What Does a Volcano, a Paintball, and Your Bologna Sandwich Have in Common?


That's exactly the question that 14 year old Alyssa Cook asked kids everywhere when she stepped up to the camera to deliver her "Whelmer" here at Discovery's Young Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C. Then she told the crowd that the answer is "something you can pour out of a glass, but it's not water!"

Now a "Whelmer" itself is, according to the contest's very own Judge Jake, really a small science experiment designed not to overwhelm you with awe, but instead "Whelm" you into learning something.

And this teenager did a great job of doing just that during this leg of the contest. Helping kids to understand Co2 by demonstrating its necessity in the classic science project that creates a volcano, role when pressurized in propelling a paintball, and the way it helps fluff up bread with its tiny bubbles to make for a better sandwich.
Of course, she went on to point out how too much of even a good thing can be no good at all.

But how'd she "Whelm" me with all of this? Simple. First she made her own Co2 in a fish tank by mixing vinegar and baking soda, and then used a regular old cup to scoop some up and put out a candle by pouring it on. Finally, she pointed out how too much Co2 is ruining our planet like that candle; and voila, I was "Whelmed."

I mean really Can you think of a better way to help kids understand what Co2 is and how too much is definitely not a good thing than by scooping up "thin air" out of a fish tank and using it to put out fire? I know I can't!

See also:: The Search for America's Next Top Young Scientist is Underway in Washington, D.C.!

Via:: Live at Discovery's Young Scientist Challenge!