Fort Wayne, IN Students at Warren G. Harding Middle School
were introduced to basic chemical principles yesterday when a demonstration
by the traveling Chem Demons demonstration team from
nearby Columbia City was reduced to ashes.
At first, when they announced that there was an assembly,
I was like Cant we just go home early? But when
they created flesh-searing heat from simple chemicals, I became very
interested in Chemistry, said 8th grader Haley Meyer.
team, composed of eight students from Mr. Gorskis Chem II class
at East Columbia City High, was formed in 1989 by Mr. Gorski with
the intention of generating interest in Chemistry as a field of study
in high school, and possibly college. Mr. Gorski believed in
the program with all his heart, said Biology teacher Bill Lacroix.
Mr. Gorskis heart, along with the rest of his charred organs
can be viewed at the Pemberton Funeral Home.
The demonstration, entitledThings That Make Ya Go Boom,
was ill-conceived from the start. The reference dates back to a 1991
hit by C + C Music Factory that middle school students were unlikely
I minored in chemistry in college, said 8th grade teacher
Mary McFadden, but in all that time I never saw such a compelling
demonstration of reduction and oxidation. When the students lab
coats burst into flames and I saw the silk-screened Chem Demons logo
turn black, it really hit home what a powerful force oxidation can
The demonstration began with the simple production of water from
burning hydrogen gas in a tube. Chem Demon Barry Jenkins then proceeded
to show that nitrogen triiodide will make a noise like a firecracker
when suddenly jarred. Those first few were gay, said
7th grader Mark Kaufman, but whatever that last guy did was
Kaufman refers to Chem Demon Michael Carleys accidental dropping
of a one-pound chunk of sodium metal into ionized water. This combination
results in the sudden, violent formation of sodium hydroxide and
hydrogen, coupled with a great deal of heat. The resulting blast
created a brilliant yellow-orange fireball that quickly enveloped
the plucky young team of chemists and began eating away rapidly at
My students were only mildly amused by the demonstration up
to that point, continued McFadden, then the grand finale
got them up off their seats. The agonized screams of Help!
For the love of God, somebody! by the team was a nice effect.
Only when the pleading and rolling around stopped and the smoldering
corpses lay motionless on the gym floor did the student audience
realize the demonstration had ended.
WGHMS Principal Steve Webber echoed the sentiments of the crowd: Its
rare that our student assemblies evoke the kind of excitement we
saw today. I will personally commend Mr. Gorski and his team once
we sweep up what remains of their vaporized bodies.
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