Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thanks to Dr. Walter Bowyer and Dr. Frost Steele

It's very difficult to write about science without input from experts.  For that reason, I'd like to acknowledge Dr. Walter Bowyer, a professor of chemsitry at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who kindly agreed to speak with me about the chemistry of candy experiments for an article that had no guarantee of acceptance.  The initial interview lasted over an hour, with him patiently explaining sour taste, the chemistry of acid-base reactions, and the mechanics of color separation in chromatography, and he has since been a faithful email correspondent answering some very odd questions. 

Dr. Frost Steele of BYU's nutrition department was also very helpful in answering my questions about nutrition and oil in candy.

Their information appeared in the article "Candy Secrets," which was published in the October issue of Highlights. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Festival organizer Larry Bock fears USA is falling behind in science

I just received an email from Larry Bock, organizer of the upcoming USA Science and Engineering Festival.  He is very concerned about the state of science education in this country, and state the following:

"In a nutshell:
-- according to Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley, by the end of 2010 (just months from now) 90% of the world's scientists and engineers with advanced degrees will live in Asia.
-- 80% of people being trained in the advanced physical sciences in the United States are from abroad.
-- because the opportunities are now greater abroad, we are no longer retaining them in the USA.
-- If we do not turn this trend around, we will have outsourced innovation.
And once we have outsourced innovation, our country's ability to compete will be over.  My concern over this is so great that I have devoted the past year and a half (7 days a week 10 hours a day)  to organizing this Science Festival."

Mr. Bock hopes that the festival in Washington D.C., with smaller collaborative festivals across the country, will help invigorate new interest in science in this country.  That's why we're participating as well.  Maybe one of the children who tries candy experiments will go on to major in chemistry.  And maybe all of the people who try candy experiments will leave excited to try new things, to pursue answers when they wonder "What if...?"

To learn more about events at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, or to look up participating events in your own area, check out their website.  We'll be there Oct 23-24 on Pennsylvania Avenue near Freedom Plaza.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Candy Experiments in Highlights!

Just got our October issue of Highlights, with my candy experiments article inside.  My daughter was especially impressed to see the "Candy Secrets" teaser on the cover.  "They must have really liked it!" she exclaimed.

To find out more about why acid reacts with baking soda, why candy contains oil, and why chromatography separates colors, check out pages 22-23 on the October issue of Highlights.  They also have their own version of the Candy Sparks experiment online.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Candy Experiments Highlighted at USA Science and Engineering Festival

The USA Science and Engineering Festival has chosen Candy Experiments for their "Whiz, Pop, Bang" Chemistry Track.  This and three other booths will be recommended to kids who want to try exciting chemistry activities.  The festival will be held October 23-24 at the National Mall.

Learn more at USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo Tracks.