Second grader Ethan Whitener left his school Thursday night thinking he might want to be a scientist someday.
Whitener and nearly 300 other wide-eyed and excited students “oohed” and “aahed” at experiments conducted by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists at Science Night at Putnam City’s Will Rogers Elementary on Thursday.
For Whitener, the best part was helping concoct “Elephant Toothpaste.” The experiment resulted from mixing some dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, yeast and water, which created a foamy goop the children could touch and squeeze between their fingers.
“The Elephant Toothpaste was fun with all the bubbles, and it’s funny, because elephants don’t brush their teeth,” said Whitener. “I had fun and I think it would be cool to do more experiments now.”
In addition to making Elephant Toothpaste, students were treated to hands-on demonstrations of classic experiments under the names “Oobleck,” “Cloud Bubbles” and “Bag Bomb.”
“This is so valuable for our students, because they love science, they love experimenting, getting their hands dirty and being part of the fun,” said Will Rogers Principal John Lunn. “They love getting to see what happens with all the different reactions. For us, this is a great opportunity for our kids to be really engaged in the learning process.”
The event was held in conjunction with the school’s open house and included pizza, singing and a whole lot of fun for all, including the scientists themselves.
“I still do experiments like this at home because they’re fun,” said OMRF lab manager Michael McDaniel. “This is special, and it’s a blast to see how excited the kids get about the little things. Once I start explaining the details, they realize this stuff really isn’t that hard and they can do it themselves. It makes them enthusiastic about science and that’s great to see.”
The event was a big success, which came as no surprise to Principal Lunn.
“We even ran out of places to park,” he said. “Our kids have been very generous in the cancer drive to raise money for OMRF’s research. In fact, our school has donated the most per student of all Putnam City Schools. So to bring OMRF out to our school for something like this puts a face with the name and is extra special for the kids.”
Will Rogers Elementary and the rest of the district has raised more than $3.3 million for cancer research at OMRF since 1975, establishing the Putnam City Schools Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research at OMRF, held by scientist Linda Thompson, Ph.D. Thompson’s research has helped create a risk assessment test for breast cancer.
“Principal Lunn and the kids at Will Rogers Elementary have led the charge with fundraising the past few years,” said OMRF Senior Development Associate Allison Parker. “It felt great to be able to give something back to those who have helped us so much—and have fun at the same time.”