At Lee Road Junior High School’s Science Day, University of New Orleans chemistry professor Matt Tarr used Diet Coke, Mentos and ice cream to teach 100 sixth graders about states of matter. Tarr and UNO student volunteers Mina Hibino and Jonathan Long Jr. traveled to the Covington school on Sept. 27 to introduce elementary school groups to some basic concepts in the study of chemistry.
After an introductory discussion about states of matter, Tarr talked about gasses and how they react in solutions. He described the effect of solids of varying surface area on fizzing of soda using Diet Coke and Mentos as an example. Each student created his or her own Diet Coke fountain and investigated whether ice cream causes degassing of soda by making soda floats.
Mandy Conly, a sixth grade science teacher at Lee Road Junior High School, invited Tarr to perform demonstrations at Science Day to prepare students for embarking on an introduction to chemistry. Lee Road sixth graders will learn about the periodic table and physical and chemical properties and changes.
Tarr was the recipient of UNO’s 2015 Research Excellence Prize, which is given to faculty members who have achieved the rank of associate professor or professor and who have an outstanding and sustained record of creative and scholarly activities. Tarr, who joined the UNO faculty in 1995, researches several different areas: nanostructure materials for energy conversion, environmental chemistry and photochemistry, and the use of nanomaterials for biomarker detection or site-directed drug delivery.