Each spring, Whitman College’s Science Outreach program visits more than 40 classrooms around the Walla Walla Valley, bringing science education to hundreds of students.
Science Outreach isn’t able to bring its hands-on lessons to schools this spring, but coordinator Heidi Chapin is trying to do one better: She’s bringing them straight into the home.
Chapin and a team of Whitman students have put together Science at Home, a series of short and easy-to-follow experiments that can be conducted at home with common materials.
“I hope that by creating this resource, we are able to give something to our community that will help folks have fun while exploring scientific concepts using resources they have in their home,” Chapin said.
The Science at Home webpage features videos of the experiments, and printable instruction sheets. Budding scientists can learn how to extract DNA from a strawberry using dish detergent, salt and rubbing alcohol; experiment with density by making a rainbow in a jar with various types of common liquids; even create a hybrid rocket engine with hydrogen peroxide, yeast and uncooked noodles.
“I hope kids will have fun with these experiments at home and see that science doesn't have to happen in a school setting, but can be done anywhere,” said Lill Lawrence-Paine ’20, a geology-environmental studies major and Science Outreach intern.
The video experiments may be ones that area elementary students are familiar with, especially if they’ve attended one of the nine Science Night events the program hosts each year. Chapin is also planning a video with Candy the corn snake, who is a frequent reptile visitor to area classrooms.
Chapin can relate to the stress that parents around the country are facing as they home-school their children — she has a seventh-grader and college freshman learning from home. She hopes parents can use the Science at Home materials to keep children excited about learning.
“I want to continue to inspire kids to be curious,” she said. “It’s fun, and in five minutes you can do something quick easy that explores a scientific concept.”
The public can access the science videos and instruction sheets at whitman.edu/science-at-home.