Embracing the mad scientist within

Jul. 02, 2014 @ 11:16 AM

Liquid oozed. Soda exploded. Balloons floated around the room. On Tuesday afternoon, the Lenoir branch of the Caldwell County Public Library became a laboratory for young mad scientists.

As part of the Fizz, Boom, Read Children’s Summer Reading program, the library’s youth services staff set up several tables with different activities that allowed kids to experiment and tap into their inner scientist. A large group of kids and parents turned out for the event and went around to the different stations, learning about viscosity, chemical reactions and static electricity through crafts, experiments and an exploding soda geyser.

Isabella Proctor, 7, said she enjoyed the liquid viscosity table the best. Kids dropped stones into different liquids — water, syrup and honey — to see in which liquids the stones sank in the fastest. Kids were fascinated by the stones slowly sinking into the honey, dropping stone after stone into the golden ooze.

Proctor also enjoyed making her own lava lamp. In one jar, she dropped red and blue food coloring into water then poured the purple water into a jar of vegetable oil. However, when asked why she colored her lava lamp purple, she said she had not realized it would change colors.

“I learned what red and blue make: purple,” Proctor said.

Once an Alka-Setzer tablet was dropped in the jar, the oil began to bubble and fizz. The oil bubbles lazily swam around just like a lava lamp.

Quinn Miller, 8, said that the making the lava lamp was also a learning experience for him.

“I knew the first two steps — the water and the food coloring. I didn’t know you put in the oil or the weird thingy (Alka-Setzer tab) to make it bubble like that,” Miller said.

He also enjoyed the static electricity activity where kids took balloons, rubbed them all over their heads to gather static, then held the balloons over a plate of salt and pepper. The seasonings would “magically” stick to the balloon, attracted by the static. Miller’s hair was particularly static, and he walked around the room with a blue balloon stuck to his head.

“I like my hat,” Miller said.

But, of course, reading was never far away. Kaylan Billiter, 7, remembered what the library is really all about. She said that reading is a favorite pastime for her.

“I like to read chapter books because it makes my imagination open up,” Billiter said.