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Marvelous Metals: Fourth-graders celebrate Chemistry Week

Rick Wagner • Oct 23, 2019 at 12:03 PM

KINGSPORT — Did you know that a magnet will attract a U.S. dollar bill and other denominations?

If not, you probably already knew it is fun to run slime through your fingers, at least in fourth grade, or see images of yourself from a thermal camera at any age.

Those were three of the things more than 1,300 fourth-graders at the 29th annual Celebration of Chemistry for Fourth-Graders at the Eastman Employee Center saw and did firsthand Tuesday and will continue Wednesday. This year’s event theme is Marvelous Metals, and it is a type of metal used in the printing of bills that makes them attracted to magnets.

The event, which served 27 schools, is timed for the 32nd annual National Chemistry Week and put on by the Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the National Chemical Society with help from sponsor Eastman Chemical Co. Eastman employee and event volunteer Stephanie Rollins Testerman said the society has more than 300 chemists from 11 counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 

Downstairs, Emily Overbey of the Hands On! Discovery Center in Gray gave demonstrations on magnetism, including one where she explained how ferro fluid used in printing money means magnets that are strong enough will attract the bills just like it will attract regular metal items. The amount of ferro fluid, used as a foil to counterfeiting, also helps automatic change makers determine what denomination of bill has been inserted.

Students also got to see presentations on thermal imaging, with Eastman technician Garrett Johnson giving students, teachers and other adults a view of themselves on screen and do hands-on learning on things ranging from feeling of slime to seeing florescent beads, shoe laces and other objects that change color with exposure to certain types of light.

Christian Peters of Carter County’s Central Elementary said his favorite things included the slime and a light show, while classmate Lorelai Kelley said she liked those and the florescent bracelets. Retired Eastman chemist Bill Tindall gave the florescence interactive demonstration.

“This teaching will be a springboard for when we do” get into chemistry, Central Elementary teacher Robin Taylor said, adding that she is teaching life sciences right now.

Dakota Josjor of Kingsport’s Andrew Jackson Elementary said he enjoyed the magnetism demonstrations and “this whole entire place,” referring to a room of demonstrations and presentations upstairs. Teacher Pam Statizer said Dakota is inquisitive.

“I want to be a scientist when I grow up,” Dakota said, adding that he’d like to make “metal stuff to help kids” do things such as walk if they are not able to walk without help.

Schools at the event on Tuesday were Stonewall Jackson, Ottway, Andrew Jackson, South Central, Highland, Kennedy, Sullins, Central, Camp Creek, Emmett, Lincoln, Chilhowie and Oak Point. Wednesday schools are to be Happy Valley, Hilton, East Side, South Side, Carters Valley, St. Dominic, Shady Valley, Anderson, Eastview, Ashley Academy, Tusculum View, Hunter, St. Anne’s and Grandview.

Over the past 28 years, more than 37,000 fourth-graders have participated. Other event sponsors include Eastman Technology, Eastman Workforce Development, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Domtar, Swagelok, Termo Fisher Scientific and Wilmad-LabGlass/SP Industries. 

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