PEKIN – As a kindergartner used her weight in an attempt to crush a liquid-filled bottle, her fellow students looked on as it was unscathed.
The lesson, one of many during a Bradley University chemistry demonstration, proved that liquids could not be compressed. The bottle’s counterpart, however, was filled with air and crumbled when the petite student stepped on it.
For the last part of a school day in February at L.E. Starke Primary School, students and teachers had a visit from the Bradley University Chemistry Club Demo Crew led by professor Dean Campbell.
Students also saw how liquid nitrogen could freeze a racquetball, making it as fragile as glass, and then saw it shatter after being thrown against a wall.
A simpler demonstration was then held showing that household items such as Alka-Seltzer and water could be combined in a film canister to make miniature rockets. The carbon dioxide gas resulting from the chemical reaction of the two created pressure within the canister, separating it from its lid and blasting it more than 10 feet in the air.
“We try and get to educate the community on different aspects of science – get them excited about science. Some people use the word ‘edutainment,’” Campbell said, adding: “We don’t want it to be scary. We want it to be accessible to people in the safest way as we possibly can.”
Campbell, who teaches chemistry and biochemstry, was accompanied by four Bradley students for the visit.
Before the demonstration, students in Marj Oesh’s second-grade class were researching and preparing science experiments of their own.
Just as the carbon dioxide and water combination created pressure in the film canisters, Claire Schaefer and Addison Johnson had a similar project of their own answering the question of what happens when a Mentos mint is dropped into soda.
Once the two are combined, “there will be an explosion,” the girls said.
“Our question is how much soda will we have left in the bottle after we add five Mentos,” Schaefer said.
“We predict the Coca-Cola will have less [liquid] in the bottle,” Johnson replied.
Bradley graduate student Dannielle Wentzel said making chemistry less threatening at a young age will hopefully get kids more interested in the field.
“I think of what we try to do ... is use things that are accessible for a teacher or a parent,” Wentzel said. “Personally, I always like to talk about what you encounter on your day-to-day life that is chemistry.”
An added bonus for Wentzel, she said, was getting the girls involved in the STEM fields of study.
“I want to be out there as much as I can, because seeing that we have three girls doing this demo, it’s something that they could do,” Wentzel said.
“Even today, I had a girl tell me, ‘I want to be a science person,’ and she was in kindergarten.”
To end the excitement of seeing chemistry in action, the Demo Crew ended it with a boom. A balloon with air was popped, creating a “pop” heard throughout the gymnasium. The next two balloons, however, were filled with hydrogen gas, and when lit, gave off a louder explosion with a bright yellow flame.
Campbell said the Demo Crew has been doing these community events since 2007 and has done more than 200 of them at various locations in the Peoria area.
Source: (Peoria) Journal Star, http://bit.ly/2lEJCXY
Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Peoria) Journal Star.