Mad Science explodes at Kutztown Community Library

Patriot photo by Lisa Mitchell Mad Science at Kutztown Community Library offered a lesson in acids and bases during Fizz, Boom, Read summer reading program on July 10.
Cousins SaraAnn Harbonic, 7, Blandon, and Natalie Hertzog, 6, Kutztown, participated in the workshop, testing different materials to determine if an acid or a base.

Chemical experiments with acids and bases became explosive at Kutztown Community Library Thursday, July 10.

Combining baking soda and vinegar in a canister caused the cap to pop off.

Mad Science of Leigh Valley instructor Gina Gullo presented Acids and Bases! to children, in kindergarten to grade five, participating in the “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program. Due to popular demand, two sessions were offered.


“I think it’s really important we get our kids doing science in fun way instead of just reading text books,” said Gullo. “This is a good way to get it started and continue it.”

Cousins SaraAnn Harbonic, 7, Blandon, and Natalie Hertzog, 6, Kutztown, participated in the workshop, testing different materials to determine if an acid or a base.

SaraAnn’s mom and Natalie’s aunt, Beth Harbonic, said they come for many of the library’s programs including StoryRiders and have been coming since the girls and their siblings were little.

“They do great stuff here,” said Harbonic. “This year’s focus on science was a very good theme. This hands on activities they don’t always get in elementary school so it’s a good preview for them of what they’ll get in older grades. It gets them excited.”

All of the children were responding to questions and cheering at times throughout the program.

“Well, they’re all having fun, obviously,” said Harbonic. “I think it’s fun because it’s hands on. These are all things they can go home and do. I think it really gets them involved and they can go home and do their own kitchen science.”

Participants explored the interaction of acids and bases.

“They’re learning all about acids and bases, what they do, what they mean,” said Gullo. “I hope that they can understand that the pH means whether it’s an acid or base. I want them to have exposure to chemicals and understand that just because it has the word acid or base, doesn’t mean it’s not safe, they just need to use caution.”

She hopes more youth become interested in going into STEM careers “so we can make more things in our country.” STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics.

Using pH test strips, they determined the pH levels of different acids and bases. They also made their own baking soda cannon using vinegar and baking soda.

“It’s very hands on and interactive,” said Gullo, explaining that the children used pH strips, mixed chemicals, and “they could ask whatever they want.”

“We try to be fun about it, so we’re not reading from a text book, we’re showing them what’s an acid and a base, we throw a little safety into there so it’s safe, but the rest is fun stuff, exploding, making things pop, the things kids want to see.”

As a summer reading program, Gullo hopes the workshop helps the children retain science knowledge during the summer break and gets them interested in science.

“If they know what they’re interested in, then they have things to explore. Even with the summer reading, if they say they love chemistry, they’re going to start reading about chemistry, so that’s exciting,” said Gullo.

The next summer reading program is Thursday, July 17 at 10 a.m., at Kutztown Park Bandshell, “Serpent Scientists by Jesse the Reptile Guy”.

The program returns to the library at 10 a.m. July 24 “The Butterfly Guy,” July 31 “We all scream for Air Products Ice Cream.”

About the Author

Lisa Mitchell

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Patriot and Managing Editor of Berks-Mont Newspapers. Reach the author at or follow Lisa on Twitter: @kutztownpatriot.