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 Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana. 1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.