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Volunteers and Chemistry Club send summer out with a blast

This article appeared in the September 6, 2013 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Volunteers and Chemistry Club send summer out with a blast

Annaliese Franz makes artificial fog for the crowd during Explorit's Final Blast Explosive Family Fun Show. Photo courtesy of Lars Anderson.

By Kristin Sizemore and Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

Explorit Science Center thanks the U.C. Davis Chemistry Club and friends for helping us send summer out with a bang at the Final Blast chemistry show.  Over 200 guests ooed and awed at two explosive shows.

U.C. Davis Chemistry Professors Frank Osterloh, Kirill Kovnir, and Annaliese Franz demonstrated exciting chemical reactions resulting in exploding balloons, artificial fog and propulsion of empty soda bottles mounted on sticks high into the air using a mixture of oxygen and methanol vapor.  The chemical reactions of our daily lives came alive in an unforgettable way with their dynamic presentation.

From colored fire to bottle rockets, this humorous and educational show was quite a crowd pleaser.   Rapidly expanding polymers foamed enthusiastically out of a graduated cylinder while young audience members imagined toothpaste big enough for an elephant.

And it all topped off with a splash of liquid nitrogen right into participants’ hands! With temperatures lower than -300F, liquid nitrogen is so cold it can burn, but our bodies are so warm that small amounts of liquid nitrogen boil and evaporate on contact.

But this special family event had much more to offer as well.  Visitors of all ages participated in a variety of hands-on math activities led by math educator Chelsea Ransom Le during the Exploring Symmetry in Nature, Polyhedra, and Art workshop.  Budding artists harnessed the power of geometry to create colorful designs.

Peter Wagner was on hand with his original Whymcycles, which visitors could take for a spin around the park.  And Jamba Juice had delightful smoothies so Whymcyclists could cool down while greeting Scooter, the Spare the Air mascot.

Our Beautiful World:  Science and Art exhibition was up and running with a special addition—a lunar disk on loan from NASA!  Visitors got to check out rock and soil samples from the moon while measuring its distance from earth and learning about detecting exoplanets with fun, hands-on astronomy activities.  The extraterrestrial came down to earth for an afternoon with these up-close experiences.

But of course none of this would have been possible without a corps of intrepid volunteers: 

Nick Roy

Lucretia Kim

Sean Ng

Ellen Liang

William Nguyen

Anthony Picco

Jeffrey Zhang

Nick Cheng

Mary Carlenzoli

Carmen de la Cruz

Jai Pakhale

Luke Mangney.

A great big thank you to each and every person who helped make it such a special day.  Our summer, and our knowledge of chemistry, wouldn’t be the same without you.  We look forward to many more fun-filled, hands-on science experiences with you!



Explorit’s coming events:

• Saturday, October 19 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Touched by Science, Touched by Explorit! Celebrating 30 Years of Putting Hands on Science  – You are invited to celebrate along with us with food, wine, and some special guests.  Tickets are on sale now at or call 530-756-0191.  Explorit Members and UC Davis Alumni Association Members can purchase discounted tickets to this fundraising event.


Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at


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