Independent Minds, Working Together

Science Day Captures the Imagination of Young Participants

Hands-on experiments and displays fill every floor in Taylor Hall

April 24, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Five-year-old Trei Durstine loves experiments, so Saturday’s Science Day at The College of Wooster was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. The young kindergartner joined some 200 other curious young scientists and their families as they touched real animal brains, made air-dry fossils, created “flubber,” sampled ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, and participated in a range of other hands-on exhibits and presentations.

“Our goal was to get young children excited about science,” said John Lindner, professor of physics, who, with the Physics Club, is the driving force behind Science Day. “We wanted them to see that science can be cool and fun.”

Judging from the smiling faces that made their way through Taylor Hall on Saturday afternoon, the group more than achieved its objective. “This is the first time we used all four floors (of the building),” said Lindner. “There were a lot of things to see and do.”

On the third floor, the Neuroscience Club had pig, cow, and sheep brains on display, while the Geology Club offered selections of fundamental rock types and an “active” volcano that would erupt every 15 minutes.

The second floor featured two popular demonstrations: (1) Electricity and Magnetism on the Van de Graaff Generator and (2) Polarization, which showed what Karo syrup looked like with sunglasses.

The first floor was the busiest level with five different stations, including ones on Air Pressure, Holography, Waves & Sound, and Forces & Motion, where a spinning bicycle wheel could actually rotate a person on a swivel stool in circles through a principle known as the “conservation of angular movement.”

In the basement, there was a Spectra station, where onlookers pondered the origin of colors: an Astronomy exhibit, where participants could make comets from dry ice and dirt; and a Chemistry spot, where liquid nitrogen ice cream and “tie-dye” milk were on the menu.

“It was a student-driven event with more than 40 of our (college) students representing five different majors doing experiments and making presentations,” said Lindner. Among those student volunteers was senior physics major Katsuo Maxted, who presented Forces & Motion with fellow physics major Patrick Butler. “It was a very popular session,” said Maxted. “As physics majors, we should be able to explain what we do, and share it with audiences in simple terms.”

And that was the bottom line as far as Lindner was concerned. “We don’t expect the kids to remember everything they learned today,” he said. “We just want them to enjoy the experience and develop good feelings about science.”