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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Family Fun: Library videos help students experiment with science at home


Science can be explosively fun – and messy.

That’s what Molly Moore is learning. Moore, an education and enrichment librarian for the Spokane County Library District, is creating weekly Science From Home videos hoping to help children and families engage in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – activities at home while many students are working remotely this fall.

At 2 p.m. Monday, she’ll post her first video showing how to crack open a watermelon using rubber bands, “a great example of potential energy being converted to kinetic energy,” she said.

Videos will be posted each Monday through Dec. 14 to the library’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Upcoming experiments will look at soil erosion, lunar craters and exothermic chemical reactions. That last one, often called elephant toothpaste, combines hydrogen peroxide, food coloring and yeast to create a foaming fountain. And, it made a big mess in Moore’s backyard.

“It’s going to be fun, simple science for the middle grades, but anyone is welcome to join in,” she said.

The experiments are loosely based on Washington state’s fourth-grade science standards, and explanations will be geared to about that age, Moore said. Activities use materials that are generally found in the home, she said. The videos are 5 to 10 minutes, so students and families can watch them, then decide if they want to do the experiment themselves.

“I’m laying a foundation, but I’m not going into the detail that a science teacher might be able to do in a week of lessons,” she said. “It could be expanded upon in the home if parents wanted to get involved, but it’s also hopefully just entertaining for the kids if they need to be occupied for 10 minutes.”

Moore is recording the experiments in advance and said so far she’d call everything she’s tried a success, though “it’s not always perfect.”

When things don’t go as expected, it’s a great opportunity to ask “Why?,” she said. “That’s the beauty of science – it’s meant to raise more questions even as it answers some.”