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Researchers Teach Students Science Fundamentals

Science is Cool ... See for Yourself

Whether it’s making a sticky, rubbery substance like Flubber, turning a clear solution blue, or figuring out how a normal cell turns into a cancer cell, it’s all science.

Kimmel Cancer Center researchers think science is cool, and they’re hoping kids will too.  At the 2010 Community Science Day, held April 15, they gave 5th graders from the East Baltimore Community School an insider’s look at laboratory research.  Kimmel Cancer Center investigators invited the children into their laboratories and gave them a hands-on glimpse at what it’s like to be a scientist.  The kids conducted experiments and played games to learn about the kind of work researchers do. 

A favorite among our visiting scientists was the “Flubber experiment” hosted by James Leatherman in  Dr. Leisha Emen’s laboratory. The students learned about chemical reactions and caused their own, resulting in the thick, sticky substance known as “Flubber.” 

Kimmel Cancer Center nurses Beth Rushworth, Monica Wilt, Laura Hoofring, and Suzanne Cowperthwaite used a fluorescing lotion and a black light to show where germs hind on our hands.  Hint:  Don’t forget wrists, between fingers, and around fingernails!  Wash for at least 20 seconds or about as long as it takes to sing happy birthday.

For math enthusiasts, biostatisticians Liudmila Danilova and Elana Fertig show how to use past occurrences to predict what may happen in the future.  Using games of chance, they delved into probabilities and averages, and how logical thinking helps scientists make decisions.

Students also got to look at blood and other human cells under the microscope, and learned about the chemical reactions that occur between acids and bases, a very important element of laboratory research.

What is Cancer?

A Human Pump
Listen to a heart as it pumps blood through the body

Acids and Bases

Sometimes our eyes play tricks on us—straight lines look crooked, circles look like a spiral, we see black dots that aren’t really there. Check out these cool optical illusions and discussion by Dr. Jeremy Nathans of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Make Your Own Flubber
What you will need
Mixture 1
¾ cups warm water
1 cup Elmer’s glue
Food coloring
Mixture 2
2 tsp. Borax
½ cup warm water
How to make your Flubber

Get two bowls. Stir mixture 1 together in one bowl.  Stir mixture 2 together in the other bowl. Make sure both are mixed well. Pour mixture 1 into mixture 2.  Work it with your hands for two to three minutes, and you have your very own Flubber.


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