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Chemistry for Kids – Tremendous Success

Matt Larmore

Five elementary schools in Lake County will have the privilege of being visited by

the Lake Sumter Community College Chemistry II students who have developed the

program “Chemistry for Kids.” The program visits elementary schools to guide

students through chemistry experiments. The primary goal is to help show and

explain to students that chemistry is everywhere around and, “is part of their

everyday lives,” says Dr. Roles, chemistry II professor, while actively encouraging

the students, “to take an interest in studying the sciences and pursue goals in the

field of science.” Stacie Balkaran says that, “the program also acts as a mentoring

tool [for the kids].”

The Chemistry II students, now instructors, start off the program by enthusiastically

explaining the three states of matter; solids, liquids and gases, while acting each of

the different matters out. After the brief introduction, the fun begins with the first of

five experiments; a volcano to help explain acid/base reactions. As the volcanoes

started to erupt from the beakers, voices started to pop out of the crowd: “WOW!,”

“cool” and “look at that!” were just some of the thrilled reactions.

The elementary students also learn about density by placing pennies and raisins in

Seltzer water. The carbon dioxide bubbles will be able to raise the raisin to the top

of the water until the bubbles burst causing it to float back to the bottom and then

repeat its self, while the penny will float to the bottom and stay put. The students

were also describing how the penny differs from the raisin by touch, but both are

still solids.

The next three experiments ranged from learning why bubbles form by creating a

bubble solution to making a substance called Gloop, which is similar to silly putty, to

help establish the idea of polymers along with creating quicksand to help illustrate

how matter can act as both a liquid and a solid. Throughout all the experiments,
the students seemed extremely energetic and eager for the subsequent step of the


Unfortunately, due to there being only one Chemistry II class participating in the

program at the present time, only five schools will have the chance to welcome the

program into their schools this semester. Dr. Roles does plan on continuing this

program beyond the current semester and it is her goal to have all Chemistry II

classes taught on the South Lake Campus to be a part of this program.

This program does not benefit just the elementary students; it is also a great asset

for the Chemistry II students. Dr. Roles believes that, “in order to teach a subject,

one has to know it, really know it”. Too often students are required to learn the

most intricate parts of chemistry, but with this program, the students have to learn

about chemistry in the most basic ways to help explain it to the elementary


Chemistry for Kids is run on donations and supplies, most of which are simple every

day household items that can be picked up at any local area grocery stores and are

tax deductible. On Feb. 5, the Student Government Association was gracious

enough to approve a grant to help support a large portion of the program, although

more assistance is always welcomed. If you are interested in donating to this

wonderful program, please contact Dr. Roles at

Therese Rivera and Ricky Graham showing how you can “capture and release” gas.

Luis Veloz explaining the reaction that caused the volcanic reaction
Chanelle Maxwell setting up for the volcano experiment with her group
Therese Rivera, Ricky Graham and Luis Veloz talk with the eager students