To attend this event, we boarded the train and Nathan joined us along the way to the downtown area. We hopped on a bus and rode to campus (this was our first time taking a public bus...that was adventurous as well! We met such interesting people there and enjoyed delightful conversations.)
The fair itself was filled with dozens of science experiments hosted by college students from the science department. There were so many fun and engaging ways to learn tonight! We had such a grand time, and the kids were literally running from one table to the next, eager to see what fascinating principles were being demonstrated. (If you don't want to see the following list of their favorite stations, then skip to the end of this post.)
Here they made models of molecules and learned about the properties of water.
One of their favorite stations was the liquid nitrogen table where students froze bananas or carnations in liquid nitrogen and crumbled them into dust.
Here we learned about acid rain and how the carbon dioxide in the air changes acidity in water. They blew into red cabbage juice to watch the color change as the pH changed.
More fun experiments dealt with gasses being released by seltzer tablets. They enjoyed watching their balloons fill up with trapped air.
At the face painting booth the children were allowed to pick a molecule for their body art. Water was the popular molecule of the evening.
Daniel learned about water conductivity, and how water contaminants affect the electrical properties of water.
Here Matthew is making polymers in a color of his choice. They loved this one, of course. Ooblek is such a fun experiment to create.
Daniel really loved playing with super-chilled ice crystals. Here he is pouring a chilled solution on a seed crystal and the liquid is turning into a solid the moment it hits the seed crystal. It's such a fun experience. We have also done this at home with super-chilled water bottles. Their favorite experiment using this method is to super-chill bottled rootbeer, and turn it into a slushie.
Matthew enjoyed this experiment, which trapped the gases released by dry ice. A piece of dry ice was put into a medical glove, and the glove was tied shut. They loved learning about the properties of dry ice and stayed at this station pretty long.
Another popular table of the evening was this one demonstrating the chemical properties of different minerals. Students dropped on various liquids (water, vinegar, hydrochloric acid) onto various minerals and discussing the reactions when the acids bubbled and released the trapped gasses in the rocks. Daniel loved this station and had to be almost dragged away.
I loved seeing my children get so interested in science. They had so many high-quality discussions with the college students and learned more in one hour here than I think they would learn in a week reading just a textbook. The hands-on nature of everything made science come alive in meaningful ways. This was definitely one of our favorite field trips. Ever.
Tonight's presentation was all about chemistry, and I never would have guessed I would enjoy it so much. Dr. Laude was funny, engaging and full of information. For part of the evening, he exploded a variety of elements and taught the chemistry behind the reaction.
He taught the chemical reactions using students and audience members for each molecule, so the stage was often filled with human-sized reactions taking place before us. It really helped the children understand the principles that were being taught.
Nathan and I were laughing in delight almost constantly though-out the lecture, and it was easy to see why he would be a popular teacher.
His presentation was filled with creative visual aids to illustrate the concepts he taught, which engaged the children very well. Here is an illustration used for a discussion of calories. To show the energy held in a calorie, he lit tortilla chips on fire.
To end the evening, his last chemical experiment was to create ice cream onstage with liquid nitrogen. His assistants made enough to feed the entire audience several servings of ice cream, so the children were delighted with this end to the evening.
We had SUCH a lovely time and can hardly wait for next month when we will get to attend the next Hot Science, Cool Talks event. I dearly love events like this where we can create family memories and be learning more about our fascinating world. Tonight I was feeling very thankful that we lived close to a university and could partake in their programs.
On the bus ride home I was asking the children what their favorite parts of the evening were. They all claimed to love every bit of it, except Joseph. His favorite part was the train ride, which he described to anyone around him who would listen.