News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

Grade school students test science of fun

Alison Fligel and Adrian Azari
Alison Fligel '07 (Chemistry) and Adrian Azari (right) work to make paint from glue, water and other household items at a National Chemistry Week event on Oct. 26.

Eight-year-old Will Sileo usually conducts his science experiments at home with kits that use orange juice as an electricity

On Oct. 26, the third-grade student from Anna Devine Elementary School in Ulster Park was among 35 children, between the ages of 8 and 12 years old, to attend “Your Home – It’s All Built on Chemistry,” an outreach program held at the college aimed at making science
accessible to children.

“This is a great way for kids to get interested in science and all that it has to offer,” said Jane Sileo (Educational Studies), Will’s mom.

Chemistry departments, such as the one at New Paltz, organize a series of experiments that use household items, as part of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) National Chemistry Week, Oct. 23-27. Guidelines are provided by the ACS, but it’s up to individual colleges to determine what projects they will present and how.

Chemistry Department Chair Dan Freedman and student volunteers chose the experiments that included making paint, testing the strength of spaghetti and projecting marshmallows out of plumbing pipe shooters.

Ten chemistry students, including Megan Mackey ’07, guided children
through the experiments set up in the Coykendall Science Building. Along the way, the college students explained the chemistry involved in each project. At the Let’s Make Paint workshop, children learned how mixing simple ingredients like glue, chalk, food coloring and water can make paint.

“The event allowed me to see chemistry a little differently than I have in my three years of studying,” said Mackey. “It’s one of those things that brings you back down to Earth when you realize how important chemistry is in everyday life.”

Thirty-five elementary school students attended the event that Freedman said could have easily reached 70 or 80. Freedman said some children visited different stations multiple times.

“It’s a lot of fun for the college students to experience the raw
enthusiasm the kids have for these projects,” Freedman said.

Sileo said by the end of the night her son was thanking her for bringing him. He took his marshmallow shooter home and has been taking it apart and putting it back together.

“ As soon as we get the marshmallows, he’s going to experiment and see which shoots the farthest,” she said.

Prof. Freedman with kids
Professor Dan Freedman (Chemistry) helps students
construct a
marshmallow shooter.

November 6, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 21

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