Murray Language Academy celebrates Family Science Night

University of Chicago Chemistry Department graduate student Maggie Hudson demonstrates how cold liquid nitrogen is by freezing flowers during Family Science Night, last Friday, at Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. – Marc Monaghan

Herald Intern

Last week, Murray Language Academy, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., temporarily transformed its hallways and classrooms into a huge hands-on experimental station that offered children, as well as adults, the opportunity to learn, play and discover science during the school’s Annual Family Science Night.

The event, organized by the school’s Science Committee with the help of Murray’s Parent Teacher Organization was held in partnership with the volunteers from the University of Chicago (U. of C.) Materials Department and featured all kinds of interactive activities for young scholars to participate in.

Exploration stations were lined up along the hallways of the school with activities including a 3D printer, where students watched printers at work and learned about the uses it had in real life; to a pH indicator where participants could see first-hand how the levels of pH varied in different drinks; and experiencing a “cloud chamber” where they learned how dry ice, a solid form of carbon dioxide could extinguish a fire.

“We love to promote an interest especially in pathways that lead to science through our work here,” said Jeff Gustafon, a volunteer from the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the U. of C.

Murray Language Academy students and their families watch as University of Chicago Chemistry Department graduate student Maggie Hudson uses liquid nitrogen to make ice cream during Family Science Night, last Friday, at the school, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. – Marc Monaghan

The U. of C. program participates in bringing science inquiry experiences to students in neighboring communities on Chicago’s South Side including participating in special activities like Murray’s Science Night as well as after-school science clubs.

During the evening, Gustafon taught students the “science behind exploding gummy bears”, by showing how much energy burned from a single 11-calorie gummy bear as it sparked up in flames. Other fun activates included creating liquid nitrogen ice cream, and learning how to make slime.

Murray Language Academy 2nd grade student and lower grades science club member Wiley Taylor IV watches as 5th grade student and upper grades science club member Londyndior Ware mixes ingredients to make synthetic slime during Family Science Night, last Friday at the school, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave. – Marc Monaghan

The night finally concluded with a unique an opportunity for students to meet a real-life “mad scientist” in during “Mad Science – Up, Up, and Away” activity in the school’s multipurpose room. The activity featured a mad scientist by the name of ‘A.G. Ray’ (Rachel Silvert, from Mad Science of Chicago) who taught participants all the ways oxygen formed a part of science in a series of interactive experiments.

In a unique highlight, Principal Gregory Mason got to lift up on a hover board and slide across the gymnasium to the cheer of students, staff and parents.

According to Arleta Irngram, member of the school’s science committee and 7th-8th grade teacher at Murray, the Family Science Night began, through the initiative of the committee, five years ago as a form of making science fairs more interactive for all participants.

“We hope activities like this increase interest in the sciences for our students,” said Irngram.