BASF brings science, fun to West Bainbridge classrooms
Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016
By CAROLYN IAMON
Fourth grade students at West Bainbridge Elementary School spent their science class on Friday in Kids Lab, conducting experiments led by six BASF employees, Kelvin Bouie, Sandra Gurley, Regina Molisee, Matt Phillips, Rony Sanchez-Martinez and Loretta Harrell.
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This is the third year BASF has brought their experience to a Decatur County School.
The first two years they came to 5th graders at Hutto Middle School.
Judging from the students’ enthusiastic participation and the questions they asked, BASF’s stated goal, to inspire students to explore the earth sciences, was definitely met.
A baby diaper containing a special polymer inside was used to demonstrate how adding water causes the product to expand and absorb the water. The students conducted a hands-on experiment using the polymer, adding water and watching the product expand in their clear cups. One student asked, “What would happen if you put it in the ocean?” Instructor Rony Sanchez-Martinez remarked it was a good question. The students were then told to add salt to the cups, and the size of the mass was reduced.
The next experiment was a demonstration on how chemistry can take something and change it to something else. Students poured a creamy mixture into a clear cup, then added water. Instructors came around and added a measure of a different chemical and the students were advised to keep stirring and stirring. Then, each added a few drops of food coloring and stirred some more. At that point they could pull the popcycle sticks out of the glass and the mixture came with it in a glob. One student delightfully exclaimed it was “way better than play dough.” They all were allowed to form the product into a ball and take it home in plastic bags.
At the end of the class, Sanchez-Martinez told the class, “We look for things that can be fun. The silly putty or slime you made was a way to show how chemistry can be fun and how you can take one agent to change another.”
Each student was provided with a backpack they could keep, containing protective items needed for the experiments, such as an apron, rubber gloves and protective eyewear.
Loretta Harrell of BASF gave a bit of information about the company, saying they are the largest chemical company in the world, with over 122,000 employees who make a lot of products. The BASF Kids Lab program graphically demonstrates the company motto “We Create Chemistry.”