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Whitman students create science at home outreach videos


Austin, a Whitman College senior chemistry major, demonstrates a fun experiment using ingredients typically found at home for an outreach program available on video.

Active dry yeast, water, hydrogen peroxide at 3%, food coloring and a splash of dish soap. Simple household ingredients such as these can go into Science at Home projects that Whitman College students are creating and putting on video, according to Science Outreach program coordinator Heidi Chapin.

“Our goal of Science at Home is to promote science education in our local community through hands-on experiences created to inspire,” Heidi said in a release. “By investigating the world through inquiry and exploration, our experiments are designed to encourage outside-the-box thinking and scientific discovery.”

The quick, fun science experiments are viewable at the new video gallery,

In the H202 and Yeast example, use the aforementioned ingredients to see a frothy transformation: Into a glass container or beaker, pour in a half cup of hydrogen peroxide, squirt in a dash of dish soap and a drop of food coloring and give it a swirl to mix.

Put three tablespoons of very warm water into a separate glass container or beaker, add one tablespoon of active dry yeast and stir until just dissolved. Pour into the larger beaker and watch the contents froth up and come over the top.

A tray, panvv or dish under this larger container would help collect the overflow, which will spill onto the surface of the counter or tabletop.

In explaining what happens, senior chemistry major Austin said in the video that hydrogen peroxide naturally breaks down all by itself into oxygen gas and water.

“All that we’re doing in this experiment is using a compound in the yeast to speed up that process. When the yeast comes in contact with the hydrogen peroxide, it releases all that oxygen really quickly,” Austin said.

Without the dish soap in there all the oxygen would escape. The dish soap causes it to be trapped, which is why it becomes bubbly. When the hydrogen peroxide is being broken up by the yeast, it’s releasing more energy every time it breaks than it takes to break it apart and why it heats up. Experiments that heat up are called exothermic reactions.

New content is added weekly, such as content-specific videos like Meet a Snake (coming soon), that aim to impart some of the great resources usually shared through science night, classroom programs and field trips to the Whitman Hall of Science.

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Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at 509-526-8313 or

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,