Bursting balloons enthrall audience

Elementary school children and their parents gathered at the university amphitheater to see glow-in-the-dark liquids, exploding balloons and flames of every color at Demos in the Dark.

The chemistry club sponsored event, Oct. 21 and 23, brought in elementary students from around the area, each excited about the things that science can do.

Nine-year-old Logan Martenson, a student at Joe M. Pirtle Elementary school in Temple, found the show fascinating.

“This is my first time out here, and it was pretty good for my first time,” he said.

The fan-favorite at the show was the exploding balloons. Children and their parents cheered and clapped with excitement over the burning, bursting and booming balloons.

Photo by Janie Wayland

“It was pretty awesome,” Martenson said.

Dean of the College of Sciences Dr. Darrell Watson, the faculty adviser for the chemistry club and emcee for the demonstration, agrees.

“No question—the balloons. I like exploding the balloons with hydrogen and oxygen.”

Watson thinks the most rewarding thing for the kids is showing them science is cool.

“Well, first of all, it excites them and motivates them to learn science. I wish that when I was younger that someone would have (turned) me on to science,” he said. “It lets them know that science can be exciting. Pretty soon they are going to be turned off by adults and other things. They say science is hard and math is hard, but it’s not. It can be fun. It can be exciting, and they are going to be the future.”

Demos in the Dark is held one week each year, but the chemistry club visits elementary schools one afternoon each week for the length of the semester to teach kids about the “cool side” of science. However, they are not able to do the same explosions and fire-related demonstrations that they do at the UMHB event.

Sophomore cell biology major Viktoria Meadows helped with demonstrations in the show and liked making “slime” for the kids, which consists of polyvinyl alcohol, borax and food coloring.

She said, “I think learning to appreciate chemistry is the most rewarding thing for the kids.”

Meadows also enjoyed seeing the children’s excitement over the experiments and said her favorite thing about the event was “seeing the kids’ reaction to the chemicals and glow-in-the-dark things.”

The results of the demonstrations are positive for both the children and the chemistry club.

While the children learn about science, the chemistry club practices experiments and gets to do things they might not otherwise be able to do in the classroom.

Meadows said, “I think that it kind of beats the stereotype that chemistry kids are losers.”

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