|Keith Woodason doing an experiment at Roan School|
My generation had Mr. Wizard; my kids had Bill Nye the Science Guy. I don’t know who the current TV scientist is now, but I can say that in Dalton, Georgia, the self-described “Carpet Capital of the World”, there’s a new scientist in the classroom, and his name is Keith Woodason.
Woodason is a chemical engineer who works for Styron, a Carpet and Rug Institute member company that manufactures the latex used in carpet backing. For the 2013-14 academic year, Woodason volunteered as the science advisor for Roan Street Elementary School, a public school in Dalton serving predominately Hispanic students in grades pre-k through fifth.
Woodason calls his program pHun with Science, in reference to the important role pH levels play in latex production as well as in the experiments he puts on for the kids.
Woodason's first presentation took place Oct. 22 at the school-wide science day. Since then, he has worked with third graders on heat transfer and fourth graders on the science of light and sound. He has plans for a presentation to the fifth graders soon. I asked him if any of his programs would include information about the landfill gas recovery program Styron operates in conjunction with the Dalton Solid Waste Authority – using methane from the landfill to generate as much as 90 percent of the energy needed to power Styron’s latex manufacturing facility. “That gives me some ideas,” he said.
“With the kids, the first and most important thing we talk about is safety - making sure chemicals are stored and labeled properly. Then, we do things like make a cloud in a bottle, a fog cannon and a lava lamp,” he said. “The kids really love seeing the fog come out of the fog cannon.”
Woodason began his school science presentations when his four grown children were small. Now he continues because he enjoys it, and because he wants kids to find science exciting and to see the potential for science-based careers. An added inspiration - his wife Caroline is the assistant director of school support for Dalton Public Schools.
“It’s all about igniting the kid’s interest. I was at the school a few weeks ago and a student came up to me and said that after he saw my demonstration he wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. That made me feel like a rock star.”
You are a rock star in our book, Keith. Thank you for enriching the learning experience for our community’s children, and thank you to Styron for supporting your efforts.
Editor’s note: The above story was originally written by Bethany Richmond and published in the CRI blog, carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com. We would like to thank CRI for the permission to republish it in this edition of TalkFloor.