Fifth Grade Genius Makes Explosive New Invention in Science Class

science labWhatever your kid did in school today, I'm going to bet fifth grader Clara Lazen has them beat. She made a brand new explosive molecule in science class recently. And now Clara's getting her name in a fancy pants science journal with the title of "co-author" for an invention that could change how scientists store energy or even create large explosions!

Score one for chicks in science! And while we're handing out applause, a little is due to 10-year-old Clara's science teacher, Kenneth Boehr. He's the kind of teacher every parent dreams of, and we could learn as much from him as we can from her.

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When Boehr assigned his class to build molecules from a modeling kit, he sparked the genius hiding inside Clara. She came up with a unique combination of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms, and then she presented it to her teacher.

And here's what really makes Boehr top notch on the teacher scale. He didn't recognize the molecule, but he didn't write it off either. He actually picked up the phone and called someone who did -- Humboldt State University Chemistry Professor Robert Zoellner. Zoellner is the one who co-authored the paper that's been published in the January issue of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, giving Clara full credit for her discovery.

Are you getting this? A teacher actually admitted to his students that he didn't know something! Heck, an adult actually told a kid that she seemed to know more than he did. It's hard enough to do that with other adults; doing it with kids can be ... humbling to say the least. And I know a lot of parents are resistant, lest we look a little dumb in front of our kids.

But if you think about it, admitting you don't know something, and then following up on it for the kids is really the best way to keep them engaged and show you value their smarts and interest. By getting on the phone and giving Zoellner a call, Boehr hooked this smarty pants up with someone who could help answer her questions.

Now Clara says she's throwing herself into studying biology and medicine! And scientists are already exploring what her molecule, tetranitratoxycarbon, can be used to do.

Have your kids ever wowed you by coming up with something you never could?

 

Image via Helga's Lobster Stew/Flickr

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