Elements of excitement flash before young minds at KU’s Carnival of Chemistry

Hundreds of children roamed Kansas University’s Malott Hall on Sunday, an unusually young crowd for the college building.

They were attending the 16th annual Carnival of Chemistry, hosted by the KU chemistry department. This year’s edition, “Chemistry — Your Health, Your Future,” emphasized the chemistry behind medicine and health. Children and their parents spent three hours soaking up the information.

“The advancements we associate with our quality of life are really due in large part to chemistry principles,” said Roderick Black, director of laboratories for the KU chemistry department.

Organizers converted labs and classrooms into educational workshops, teaching kids about science and health. Volunteers from KU and local high schools led the activities.

“Kids usually really like things that are either explosive or gooey,” Black said.

And there was plenty of that. There was the Slime Pit, where kids learned the science behind goo. Lear Eicher, a 7-year-old from Lawrence, said he enjoyed making glue there.

Walk down a flight of stairs, and you could hear explosions, laughter and cheers — the sound of children learning about science and enjoying it, too.

The noise was part of the KU Chemistry Club’s Frozen Flames Chemistry “Magic” show. KU students performed a variety of acts, several of which momentarily resulted in fires and loud noises.

Tina Haladay said it was a great opportunity for her daughter Emmalyn. The 10-year-old loves chemistry but hasn’t gotten the chance to learn much about it in school.

Amanda Glass, a graduate student at KU, taught children about light. They wore special glasses that made the different colors of light visible. The children seemed to especially enjoy this activity, and Glass said she enjoyed teaching kids about science.

“The younger we can get them excited about it, the better,” Glass said.