The kindergarten kids at Akron's Case elementary school strapped on goggles Wednesday for a hands-on exploration of chemistry at a series of stations in the gym.
The ultimate station involved mixing two liquids to make a sort of solid gloop also known as slime.
''Boys and girls, raise your hand if you have not made slime yet,'' Joe Butler announced. ''Raise your hand if you have not made slime. OK, you have 10 minutes. You need to make that your next thing.''
Butler, a 2005 graduate of Manchester High School, is an outreach educator for the Columbus-based Center on Education and Industry (COSI) road show program, COSI on Wheels.
He narrated a 45-minute interactive show that asks kids to help track down missing slime ingredients by decoding a series of chemistry-related clues left by the thief, ''Arthur Slimerheimer.''
''The only thing you need to be an outreach educator is passion for fun and science and teaching and the ability to go long distances in a truck by yourself,'' said Butler, who had been at East Woods elementary school in Hudson on Tuesday.
COSI on Wheels takes several shows on the road in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Case PTA member Sherri Hart, a chemist for?ExxonMobil Chemical Co., gets a $500 grant from her employer for every 20 hours she volunteers.
''Being on the PTA board, I've got plenty of hours,'' Hart said.
She received two $500 grants from her employer, which paid for the COSI on Wheels visit.
Other COSI on Wheels demonstrations focus on energy, space, weather, nutrition and Ohio wildlife.
''I'm glad they did the chemistry one,'' Hart said. ''No one else was as thrilled about it as I was.''
All the elementary school classes took their turns in the gym visiting the hands-on stations staffed by PTA volunteers.
At one station, students could use an organic chemical known as a universal indicator to determine whether a clear liquid was an acid, a neutral or a base. At another, they could test the density of materials by seeing which objects float and which ones sink. A can of diet soda, for example, floats but regular soda sinks. They also tested whether a reaction in a test tube produced heat (exothermic) or absorbed heat (endothermic) by feeling whether the test tube got warmer or cooler in their hands.
At one station, the kids mixed polyvinyl alcohol, sodium tetraborate and food coloring to transform a monomer into a polymer they could take home in a zip-close bag. In other words, slime.
John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or email@example.com. Read the education blog at http://education.ohio.com/.