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UWS students share experiments, love of science at community event

Dan Hnilicka, an interpretive naturalist with The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, displays an Eastern screech owl during a program in Swenson Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Superior Science Night on Friday evening in Superior. (Clint Austin /

Making electricity using pennies, dusting for fingerprints at a fake crime scene, petting Lake Superior Zoo animals and observing a variety of rocks were some of the scientific exhibits patrons participated in Friday night at the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Science Night.

Children and adults were invited to explore the world of science in Swenson and Barstow halls, where they could learn more about zoology, geology, chemistry and biology through experiments and presentations made by scientists and UWS science professors and students.

“My first experience was a year ago, and I was amazed with the UWS students and how they interacted with the families and guests,” said Tom Hansen, associate university relations specialist at UWS.

Tyler Jasper, a freshman, taught a group of young girls how to make a circuit using batteries, wires and a clamp.  

“We have had a lot of curious people stop by wanting to make electricity, currents or circuits,” said Jasper, a chemistry major. “I had a good time showing them how circuits work.”

Johanna Koos, 11, and her sister, Ella Koos, 9, were amazed at Jasper’s circuits, so they stopped by.

“This is just so interesting to me,” Johanna said. “I’m having fun learning about all the different experiments.”

Kristen Johnson, a junior, caught the attention of several guests with an invisible ink demonstration.

People wrote on a white board with the invisible ink, and then Johnson revealed the ink by spraying acid on the board.

“A lot of people are amazed at how this works,” said Johnson, also a chemistry major. “You’ve got to love science. There are always new discoveries being made; it’s just so awesome.”

Johnson’s advice for would-be scientists?

“Don’t let science intimidate you,” she said. “A lot of people get scared when it comes to math or science because it can be complex, but don’t let that stop you. Science is a wonderful subject.”

Malu Lane enjoyed the invisible ink, as well as the dry ice overflowing from laboratory bottles. Lane and her son, Sebastian, attend the science event every year.

“I have to say, the chemistry experiments are my favorite,” Lane said. “I love seeing all of the things chemistry has to offer. We can come to the event over and over and still be intrigued by science … it doesn’t get old.”