Slime science: Why slime is like leftover pasta

Is slime a fading fad? Maybe. (Those fidget spinners look a lot less messy.) But the one thing slime has over spinners and bottle flipping, and whatever other fad you can thing of is its potential for a lesson in applied science.

So what is the science of slime, you ask?

Read how the slime thing is playing out in Palm Beach County here. 

Let’s just assume we all know that things in this world are made of teeny, tiny molecules. Glue is what’s called a linear polymer, it’s along molecule made up from a chain of smaller repeating units called monomers.

The folks at Museum of Science, Boston, can take it from here:

(Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

“A linear polymer is like fresh cooked pasta: each noodle is separate from the other and when you go to dump it out of the container, the pasta does not hold the container shape.”

Mix the pasta, or in this case, the glue, with Borax, a mineral made of monomers of sodium borate, and they interact.  More precisely, because you use water when you combine them, you get hydrogen bonding and the long chains turn into a matrix.

“A matrix polymer is like left over pasta: when you take it out of the container it has the shape of the container, with the noodles all stuck to each other.”

Slime even has a place in Florida’s educational standards. And not just in chemistry.

Hagfish (Getty Images)

Slime is a secret weapon for a lot of animals, including the hagfish, said Alexandra Laing, who works in Palm Beach County’s curriculum department.  The hagfish can secrete stringy proteins that turn into slime when they come in contact with seawater. Word is they can mix up buckets of the stuff in mere minutes.

“But it also relates to humans,” Laing said. “We make six cups of slime a day that coats the insides of our digestive system. It’s in the lining of our nose and mouth.”

Still, it seems plenty of parents are over it.

As educational as it may be, one Michael’s clerk confided, “I have a lot of parents who can’t wait for this fad to end.”

Count mom, Latoya Mills, among them.

“It clogged my sink and got into the finish of my sofa. I can’t keep Ziplock bags in stock. All my containers are gone. I have no containers. None,” Mills said.

Who knows what’s happening in the landfill with the discarded batches.

Maybe that’s the next science lesson.


Slime: How tweens make it, tape it and rake it in

Is it safe to use Borax for DIY slime?

The soothing sounds of Slime. ASMR anyone?

Choice, charters leave several PBC middle schools half empty


Dwindling enrollment at Odyssey Middle in Boynton Beach imperiled the school, and has now put it on a track to closure. But it isn’t the only school in the district that can’t fill even half its seats – and most of those schools are middle schools.

(See story on the school board meeting that is clearing path for Odyssey closure here. )

Why is that? 

One big reason: Parents of middle schoolers choose not to send them to their assigned schools and they make this choice more often than parents of elementary or high schools students, according to the district’s numbers.

Of 42,269  students in grades 6-8,  nearly one-third choose to attend a choice program at a school other than their home school or a charter school.


Here are three examples of how this plays out, with data supplied from the district’s boundaries department as of the February head count.

Carver Middle, Delray Beach

820 students attend the school built for 1,534

1,317 students live in the boundaries

175 of those attend charters; 448 attend another school in the district

113 come to Carver from outside the boundaries for reasons such as its magnet program or special education services



Congress Middle, Boynton Beach

Congress Middle

887 students attend the school built for 1,432

1,462 students live in its boundaries

428 of those attend charter schools; 328 attend another school in the district

159 students come to Congress from outside its boundaries

Crestwood Middle, Royal Palm Beach

750 students in a school build for 1,653

1,232 students live in its boundaries

229 students attend charter schools; 336 attend another school in the district.


The district is home to 33 middle schools. Others that are struggling to fill their desks: 

Bear Lakes Middle 49 percent of capacity

Carver 53 percent

Congress 62 percent

Crestwood 45 percent

John F. Kennedy 53 percent

Lake Shore Middle 47 percent

Odyssey 50 percent

Polo Park 59 percent

Roosevelt 64 percent

Are any middle schools full?

Ten are filled near to capacity (at least 95 percent)  and beyond, including: Bak MSOA, Boca Raton, Conniston, Don Estridge, Eagles Landing, Independence, Loggers Run, Omni and Western Pines.

What about high schools? 

All but two of the district’s 23 high schools are filled to at least 80 percent capacity – nine are beyond capacity.





Avossa ‘disgusted’ by child porn case; read full statement

(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Parents and educators at Howell L. Watkins Middle School and across the district learned yesterday that the FBI is seeking to arrest a well-regarded middle school teacher on child pornography charges.

Read the full story here. 

His victims are “numerous” and so far at least a handful of them are students who are in the district’s schools now, Superintendent Robert Avossa said Wednesday.

The teacher, Corey Perry, is on the run.

Avossa couldn’t speak to the details of the investigation, but he had these words to the man and the crime:

As a life long educator I am disgusted at what I have learned. He has hurt innocent children.

“This individual has embarrassed his school, his community and his entire profession by harming the most important thing entrusted to him – our students.

