Skip to main content

Watch: The Chemistry of Fun


Earlier this week, students in the Science for Kids (SFK) program of the Chester Children’s Chorus received a visit from an unusual visitor. Crazy Aaron of Thinking Putty explained the chemistry behind his popular putty and each child made their own batch of putty from scratch to take home.

The Thinking Putty demonstration was the capstone lesson for second-year SFK students on how scientists design materials with special properties. This lesson included experiments to determine how much water the polymer in disposable diapers can absorb and how polymers can be used to clean up ocean oil spills. 

"The SFK program is a wonderful collaboration between Swarthmore College and the Chester Children's Chorus," says Professor of Biophysical Chemistry Kathleen Howard, who helped coordinate this year's program with laboratory instructor Caroline Burkhard. "The enthusiasm of the chorus kids is contagious and working with them has been a highlight of my summers here at Swarthmore." 

Science for Kids counselorsLeft to right: Science for Kids counselors Barrett Powell ’18, Hayley Raymond ’18, Mackinsey Smith ’19, Aaron Holmes ’18, and Deondre Jordan ’19 with Crazy Aaron.

Howard and Burkhard worked closely with undergraduate SFK counselors Barrett Powell ’18, a chemistry major from Unionville, Pa.; Hayley Raymond ’18, a chemistry major from Haddonfield, N.J.; Mackinsey Smith ’19, a chemistry and mathematics major from Austin, Texas; Abigail Wong-Rolle '19, a biochemistry major from Oakland, Calif.; Aaron Holmes ’18, a biochemistry major from new Haven, Conn.; and Deondre Jordan ’19, a chemistry major from Philadelphia, Pa. and former member of the chorus.

The Science for Kids program, now in its 12th year, is a collaboration with former Swarthmore College music professor John Alston H'15 and the Chester Children's Chorus and is supported with funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Over the five-week camp, which was created to encourage a love of science among fifth to eighth graders, about half the chorus' members travel to the College's Science Center to participate in science workshops.

To see work from the students in the program, visit the annual Science for Kids Poster Session on Thursday, July 27, from 11 a.m. until 12 noon in the Eldridge Commons.

Learn about Swarthmore’s impact on the local and global community at

Watch: The Chemistry of Fun

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing