Eight young scientists “screamed” for ice cream and root beer while they learned about states of matter Wednesday at Longview World of Wonders.
Longview WOW is partnering with local businesses to provide fun educational workshops for youngsters while also partnering with area foundations to provide need-based scholarships.
In this week’s workshops, attendees used microscopes to learn about living cells around them by extracting DNA from strawberries and then found out all about the different types of matter by making root beer floats.
On Wednesday, guest instructors Macy Bannert of Wild Honey Creamery and John Oglesbee of Oil Horse Brewing Co. — two downtown Longview businesses — led the discussion on matter and how it relates to root beer floats.
Gas, liquids and solids are all present in the common root beer float.
“We nicknamed it ‘Tasty Matter’ because with a root beer float, you can see all stages of matter,” Assistant Director Ashley Perkins said. “They’ll get to see churned ice cream and see the separation, and they’re gonna get to play with carbonation with Coke and Mentos. So, it’s just a fun way to learn that you wouldn’t get to do in your classroom.”
Perkins described the workshop as a little bit of science but “really tasty.”
Bannert started by explaining a root beer float’s solid matter.
“I’m an ice cream lady. I make ice cream every day for a living, and it’s very, very, very fun,” Bannert told the class. “So, ice cream is basically made up of milk, cream, sugar and whatever you want to do for flavors.”
They made “sweet cream” ice cream, with no added flavor.
“But there’s a couple of secret ingredients to ice cream ... what I’m talking about today, though, is air,” Bannert said. “Ice cream turns into ice cream because we whip air into it while we’re freezing it. The second secret ingredient is ice crystals.”
She showed the children ice cream in its liquid form before churning, freezing and becoming solid.
“The smaller the ice crystals are, the more creamy the ice cream is,” she said.
The class gathered together, watching a small ice cream machine churn.
“Can I taste it now?” 6-year-old Caleb Percy asked.
Bannert said she had some already made that he could have after they learn a little bit more about matter.
Caleb, who told the group his favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla, and his two siblings attended a workshop the day before, when they learned about cells using microscopes.
Oglesbee told the class that he makes root beer from scratch.
His children helped pass out cups of basic ingredients for root beer for the attendees to touch and even taste. Ingredients included ginger root, peppermint, birch bark and licorice.
After soaking the ingredients in water, among other steps, he then added sugar — 1 pound of sugar per gallon of liquid, to be exact.
Oglesbee then added carbonation.
To learn more about that process, the students each dropped Mentos into their own small bottle of Diet Coke, one of the most carbonated sodas.
The room exploded into giggles and squeals as each child made a soda geyser at their desk.
“It’s all about energy transfer,” Oglesbee said of the root beer float-making process.
The room became quiet as the floats got consumed — solid ice cream, liquid root beer and fizzy carbonation.
Children wanting to participate in workshops and events at WOW have an opportunity through a need-based scholarship program offered by the Crain Foundation.
“So many families are going through different things with coronavirus,” Perkins said. “It’s awesome to have this opportunity.”
Families receiving a form of public assistance qualify, along with families needing assistance based on need or extraordinary circumstances.
“It’s broader than just having to be on a federal assistance program,” Perkins said. “We are fortunate to have a foundation back us in that way.”
For information on scholarships, go to longviewwow.org/scholarships .