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“Dawg Daze” and the Burke Museum’s “Chocolate Science Fair”
Mike Steele and Wendy Ermold
September 27, 2005

I was invited by the Burke Museum of Natural History to participate in their annual “Chocolate Science Fair.” This means they set up an amazing fountain of liquid chocolate in their lobby, with long toothpicks and lots of things to dip, e.g. fruit, doughnut holes, marshmallows, etc.

This takes place just before UW classes begin in the fall. It is part of “Dawg Daze,” a welcome-back festival for undergraduates, wherein various departments inform students about what they do via booths, displays, etc.

So I informed the students that the Applied Physics Lab is one of the top employers of undergraduate researchers at the UW. I did this while dipping their chocolate confections in liquid nitrogen, making tasty frozen treats!

We also made fresh and salty water balloons, froze them in the liquid N, and examined the “sea ice” for brine channels using food coloring. And I set up a “salinity taste test” using 9 coded bottles of pre-mixed water, from 0 – 40 ppt salinity. Many students were able to guess the proper order of salinity.

I also brought a globe, an eXpendable Current Profiler, and information about polar bears and the Inuktitut language. And you don’t want to know the crazy things we dipped in the liquid N! One of the best was potato chips, which freeze within a couple of seconds. You can touch it right away and stick it between your teeth (avoid the tongue). Then blow across it and make instant fog! Very nice.

MaryAnn Barron, External Communications Director at the Burke Museum, wrote this about the event:

Many thanks to all who participated in this year’s Chocolate Science Fair. Attendance was nearly doubled and there certainly was a buzz of activity and high interest in the presentations at each table. I’ve already heard from the Dawg Days staff that the Burke’s event was rated as the top “go to” event by students. Thanks again for taking the time to be involved in this important outreach event--

I forgot to arrange for digital photos. Here are a few of the slides that I laminated and displayed at our table.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0230427.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
National Science Foundation.

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