By Awnali Mills
Several weeks ago we had a Science and Stories: Excellent Explosions program (one that I totally ripped off from Amy Koester on the ALSC blog.)
For the Stories portion of the program I started with the song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. My monster puppet brought out an E and we talked about E words (like E-xcellent E-xplosions, ya’ll!)
May I just say that there’s a significant dearth of explosion books suitable for storytime?
And we needed to do an explosion storytime. Needed it desperately.
So I went with rockets. There are books on rockets. Rockets explode. Yeah. I’m going with that. The first book was Sheep Blast Off by Nancy Shaw.
Then, naturally, we had to sing Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.
Then we did the flannel Four Little Rockets that I got from Storytime Katie. Our last book was This Rocket by Paul Collicut.
I intended to finish with the flannel Five Little Firecrackers, but everyone was so antsy that I just had to move it along. Basically, I had wiggle worms from the get-go. They wanted things to start exploding, man!
So I sent them to the tables that were loaded with supplies. The first experiment was the good old vinegar and baking soda. I had filled film canisters, one with vinegar and one with baking soda, for each child. Each child also got a pipette. They could pour the ingredients onto a plate, or use the pipette. I explained to the parents that pipettes are great for strengthening the muscles that will be used to hold pencils, and had several parents ask me where to purchase them afterwards.
Next, they got plates with an Alka-Seltzer tablet on it, and a small cup of water. Again, they could use the pipettes to squirt the water on the tablets to make them fizz. If I had it to do over again, I would do the Alka-Seltzer first, since it’s less of a fizz, and I like a good gradual build-up.
After everyone had fizzed to their heart’s content, we wheeled our flat-top cart loaded with supplies outside, and all the participants trouped after me. While everyone was lining up, I donned a rain slicker. I had the kids practice throwing their arms wide, lifting their heads to the sky and yelling “EXPLOSIONS!” We did that before each demonstration.
I started with Diet Coke and 3 Mentos. Cool!
Then I did another one with 5 Mentos. Even better!
Then the final one was 7 Mentos. Amazing!!! The kids were totally psyched.
Next was Elephant Toothpaste. We did this three times, with three different colors. I used 40 volume hydrogen peroxide, but was disappointed by the results. I think that it would have made a difference if I had had a larger bottle so that there would have been more of a reaction surface. I thought that it would be more impressive than the Coke, but it was less. So, if I had it to do again, I would do the Elephant Toothpaste first and the Coke last.
Regardless, the kids had a fantastic time. We talked about chemical reactions and why things were exploding. Everyone was happy, and I found out later that people had even been watching from the second story of our library. Very cool.