As Don Chernoff prepared to place a rubber ball into a cooler full of liquid nitrogen, he asked his rapt audience what they thought would happen to the ball. A chorus of answers rang out.
"This is basically like frozen air," he said.
Chernoff used long silver tongs to pull the rubber ball from the cooler, and then dropped it on the table in front of him. The once soft racquetball promptly broke into two pieces like a piece of porcelain.
"I'm showing them what happens when you expose different things to liquid nitrogen," said Chernoff. "The rubber ball breaks, the balloons shrink up, and I had a chocolate bar that I froze and then broke into little pieces that I gave out to them."
Chernoff's experiments were just one of many items on display at last week's "Science Night" at Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls. Students in all grade levels had projects on display, showcasing the entire Science curriculum at Forestville .
In one room, pairs of plastic liter bottles partially filled with colored water had been fused together at their openings. When turned upside down, a swirling vortex was created.
"These are tornadoes," said second grade teacher Angela Shebib. "This was part of the weather unit — they learned about storms and how volatile they are, and what things have to happen in order to create them."
SECOND GRADE STUDENT Emily Burns, 8, worked on a project that required her class to create "spinners" using various materials.
"We did an experiment of a hypothesis, which is a guess," said Burns. "We made spinners and I guessed that the one with the penny would spin faster than the one with the toothpick."
Burns said unfortunately, she guessed wrong, but her error did not detract from the fun of the project
"I like science," she said.
She also showed off a series of ramps that were made from different materials.
"The fastest one was the sandpaper," said Burns.
VOLUNTEER KATE DAROCHA, 14, manned a table that tested the strengths of various brand name toilet papers.
"It's a toss up between Cottenelle and Charmin right now," she said.
Sixth graders Emily Rabinek and Audrey McNicholas, both 12, used wires and bulbs to give a presentation on electricity.
"We're showing how much current is in different circuits," said McNicholas. "It's really fun – we like electricity a lot… and it's cool because you can learn how everything in your house works."
Rabinek also said that she liked the practicality of learning how electricity works.
"You can relate this to the switches in your house," she said.
The various projects were set up throughout the school. Parents, teachers and students meandered from classroom to classroom checking out the displays.
A "Grossology" table demonstrated how soda causes tooth decay and what happens to milk when it is left out in the sun for several days. In addition, sixth grade students performed science skits, and "scientific treats and tips" were served in the cafeteria.