Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fun at the Fair

Well, it's done. Not the fair; my involvement with it. I did my last volunteering today by working the morning and afternoon shifts at the Our Land, Our Legacy exhibit at the North Carolina State Fair. I did two of the Chemistry Demonstration shows. The theme was States of Matter, so I demonstrated the solid, the liquid, the gas, and the plasma. The kids really liked some of the dry ice tricks, especially the dry ice shower trick. My colleague, Ken Lyle of Duke University, built a contraption where you feed dry ice into a 2 litre container filled with water. A PVC pipe rises out of the bottle, and ends up at the top, bent into a U shape. When dry ice is placed in the bottle, the water vapour is forced up the tube and comes out the other end of the tube. If you place a special soap solution at the end of the tube (dishwashing soap, water, glycerol), you get carbon dioxide-filled soap bubbles. They fall to the floor, and they just sit there. If you wet your hands with soap, you might even be able to catch one of the soap bubbles.

The most exhausting part was the chromatography butterflies. The kids love to make the butterflies, but it's pretty taxing when you have 10 kids surrounding you, wanting you to help them finish their butterflies. There was also a Scavenger Hunt, specific to the Our Land, Our Legacy exhibit, and I had to help people answer the question. If they get the answer, they receive a sticker, and if they receive stickers from all 11 exhibitors, they get a really cool tie-dye t-shirt with this year's State Fair logo. It's a much nicer shirt than last year's.

So now I'm just relaxing and tucking in to some supper before choir practice in 1 hour. More fun with Langlais' Messe Solennelle, which we'll be presenting at a Solemn Eucharist on All Saints' Day, Thursday, November 1.


John C. Fowler said...

So, how did you demonstrate the plasma state at the State Fair? I'm assuming you didn't just point up and say, "See that big bright ball in the sky? That's plasma! OK, sir, you can stop looking at the plasma now. Sir?"

Lyn F. said...

We had a Tesla coil. It's a pretty neat thing. I was able to demonstrate ionizaton of air easily with it. The coolest thing: using the Tesla coil to light up a fluorescent light, I'm holding the coil in my right hand, and the light in my left hand. That gets a lot of oohs and aahs from the crowd.