WTVD brings science literacy into homes

Jennifer Hambric (left) and Amy Gamber (right) discuss the relationship between the news station, BASF and science. Photo courtesy of Jenny Valle


From a how-to on creating stained glass sugar to slime erosions, WTVD ABC 11 and BASF, a Research Triangle Park chemical company, is bringing home science experiments as a community service initiative to enlighten kids.

Launched last September as collaboration between WTVD and BASF, the program called “Science Club” produces 90-second segments that help encourage science literacy.  During the 4:00 p.m. newscast, at 4:28 p.m. precisely, on Wednesdays, Science Club is a way to interact with science through experiments that can be done in anyone’s kitchen.

The program and afternoon newscast is considered “female friendly” because it is an easy way to connect with working moms since it airs at a time when most parents are getting off work.

According to Jennifer Hambric, WTVD’s head of digital marketing and Amy Gamber, the station’s account executive, making science available to all kids is vital so Science Club has an online library as well as a Facebook page for behind-the-scenes action. The online library gives an organized setting for viewers to watch archived videos.

The Facebook account goes more in depth on how the science experiments are created and tested the first time.

“People love behind-the-scenes,” said Hambric, who has also created a YouTube channel to reach out to the community.

Objectives of the science club with BASF are to advance scientific literacy in youth by conducting the experiments, engaging families and classrooms to learn more science, promote BASF’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiatives and to elevate BASF as a community partner.

Since the intention is to reach local kids, a local high school student hosts Science Club and experiments are sent in from a Hillsborough class.

“A lot of experiments appeal to high schools,” Hambric said.

Gamber allows the experiments to be conducted in her home kitchen. With the limited time to put out an experiment, they must be tested before airing.

“It adds stress for me because it has to work,” Gamber said. “Science doesn’t always work the first time.”

Gamber said the experiments don’t get dangerous but they must be demonstrated properly.

“We want to do other experiments but we need to keep it safe,” said Gamber. “Goggles and safety gloves are mandatory while experimenting and we usually advise parental supervision.”

In each episode a different BASF scientist is lending a helping hand. With the help of a BASF certified scientist, experiments are fun, easy to try at home and can be conducted with mostly everyday household items.

One of the most watched experiments is the slime erosion. It requires general items like water, borax, glue and food coloring.

Hambric said her favorite is the polar bear insulation experiment.

“It’s all about how a polar bear’s fat insulates,” she said.

Some other science experiments aired include how to create walking water, how to make a bounce ball, how to create a habitat for monarch butterflies and how to create a compost jar.

It seems that many people in the Triangle also enjoy the experiments. Hambric and Gamber said that the 4 p.m. newscast is popular and picks up a 4.1 household rating or roughly 46,000 households.

Both women said they are making efforts to talk sustainability projects such as composting, regrowing plants with roots and later in the year, weather experiments.

And like Hambric, Gamber said she enjoys the science experiments, too.

“I’ve learned so much about science since being here,” she said.

To see some of WTVD and BASF’s Science Club experiments click here.