How do you get an entire group of second-graders excited about science? The answer is easy: mix some dry ice, warm water and dish soap together and watch the fun begin!
This is exactly what happened at Kingsborough Elementary School when Gloversville High School science teacher Jennifer Hazzard and two of her students recently visited second-grade classrooms to introduce students to the science behind bubbles.
“Who doesn’t love bubbles?” said Hazzard. “Research shows that curiosity in children starts to diminish by the age of four. I want these kids to stay curious. They may not realize it, but they are exposed to science all the time during everyday activities.”
The high school chemistry teacher has been on a mission in recent years to excite young minds about science. As part of her outreach, she visits Gloversville’s elementary schools to perform a variety of interactive experiments that provide students an opportunity to engage their senses (touch, sight, smell, etc.) and their brains alike in the learning process.
“I try to come up with simple experiments that will engage younger students and show them that learning science is fun,” she said. “I don’t use expensive materials or fancy equipment. The experiments are designed to be easily replicated in elementary classrooms.”
In fact Hazzard, who was selected for the New York State Master Teacher program this year, is in the process of developing science kits and lab manuals that elementary teachers can use for instruction in their classrooms.
Hazzard also incorporates literacy into her classroom outreach. To set the stage for the bubble experiments, for example, she brought the book “Big Bad Bubbles” by Adam Rubin. One of her high school student assistants read the story aloud to the second-graders, who were captivated by the story about silly monsters who found fragile, shiny bubbles to be utterly terrifying.
Hazzard introduced second-grade students to science concepts and vocabulary, such as intermolecular forces and sublimation, as the bubble experiments got underway. She explained these concepts in terms that students could understand. Bubbles are simply spheres of air that are held together by water molecules and soap molecules that have bonded together. The intermolecular forces work to hold bubbles together. Bubbles pop when the water molecules evaporate.
Sublimation occurs when a solid changes to a gas without becoming a liquid. Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide that turns to gas in normal atmospheric conditions, without passing through a liquid phase.