• Teacher's as cool as ice

  • "Remember the time I drank green stuff and turned into rat man?"
    • email print
  • "Remember the time I drank green stuff and turned into rat man?"
    You might never guess that these words came out of the mouth of a Bellview fifth-grade teacher. But this was Max Schmeling's introduction to a spooky science demonstration and lesson. He is a living Ms. Fizzle ("Magic School Bus" series).
    In the front of the room beside Schmeling's lab station hangs a full-size skeleton used as a coat rack. Above his head a solar system mobile. On the back wall a badger skin rug. Above his desk a small T-Rex wearing a sombrero. Welcome to Mr. Schmeling's classroom.
    One sip of blue liquid and Schmeling disappears. Moments later, he reappears as the scary science guy decked out in bow tie, wild wig, goggles and lab coat.
    Out comes a bag of dry ice, warnings are given and the demonstrations begin. The dry ice is picked up with tongs dipped in warm water, sending out a vibrating scream. The dry ice is then dropped into a container of warm water.
    "Pretty cool, so cool. 110 degrees-below-zero cool," says Schmeling. All eyes are on the vapor as it drifts down the side of the container. "Any volunteers?" calls out Schmeling. All hands go up. Carbon dioxide and water vapors are then slowly poured over volunteers' heads. Ooohs and aaahs fill the room. One student calls out, "You are the best teacher ever."
    Why does the vapor pour down the side of the container? Why doesn't the dry ice melt to liquid?
    Why does a lit match go out when lowered into the vapor? Add an adaptor tube connected to the container of dry ice/water mixture, dip it into liquid soap and "boo bubbles" form. Why do the boo bubbles form? When the boo bubbles are popped, why is there a cloud of vapor?
    Schmeling's fifth-grade students can happily answer these questions.
    — Heidi Monjure
Reader Reaction
      • calendar