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Oohs and Aahhs in the Taylor Science Center


Though students may have left for the summer, Hamilton’s classrooms are far from deserted.  As part of ongoing community outreach, the Taylor Science Center opened its doors to third grade classes from Myles Elementary School in New Hartford. Over 70 students roamed the building with teachers and chaperones, exploring different scientific disciplines.

The day of discovery began with a presentation by Professor of Psychology Jen Borton, who introduced the students to interactions between the brain and the eye through optical illusions. Minds still reeling, students broke into smaller groups for hands-on rotations through the archaeology, biology, chemistry and physics departments.

Professor of Physics Gordon Jones introduced students to the power of air pressure.  The elementary students watched in wonder as Jones crushed a can simply by sucking out the air from the inside and kept water in an overturned glass using only a mesh screen. In order to show the effects of distributing force, Jones awed students as he laid down on a bed of nails. For his grand finale, Jones placed a wood board across his body and asked for a volunteer to smash a cinderblock on top of him. With the board to disperse the shock, he remained unharmed.    

In experiments organized by Professor of Chemistry Karen Brewer, the third-graders worked in a lab with Hamilton students John Bennett ’16, Chris Powell ’17 and Travis Roeder ’18. Bennett demonstrated flash-freezing with liquid nitrogen, the younger students mesmerized as he shattered the petals of a frozen flower. Introducing the concept of chemical reactions, Powell used dish soap and hydrogen peroxide, as well as a catalyst, to make “elephant toothpaste”—an overflowing foam. Finally, Roeder had the New Hartford students clamoring with excitement as he helped them create their own slime.

Students also spent time with Professor of Archaeology Nathan Goodale, who shared a number of ancient artifacts, and the reptiles that inhabit the lab of David Gapp, the Silas D. Childs Professor of Biology. Before departing, the third-grade class encountered one last surprise: a man-made volcanic eruption. 

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