Dawn Shock, a retired Monroe County librarian also known as “Grandma Science,” shows how four half eggshells can support a heavy stack of books Tuesday, July 12 at Taylor Community Library.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Downriver Sunday Times
TAYLOR – She doesn’t use pyrotechnics, but she might still knock socks off – figuratively if not literally.
She’s Grandma Science – also known as Dawn Shock – a retired Monroe County librarian living in Temperance who wants to make sure her young fans will be safe if they try to repeat the experiments that are part of her presentation.
“I do not use fire, I do not explode things, and I do not use harsh chemicals,” Shock told an avid audience July 12 at Taylor Community Library. “I know you’re disappointed, but I want you to be able to do every single one of these experiments yourselves, and I sure wouldn’t want you using fire and blowing things up.”
Shock said she has taken her show on the road for the past 16 years, entertaining children in Michigan, Ohio an
Indiana. She has taken her tote of ordinary household chemicals as far away as Cleveland and Ludington.
She got her start reading at Wednesday night story times at Vivian Branch Library in Monroe.
“I wanted to add something fun to it, so I started to look through the library books and I found simple kitchen experiments,” Shock said. “We started doing it with kids, and pretty soon I had this whole bunch of experiments, turned it into a program for our library system and I went around branch to branch doing Grandma Science experiments with kids.”
When a state librarian heard about Shock’s program, she suggested that she demonstrate her presentation to other youth librarians.
“So I did, and they said, ‘Gee, that looks like fun, but why don’t you go into business and we’ll hire you to do that?’” Shock said. “So… I went home and started a business.”
She said the most surprising thing that occurred in connection with her science show took place in California where her grandson, a U.S. Marine, had been stationed.
When her grandson was back home on leave in Michigan, he said he had struck up a conversation with a woman in line with her children at a grocery store in California. He noticed she was buying many of the ingredients his grandmother used in her experiments, like vinegar and baking soda.
When Shocks’ grandson guessed that she was going to do science experiments with her children, she surprised him by relating that her friend from Michigan sent her information about a program performed by a “Grandma Science in Michigan” – who turned out to be his grandmother.
Shock has performed for groups as small as three and as large as 350 children, and said that every audience is different. She performs the most in the summer, for reading programs, and estimates that she presents her program to a thousand people a year.
Many of her demonstrations are visual. She uses a blow dryer, for instance, to show how a stream of air will suspend a small ball in mid-air.
“Outrageous Ooze,” made with one cup of cornstarch, a drop of food coloring and a half cup of water, was one of the audience’s favorite demonstrations, showing how the ooze acted like a solid under pressure and a liquid when no pressure was applied.
The audience was also amazed by the heavy load of books four empty and equally-spaced half egg shells could support.
The pseudo-lava lamp, made in a glass jar with water, vegetable oil and food coloring, reminded watchers that oil and water do not mix.
Grandma Science has helpful tips to try safe, family-friendly experiments at home on her Web site, www.grandmascience.com. She is also available to speak to groups. For more information, contact her at [email protected]