Guttman, a biology professor, retired from The Evergreen State College in 2002 after a 30-year teaching stint there. But hes continued his teaching ways, leading field trips for Black Hills Audubon Society, teaching beginning birding classes and, more recently, offering a hands-on chemistry class to middle school and high school students in South Sound.
His pride and joy for the chemistry class is a collection of most of the 118 elements that make up the periodic table and all the matter in the world. He spent about six months and $2,500 gathering samples of all the elements he could readily and safely get his hands on, then arraying them in an eye catching display that includes the noble gases such as neon and krypton lit up in tubes.
Among the missing elements are 14 rare earth elements, radioactive elements and some of the synthetic elements that have only been created on rare occasions in laboratory settings.
Guttman took his elemental traveling show to Ray Nelsons five science classes at Chinook Middle School in Lacey Wednesday.
Before small groups of students gathered to peer closely at the samples, Guttman reminded them why they could look, but not touch, the small glass jars, tubes and elements sealed in plastic.
His cautionary tale featured caesium, a soft silvery-gold alkali metal that would ignite spontaneously, if exposed to air.
Its embedded in plastic. If the container broke, it would start a white hot fire, maybe burn down the school, he warned in a matter-of-fact way.
The students clearly enjoyed their visual encounter with the elements, lingering over the ones with unusual features, including the little blue crystals of bismuth, which looked like miniature building blocks.
I like the bismuth best, said eighth-grader Zabdi Hernandez. Seeing the elements in person is way cooler than seeing pictures of them in a textbook.
Nelson, a 1995 TESC graduate, agreed with his students. I could stare at those elements all day. Its like a museum. Guttman said he doesnt have a preferred element. Im interested in how things were discovered its all part of the history of chemistry, he said.
What brings joy to Guttman is sharing his love of science with kids.
Science is so abstract for kids, he said. I thought: Why not collect little pieces of the actual stuff, then take it to the schools to make this aspect of science as real and concrete as possible. Even most chemists havent seen all the elements in one place.
After the show and tell portion of the class, Guttman gave an introductory lesson on the atom, how it consists of equal numbers of positively-charged protons and negatively charged electrons, plus neutral neutrons. The number of protons an element has determines its atomic number on the periodic table, and its weight.
As he lectured, he passed around a few extra vials of light and heavy elements to give the students a tactile sense of their different weights.
As Guttman ventured into the world of molecules, for instance, the greyish metal sodium combines with the yellowish gas chlorine to form table salt, the bell rang and the students headed off for lunch.
But not before they had a new found appreciation of elements, and the salt they sprinkled on their food.
A shout-out to science teachers in the South Sound area: contact Guttman at firstname.lastname@example.org,if youd like him to bring his periodic display to your classroom. ... ... ...
The Washington Center for the Performing Arts board of directors conducted their first-ever breakfast fund raiser at Indian Summer Golf & Country Club Tuesday morning.
It was ruled a success, raising some $61,600 from a gathering of 175 patrons of the South Sound performing arts center.
Puget Sound Energys Casey Cochrane helped get the breakfast crowd in a generous mood, presenting on behalf of the energy company a check of $25,000 to the performing arts center, part one of a three-year commitment to the downtown Olympia non-profit arts center by the investor-owned utility.
Let the record show that the PSE donation does not represent money collected from electric rates paid by gas and electric customers. These are corporate funds from the profit side of the house, Cochrane said.
The money raised for the Washington Center exceeded expectations by about 30 percent, and will be used for operating expenses.
Also on Monday, the board meets and is likely to select the centers new executive director. And on March 27, the public is invited to an open house to meet the architect and see the architectural drawings for a $4 million renovation of the center exterior. The work should begin this spring and be completed by early fall. Its scheduled so it doesnt disrupt center events in the months ahead.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 email@example.com