Oct 272011
Authors: Kate Winkle

Bust out the Bunsen burners and beakers, Fort Collins. Mad scientists are concocting some witch’s brews this Halloween weekend.

Colorado State University’s mad scientists will showcase a Halloween chemistry event from 6:30-9:00 p.m. in the Chemistry building, featuring a show with slime, liquid nitrogen ice cream experiments, face painting and a special show hosted by the Gillette Entomology Club

“We do the flashiest demos we don’t have a chance to do at elementary schools…The main show has cool stuff, more to entertain than educate,” said David Daley, a junior chemistry major working on the main show.

Some of these demonstrations include a fire breathing dragon, a reaction that glows in the dark and other fire-related experiments.

Although open to both the Fort Collins and CSU communities, the event’s activities are primarily geared toward younger audiences in an effort to foster an interest in science.

“It’s a great way to get CSU connected with the community,” said senior biomedical sciences major Kellie Woll. “We see a lot of kids, and it’s always exciting and a lot of fun.”

According to Robin Ward, a member of the Chemistry Club, the mad science event started as a haunted house more than five years ago.

“The Chemistry Club thought it would be a great way to provide a safe and educational Halloween environment for kids,” Ward said.

Years later, the now more hands-on event continues to gain popularity. Ward estimates that previous programs have generated crowds of nearly 300 people. The club creates press releases for the event, but mostly relies on word-of-mouth through schools for publicity.

The Chemistry Club’s members and outside volunteers have a variety of roles for the event, including publicity, chemical preparation, decorating and helping children with crafts.

“I’m helping out at the activity booths,” said Woll. “We provide liquid nitrogen ice cream, which is kind of like homemade Dippin’ Dots.”

This year the Chemistry Club is teaming up with the Entomology Club for a creepy-crawly addition to the event.

“The Entomology Club is bringing their entire bug zoo so the kids can get up close and personal with the insects,” Ward said. “They have everything from tarantulas to mantids to centipedes. They will help the students learn about and handle the bugs.”

Matt Hannifin from Science Toy Magic located in Old Town Square will also make an appearance with chemistry-focused magic shows.

“We receive a lot of positive feedback about the event every year,” Ward said. “We would love to make it even bigger in the future.”

Collegian writer Kate Winkle can be reached at news@collegian.com

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