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Science Night Covers Volcanoes To Rockets
Famous for belching streams of red "lava," the volcano demonstration was positioned just inside the doors of California Avenue School's Science Night. The student operators Isabella Calderon and Megan Seta drew the usual excited crowd to watch household baking soda react with vinegar in a satisfying eruption from the clay cone.

There was also a balloon slithering along a string propelled by a blast of air from its open neck. It demonstrated the principle of the rocket engines that propel spaceships and some airplanes.

Science Night was in full swing at the school on Thursday and drew the customary throng of children and parents interested in seeing simple experiments and demonstrations in physics, chemistry and biology.

There was a difference from previous years, however, in that the fourth and fifth graders rather than the teachers were running the show and explaining the exhibits this time.

There were also some novel exhibits. Nobody was loading miniature tinfoil boats with pennies until they sank and experimenters could compile figures on how many pennies and what weight of metal it took to overcome the cubic capacity of air that buoyed them up.

But students Alejandro Alfaro and Braden Gutierrez were showing off a "Diet Cola and Mentos Rocket" involving the explosive reaction of alkaline mints with the acid carbon dioxide bubbles of shaken soda.

They had numerous photographs of their bottle rocket flying into the air propelled by a stream of cola but apologized for being unable to demonstrate a flight. They'd been told to take it outside if they anticipated creating a mess.

Raul Lizarraga had a very simple demonstration. He was blowing up paper bags by mouth and popping them with an attention-getting bang. He claimed it illustrated the explosion of colliding, compressed air in a thunderstorm.

First grader Yarelis Garcia was examining a collection of seashells scavenged from beaches and holding a large seashell to her ear with the rapt expression of someone "listening to the sea." However, it's really the sound of your own blood pumping through the ear.

Rolando Carrillo and Monica Garnica drew attention with a panel of lights in their cardboard display. They were showing the two ways of wiring light bulbs, in series or in parallel. With lights wired in series, just one loose bulb or break in the wire douses all the lights. Wiring in parallel produces a backup system where the other lights stay on if one goes off.