FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Oozing blobs, fizzing water, balls of glitter and tons of smiles were a few of the highlights attendees found at the Fort Rucker Center Library's Mad Scientist Workshop Aug. 17.

The library's latest workshop was Fizzy Chemistry, and gave children the chance to create their own lava lamps using vegetable oil, water, food coloring, glitter and a little bit of ingenuity, according to Cameron Hill, Center Library youth librarian, who got the idea for the lava lamps after seeing them on social media sites.

"I thought I would give it a try because I thought it would be something the kids would enjoy, as well as be able to learn a bit about the chemistry behind it and how it works," she said.

Hill said the focus was on learning, and before the children were able to get their hands dirty, they had to have a little chemistry lesson to learn about why the different ingredients reacted the way they did with each other.
She started with a question portion to test the children's knowledge, then went on to explain the nature of molecules and density, which were vital to understanding how the lava lamps would work.

Although the workshops are a great chance for children to have a good time, they are also meant to be a learning experience, said Hill.

"This is a STEM program, so they're learning the concepts of (science, technology, engineering and math), so it's important to talk about the science behind it," she said. "Anybody can just follow instructions and do a project, but actually learning while you go helps to reinforce what you're doing and why.

"By doing that it answers questions like, 'Why do these big blobs form in the bottom?' and we can answer it's because of the different concepts like density," she continued. "They're learning and a lot of times they don't even realize they're learning."

Adrienne Carter, military spouse, brought her oldest son, Colton, and said she was appreciative that the activities are more than just about providing something for children to do, but a learning opportunity that will stick with them.

"It's great that they actually teach the science behind instead of it just being an arts and crafts session," she said. "They actually get to learn about the science, which is great. My son loves science, so I knew it would be a great program for him, and Cameron does great programs here for all ages."

Hill said being able to bridge that gap between fun and learning is vital to get children to understand a lot of these important scientific concepts, which is the main purpose for the Mad Scientist Workshop.

The next workshop will be held in October and will feature Dr. Fruitenstein's Lab, where children will focus and learn about DNA extraction using strawberries.

For more information, call 255-3885.