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St. Charles students learn the wonder of air

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Friday, November 23, 2012

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.To demonstrate the action of a vacuum, Tom Johnson , of Mobile Ed Productions, shrink wrapped a St. Charles School student by creating a vacuum by sucking all the air out of a plastic bag during the program ‘The Invisible Wonder: Air!’ on Nov. 9.

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Two St. Charles School students tried to blow up plastic bags during the program ‘The Invisible Wonder: Air!’ Nov. 9.

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Neighbors | Abby Slanker.Tom Johnson, of Mobile Ed Productions, performed a magic trick with the help of a St. Charles School student during the program ‘The Invisible Wonder: Air!’ Nov. 9.

By ABBY SLANKER

neighbors@vindy.com

Mobile Ed Productions, of Redford, Mich., brought their newest science program ‘The Invisible Wonder: Air!’ to the students of St. Charles School Nov. 9.

Sticking with Mobile Ed Production’s mantra ‘Education through entertainment’ presenter Tom Johnson used humor and made learning about the science of air fun for the students.

Johnson discussed the weight of air and the properties and action involved in a vacuum. He started his demonstration of the action of a vacuum by asking for a volunteer from the audience. Once he had his volunteer, he announced he would shrink wrap the student using a vacuum. The student stepped into a big plastic bag, and using a vacuum, Johnson created a vacuum by sucking all the air out of the bag, leaving the student shrink wrapped in the plastic, much to the delight of the audience.

Johnson then entertained the students with a magic trick and asked for a ‘lovely assistant’ to help him with the trick. Using a ‘magic box’ with nothing but air inside, he and his assistant established the box was not heavy. He then added three scarves to the box to make it heavier. Using the magic word his assistant chose, he then asked her to lift the box.

When she could not, he explained the science behind the magic trick. He explained that there was a suction cup on the bottom of the box and when he pushed the button, the box was suctioned to the table, creating a vacuum and not letting the box be lifted.

“It’s not magic, it’s science,” Johnson said.

Johnson asked the students if any of them have strong lungs and asked for two more volunteers. He then gave his volunteers long, narrow bags and asked them to blow them up. When the students could not fill them up, he told them he could do it with one breath, using science.

“If I hold the bag away from my mouth, I can fill it up with one breath because all the air needed to fill the bags will be dragged in with my breath,” Johnson said before he successfully completed the demonstration.

Johnson then moved onto air pressure and lift, which he explained is the reason planes can fly.

“The reason planes can fly is the wings create a difference in air pressure above and below the wings,” Johnson said.

He demonstrated lift by using a bendy straw and a ping pong ball. By blowing through the straw, the air was able to keep the ping pong ball afloat and prevented it from falling. He then demonstrated lift on a larger scale. He used a leaf blower and a large ball. The air from the leaf blower kept the larger, heavier ball buoyant. He also demonstrated lift by using the leaf blower to power a hover craft.

Once again, a lucky audience member was able to help him in his demonstration by actually riding the hover craft around the gym.

To close his presentation on air, Johnson pulled out his homemade air cannon, made out of an old recycling bin. He asked for two volunteers and proceeded to use the air cannon to blow plastic cups off their heads from a distance.

In order for the students to actually see the air coming out of the cannon, Johnson blew smoke rings from the cannon into the audience, to the cheers of the students and teachers.

“When you came in here this morning, you probably never thought air could be this much fun. Be sure to remember the subject of air when doing reports or science projects, because, remember, air is the invisible wonder,” Johnson said.


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