Science experiments piques students interest

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/30/99.

Liquid nitrogen A new summer recreation course into the world of science piqued the interest of elementary students.

Jay Thompson, high school physics instructor, and Molly Zimmerman, a chemical engineer, led the students through various experiments. More than 15 students took part in the two-day course held in the high school science room.

Matthew Larson and Joseph Jacklitch watch instructor Jay Thompson open a pail of liquid nitrogen and drop objects into the pail.

Thompson stressed that real scientists are always looking, listening, sensing, recording, thinking, learning, using math, and sketching exactly what they see. Among the experiments they worked with were: air pressure, air resistance, electricity, light, mechanical energy, potential energy, kinetic energy, sound vibrations, and chromatography.

Through each experiment, the students were asked to draw and label a picture of what they visualized. They also answered questions as to what they felt would happen, and then about what actually happened.

Flames One experiment showed the students that air does take up space. The students tried poking a straw into a potato without covering the other end and then poking the straw into the potato when the other end is covered.

The students found that by covering the end of the straw, changing the air pressure, it could be pushed into a raw potato, otherwise the straw just crumpled.

In another experiment, the students placed 10 grams of calcium chloride (Ice Bite) and 10 grams of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in each corner of a bag. Then they placed 20 milliliters of bromothymol blue in the bag and felt the chemical reaction as one element became warm and the other freezing cold. The students were testing the endothermic and exothermic reactions.

The students are hoping the course will be offered again next year as they enjoyed it so much.

Return to Archives