by Lisa Tome
Perryville branch young adult librarian Brandy Walton helped five Advanced Placement Biology students earn classroom credit last week through a library program.
Good, Clean Fun, a STEM program geared to mixing science with entertainment, had the high school seniors and juniors making their own Silly Putty, testing to see if soap floats, and more.
"You can take everyday things and learn from them," said Walton, as she prepared for the program. "This (class) was created by another librarian and it's something new for me. Because we are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) based, this is a learning curve for us sometimes too."
Kyleigh Knell, a Perryville High School junior, turned out for the class. She explained that advanced placement students are asked to do Science-related projects outside of their high school course work. Signing up for the library program helped her meet that requirement. "It (the class description) said fun," said Knell.
The first experiment had the students using whole milk and dropping food coloring in the corners of a dish. Using Dawn dish liquid, the milk repelled the fat and created colored designs.
The next experiment started with glue and water. Food coloring and borax came next. After a lot of stirring, the solution became a dough-like substance similar to Silly Putty. It could be stretched and would expand when left alone on a platter.
Walton explained that the creation of the Gak (Silly Putty) taught the students about chemical bonds. "It (Gak) has now become a polymer. And it can't retain it's shape," said Walton. The final experiment was designed to show how Ivory soap is different than other soaps. Since the soap is whipped, it will expand when cooked for a few seconds in the microwave. "Dial soap is stirred and pressed. Ivory soap came about as a mistake. Science is all about making mistakes," said Walton. "Just because it's a mistake, doesn't mean it didn't work."
Despite their advanced placement education, the students shared what they learned.
"I never knew soap in a microwave would blow up like a cloud," said Ally Remesch.
"Depending on how soap is made, it can float or sink," said Machel Maxam.
Merve Akbay said she found that there were a lot of variables in all the experiments. "That can cause different outcomes," said Akbay.
Catherine Schaeffer stayed later in the class to make up an extra batch of Gak. "It is very sticky," said Schaeffer.