The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

June 20, 2013

Summer science: Experiments can extinguish boredom, ignite fires of curiosity

JOPLIN, Mo. — A trip to the Discovery Center in Springfield or Science City in Kansas City may not work all the time.

But anyone with a kitchen and kids has all they need to squash boredom with science.

At the same time, kids will get a taste of how fun science can be, and learn how to find answers to their own questions.

The idea is to ignite our own natural inquisitiveness, which Brent Dodge says is part of human nature.

"Kids have a natural curiosity," said Dodge, a life science instructor and lab supervisor at Crowder College's Webb City campus. "The scientific method is natural. It's the way we solve problems in everyday life."

As an example, Dodge mentioned what would happen if someone leaving for work tried to start their car, but the car wouldn't work.

The driver would wonder if it was because the battery was dead, then test the theory. If not the battery, then they'd check the engine or other options.

"People don't recognize that all humans are natural scientists," Dodge said. "It's natural in the way the brain works."

Encouraging that curiosity is as simple as answering questions with the response, "I don't know, let's go find out," he said.

Parents who are intimidated by science don't need to be, he said.

And these experiments should bring parents and kids together on a path of summer discovery.

Crushing cans

Aluminum cans can be crushed with fists or devices, but they can also be smashed with simple air pressure.

SUPPLIES:

  • Aluminum cans.
  • Water.
  • A large bowl of ice water.
  • Tongs or an oven mitt.
  • A stove or hot plate.



PROCEDURE:

  • Fill each can with a little bit of water -- just enough to cover the bottom of the can. No more than an inch high.
  • Place the cans on the burner of the stove and heat the water to boiling.
  • Once the water is boiling, use the tongs to quickly place the can upside-down in the ice water.

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