Explorit Science Center: Summer goes out with a bang

By From page A3 | September 06, 2013

Annaliese Franz, a professor of chemistry at UC Davis, creates artificial fog during Explorit's Final Blast explosive family fun show on Aug. 18. Lars Anderson/Courtesy photo

Annaliese Franz, a professor of chemistry at UC Davis, creates artificial fog during Explorit's Final Blast explosive family fun show on Aug. 18. Lars Anderson/Courtesy photo

By Kristin Sizemore and Lisa Justice

Explorit Science Center thanks the UC Davis Chemistry Club and friends for helping us send summer out with a bang at the Final Blast chemistry show. More than 200 guests “oohed” and “ahhed” at two explosive shows.

UC Davis chemistry professors Frank Osterloh, Kirill Kovnir and Annaliese Franz demonstrated exciting chemical reactions resulting in exploding balloons, artificial fog and propulsion of empty soda bottles mounted on sticks high into the air using a mixture of oxygen and methanol vapor. The chemical reactions of our daily lives came alive in an unforgettable way with their dynamic presentation.

From colored fire to bottle rockets, this humorous and educational show was quite a crowd-pleaser. Rapidly expanding polymers foamed enthusiastically out of a graduated cylinder while young audience members imagined toothpaste big enough for an elephant.

And it all topped off with a splash of liquid nitrogen right into participants’ hands! With temperatures lower than minus-300F, liquid nitrogen is so cold it can burn, but our bodies are so warm that small amounts of liquid nitrogen boil and evaporate on contact.

This special family event had much more to offer as well. Visitors of all ages participated in a variety of hands-on math activities led by math educator Chelsea Ransom Le during the Exploring Symmetry in Nature, Polyhedra and Art workshop. Budding artists harnessed the power of geometry to create colorful designs.

Peter Wagner was on hand with his original Whymcycles, which visitors could take for a spin around Mace Ranch Park. And Jamba Juice had delightful smoothies so Whymcyclists could cool down while greeting Scooter, the Spare the Air mascot.

Our “Beautiful World: Science and Art” exhibition was up and running with a special addition — a lunar disk on loan from NASA! Visitors got to check out rock and soil samples from the moon while measuring its distance from Earth and learning about detecting exoplanets with fun, hands-on astronomy activities. The extraterrestrial came down to Earth for an afternoon with these up-close experiences.

But, of course, none of this would have been possible without a corps of intrepid volunteers: Nick Roy, Lucretia Kim, Sean Ng, Ellen Liang, William Nguyen, Anthony Picco, Jeffrey Zhang, Nick Cheng, Mary Carlenzoli, Carmen de la Cruz, Jai Pakhale and Luke Mangney.

A great big thank you to each and every person who helped make it such a special day. Our summer, and our knowledge of chemistry, wouldn’t be the same without you. We look forward to many more fun-filled, hands-on science experiences with you!

Explorit’s coming events:

* Saturday, Oct. 19, 5:30-8 p.m.: “Touched by Science, Touched by Explorit! Celebrating 30 Years of Putting Hands on Science.” All are invited to celebrate along with us with food, wine and some special guests. Tickets are on sale now at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/437033 or by calling 530-756-0191. Explorit members and UC Davis Alumni Association members can purchase discounted tickets to this fundraising event.


Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St. For more information, call 530-756-0191 or visit www.explorit.org, or “like” Explorit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb

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