Imagine the ideal fun place for kids to learn about science in general and chemistry in particular and what comes to mind? Try Disney World.
The American Chemical Society, working with the Disney Institute, is now offering “Everyday Chemistry” — a three-hour, hands-on course for students in grades 4-9 — at Disney’s Epcot in Orlando, Fla. The course, developed through collaboration between Disney and the ACS Education Division, is part of the Disney Youth Education Series (YES) and takes place at three scientific exhibits at Epcot. Educators with the Disney Institute teach the courses, using material provided by ACS.
“The whole idea is to show how the millions of things we use and do every day are tied to chemistry, using Epcot exhibits to illustrate this idea,” explains James Kessler, manager of K-8 Science for the ACS Education Division. The exhibits are Innovations, Universe of Energy and Test Track. Innovations features different materials with a focus on plastics; Universe of Energy explores present and future fuel sources; and Test Track simulates the many driving conditions (wet, dry, rough roads) that drivers encounter.
All three exhibits are interrelated, showing how photosynthesis benefits plants, how the sun provides solar energy to plants through photosynthesis and how plants lead to petroleum, which leads to gasoline and plastics, which are used in vehicles and household items, explains Kessler. He adds that hands-on experiments and activities play a major role in the course. Some examples, he notes, are making polymers out of glue, borax and water, using a solar cell to run a small motor and creating a model of a polymer that is used to make plastic bags.
“Everyday Chemistry” and other YES courses must be arranged through school systems. For more information on the program visit DisneyYES.com or call 877-343-5387. For hands-on chemistry experiments for kids and parents, visit Activities for Children.