In which Miss Molly tells a joke about potassium

Would you like to hear it? K…

Fall programming started at the library today. I had the first official program of the fall: Super Saturday Science! With the educational emphasis shifting toward the STEM, STEAM, and Common Core initiatives, I wanted do a science program for young kids to get them interested in science concepts. Throwing kids into science and simply telling them ‘it’s important’, without sparking their interest first, makes learning difficult. I feel that if a child’s interest is piqued, there is nothing that he or she cannot accomplish. I wanted to do something to spark the kid’s imaginations and make the program about being in the moment and having the experience while doing science, not about learning the material. For this program, I wanted to involve the younger kids, aged 5-7.  I have a program with 9-12 year olds where we do science experiments, and usually the younger kids are sad they can’t do the program with their older brother or sister.

However, actually offering a specific science program for young kids is an entirely different animal. I had no idea how this program would go. I didn’t know if anyone would sign up, if the kids would be interested, if I could hold their attention for 30 minutes…Relating to such young and impressionable kids is sometimes hard. And if you don’t grab their attention, you are lost!

I was especially nervous since I’ve really only been doing programming with the big kids, aka 9-12. They know how they’re supposed to behave. They can be reasoned with. That is not always the case with younger kids. I do interact with the younger kids during storytimes, but they are another story entirely. Parents are involved there. Not so with today’s program. Regardless, I jumped into it. You never know unless you try!

I wanted to make sure that the experiments were fun, messy, and easy. So, baking soda and vinegar popped into mind. Of course! Who doesn’t love the fizzy exploding reaction of baking soda and vinegar? I took vinegar, added some blue food coloring and froze it into the shape of dinosaurs. They loved it. We spent about 20 minutes experimenting with different combinations of baking soda, vinegar, and water. We listened to the reaction fizzing. We touched the cold ice, cool water, and the sand-like baking soda. We smelled the distinct smell of the vinegar.

Once the ice dinos melted, we made Non-Newtonian fluids! Better known as oobleck. Cornstarch and water combine to make neither a liquid nor a solid! The fun part of this experiment was that though each child started with the same amount of both cornstarch and water, once they stirred it, each child’s oobleck took varying amounts of water and cornstarch to reach the right consistency. It was really neat to see how the same experiment can change from person to person.

They stayed on task for 45 minutes–that’s 15 minutes over my planned time. I am fairly certain that they would have stayed focused for an entire hour and have been happy about playing with their concoctions. Sadly I had to wrap it up and bring them back upstairs to their waiting parents. But they were excited, happy, and couldn’t wait to show their experiments to their parents. I talked with parents about what we did and made. The kids talked about the experiments, too. It was a fabulous time.

It went so well, that I might do another program like this in the near future. We had fun. We did science! It was a great start to fall and winter programming!

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One thought on “In which Miss Molly tells a joke about potassium

  1. Awesome ideas! Playing with this kind of stuff when I was that age is what got me on the road to turning into the science nerd I am today. Well done!

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