The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 28, 2013

Respecting the chemistry

Intro day in lab for kids produces fun as reaction

By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer

- — They’re called experiments for a reason: Sometimes things don’t go as expected.

Thiel College student Kaile Jump and chemistry professor Dr. Kathryn Frantz proved that point Sunday afternoon during the college’s annual “Kids and Chemistry” program.

Jump, a junior biochemistry major, was demonstrating how an aluminum can with a little boiling water in its bottom will seemingly crush itself when plunged upside down into a bowl of ice water.

 At least that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Greenville cousins Landon Bielata, 11, and Elliott Ellis, 9, along with 10-year-old Roan Hunter saw it’s not always the case.

It took Jump and Frantz several tries, and a trip to get more ice cubes, to successfully demonstrate the experiment, which shows how changing temperatures affect air pressure in a way that was supposed to captivate children with the crinkle of self-crushing aluminum.

“That’s why they’re called experiments,” Dr. Frantz told the kids, who enjoyed their afternoon spent experimenting with chemistry during the program.

Before the failed can experiment, the kids launched Alka-Seltzer-charged film canister “water rockets” at the ceiling of a lab in the college’s academic center.

“It was awesome, it’s so much fun,” Landon said.

“We just want to introduce the importance of chemistry,” to young people, Emily Petrak, a Thiel senior chemistry major, said.

She’s also president of the college’s chapter of the American Chemical Society. Sunday’s event is a tradition at Thiel dating back at least 15 years, Dr. Frantz said.

Frantz and her colleagues Dr. Anna Rensel and Dr. Chris Stanisky, organized it with help from their students.

Kids also made slime, colored chromatographic butterflies from coffee filters and watched as an acetylene cannon was set off outside by mixing water and calcium carbide.