Lucas Bayramian held the Styrofoam cup in his hands and looked closely at it.
And three seconds later, with one drop of a clear, unidentified liquid, the cup split in half and short string-like protrusions started to dangle from the ends of the halves that he now stared at in disbelief.
That reaction is exactly what Jordan “The Science Wizard” Reading wanted to send when he invited four volunteers up to explain what polymers were and how they worked at a science-based program Wednesday inside of the McFall Room at the Manteca Public Library.
“It’s nice to be able to bring the kids to programs like this because they’re free so you really don’t have to go out and spend money to come have a good time,” said Lucas’ mother Laurie. “I think that it’s enriching for the community and the kids as well. We’ll definitely be back next month when Python Ron will be here.
“We came last year and the kids just loved it.”
For an hour on Wednesday, Reading – who wore a purple t-shirt underneath his white lab coat and a purple headband to match – transformed a space normally used for storytelling into a makeshift chemistry lab complete with beakers, gloves and of course, plenty of cool things to mix together.
He got his first big reaction when he pretended to roast a marshmallow but instead lit a piece of flash cotton. The ensuing fireball grabbed the attention of the adults as well as the children that packed the front of the room.
What got everybody involved, however, was when he mixed potassium iodine, dish soap and concentrated hydrogen peroxide – resulting in an overflowing, soapy mixture that only got bigger and bigger when he would up the ante and move to a larger cylinder.
With his high-energy approach and fun experiments, Reading says he’s glad to play a part in promoting science among young people and hopes that his methods only increase the number of kids that take something with them.
“I want kids to be excited about science and to be able to go home and know that they had a good time today and that science was the focus,” Reading said. “I want there to be a positive association and a sense of joy when they go back to school and science is the next subject.”