“He broke a sacred and professional code and I cannot and will not forgive him for that.

“I want the community to know that our district is bursting with fantastic teachers who have dedicated their lives to protecting our students. They go above and beyond each and every day to make sure our kids have everything they need to be successful in school.

“So do not judge the dedicated professionals by the actions of one.”

On its website, the Palm Beach County School District has posted several resources for parents that address online safety and how to navigate social media and technology.




Principal: Loggers’ Run threat uncovered on student’s cell phone

handcuffsA Loggers’ Run student has been removed from the classroom and an investigation is underway after a threat to the school was discovered in the student’s cell phone, Principal Ed Capitano alerted parents Thursday afternoon.

In a recorded message to parents, Capitano said another student tipped school administrators to the matter.

The message in full: 

This Is Principal Ed Capitano with an important message regarding events on campus today.

Today we discovered content on a student’s cell phone that suggested a planned threat to the school. School Police are investigating the students intentions to implement such a plan and if there was any real threat to the school.

The student has been removed from the classroom at this time and School police continue to investigate. I will provide a future update if I receive additional information.

Parents, this issue was brought to our attention by a student who reported the information once they became aware of it. Our school safety is dependent on students, staff and parents trusting their gut and reporting information they see or hear.

There are very serious criminal and disciplinary implications for making threats to schools. Please use this opportunity to talk with your child about reporting any information that places their safety or the safety of our school at risk.

There is no action required of you from this message. Thank you in advance for your support.


Two Olympic Heights teachers out of jobs after sex on campus


Two teachers at Olympic Heights High School are no longer employed by the district this week after it was discovered that they were involved in some sort of sexual activity with one another on campus during school hours, district officials confirmed Thursday.

The school’s principal David Clark notified parents Thursday afternoon in a recorded message that the teachers were “engaged in an inappropriate physical relationship while on the school’s campus.”

The message said the conduct is “unacceptable” and is a serious violation of the district’s code of conduct.

Both teachers were relative newcomers to the school.

William Barham, 45, was hired a year ago in February to work at the school’s Junior ROTC program, according to district records. Those records indicate Laura Field, 28,  a vocational teacher, arrived when the new school year began in August.

Barham was told he was fired this week, his last day was Tuesday. Field resigned Monday. The investigation is ongoing, a district spokeswoman said Thursday.

Who’s PBC’s Teacher of the Year? Hint: She teaches English

Evangeline Aguirre, who teaches ESOL English at Palm Beach Central High is awarded PBC Teacher of the Year Tuesday morning. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post)
Evangeline Aguirre, who teaches ESOL English at Palm Beach Central High is awarded PBC Teacher of the Year Tuesday morning. (Lannis Waters/Palm Beach Post)

Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa arrived Tuesday morning at Palm Beach Central High’s campus to give teacher Evangeline Aguirre the day off – after, of course, he told her she had been named Palm Beach County Teacher of the Year.

Aguirre accepted the balloons and flowers, but declined the holiday. She’s in the middle of planning a boot camp to prepare her students for statewide testing. She’ll take that holiday another time.

The state’s high-stakes exam can be particularly challenging for students because they all are just learning the language.

Aguirre, Palm Beach County’s teacher of the year, teaches high school English to students who aren’t native speakers of the language. But her lessons go well beyond understanding the text, and her students say they work hard because her story isn’t all that different from theirs.

Aguirre began her life in the Philippines and came to the U.S. in 2004 as part of a teaching exchange program.

Her students are more recent arrivals from about 20 different countries. They speak about 15 languages among them, but they’re only beginning to get a handle on English. And while Aguirre said she understands a bit of Spanish and French, that’s not enough to converse fluently with the students. So they find other ways to get through the lessons.

It’s hard work, but her students say they’re encouraged by her genuine interest in their lives, both in the classroom and out.

Huddled together to brainstorm all the things they’ve learned from her, students from Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela say she’s told them: Don’t give up. Value what you have. If you see your friends go astray, go the other way.

“She absolutely loves kids,” said her principal Darren Edgecomb. “Sometimes that’s taken for granted. It all builds from building a good relationship.”

Reminder: Applications due today for PBC’s performing arts schools

Reminder: If you want your child in one of the district’s choice schools for the performing arts next fall, the deadline to submit an application is today, Dec. 2, 2016. You have until midnight to file.

More than 20,000 students are expected to apply to one of the district’s choice schools. But only some have to have their applications in by day’s end. It’s an online application, so no travel is required. 

December deadline is for those applying to an arts program that requires an audition:

December 2, 2016:
Bak Middle School of the Arts (all programs)

The Conservatory School @ North Palm Beach(Symphony Orchestra-grades 6-8)

Boynton Beach High School arts programs (Dance, Digital Media, Music-Band, Music-Keyboard/Piano, Music-Vocal, Theatre, and Visual Arts)

A.W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts (all programs).


