Great moments in science

Published 10:07 pm Saturday, March 21, 2009

The pile of yellowish material lay on a paper plate, looking much like a colored glob of meringue. Next to it on another paper plate was a pile of the same substance, only whiter and perhaps a bit more familiar looking.

“That’s Ivory soap,” 17-year-old Samantha Bryan explained.

And she should know.

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The Open Door School student explored the question of why Ivory soap floats and Dial doesn’t in her science project.

Her scientific skills and that of other students were on display Thursday afternoon in the school’s first-ever science night, one of many activities celebrating March as Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Bryan explained that Ivory soap floats while Dial does not because Ivory has a plethora of tiny air bubbles.

She shredded it, microwaved it and performed other experiments to prove her point. Her grandmother, Joan Bryan, came from Huntington, W.Va., to see Samantha’s exhibit.

“She was really excited about this and I wanted to share it with her,” Joan Bryan said.

Not far away, another exhibit was titled “Incredible rubber.” Alisha Adkins, Ashley Artis and Brittany Lowe explored whether putting an egg in vinegar would make it explode.

“Eggs get bigger in vinegar,” Lowe explained. But more importantly, “I had fun,” Adkins stated emphatically.

So did Emily Norris and Tori Newman, two South Point Middle School students who mentored Adkins, Artis and Lowe and helped them with their projects. Each group of Open Door students who worked on an exhibit were paired with students from other high schools and middle schools.

”I thought this would be a new experience. I’ve never been part of a group science fair and I though everyone contributing would be fun,” Norris said. Apparently, it was fun because Norris confided, “I would do it again.”

Paul Mollett, Lawrence County Board of MR/DD superintendent, said the first-ever science night was meant to focus attention on each ODS student’s abilities and to inspire those students to take an interest in science.

Teacher Kathy Conner agreed.

“I think science is so very important in school and I don’t think kids get the chance to really enjoy it,” she said. “I want our kids to ask questions and learn why.”