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Behind the fireworks: Louters is exemplary teacher | Community Spirit

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Behind the fireworks: Louters is exemplary teacher
Behind the fireworks: Louters is exemplary teacher

by Myrna Anderson
from http://www.calvin.edu


The boy standing center stage in the darkened auditorium, sporting goggles and an orange T-shirt, is holding what looks like a plate of foam. Standing next to him is a man in a white lab coat, who instructs him, “When you see something happen, don’t react. No smiles, no laughter, no flinching, nothing—like rock.” The man lights the foam. It explodes in the boy’s face, but he doesn’t react. Out in the audience, the kids are screaming, and a few leap to their feet, applauding.

The scene is from a 2011 Vimeo clip, and the man prowling the stage in the white coat is Calvin chemistry professor Larry Louters. In 23 years of “Chem Demos,” he has had a few close calls but no real mishaps as he has revealed to thousands of area middle schoolers the scientific principles behind exploding soda bottles and flaming soap bubbles.

“That’s a special talent,” said chemistry professor Douglas Vander Griend. “People think that any chemist could step...

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