The Pete Maravich Assembly Center transformed from a sports arena to host for “Super Science Saturday” this weekend, as throngs of young science enthusiasts eager to learn gathered for colorful demonstrations and first-hand chemical reactions and experiments.
The 27th annual event consisted of 19 stations encircling the upper level concourse of the PMAC, with activities aimed at children from kindergarten through high school. Those visiting were handed a passport as they entered the center which, when stamped by all of the stations, provided them with proof of participation and a chance for bonus points at school.
Henry Crawford, 9, visiting from Pensacola, Florida, made sure to get his passport stamped at the ExxonMobil booth he stopped by to receive bonus points when he returned to school.
A demonstration by Kathleen Giesfeldt, ExxonMobil section supervisor, showed how color can separate using food dye, paper and water. When Giesfeldt placed a dot of purple coloring on a strip of coffee filter and dipped it into water, the hue separated into red and blue.
The demonstrations represent practices ExxonMobil employees engage in daily, such as separating oil molecules for various uses, Giesfeldt told the kids looking on.
Crawford eagerly watched the color experiment, and when it wrapped up he hastily unwrapped his prize: a piece of bubble gum.
Super Science Saturday incorporated aspects of National Chemistry Week, which has a theme this year of “The Sweet Side of Chemistry — Candy.” Many of the booths had candy on hand to pass out as treats to those stopping by, or perhaps to entice a few more of the visitors to take part in an experiment.
“Hey, guys, you want to make gummies?” asked Molly Bourg, nutrition and food sciences major at LSU, working at the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences booth, as children walked through the PMAC.
Bourg roped in interested participants of all ages as she and fellow classmates dipped liquid purple and gold sodium alginate into a pool of calcium chloride. The reaction created a gel-like byproduct, similar to the gummy bears Bourg was handing out, which could be squeezed and burst back into a liquid form.
The promise of a sugary treat was a popular attraction and a bonus for taking the time to participate in an experiment.
The candy he received from many of the stations was the favorite part of Super Science Saturday for Ethan Henry, 6, a student at Broadmoor Elementary School in Houma.
His twin sister, Gabrielle Henry, 6, said she liked getting the treats, too. But she said the part she enjoyed the most was the spin art machine.
Brandee Orgeron, owner of Bricks 4 Kidz, a Prairieville-based business that teaches children the fundamentals of engineering using mechanized Lego structures, demonstrated how the spin art machine worked.
A circular structure sat on a Lego base, which spun around and, in turn, marked colorful lines on a round piece of paper. The simple exercise was enough to awe young Gabrielle.
George Stanley, LSU chemistry professor, said he expected around 1,000 children to visit the event Saturday.
“Super Science Saturday has grown in participation,” Stanley said.
This year, for the first time, every department within the LSU College of Science was represented.
Companies like BASF, Albemarle and ExxonMobile also participated, along with The Baton Rouge American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Iota Sigma Pi organizations and Our Lady of the Lake College Chemistry Department.