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March 23, 2014

Mad after science: Experiments wow Thompson Elementary students

Experiments wow Thompson Elementary students

WALTON — About 100 second-graders at Thompson Elementary chanted “Do it! Do it!” as a pair of “mad scientists” — Ivy Tech professor Leo Studach and student Tyler Yeakley — poured liquid nitrogen over a bottle of water.

The bottle froze instantly, giving off billows of steam as Studach picked it up with a pair of tongs.

It was just the final in a series of science demonstrations that enthralled second-graders Friday during the school’s second annual “Super Science Day.”

Sixteen volunteers from Ivy Tech’s honors society, Phi Theta Kappa, as well as representatives from the Cass County Purdue Extension and the Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District each brought a half-hour of hands-on activities for the afternoon event.

Kindergarteners learned about wind energy from 4-H representatives, while first-graders planted seeds with SWCD and the second-graders saw first-hand how the three states of matter — solids, liquids and gasses — interact.

As educators focus on teaching math and language skills in the early grades, “science gets bumped too many times. And it’s sad,” Principal Dennis Ide said. So for half an hour, each of the three lowest grades focused on just that.

Third-graders would have participated Friday, too, organizer and Thompson teacher Pam Roller said, but scheduling conflicts with ISTEP testing prohibited it.

For the second-graders, Yeakley, current president of Phi Theta Kappa, started out by describing what matter is and asking for examples of solids, liquids and gasses.

After one child volunteered “air!” as a gas, another blurted out “a toot!” — drawing laughter from the group gathered in the school cafeteria.

They learned about solids and liquids by mixing up their own silly putty out of white school glue and Borax. Silly putty is a polymer, Studach explained, like cement or rubber. Sometimes it acts like a liquid but other times acts like a solid, like when it bounces.

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