My name is Maya Waldor. I am a sophomore at Colby College, and I am from Newton, Massachusetts. I am a chemistry major with a concentration in biochemistry. Throughout the January 2022 term at Colby, I have spent my time researching, testing, and prepping science experiments to help elementary through high school age students develop or deepen their interest in chemistry. I have always loved working with children, and I have some experience in teaching children as I have been a gymnastics coach for kids ages three to seven for the past several years. However, up until this chemistry outreach program, I have never had the privilege of teaching kids in an academic setting. I understand that the past couple years have been very challenging for kids to experience hands-on science activities in schools due to the pandemic, which can lead to a lack of enthusiasm towards science. I created four experiments with the hopes of spreading my love of chemistry to a new group of students.
My first activity, “Extreme Weather,” included three interactive demonstrations aimed at teaching students about volcanoes, tornados, and lightning. Next, students participated in two activities to further their understanding of the electricity involved in lightning. Students raced soda cans across the floor using electrically charged plastic rulers in order to discover how static electricity works. Using this new foundation of static electricity, students created static electricity robots. Students then practiced using different objects, their clothing, and their hair to reveal which could make their robots arms and legs dance through the principles of static electricity (Teacher Kit).
My second activity, “Ions Conducting Electricity,” focused on how free ions need to be present in a substance to conduct electricity. This activity included a demonstration using a light bulb conductivity tester, so students could determine which liquids they consume are capable of turning on a light bulb. Next, students learned about the electrodes and electrolytes present in a battery by connecting a voltmeter to different fruits and vegetables. Students then participated in the static electricity robot activity described above in order to gain insight on the difference between conductors and insulators (Teacher Kit).
My third activity, “Water Properties,” aimed at helping students learn about water’s conductivity properties, water’s polarity, and water’s solubility properties. Students first observed a demonstration of how a clock can be turned on using tap water but not with deionized water in order to understand that there are metal ions in the tap water we drink that are capable of conducting electricity. Next, students observed how tap water does not have enough free ions present to power a light bulb. Students then performed a skittle chromatography experiment to learn about the effects of using a polar solvent with polar skittle color dyes. Finally, students made edible water bubbles. This activity was aimed at teaching students about how one substance can dissolve in another as well as the properties of cell membranes. This activity also helped students to learn about possible more environmentally friendly plastic substitutes in order to protect our planet from global warming (Teacher Kit).
My final activity, “Zoe’s Zoo,” was focused around teaching students about the nutrients present in our food and simple tests that can be performed in order to uncover these nutrients. Students first performed an iron test using magnets in breakfast cereal. Students then performed a carbohydrate test using 2% iodine and a fat test by streaking a series of possible fats. Finally, students performed a vitamin C test also using 2% iodine. The goal of this activity was to help bring food labels to life and help students understand what foods contain essential nutrients in our diets (Teacher Kit, Worksheet, Station Instructions).