All other applications are due Jan. 27, 2017. Late applications are accepted after that date but don’t get in the March lottery. Instead they are considered after all the wait pool applicants are assigned, the district notes.


Will Hurricane Matthew scuttle PBC school? Stay tuned

UPDATE Tuesday 2:20 p.m.: Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. Tues. Oct. 4 to address plans as Hurricane Matthew pushes up the coast. 

St. Lucie County schools have already made the call, closing on Thursday and Friday. Palm Beach Atlantic is also calling off classes those days. FAU and Lynn University have yet to announce a decision.


Original post Monday, Oct. 3, 2016: 

School is out Monday. But the big question is will Hurricane Matthew scuttle another day this week, and the answer is it’s too soon to tell.

The Palm Beach County School District is watching Matthew’s track and talking to the county’s emergency management officials. Should the storm generate unsafe conditions, the district will alert parents in a variety of ways including robocalls to parents, posts on the district’s website and through Twitter – follow @pbcsd – and Facebook.

Of course, we’ll be keeping tabs on this as well in Extra Credit. Palm Beach Post reporter Kim Miller, @KMillerWeather,  will keep you up to date on the big picture and what weather we can expect on her WeatherPlus blog. (While students should continue to crank out their studies, the Coast Guard is urging boaters to prepare now. )

Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 11 a.m. NHC look at Matthew.
Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 11 a.m. NHC look at Matthew.



Lake Worth HS baseball fined $200 for Puerto Rican players; But what’s the big picture?

Lake Worth High administrators never should have permitted 11 boys from Puerto Rico to suit up for the school’s baseball team last spring, the Florida High School Athletic Association has concluded.

While the dispute began when a rival coach cried foul claiming the teens were ineligible ringers, the findings could have a chilling effect, keeping hundreds, if not thousands, of students across the state from playing school sports because of their living arrangements, the Palm Beach County School District argues.

The LWHS coach was dropped. Seven of the 11 students are back in Puerto Rico, four graduated and are in the states at community college – and their discrimination lawsuit against the school and district dropped. But their attorney is still fuming.

Click here for the full story.

2015 Lake Worth High Trojans
2015 Lake Worth High Trojans


Staff asked to come up with another way to relieve crowding at Boca school

Palm Beach Post file photo.
Palm Beach Post file photo.

UPDATE:  District staff will go back to the drawing board to come up with another alternative to relieve crowding at Calusa Elementary – and the plan is likely to involve more students in the shuffle. That’s because the boundary advisory committee wants to see something that brings the school within capacity faster.

The school needs to drop about 300 students from its rolls to return to levels the campus was built to accommodate.

The meeting was attended by about 80 residents from the affected neighborhoods, who spoke against various aspects of the plans.  The committee will meet again Oct. 18.

While boundary committee meetings set aside limited time for comment, any plan that moves out of this phase is then presented at community hearings with more time for residents to comment.

Original post: Once again Calusa Elementary is among the five most crowded schools in the county, but Thursday night a district advisory committee will review two plans to redraw boundaries to relieve the problem.

Whittling the population at the one school will require a shuffle of hundreds of students that will have ripple effects in at least five others in the Boca Raton area.

Calusa Elementary, at 2051 Clint Moore Rd., counted 1,197 students on the 11th day of classes, 357 more than the school was built to hold. The district has planted 14 portable classrooms on the campus – three of them now considered outdated because they are wooden. But even with that additional space, the school is at 119 percent of its capacity.

The meeting is open to public, with 30 minutes set aside for comment. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at Palm Beach County School District headquarters at 3300 Forest Hill Blvd.

“This is the very beginning of the process,” said Jason Link, the district’s manager for enrollment and demographics. The committee will hear comment and discuss and refine these proposals before the next step: community meetings. Those meetings will give parents more time to ask questions and comment on the suggested boundary shifts.

Two proposals are up for discussion Thursday.

Plan 1 would move 412 students total this way:  

138 students move from Calusa to JC Mitchell

85 from Calusa to Whispering Pines

82 from JC Mitchell to Addison Mizner

18 from JC Mitchell to Boca Raton Elementary

89 from Whispering Pines to Sunrise Park

This  plan would bring the enrollment numbers within Calusa’s capacity as counted with the portable classrooms and keeps other schools within their limits as well.

Plan 2 shuffles 443 students this way: (italics indicate moves different from those in Plan 1)

138 from Calusa to JC Mitchell

93 from Calusa to Pine Grove 

45 from Calusa to Whispering Pines – 40 fewer than Plan 1

82 from JC Mitchell to Addison

18 fro JC Mitchell to Boca Raton Elementary

67 Whispering Pines to Sunrise Park – 22 fewer move than Plan 1


The committee will also discuss crowding at Forest Hill High School, Western Pines Middle and Jupiter Elementary, though no specific boundary changes have yet been proposed.