Mount Union Nursing Students Teach Chemistry to Washington Fourth Graders

April 15, 2016

Emily Hume and Kelcey Haas Nursing Major Mount UnionALLIANCE, Ohio – Two classes of Washington Elementary fourth-graders learned how science could make “growling” gummy bears and many other ideas on Thursday.

Thanks to Dr. Sheryl Mason’s Organic and Biochemistry for Nursing class at the University of Mount Union, higher level scientific principles were taught to elementary students using engaging hands-on experiments.

Mason told her students to not only explain the basics of the demo, but also come up with applications to medicine and health in the human body.

The gummy bear experiment, which consisted of burning sugar with potassium chlorate, sets the gummy bear into flames, thus creating the “growling” name. The bright visuals created by the collegiate students generated a chorus of “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from the attentive class.

“This experiment shows how much energy is present in just a single gummy bear and mimics the way that our bodies generate much energy when we consume sugars and other carbohydrates,” said Mason.

That experiment was simply one of the numerous experiments presented by the Mount Union students. Others included: Taking the iron out of cereal, neutralizing acids and bases, using “Glow-germ” lotion to show the importance of washing your hands with soap and using a chemical reaction between two salts, as well as ice packs to show endothermic reactions and the transfer of heat.

“The overall goal was to be accurate, yet kid friendly,” said Mason. “So as a group, we guided each other to aim for the student’s levels, while still being sure the science was there.”

One of the important pieces of having the Mount Union students teach scientific concepts to the elementary students was having the fourth-graders interact in a hands-on fashion with their collegiate presenters.

“It was incredible to me how much they knew at that age,” said Rachel Palm, a freshman nursing major of, Norwalk, Ohio. “When I was that young, I had no idea there was iron in your blood, but they did.”

The Washington students rotated to each take turns to sit right in front of the experiments as they happened. Some of them even became a part of the “Glow-germ” demonstration and saw how washing their own hands with soap can get rid of the bacteria they never knew existed.

The interaction was also critical for the Mount Union students, as interaction with young children is imperative as a nurse.

“It was really fun to see how excited the students were to be involved with science, “ said Leah Custer, a freshman nursing major of Lancaster, Ohio.

Mason also had a third section of students doing similar experiments to Marlington Middle School seventh graders earlier in the week. Overall, she had a total of 31 Mount Union students teaching science to area youth throughout the week.

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