Oct 302011
Authors: Kate Winkle

Eight-year-old Windrem Smith enjoyed learning how to make slime, handle tarantulas and eat liquid nitrogen ice cream almost as much as his costume inspiration, Albert Einstein, enjoyed proving that E=MC squared.

“It’s pretty good. I like it,” said the miniature scientist about the Chemistry Club’s annual Halloween Mad Scientist Event. “But cross that out: I love it!”

Colorado State University’s Chemistry Club hosted a science-filled Halloween event last Friday.
“It’s a safe, free, and educational trick-or-treat environment for students,” said Robin Ward, who organized the event.

Candy and chemistry experiments were in abundance throughout the event, which featured activity booths for the many princesses, ghouls and Transformers milling about the Chemistry Building’s main lobby.

The children had their faces painted, colored masks of famous scientists, looked at a variety of insects, observed glowing chemicals, made slime, ate ice cream made with liquid nitrogen and sipped Kool-Aid cooled with dry ice.

“Kids love things that are messy, the parents — not so much,” said Emily Tully, who helped children make the two-parts Elmer’s Glue, one-part Borax slime concoction. “But some were interested. Almost everybody came to the slime booth and got some slime.”

The event also included the Mad Scientist Chemistry Show and the Science Toy Magic Show.

One of the building’s lecture halls was transformed into the lair of two witches and a wizard, all clad in safety glasses and bent on taking over the world with a variety of Mad Scientist demonstrations.

“Normal people do not light things on fire; only experts light things on fire,” said Kristin Olsson as her assistants David Daley and Laurel Wally created bursts of flame by lighting soap bubbles filled with flammable gas.

Later, the tangy smell of charred orange floated through the air as the scientists exploded a Gummi Bear in a test tube, a highlight of the show for Grace Carsrud, 11, although she did admit that “everything else was pretty amazing.”

Another lecture hall was filled with an eclectic mix of science-based toys from the Science Toy Magic shop in Old Town, whose manager, Matt Hannifin, put on a show to teach children a variety of scientific concepts. He kept up a constant chatter with the audience, joking with its members and asking them questions about how the toys work.

“The right toys teach us science,” said the enthusiastic science magician as he explained how gyroscopic stability and magnetic repulsion allowed a small top to levitate above a platform.

This year the Chemistry Club invited the Gillette Entomology Club to the event to add a few creepy crawlies to the mix.

“We have live bugs; the mantids are super cute and not scary, and there are scorpions and tarantulas. Kids always want to touch those,” said Stephanie Szostek, the Entomology Club’s treasurer. The volunteers do not allow anyone to touch the scorpion, she said, but the tarantula is used to being handled.

Ward, a member of the Chemistry Club, said about 160 families attended the Mad Scientist Halloween event.

“The best part was probably having all of the different shows from Science Toy Magic and the Entomology Club,” Ward said. “It was great to see the kids interacting with the insects.”

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

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