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, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued. 1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn. 1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.