CYC children experienced a chemistry presentation in a Chemistry building lecture hall. The presentation was led by CYC chemist and parent Lenea Stocker Ph.D. Children were treated to experiments including fire and light, dry ice clouds, elephant toothpaste, and carbon snakes.
Being a mom herself, Stocker geared the demonstrations toward the attention span of the children, which included a group of school agers at the same time. Children shouted and cheered as fire ran up a glass jar, pennies changed from copper color to silver and gold, and jars of liquid changed from one vibrant color to another due to the properties of acids and bases. Stocker enlisted her UMD students and even her mother in the demonstrations. Other experiments entailed freezing a rose and a ball with liquid nitrogen to the point that they broke like glass when hit against a surface and showing how packing peanuts will dissolve almost endlessly into a small container of acetone. The finale culminated in a large blast by combining water and liquid nitrogen.
Back in the classroom, teachers extended the learning by doing experiments with different liquids and solids. Children expressed, “It was really fun” and “I liked the elephant toothpaste.”
Stocker was inspired by her high school teacher who did similar demonstrations. This is the second year Stocker has put on a children’s demonstration like this, she hopes to make it bigger and better each year. She said that her initial idea was to do it on Maryland Day but that this separate event allowed for a longer and more involved presentation. Her goal is to make chemistry and STEM approachable and not a scary subject. She says, "Chemistry is fun and all around us!" Dr. Stocker is the organizer of the 2018 “Kids and Chemistry Demonstration Day: Advancing Chemistry Appreciation Using Chemical Demonstrations”.
Exposing preschoolers to the sheer enjoyment of chemistry gave immediate rewards that may help them to pursue activities like this in the future. Having a school situated on a College Campus is full of many resources. Other campus fieldtrips have included the Entomology Department and the campus green house.