Hands-On Science for the Next Generation

LillyPad - Guy Hansen 38 - Crop

Today’s guest blog comes from Guy Hansen, a retired Lilly scientist and coordinator of the Lilly Science Education Outreach program. For more information or to schedule a program, contact a "Chemistry Is a Blast" leader.

Over 20 years ago, a fellow Lilly scientist started the Lilly “Chemistry is a Blast!” (CIAB) program. He was passionate about kids experiencing hands-on science in classrooms in our home state of Indiana. I shared his passion for science education, so I happily took over the CIAB program when he retired 15 years ago. Here's a look at one of our recent shows:

“Chemistry is a Blast!” presentations are 50% science class and 50% "wow." During a 1-hour program, the “blasters” execute exciting chemistry experiments with proper safety precautions and educate on the scientific method as students observe and participate. We tailor the programs based on the ages of the kids (we offer programs for grades K-12) and the size of the audience. Since January 2015, over 9,000 students at 100 different Indiana schools have enjoyed the CIAB program. Lilly scientists provide the program free of charge to Indiana schools as a service to science education.

We currently have over 60 Lilly scientists volunteering as blasters. These volunteers are involved with the program because of their genuine love of science and community. All of the scientists I know were influenced as a child by a teacher, a science class, an outside convocation or a combination of these things. The CIAB program uses combustible balloons, chemical reactions and other cool experiments to educate and encourage a love of science in students.

At the beginning of a CIAB presentation, many of the kids believe that science is hard, boring and not a field they would pursue as a career. By the end, we ask the crowd “Who wants to be a scientist?” and every hand in the room goes up (including a fair number of the teachers' hands). In that moment, you know some of the young audience members have been inspired to pursue a possible career in science.

Contact a "Chemistry Is a Blast" leader for more information or to schedule a program. 

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