My name is Olchey Tchavyntchak and I am a freshman at Colby College. I am on the pre-med track, intendıng to work with children in the future. As a kid, I always loved doing at-home science experiments because being able to play with things I see in the world, and making reactions with them would make me so happy. I wanted to share this with children, showing them how fun chemistry could be! It was a huge privilege to be able to design my own activities and share my passion with many students from multiple age groups in-person throughout this Jan Plan. I had so much fun working with students and visiting local Maine schools with the chemistry outreach program. I received positive feedbacks from each class I visited, such as hearing comments from students saying they had fun and they wished to do this every class. Also, seeing the enthusiasm and curiosity of children during the activities was very rewarding. I created three hands-on, low cost experiments throughout this January with the goal of making science activities that could be easily implemented in a classroom, so that teachers can repeat these activities or take inspirations from them later.
My first activity “Let’s Investigate Soil” encouraged students to make connections about nutrition, digestion system, and chemical reactions through five different hands-on experiments. Students started by observing two samples of soil and sand. After that, they discussed the way food grows in the soil. They went fishing for iron particles in their cereals. Then students detected the presence of starch in their foods with iodine test. After learning about the kinds of vitamins and minerals in their food, students did a simple representation of iron absorption in small intestines. They learned about inhibitors and enhancers for iron digestion. The activity was concluded with identifying a mystery powder by doing a series of chemical reactions and matching the description of mystery powder with their observations. (Soil Teacher kit & Student sheet)
My second activity “How To Make Paint” focused on teaching students about chemical reactions, the color theory, and solubility. Students learned about primary and secondary colors and they made a color wheel using only red, blue, and yellow crayons. For the next part, students performed an acid-base reaction and used the precipitate to make their own oil paint, acrylic paint, and watercolor. They used three different paint binders to create three different types of paints. They observed the difference in consistencies between paint mixes by painting a picture and making observations of texture. They learned about solubility rules and like dissolves like rule through exercises in the worksheets. (Paint Teacher kit & student activity sheet)
My third activity “Grandma’s Secret Sauerkraut Recipe” was aimed at teaching students acids and bases using indicators, pH meter, and pH paper. Students participated in multiple hands-on steps to unlock a lockbox. The activities included comparing the densities of different liquids using a hydrometer, identifying acids and bases using red cabbage juice and pH paper, measuring the pH of liquids with pH meter, and paper chromatography. At the end of the activity, students made their own sauerkraut using red cabbage and salt in the classroom. This activity helped students learn about the acid base characteristics of multiple household items. (Grandma Teacher kit) (Grandma student activity sheet)