The Cherokee County Community Building transformed into a laboratory Wednesday as Cherokee County 4-H hosted a Mad Science Camp in Tahlequah.

Open to 4-H'ers in grades 3-5, the camp featured three hands-on science experiments, goggles and beakers, games, lunch and snacks, and an afternoon of roller skating.

"We want to create excitement about science. The kids get an opportunity to use scientific processes and make hypotheses, and see if what they think will happen happens," said Carl Wallace, 4-H educator for the Cherokee County Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

Before each experiment, the students wrote down what they thought would happen.

The first experiment was a simple one, demonstrating what happens when oil and water are mixed. The youth added black dye to water and then used pipettes to drop water into a cup of baby oil.

"It kind of made a lava lamp effect," said Kortni Brannon, 4-H assistant. "It wasn't the most exciting experiment, so I picked it to be the first one."

The second one was definitely more exciting, as the junior scientists worked with a chemical reaction. Called Elephant Toothpaste, the experiment used hydrogen peroxide, potassium iodide, liquid dish soap, and food coloring.

"You shouldn't touch chemical reactions. And you should try not to breathe them in," Brannon told the 4-H'ers.

Normally it takes days for the hydrogen peroxide molecules to to break down and release the extra oxygen. This test was to see if that process could be sped up. The potassium iodide was the catalyst, and the dish soap trapped the oxygen and created foam, which flowed over the top of the beaker. The food coloring was just for added fun, and in some instances, it made colored lines or swirls in the foam.

"If you do it at home, you have to be careful. The colors might not come out of clothes," said Aveah Gifford, 10.

The handout sheet for the experiment said the foam would shoot out several feet into the air, but it only happened for one group. They were older 4-H'ers and tried the experiment in a water bottle, which they put the cap back on. The mixture did shoot out and landed on all those close to that table - including Wallace, which made kids giggle.

"Camp is really fun. You get to hang out with friends, and you don't have to stay home all day," said Holli Carnes, 11.

The last project wasn't so much an experiment, but a robotic creation. To make the Bristle Bots, each youngster used a toothbrush, a motor, button batteries, googly eyes, glue dots, and electrical tape.

Once the items were attached correctly to the back of the toothbrush - so the bristles were touching the table - the bot would wiggle around.

"These experiments give kids an opportunity to see what goes on in science in a safe way. We use chemicals that won't harm them," said Wallace.

Check it out

Youth must be enrolled in 4-H to attend camps, and most camps have already filled up for the summer. To learn more, call 918-456-6163, or visit oces.okstate.edu/cherokee.

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