In Visit Topeka’s special interview with Kitchen Pantry Scientist, Liz Heinecke discusses how she went from working in a laboratory to teaching science to kids in the kitchen. Liz will do two experiments from the Demonstration Stage during the Topeka Science & Tech Fest on Saturday, Oct. 15. She'll also have an Exploration Station booth throughout the event, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m, on the 700-block of S. Kansas Ave. in Downtown Topeka.
For 10 years, Liz worked in a science lab, putting her master’s degree in bacteriology to use daily. After having children, Liz wanted to be home with them. Baking cookies and doing crafts became boring to her and, she says, inspired her to start teaching her children science.
During a neighborhood child swap (she and her neighbor would trade kids for the day, just to switch things up), Liz decided to try “Science Wednesdays.” She and the children had a lot of fun. Activities ranged from going to a science museum to looking at caterpillars and sometimes doing science experiments in the kitchen. Liz took experiments she found online and made them safer and easier for children. She also focused on experiments that could be created with everyday ingredients found in kitchens.
Liz began her website seven years ago and started doing the videos shortly after. At the time she used a Flip Cam to record videos. The videos helped show people how easy science for – and with -- children can be.
Liz, originally from Manhattan, Kansas, now has written several books. Her latest, Outdoor Science Lab, features her favorite experiments, which she created herself. The foaming slime experiment combines the classic volcano experiment and the borax slime experiment. Causing the two chemical reactions at the same time creates a slime that traps carbon dioxide bubbles as the slime is foaming.
Now living in Minnesota, Liz has traveled around the United States talking about her books and science for kids. Liz even wrote her own theme song, which was partly inspired by the song “Smelly Cat” sung by character Phoebe Buffay in the TV show Friends.
“I remember being inspired by, this is so funny, a song on the old show Friends. There is a character named Phoebe, that sings silly songs all the time, she has one called ‘Smelly Cat,’” Liz recalled. “I thought: ‘Well, if you can make a song that silly and simple and catchy, surely I can come up with some really simple song to help kids remember the three things about science’ and kids love it.” said Liz.
For more about Liz, watch the full video interview.