Can chemistry be fun?

Ask that question Tuesday at Eugene Field Elementary School in Hannibal and the answer likely was a resounding “yes.”

Can chemistry be fun?

Ask that question Tuesday at Eugene Field Elementary School in Hannibal and the answer likely was a resounding “yes.”

“Yeah. It was super,” said third grader Dillon McKim after being guided through a chemistry experiment by personnel from BASF’s Hannibal site.

While the science experiment was billed as “playful polymers,” that’s not what students were calling it.

“It was fun playing with the slime,” said third grader Jocelin Robinson, adding she enjoys doing science projects.

Eight-year-old Shawn Smashey already knew what he was going to do with his cup of blue slime when he got it home.

“Throw it at my brothers,” he said with a mischievous grin.

Watching the youngsters having fun making their “slime” brought a smile to the face of Matt, strategic projects manager at BASF’s Hannibal site.

“The kids are excited,” he said. “They obviously like the idea of wearing the gloves, and safety goggles, and aprons, just like real chemists do. And being able to mix chemicals and watch them change into something totally different.”

Dillon enjoyed the hands-on opportunity BASF provided.

“We got to play around with it (slime) and you got to roll it and see how it felt,” he said.

According to Oleksy, this is the second year that BASF has taken the Kids’ Lab into local classrooms. The outreach coincides with National Chemistry Week.

“It’s an opportunity for BASF to give back to the community and get kids excited about chemistry,” said Oleksy. “You never know, one of these kids, and I hope so, will be the next scientist in 15 to 20 years that will maybe make new discoveries to improve the quality of our life.”

BASF’s Kids’ Lab opens the door to future lessons, according to Eugene Field teacher Michelle Huseman.

“We haven’t gotten into chemistry yet, but we will at some point this year,” she said. “This just gives them an idea that this is really important; that people really do this. We talk about scientists and we talk about having a job as a scientist. This brings it to their level. They can actually see people who do this for a living and know that’s a real possibility for them as well.”

According to Huseman, experiments like the one BASF brought in Tuesday help get her students thinking.

“It’s very important to get the kids to think ‘critically.’ We can teach them a lot of different tasks and a lot of different information, but if you don’t have a critical thinker, you don’t have a full student because they need to be able to take all that information and put it together and know what to do with it, and that’s where critical thinking comes in. And that’s where science education helps so much with that because it teaches them how to look at a problem and how to solve a problem,” she said.