“Ooh! Look what happened!” exclaimed Hassan Ali, a fourth-grader at Peakview Elementary, as he watched a drop of food coloring disperse in a bowl of whole milk after he touched it with a cotton swab dipped in dishwashing liquid.
“What does dishwashing liquid do?” asked Peakview library technician Jean Musial.
“Clean dishes,” answered fourth-grader Delaney Brown, who was doing the same experiment in the Peakview library, as part of a demonstration.
“And what’s usually on dirty dishes?” Musial asked.
“Grease,” Brown said. “So the dishwashing liquid is breaking up the grease or the fat in the whole milk. That’s why you can’t do this experiment with 2% or skim milk,” she added.
That kind of investigative reasoning is just what Musial is hoping students develop by doing experiments like this one, called “Color Symphony.” She has created 15 “Science to Go” kits that students can check out of the Peakview library and easily do at home.
“I really liked everything about it,” said Ali, who checked out the “Force in Motion” kit. “I did it all on my own.”
Each kit has a book, a set of simple materials, instructions for performing a variety of experiments, and a page outlining the Scientific Method for students to fill out as they conduct their experiment.
“I thought that would be the part kids wouldn’t like, since it’s writing,” Musial said. “But they love it.”
“You have to really think about the ingredients and what chemicals you’re using and what reaction you get,” said Brown, who has checked out at least six Science to Go kits. “It’s fun and challenging and you learn more stuff, like how chemicals react.”
All of the kits are safe, simple and age-appropriate. They cover a variety of topics, from density and electromagnets to sound and vibration. Musial developed the kits about a year ago, thanks to inspiration from science teacher Laura Arndt.
“She’s the spark,” said Musial. “She’s so passionate about kids and learning.”
Last fall, Musial applied for and received a $1,000 “Educator Initiative” grant from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation. The money paid for the backpacks, books and supplies in the kits, which are maintained by library volunteers.
“The grant program is just fantastic,” Musial said. “The sky’s the limit. It’s such a huge opportunity for teachers who have the enthusiasm to make an impact on the kids.”
Musial is definitely making an impact.
“Can we stay after school and do more?” Ali asked when the demonstration was over.