Originally Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2013, 10:43 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 19, 2013, 11:48 am

Augie's 'mad scientists' fire up curiosity of Scouts

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By Kevin Smith, ksmith@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood/jgreenwood@qconline.com
Girl Scouts experimented with science, technology, engineering and Math (STEM) at the Mad Scientist Masquerade, held at Augustana College Friday evening. Mad chemist and Augustana Professor Dara Wegman-Geedy, and other mad scientist professors guided the girls through the mysterious world of science.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood/jgreenwood@qconline.com
Girl Scouts Samantha Gillis, Cameron Lough and Cheyenne McElyea, all from Orion, experimented with science, technology, engineering and Math (STEM) at the Mad Scientist Masquerade, held at Augustana College Friday evening. Mad chemist and Augustana Professor Dara Wegman-Geedy, and other mad scientist professors guided the girls through the mysterious world of science.

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."