Polymer outreach collaborates with local NIHF STEM Middle School


AGPA Content Specialist John Fellenstein, CPSPE Assistant Professor Ruel McKenzie, and Ohio STEM Learning Network Manager Sam Crews use "singing rods" to release the "ghosts" from the bottle.

Can aluminum rods really sing? Is it possible to carve a pumpkin without a knife? These questions and more were answered recently at Science Fridays! Big Science for Little Learners.

The Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA), an outreach division of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering (CPSPE), and the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) STEM Middle School have partnered together to create this new program to help NIHF students get excited about science with large, loud, engaging demonstrations. These demos are partly curated by CPSPE faculty actively involved in scientific research, and the purpose is to give further insight on the underlying mechanisms of the experiments and possible real-world applications of the science involved.

John Fellenstein, a NIHF student, and Dr. McKenzie create "elephant toothpaste."

On August 31, AGPA visited the NIHF STEM Middle School for the first program which was centered on the theme of “combustion.” Demonstrations included numerous objects safely catching fire only to reveal they were never really burned, while the “Whoosh Bottle” was one of the favorites of the day for students. This experiment began with a small amount of rubbing alcohol poured into a water cooler bottle. The alcohol fuel was then swished around the inside of the bottle, allowing it to evaporate. Next, an open flame was held above the mouth of the bottle which ignited the alcohol vapors inside creating a "WHOOSH" sound out of the top!

The second program visit to NIHF occurred on October 31 - Halloween - and the theme was, of course, “Spooky Science!” The day’s experiments included creepy singing rods, ghosts emerging from bottles, flaming sound tubes, and exploding pumpkins, all of which were a hit for the students.

Future programs are scheduled for the months of December, April and May of this school year.