I scanned the hundreds of spices and other baking ingredients in mom’s kitchen cupboard and wondered what a scientist would want in her laboratory. Reaching up, I took down the cinnamon box and tapped some into a shot glass. I had two more shot glasses to fill and several doll-sized teacups. I regretted not having more scientific looking equipment, but that couldn’t be helped.
Slowly and methodically, small samples of baking soda, salt, the entire contents of a cherry flavored Kool-Aid packet, sugar, tap water and vinegar filled the various small containers. Several trips to the laboratory (living room) moved the supplies where I planned to experiment.
Satisfied that I had everything I needed, I sank down onto the floor next to the child-sized kitchen cupboard that Daddy had made for my big sisters when they were little. The off-white cupboard with small clusters of flowers painted on each cabinet door and the shelves painted red, didn’t look much like a laboratory for a scientist, but it would do. Empty paint-by-number vials would serve as test tubes.
Hosting imaginary tea parties didn’t interest me when I was nine years old. I wanted to grow up to be a scientist. I wanted to be someone who did experiments and discovered amazing things. For the next hour I happily mixed various powders and liquids in the small vials.
My final experiment for the afternoon had me tapping Kool-Aid powder, salt, sugar, and flour into one of the little vials. Topping it off with several drops of vinegar, I snapped its airtight cap on and began to shake it. Suddenly the little capsule’s top blew open and red Kool-Aid splattered everywhere. Amazed, I sat with my mouth hanging open for a few moments. I had just discovered chemicals that exploded!