At Northside Library’s Science Day on Saturday, Feb. 27, children watched a live demonstration of a bar of Ivory soap inflating inside a microwave. According to a video on Youtube’s SpanglerScienceTV, the little pockets of air found in Ivory soap expand when heated in the microwave. Children marveled at the texture of the expanded soap, now flakey and crusty. Cooking Up Science, exploring ways kitchen items can be used in science experiments, was one of several hands-on workshops the library hosted on Science Day. About 500 people participated in Science Day.
“National Science Day is actually celebrated in India on Feb. 28, and it was first celebrated in 1928,” says Cheryl Lee, branch manager and program coordinator. “Our STEM programing, even on weekdays, gets filled up quickly. So I thought we should do a weekend program for children who can’t make it here on weekdays.”
At the end of the workshop, attendees gathered in a circle on the grass outside. Library staff walked audience volunteers through opening a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke, quickly covering the bottle’s mouth with a card, and funneling 10 Mentos mints onto the card above the bottle’s mouth. When the card was removed and the mints dropped into the soda, library staff and volunteers stood back as a geyser erupted yards up into the air, demonstrating a chemical reaction.
“People have asked me if they can use generic Coke or Pepsi for this experiment, and my experience is that this only works with Diet Coke because of the amount of sugar in here,” Lee says. “People have also asked if they will get a bigger reaction if they drop in more than 10 Mentos mints and the answer is no. I’ve tried that too.”
Shaan Bose, 8, enjoyed himself at the Cooking Up Science workshop.
“My favorite parts were the last two experiments- the activity involving walking on raw eggs while trying not to crack them and the experiment where a Diet Coke shoots up a geyser when you put 10 Mentos mints in the bottle,” Bose says. “I liked seeing how the Pop Rocks candy, when you put that in Sprite, could inflate a balloon [placed over the mouth of the bottle]. I also learned how to make designs from the color dyes of candy. The Ivory soap, after it came out of the microwave, was very flakey but it smelled good.”
For the remainder of the day, children and their parents came for workshops on sphero racing, rocket making and Mad Science’s presentation on planes and air pressure.
“The spheros, which are little robot balls, are controlled through an app and the kids navigate the robots with the app through a fun race course,” says librarian Angela Ocana. “In the Rockets 2.0 workshop, kids build their own rockets with PVC pipes and card stock. What they’d do is wrap the cardstock around the PVC pipe and that helps form the base for the rocket. We launch the rockets in the park and see who can shoot the farthest.”