ROCK ISLAND — Augustana College's "mad scientist" professors fired up their Tesla coils and plasma globes Friday night to ignite the love of physics, chemistry and biology in the hearts of local Girl Scouts.
About 20 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 donned goggles and lab coats for the Mad Scientist Masquerade at Augustana College's Hanson Hall of Science. The night included demonstrations on the physics behind grain elevator explosions, interactive electrical displays, optical illusions and thought-evoking discussions on the fundamentals of science.
Among the maniacal professors was Pamela Trotter, a biochemistry teacher at Augustana who sported a wild red wig Friday night. As she set up a miniature mock grain elevator with a small candle inside, she explained how the otherwise flammable grains resist the flame -- until they are projected into the air.
Using a long plastic tube, she blew the grains into the air, increasing their surface area and making them vulnerable to the flame. The result was a surprisingly large fireball that rose several feet into the air before dissipating.
"This is the kind of stuff you don't want to do at home," Ms. Trotter said.
One of the girls, Jacee Eddy, of Bettendorf, said she was eager to learn more about science, although it isn't her favorite subject.
"It's actually kinda fun," she said.
Earlene Johnson, the mother of one of the participants, said she thought it was great for her daughter, Shyla, to learn more about science — a subject she enjoys — while also having fun.
"More girls are into science than there used to be," Ms. Johnson said. "They're just as smart as math and science as boys."
Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.