Janvi Huria walked into Haley Reynolds' fifth-grade classroom at
Wild Horse Elementary
on Jan. 16, bag of marshmallows in hand.
Huria, a junior at
, uses the marshmallows to represent hydrogen atoms. She gives each student six and asks them to mush two together to make helium, then all six together to make more complicated structures.
And please, she tells the students, refrain from eating your hydrogen atoms.
"The kids have this desperate need to be eating the marshmallows along the way," Huria said. "Honestly, I'm the same. But just bear with me a little bit, then you'll be able to eat them."
This year, Huria is making semi-regular stops at Wild Horse during her Flex time to help teach students about different science topics. She has demonstrated non-Newtonian fluids by letting the fifth-graders interact with oobleck, a substance that you can roll into a solid ball but, the minute you let it go, it will melt out of your hand. She brings gumdrops and toothpicks to help the students construct the molecular structure of greenhouse gases.
The marshmallows, of course, are also a popular lesson.
"When I was younger, I was always the kid asking, 'why?' to everything," Huria said. "That really led to my love for science that I have today."
Huria went to
from kindergarten through fourth grade before moving to Wild Horse for fifth grade, then
. She has a brother who's a first-grader at Wild Horse.
"He's just the same as I was," Huria said. "Way too many questions, in the best way possible."
Huria is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field while continuing to find outlets through which to spread her love of science.
Reynolds' class was especially interested in dark matter. It makes up 96 percent of the universe, but scientific research knows so little about it.
"There are limitless things out in the universe," said Elle, a Wild Horse fifth-grader. "It's fun to learn about what they discover."
Huria said the staffs at Wild Horse and Marquette have both been helpful and accommodating as she uses her passion to reach students.
"All kids are naturally born to be curious," Huria said. "There is a lot of power that comes with being able to influence the younger generation, to get them asking a question that can maybe spark a lifetime interest of something deeper and bigger. That's really cool that I get to be able to do that."