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Noah Jackson sat at a table mixing a bowl of shaving cream and glue.

A scene from the 1984 Dan Aykryod classic "Ghostbusters" played on a projector as Jackson worked several cups of contact lens solution and food coloring into his concoction. Within minutes, the mixture congealed into an amorphous orange blob.

"It's slime," he explained, working the gelatinous mixture in his hands. Jackson fought for control of the slime after turning it in his hands, struggling to free his fingers from its sticky grasp.

"It's not too hard to make," he added, "but it's pretty sticky."

Although the 16-year-old Orcutt Academy High School junior mentioned pursuing a career in criminology one day, on Friday, the science buff sat at a table and played chemist. As part of the Santa Maria Public Library's Friday teen programming, Jenn Harmer and Stacy Brigman guided students through an "Icky Science" slime-making experiment.

"We try to provide programming for all ages that is fun, educational and that also teaches them new skills," Harmer said. "'Icky Science' was created to teach teens a basic science lesson in a no-stress environment."

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Delving into the science behind the mixture, Harmer explained to students how polyvinyl acetate in the glue reacts with the boric acid in the contact lens solution to create a large, flexible polymer (slime). Slime, as she explained, is currently a very popular way to teach science. 

"I've been trying to plan these programs, but I'm an adult — I don't necessarily know what teens are into," she said. "Usually we hear from the teens that they had a lot of fun; they seem to really appreciate the fact that we do this."

Beginning in January, Harmer said the library is going to establish a "teen board," a group of students to provide input on programming ideas and feedback about the library's teen collection. 

"I want to make sure the teen program is as teen-centered as can possibly be," she said. "We want to have a safe place to come and do activities or hang out with friends."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga


Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.