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Birthday Girl

Lainey parties with science.

My daughter Lainey is 5 years old, and I love her. Scratch that— she’s six now! And we threw her a big party to celebrate.

After tossing around a few ideas, Lainey chose a mad science party. We hired a scientist, and he arrived 30 minutes early to set up his act. On a large table in the backyard, he laid out beakers and vials, and a blanket on the lawn so the kids could sit down. Then he waited quietly while the guests trickled in.

“Welcome to Lainey’s birthday party!” the scientist announced with gusto. “My name is Buoyancy Ben.”

Ben introduced a hardboiled egg, named Egbert, that wouldn’t fit into a flask. He lit a fire in the glass and the egg magically fell through. With the help of some petroleum jelly, Ben stuck a needle through a balloon. He lit flash paper that disappeared into thin air, and much more.

The kids were in the palm of Ben’s hand. Each trick was met with advice, laughter or silent amazement. He had the kids thinking and paying attention, which is not an easy task.

“I need a volunteer for this experiment,” Ben said. “Lainey stand up.”

Lainey poured a splash of acetone into Ben’s Styrofoam cup and stringy goo formed instantly. She and her friends giggled.

“Liked that one?” Ben smiled, “Let’s do it again!”

After nearly an hour of , Ben handed each kid a cup and spoon. He portioned out ingredients, which the , and made .

But the grand finale was even sweeter— Ben revved up the cotton candy machine! He may have mentioned the science of turning granular sugar into filaments, but nothing could be heard over the squeals of joy. Lainey was first in line, received a huge helping and dove right in.

“Do we get the cupcakes out now?” my wife asked.

“Now or never,” I nodded.

Kids like crazy, screaming in the backyard and two-fisting cupcakes and cotton candy! Swiftly, Ben packed his things and split.

“Goodie bag time?” my wife asked.

"Let's do it," I nodded.

Our mad science gift bags contained glow-sticks, an egg toy that hatched in water, and several Nerds and Smarties candies.

“Some parents might be upset with us,” I said.

“Tons of sugar,” my wife nodded.

And Lainey couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Lana Schuck June 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I wonder if any of the parents found the humor in the Nerds and Smarties received at a science party? No doubt the children enjoyed them without giving it another thought. Fun and learning at a birthday party - Great idea!
Ryan P. Standley June 30, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thanks for the comment, Lana. Some folks are uptight about kids and sugar, but you are right-- the bigger picture here is learning, and encouraging an interest in science. And the kids had a blast!

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