That’s the thing about Elephant Toothpaste – it knows how to make an entrance.
Here’s the recipe: Take ordinary tap water, add a dollop of liquid dish soap, some dry yeast, food coloring and hydrogen peroxide.
Mix it all together, step back, then watch, as the foamy concoction bursts forth – in ropes wide enough, and thick enough, for the device used to clean a pachyderm’s pearlies, if said device actually existed.
Hold your ears while you’re at it.
That’s because the students of Mountaineer Middle School knew how to generate some roof-raising decibels in response Wednesday afternoon.
Emily Calandrelli, the celebrity science-chef who mixed up the batch, stepped back and
whooped along with the rest of the student body.
“Whoa,” she said, enjoying her audience’s reaction. “Is that cool, or what?”
Making science and technology cool is in the job description of the Morgantown native
and aerospace engineer-turned TV host.
Calandrelli, who grew up in Suncrest, is known mainly these days as the host and co-executive producer of “Emily’s Wonder Lab” on Netflix.
“Xploration Outer Space,” on Fox, is also a starring vehicle for Calandrelli, who has also earned Emmy nominations for her work in front of the camera.
Which is pretty good, she said, for a person who previously didn’t mind one bit being behind the beakers and behind the scenes, working through a labyrinth of equations, reports and experiments – with the goal of using science and technology to help make life better for the rest of us.
Accessibility is the key to the equation, she told the students who filled the bleachers in the
Mountaineer Middle gym for her appearance.
Take the “toothpaste,” as an intellectual launch, she said.
Sure, she said, the crowd loves it. Scientific slapstick always works.
However, she added, the above is also a proper science textbook example on the particulars of chemical
catalysis – which makes a lot of things happen to the good on this rock in outer space that we happen to call home.
Calandrelli studied abroad in Turkey as a WVU student and has since traveled the world as a science educator.
She’s even been to Star City.
No, the other one.
The one in Russia, where the cosmonauts train for their missions beyond Earth’s orbit.
Her dot on that rock in space we happen to call home, though, as said, is Morgantown.
Calandrelli makes it back every chance she gets.
She was scheduled to deliver keynote remarks at a technology conference here Wednesday night.
Her appearance at Mountaineer Middle, which she worked in, coincided with the school’s new initiative to boost flagging science grades in a school that otherwise soars in reading and math.
At the school high atop Price Street, her remarks were about science and more – with a spin of social awareness and work ethic worthy of Ray Bradbury.
“You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room,” she said. “Just the hardest working.”
The Elephant Toothpaste-like key to it all?
Don’t be afraid to fail, she said.
After all, she said. That’s how scientific advances become, well, scientific advances.
“There’s not usually a ‘eureka’ moment in science,” she told her audience.
“It’s more like, ‘Huh, that’s weird. We should look at that more.'”
Meanwhile, she’s using her marquee standing as a communicator of all things related to science and technology — both on this planet and past its gravitational pull — to encourage young people to do what she does.
Just because they can.
“When I first started pitching TV shows, I’d be in rooms with producers who would say, ‘Do
you have a boyfriend who could co-host with you?’ They didn’t think a female would be taken
Along with her work on cable and Netflix, she’s also a best-selling author of children’s books.
Her “Ada Lace” series is about a little girl in West Virginia who can’t get enough of her science
class at school.
In a Mountaineer Middle hallway afterward, Calandrelli, in turn, laughed and said she can’t get enough of her spinoff career in media.
The Science Guy (and other soles)
Being able to call the personal cell phone number of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is still a kick,
And signing autographs, she happily allowed, never gets old.
At Mountaineer Middle on Wednesday, she even signed a kid’s shoe.
“Awesome!” the kid sang out, as he held his scientifically anointed footwear aloft.
Calandrelli laughed – and then had an earthbound observation.
“I signed it on the bottom,” she said. “That’s an expensive shoe. I don’t want his mom mad at me for writing all over it.”