- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Instead of carrying a silk top hat and playing cards, the magician who performed for kids at the Monroe County Public Library wore goggles and a white lab coat. He brought along carbon dioxide, liquid nitrogen, vanilla wafers, balloons and beakers.

“We’re going to blow stuff up,” James Clark from the Indiana University chemistry department told a packed room of youngsters and their parents.

The kids cheered.

“We’re going to set some stuff on fire,” Clark said.

“Yay!” the kids yelled.

Clark delivered on those promises.

He made balloons burst into flame and disintegrate, and he made water in beakers boil by adding dry ice, solid carbon dioxide at minus 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Air billowed out like smoke onto the table and floor.

“It’s like a fountain,” one child yelled. “Wow!” said another.

Clark sealed water and dry ice in a plastic bottle to create a fire extinguisher or squirt gun, depending on his needs. He also put a flame up to a helium balloon, causing it to burst with a loud boom.

“Magic really is science put to work,” he told the audience.

To do his tricks, Clark draws from the periodic table. His props are sulfur, carbon dioxide, oxygen and barium. After he dropped a vanilla wafer into liquid nitrogen at minus 322 degrees Fahrenheit, Clark popped the cookie in his mouth. White gas puffed out from his nostrils and mouth, and the room full of youngsters erupted with giggles.

For 6-year-old Lilly Stevenson, it was a memorable experience from summer break. “He exploded the balloons!” she said. Not only did they explode, they also shriveled and crinkled up when liquid nitrogen was poured over them. Then they expanded back into their round shape once they warmed up.

“Most of our atmosphere is nitrogen,” Clark told the kids.

Kadmus Peden felt being there to celebrate her seventh birthday was “really cool,” and the event reminded her older sister, Keshi Peden, that there’s no need for school to start up again anytime soon.

The Chemistry Magic Show is part of the library’s Fizz, Boom, Read summer programming, The Herald-Times reported (https://bit.ly/1lKNn7x ). When kids attend and read, they earn points. If they accumulate enough, they could win a prize.

Clark hopes showing youngsters the magic of chemistry will inspire them long after summer break ends.

“Seeing them excited makes me happy,” he said. “I hope the kids get interested in science.”


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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