TRINITY — At a makeshift lab set outside of the science classrooms, teacher and mad scientist Ana Ulrich, wearing a bloodstained labcoat, invited students to sit near a table decked out with pumpkins with toothy grins. Graduated cylinders filled with liquids sat nearby. “I’m here to teach you how to make a pumpkin puke,” Ulrich told the students, eliciting both cheers and audible “ewws.” Last Thursday, eighth-grade science students at Seven Springs Middle School were treated to a different lesson plan in celebration of Halloween, a “Mad Science Spooktacular” planned by their science teachers. Four different experiments — creating glow-in-the-dark slime, dry ice boo bubbles, “blob” soap and a puking pumpkin — taught students about chemical reactions, which they’ve been learning about in the classroom. Science teachers, aided by a couple assistant princiapls, dressed up as mad scientists with spiderwebs in their hair, grungy labcoats and fogged up goggles.
Every experience is used to enrich what we’re teaching them,” said Assistant Principal Tracie Beerman. Five stations with four different experiments were set up for students to revolve through during their science class. At the puking pumpkin station, Ulrich used student volunteer Alizea McClanahan, 14, to demonstrate how hydrogen peroxide, when combined with water, oxygen and a catalyst, sodium iodide mixed in the pumpkin, makes it “puke” its guts out through its carved smile. “Normally, I’d do this experiment in a graduated cylinder in the classroom,” Ulrich said, “but I thought for this, I’d do it in a pumpkin and see what happens.” After the pumpkin, students moved to other stations to make their own glow-in-the-dark slime, see what happens to Dial Soap in the microwave (it expands into a frothy cloud because of air pockets in the bars) and see bubbles that disappear into a wisp of fog when touched. Each lesson enforced lessons about chemical and physical reactions learned previously in textbooks. Seeing it, said student Tiffany Deering, makes the lessons stick. “It helps us remember it and learn the lesson better,” Tiffany said. At the end of the school day, students were able to pick up their baggies of slime and skip off to whatever costumed Halloween adventures awaited them. “I’m worried about how the bus ride is going to go with the slime,” Beerman said, laughing.