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Chem Demos Ignite May 17-19
May 12, 2006

For the 16th straight year Calvin College professor of chemistry Larry Louters will perform a variety of captivating chemistry demonstrations for area elementary school children.

May 17 - 9:30 to 10:45 am
253 students representing Buchanan, Chandler Woods Charter, Dutton Christian, Freedom Baptist and home schoolers

May 17 - 1 to 2:15 pm
154 students representing Excel Charter Academy, North Hills Classical, Ottawa Montessori and home schoolers

May 18 - 9:30 to 10:45 am
257 students representing Breton Downs Elementary, Cutlerville Christian, Millbrook Christian, Lakes Elementary Rockford and home schoolers

May 18 - Noon to 1:15 pm
231 students representing Hudsonville Christian, Creston Christian, Rockford Christian and Vista Charter Academy

May 19 - 9:30 to 10:45 am
235 students representing Sylvan Christian, Baurerwood Elementary, Calvin Christian, Kelloggsville Christian, Westside Christian, St. Andrews and home schoolers

May 19 - 1 to 2:15 pm
213 students representing Baurerwood Elementary, Ada Christian, Oakdale Christian, Plymouth Christian, Evergreen Christian and home schoolers

All told some 1,300 local fifth-graders will be wowed by chemistry at Calvin on May 17, May 18 and May 19 (see right for complete schedule). The students represent a variety of schools - everything from Breton Downs Elementary to St. Andrews to Cutlerville Christian to home schools.

As in past years, the demos will see Louters perform an enjoyable mix of education and entertainment designed to not only teach children some of the more basic laws of chemistry, but do so in a fun way that may encourage kids to pursue the study of chemistry at the high school and college level.

Louters's act is a blend of Mr. Rogers and David Copperfield as he mixes kind-hearted science instruction with explosions, flames and other visual thrills guaranteed to capture the attention of 11-year-olds!

Last year, for example, he introduced a new trick - one in which he and colleague Rich Huisman scoop up methane-filled soap bubbles, walk into the audience and ignite the bubbles.

Says Louters with a big grin: "A huge flame erupting from an open hand is pretty spectacular."

Louters notes that he and Huisman have also added in recent years erupting foam and continue to use the standards of burning liquid methane, the penny fountain and the appearing and dissappearing colors.

All the fun has an ulterior motive for Louters and Huisman.

"I figure if we can reach kids early enough, and get them excited about chemistry," says Louters, "maybe they'll remember it when they get to high school or college and want to take it again. The beautiful thing about these demonstrations is that they all want to be chemists afterwards."