By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Kids Enjoy Science Camp
A mix of science experiments at the Riverbank Teen Center, swimming at the city pool and making arts and crafts in the community center at the Recreation Department's Science and Fun in the Sun Camp scored big points with local children.

A highlight of Wednesday's class, for instance, included concocting "Goop" out of water, food coloring, Borax and Elmer's Glue. Recreation aide Gerrick Figueroa did the mixing in a clear bowl. The pink stuff looked a little like the old time modeling clay known as Plasticene but was infinitely stickier and messier.

Under camp director Juanita Argumedo's orders, children and staff then moved outside in teams to see how high a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke would throw a fountain of soda when a few Mentos candies were dropped into the top. About 20 feet, it appeared.

What was the best part of Wednesday's experiments, some children were asked.

"The goop was good but the soda bottle was better," said Ashley Reynolds when asked what the best part of Wednesday's experiment day was.

"The best experiment was the soda one," agreed Emily Casas, "because it was really messy."

To round out the morning, children and recreation aides then trooped up the street to the water pools at Plaza del Rio to "race" miniature boats they had made out of wood, plastic, linen and string.

Due to the splashing fountains and water jets playing below the surface, it was difficult to gauge the currents and most of the boats capsized quickly anyway but that didn't stop the kids from having a lot of fun.

"My boat fell over sideways when the sails got wet," Reynolds observed.

"Mine sank right at the beginning. But he (Figueroa) fixed it. He pulled the sails off," said Ben Gutierrez.

Camp participants then walked back down the street to enjoy the free lunch at the Cardozo School old auditorium before adjourning to the swimming pool in the afternoon and finishing the day with some arts and crafts work at the community center.

Children who participated in the camp included Braden Barber, Adhi Balaji, Emily and David Casas, Nathan Colon, Caleb and Andrew Eddington, Zachary Alami, Benjamin Gutierrez, Heather Harless, Trevor and Kaylee Juarez, Gabriel Key, Jenna Keys, Abigail Lopez, Isabella McMahon, Noah, Robert and Peter Pacheco, Daniel Prosper, Ashley Reynolds, Mathias and Lukas Van Houten and Anabelle Wilson.

The explanation of why the soda bottle erupts when experimenters drop candies into it is quite complicated, according to the instructions for this very popular party trick or scientific demonstration.

Soda is bubbly because of the invisible carbon dioxide gas pumped into the liquid under pressure at the factory. Until the bottle is opened the gas remains suspended in the liquid and cannot expand to form more bubbles.

But if the bottle is shaken and then opened, the gas is released from the hold of the water molecules forming a tight mesh around each bubble and "escapes with a whoosh taking some of the soda with it."

Something dropped into the soda also will break the surface tension of water molecules. So when candies are dropped into the soda, the gelatin and gum arabic from the dissolving candy break the surface tension and disrupt the water mesh, so the gas faces less resistance to expand and forms new bubbles on the thousands of tiny pits on the surface of the candies.

Coupled this with the fact the candies are heavy and sink to the bottom of the bottle "and you get a double whammy, when all the gas is released at once and it literally pushes all of the liquid up and out in an incredible soda blast," the instructions noted.

A similar effect can be seen when cooking potatoes or pasta is lowered into a pot of boiling water. The water sometimes will boil over because organic materials leach out of potatoes or pasta, disrupt the tight mesh of water molecules at the surface and make it easier for the water to bubble and foam.