Devrie Nault, 5, experiments at the “Hot or Not” station Saturday at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland. - Julia Moore

Elements of fun at Fire and Ice program

Dressed in a lab coat and goggles Saturday morning, ScienceWorks official Isabel Van Dyke dropped an unpeeled banana into a beaker of liquid nitrogen and waited.

A minute or so later, she removed the frozen fruit from the minus-309 degree bath and used it to hammer a nail into a small piece of wood in front of a packed ScienceWorks auditorium.

The fruit-turned-tool was just one part of ScienceWorks' Fire and Ice program, which continues from noon to 4 p.m. today at 1500 E. Main St. in Ashland. A variety of chilly and red-hot experiments will be presented to teach attendees about the hot and cold elements.

"Things that are really cold or really hot or blow up are always perennial favorites," said Chip Lindsey, ScienceWorks executive director. "We're just pulling them together."

Activities include ice-cube painting, dry-ice bubbles and making homemade ice cream, which will be available from 1:15 to 2 p.m. Attendees can make ice cream using liquid nitrogen from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

Young attendees enjoyed taking in the variety of exhibits Saturday.

Devrie Nault, 5, visited an exhibit where she combined calcium chloride with a pH indicator to make a gummy solution that was hot on one side and cold on the other.

"I did an experiment," Devrie said proudly afterward.

The multiple shades of ice cubes attendees used to color pictures of butterflies and unicorns impressed 4-year-old Layla Grace the most.

"I got to color whatever shape I wanted," she said.

Nearby, 4-year-old Kirsten Brown of Glendale was perplexed by the milky surface of so many dry-ice bubbles that piled up like glistening eggs in her open palms.

Kirsten's mother, Jennifer, said her family tries to make a ScienceWorks trip from Glendale three to four times a year. They homeschool, and while the trips are mostly just for fun, it piques her daughter's curiosity.

"It's pretty neat," she said.

Lindsey said learning about science through exhibits such as Fire and Ice is about connecting the dots and making readily available knowledge more real.

"We're information-rich and experience-poor," Lindsey said. "(This) grounds all the information we're inundated with."

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

Share This Story