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The Science of Celebrating

What do fireworks, glow sticks, and sparklers have in common?

These are all things middle school students in the Science for Kids (SFK) program learned about earlier this week as part of a unit on chemical reactions that glow. Students watched flame tests from different elements on the periodic table and saw how fireworks can be different colors (the red color from strontium chloride was a big hit). They also learned about chemiluminescence, the process that leads to the glow of fire flies, some jelly fish and ever-popular glow sticks. 

The Science for Kids program is associated with the Chester Children’s Chorus and has five different levels. The Science 2 group, which ran these experiments, is housed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and is led by Lecturer Caroline Burkhard and Professor of Biophysical Chemistry Kathleen Howard.

“It is energizing to work with these curious and sharp kids," says Howard, who has worked with SFK for the past 13 years. “It is always a highlight of my summer."

Working alongside Burkhard and Howard in the Science for Kids program are eight Swarthmore students - Laela Ezra ’19; Zach O'Dell ’20; Abigail Wong-Rolle ’19; Reham Mahgoub ’20; Audra Woodside ’19; Mackinsey Smith ’19;  Judah Raab ’21; and Timothy Ogolla ’18 — who are on campus this summer doing research. 

“I am really enjoying working with these wonderful children," says Mahgoub, an Honors chemistry major and Arabic Studies minor from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Group

The Science 2 group of the Science for Kids program with Swarthmore students and faculty.

Photo by Kathleen Howard
Glow stick

This week, students learned about chemiluminescence, the process that leads to the glow of fire flies, some jelly fish, and ever-popular glow sticks.

Photo by Kathleen Howard
Students in lab

Students also watched flame tests from different elements on the periodic table and saw how fireworks can be different colors.

The Science 2 group of the Science for Kids program with Swarthmore students and faculty.

Photo / Kathleen Howard
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