- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Holding their hands under a black light, two fifth-grade students yesterday revealed to a huddle of classmates at St. Bernadette Elementary School in Silver Spring that it wasn't easy to wash their hands clean.
Larissa Kochnowicz and Daniel Doherty, both 11, smeared lotion on their hands, and it glowed under their nails and cuticles even after being washed. The black light emits ultraviolet light that causes the lotion to appear fluorescent.
"It taught me that if I don't wash my hands really, really, really well, I can get sick," Larissa said.
This was one of several hands-on experiments marking 15th annual Chemistry Week, Oct. 20-26, which introduced students to the subject's general concepts under the theme "Chemistry Keeps Us Clean."
Five members of the American Chemical Society, wearing "Chemistry is Everywhere" T-shirts, took over science classes to teach hundreds of students at the school about the chemistry behind cleanliness. The group, part of a nationwide 163,000-member scientific society, promoted National Chemistry Week in the District last week at the Capital Children's Museum and Lucy Moten Elementary, and in Maryland at Towson State University. Tomorrow the scientists will bring their bubbles to science classes at Poe Middle School.
American Chemical Society member Nancy Gray, who has a doctorate in chemistry and whose three sons are students and attend kindergarten and eighth grade St. Bernadette, was responsible for bringing the program to the school. She said that when children participate in the hands-on activities, they find a daunting subject a cinch.
"We need to instill some enthusiasm; it's what makes it real to them," she said. "These properties will build a long-term understanding. I have a passion for the subject, and I like to show it."
Indeed, students said they were excited to break from their usual reading and writing to wear goggles, splash in water and test their lightweight aluminum foil floating animals. Students, hearing the words "cohesion" and "adhesion" for the first time, tested water properties by competing for the most drops of water on a penny.
After they added soap to the water, the droplets didn't cohere nor adhere to the penny.
"You can never stop learning," said Daniel's fourth-grade sister Vera Doherty, who sat at the edge of her seat in another class. St. Bernadette Elementary School students, like Maryland public school elementary students, focus on general science until high school.
"I like chemistry because we get to see how things work," Vera said. "I like to see what works and what doesn't, and try to figure things out. I like chemistry because there's always something more to do."
Principal Barbara Migrock, who strolled through the noisy classrooms yesterday afternoon, said the school is constructing a science lab for students to continue experimenting.
"This is an experience they are never going to forget," she said.

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