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Science and Engineering are really, really fun!

Each year, Prof. Roberts has presented a series of informative demonstrations providing science outreach and enhancing interest in science for elementary (K-5) school children. The test audience for this has been the ~550 students in the Monterey Hills Elementary School in South Pasadena, California. All the students participate in some sort of simulation during the assembly. Smaller groups of students (2-5) assist individual demonstrations. These demonstrations are:

1. Gases + Liquids + Solids = Fun! This demonstration teaches children about the three phases of matter, gases, liquids, and solids, using water, steam, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen. We also cover phase transitions, gas solubility in liquids, the smallness of atoms/molecules and expansion, using demonstrations such as exploding film canisters, mentos/diet soda fountains and the “packing peanut cannon of death” involving boiling water, liquid nitrogen, and polystyrene packing peanuts.

2. Acids + Bases = Fun! This demonstration teaches children about acids, bases, and neutralization. The entire group simulates acid-base reactions using girls and boys as the protons and hydroxyls. After reaction with each other, we determine the acidity/basicity of the solution by how many excess boys or girls remain. We determine the pH of home products and foods such as soda, dishwashing liquid, and juice and observe some of the color transitions with various indicators. Finally, we simulate of the effect of excess CO2 on the world’s oceans by having two sets of teachers compete to acidify a 2-liter solution of dilute base/phenophthalein using their breath.

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