The entertaining programs of the Flora Public Library’s Summer reading Program came to an explosive end on Thursday afternoon, when Nitro Joe the Science Guy gave his entertaining and educational show.
Nitro Joe, also known as Joseph Higgs is a St. Louis based edutainer who got his start doing shows at age 14 at the St. Louis Science Center.
Joe stressed the difference between science tricks and magic tricks to the children present, saying that science shows them the truth, while magic hides it. “It’s deception,” he said.
Among the things shown to the audience were compound that changed the color of water from clear to purple and back, acetone which dissolved packing peanuts so that he could fit 20 of them into a film canister, and a bed of nails that was so comfortable, not only could Joe sit on, but a brave parent volunteer from the audience could too.
The demonstration Nitro Joe lived up to his name on though was when he had a young audience member use an air pump to blow out a tiny birthday candle.
First, the pump blew the candle out. Then Joe tapped a bit of white powder into the funnel at the end of the air pump. The next time the volunteer squeezed the pump, a bright gout of flame erupted where the powder was spread into the air and ignited by the candle. Children scrambled back from the flames in awe.
The white powder turned out to be little more than ordinary coffee creamer (which incidentally, smells similar to cake when you make a miniature mushroom cloud out of it), but the message to the children in the audience was crystal clear: science is cool!