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Women in Science Group Leads ‘Fun with Chemistry’ at Science Mill

The Science Mill in Johnson City and the University of Texas Women in Natural Sciences group are turning up the Bunsen burner of excitement during the ‘Fun with Chemistry’ program May 5 at the facility, 101 S. Lady Bird Lane. It’s a chance for kids to explore the incredible world of chemistry in a fun, exciting way with both demonstrations and hands-on activities. Go to sciencemill.org for more information. Courtesy photo

JOHNSON CITY — If you’re worried about your kids burning something down, singeing their eyebrows, or stinking up the house with a chemistry set, you can give them a taste of that science without the repercussions during the Science Mills’ “Fun with Chemistry.”

The May 5 event features the University of Texas Women in Natural Sciences group, which celebrates women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

But it’s really about getting kids excited about science. And it’s open to all kids, not just girls.

“They’ll have eight activities set up — some that are demonstrations and some that are hands-on — in the backyard. And kids can come in and go through those activities,” said Amber Middlebrook of the Science Mill. “There will be graduate students, undergraduates, and some professors leading the different stations. They all have a lot of fun.”

The program is 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. with hands-on activities such as the Moon Rock Station (kids can carve their own personal moon rock), the Oobleck Station (where youth can watch the physical properties of non-Newtonian fluid when a solid melts in their hands), and the Van der Graaf Station (where they can interact with an electrostatic generator — it’s a hair-raising experience).

The demonstrations, which are 10 a.m.-1 p.m., include the Oscillating Clock (a Briggs-Rauscher reaction in action showing a solution “magically” changing colors) and the Thundercloud (see what happens when you mix liquid nitrogen with burning hot water).

There are several other stations kids (and parents) can explore.

While the Science Mill has 50 STEAM (the A is for art) exhibits, Middlebrook said the staff loves to bring in outside programs such as this one because it offers something the museum doesn’t have. Plus, the UT Women in Natural Sciences bring a lot of expertise.

“While we’re experts on what we do here and have here at the Science Mill, we’re not chemists,” Middlebrook said. “These professors and students are.”

And they present it in a fun, exciting way.

“We also thought this would be a great opportunity for kids and parents to see what college students, professors, and professionals in these fields actually do,” Middlebrook added.

The “Fun with Chemistry” activities as well as the regular exhibits and a 3-D movie are all included in admission.

The Science Mill is also teaming up with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas to offer Daisies, Brownies, Junior Scouts, and Cadets opportunities to earn patches or badges in one day as well as meet female scientists.

The workshops (additional fees apply) for Girl Scouts to earn their Programming Robots badge are Coding with Color for Daisies ($4) from 10:30-11:15 a.m.; Coding with Color for Brownies ($4) from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; and Oh My Ozobots for Junior Scouts ($4) from 12:45-1:30 p.m. The workshop for Cadets to earn their Robotics Fun Patch is We’re Mad about mBots ($6) from 2-3:30 p.m.

Girl Scouts can show up and register the day of the event, but Middlebrook cautioned that space in the labs is limited, so the workshops are limited to 30 girls per class. However, Girl Scouts can take part in any of the self-guided activities throughout the Science Mill. Girls Scouts in uniform get in for $7 on May 5.

The Science Mill is located at 101 S. Lady Bird Lane. Admission is $8.50 for ages 3-18; $10 for adults; and $8 for military and seniors (65 and older). Children 2 and younger get in free.

Go to sciencemill.org for more information and upcoming special events.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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