th-grade students erupted in “oooohs and ahhhhs” while Ragsdale wiped off Phillips’ hand and simply shared, “That’s how science works.”

  • February 8, 2024
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