Chemistry students inspire second-graders at Warner Avenue Elementary School

Posted on

Warner 19 small

UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry students visited the local elementary school to demonstrate experiments with a Halloween theme.

At the outreach event at the Warner Avenue Elementary School on October 22, 2019, members of Professor Neil Garg‘s group talked to the second-graders about matter and laboratory safety after which the young scientists suited up in lab coats and safety glasses to learn about the properties of gases, liquids, and solids.  

The UCLA organic chemistry graduate student participants were Milauni Mehta, Andrew Kelleghan, Katie Spence and Allison Hacker, as well as Garg group undergraduate researchers Ana Bulger, Matt McVeigh, and Laura Wonilowicz. Garg’s 7-year-old daughter Kaylie, a student at the school, was on hand to help her classmates with the demonstrations.   

Warner 19 1

Garg group members Matt McVeigh, Laura Wonilowicz, Ana Bulger, Milauni Mehta, Andrew Kelleghan, Katie Spence and Allison Hacker.

The students cooled a balloon with liquid nitrogen and watched it contract, shattered frozen rose pedals, observed a ’spooky pumpkin’ demonstration to learn about condensation, and made ‘lava lamps’. The children made hypotheses and explained their observations along the way (before eventually acing a quiz).  

All the children received a few small souvenirs, including a copy of the organic chemistry coloring book that Garg and Kaylie and her sister Elaina wrote, custom-designed chemistry stickers, and a glow stick.  

Warner 19 2

(Left) At the outreach event at the Warner Avenue Elementary School, the UCLA students talked to the children about the matter and lab safety. (Right) Katie Spence and Laura Wonilowicz with a ‘spooky pumpkin’ they made with liquid nitrogen inside a carved pumpkin.

Warner 19 3

(Left) Andrew Kelleghan demonstrates the properties of liquid nitrogen. (Right) Professor Neil Garg and his daughter Kaylie show off the organic chemistry coloring book that they wrote together.

Warner 19 5

(Left) Milauni Mehta demonstrates how to freeze a rose as part of a demonstration about ‘liquid nitrogen’ and properties of solids. (Right) Matt McVeigh teaches the students all about gases using a balloon, which they heated and cooled.

Warner 19 8

(Left) Matt McVeigh displays a ‘lava lamp’ made by the students. (Right) The children were captivated by the ‘spooky pumpkin’.

Warner 19 7

(Left) Ana Bulger quizzes the students about what they’ve learned. (Right) Katie Spence and Andrew Kelleghan demonstrate how to freeze a balloon with help from Kaylie Garg.

Warner Avenue Elementary school, located in West Los Angeles, which serves grades K-5 in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

To learn more about the Garg group’s research, visit their website.

Photos courtesy of Professor Neil Garg.