Allden Gaudet, 5, holds on to a ‘Cartesian diver’ science experiment while retired teacher Ted “Bitsy” Ionta guides him Tuesday at Ludden Memorial Library in Dixfield. Ionta conducted experiments for children and their families as part of the library’s summer program. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

DIXFIELD — Why do flattened straws sound like a kazoo when you cut up one end and blow through them? And why does a wine glass filled with water make a singing sound when you rub your fingers around the edge of the glass?

These are some of the science experiments Ted “Bitsy” Ionta of Dixfield demonstrates for children during his presentations.

On Tuesday, the retired science teacher brought his demonstrations to Ludden Memorial Library where children took turns trying his experiments and guessing how and why things were happening, or not happening in some cases.

No matter what experiment Ionta showed, he wanted them always to be thinking, ‘How come?’ and ‘Why?’

With every experiment, whether it’s the tin can with a ribbon running from it that squawks out a special message or the suction cups that no one can possibly pull apart unless they know the trick, he wants the children to think about the scientific concepts behind each of the experiments.

“For instance, you fill that jar with water, (with a screened lid) it goes right through easy. (But) tip it over quickly and a tiny, tiny bit of water will come out and the rest of the water will stay in there,” he explained as he demonstrated at the same time.


Another thought-provoking experiment Ionta showed the children is a very large pickle tightly packed into a glass jar with some vinegar and a small opening to the jar. “How did they do that?” he asks his crowd. “If I show you something, think, ‘how do they do that?”

One girl said, “They opened the jar and put the pickle in it!” while a boy offered that “the pickle was dehydrated when they put it in” and then it expanded.

John Watson, 12, finally got closest to the answer, saying, something “like a cucumber” was put in the jar with the vinegar.

Retired science teacher Ted “Bitsy” Ionta watches Tuesday as John Watson, 12, tries a rope experiment at Ludden Memorial Library in Dixfield. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

“Yup, you’re on the right track; if you answer a question, even if your wrong, you’re being scientific,” Ionta told them.

After Ionta’s presentation, Isabelle Campbell, 7 of Peru, said a couple of her favorite experiments were the one of the blob in the water jug; when it’s upright it looks like plain clear water and when it’s sideways it takes on a blob formation. She also liked the question of how the giant pickle got inside the glass jar.

Olivia Jeselskis, 10, of Canton and her siblings, Alana, 13, and Callen, 6, also said they liked the blob in the jar of water, the pickle in the jar experiment, and the jar of water held back from dumping out by a screen cover. As Olivia said, she likes the “magic of science.”

The last day of the library’s summer reading program will include a craft program for children from 2 to 3 p.m. July 27.

Isabelle Campbell, 7, participates Tuesday in a science experiment guided by retired teacher Ted “Bitsy” Ionta at the Ludden Memorial Library in Dixfield. The presentation was part of the library’s summer reading program for children. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

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