Mad Science with Victor Frankenstein

Another aspect of the CSLP theme “Own the Night” is Mad Science which ties in excellently with the 2012 BFYA pick, This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel. The book follows young Victor Frankenstein’s early attempts at alchemy as he strives to create the Elixir of Life to restore his ill twin brother. There are so many science programs that could be linked up with this book. Here are a few of my favorites.

Florida Library Youth Program has a Potions class program based on the Harry Potter books that could easily be adapted to fit the alchemy in This Dark Endeavor. It involves the reactions of cabbage juice and vinegar vs. cabbage juice and baking soda. There is even a script included.

Pinterest also has a bunch of really interesting science activities. I really like this experiment a lot. You soak an egg in vinegar and it slowly strips off the egg’s shell leaving the egg “naked” in a thin membrane. Then, there are lots of fun things that you can do with a naked egg. If you soak it in water, it grows. You can change its color with food coloring. If you soak it in corn syrup, the egg shrinks. Since the whole process of stripping the shell with vinegar takes about 1-2 days, I’d recommend having a few eggs with the shells already dissolved to experiment on.

Another cool science activity would be to make a bouncing ball. All you need is borax, cornstarch, glue, and water (plus, stuff to mix them). The result is a lesson in chemistry as well as a fun toy.

Finally, another activity to try would be soap-making. Typically, this is associated with things like spa days, but the mad science spin could completely work here and also attract more boys to the program. One of my favorite books for soap-making is The Girl’s World Book of Bath and Beauty by Allison Chandler Smith because it has easy recipes for things like body glitter and spray as well as both liquid and solid soap ideas.

As you can see, there are a lot of great programs that tie into the mad science theme, and This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel is a great introduction to the theme. Happy experimenting!

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  1. Marlena Harold

    During the development of the 2012 Florida Library Youth Program materials a mad scientist program was developing using This Dark Endeavor (love that book!).

    Thanks for linking to FLYP!

  2. Marlena, I LOVED your presentation. I should have included a link to your chapter as well, I apologize. I’m actually incorporating several of your ideas into my summer program as well. Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Jacqui Milliern

    What fun! Thanks for the fun suggestions.

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