HARLINGEN — Harlingen South senior Alejandro Garcia shook up a 5-gallon jug filled with a small amount of propanol in front of the sophomore class.
Then he set the jug on the table, uncovered the top with his hand and ran before Dr. Kate Biberdorf, better known as Dr. B., turned the jug into an alcohol cannon.
Dr. B. hovered a torch over the top and ignited the super alcohol.
The experiment created a large inferno inside the jug and shot a flame up nearly two feet high.
“I’m here to blow stuff up and prove science is fun,” Dr. B. said.
She not only was blowing stuff up, but was shooting soda bottle rockets across the gym and even blowing fire from her mouth using kitchen products.
For the “fire-breathing dragon” demonstration, she blew corn starch from her mouth into a torch flame.
Dr. B. is a lecturer for the University of Texas-Austin College of Natural Sciences/Chemistry Department and director of demonstrations and outreach.
“This is my first presentation in Harlingen, and I loved it. The students were amazing,” Dr. B. said on Monday at Harlingen South.
She brought the department’s “Fun with Chemistry” program, which includes Dr. B.’s bag of science experiments — big and small — that she demonstrates to spark students’ love for science.
“It’s something we don’t get to see even as adults. So for our kids to experience this first hand at their school is phenomenal,” said Roxanna Moore, Harlingen South Advanced Placement chemistry teacher. “Chemistry is a very challenging course for students to take. It’s the first time they see math and science collide.”
Dr. B. believes anyone can be a scientist. She recalled being inspired in the 10th grade by her chemistry teacher in Michigan.
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