Celebrating NCW 2013 with a BANG! Bristol ChemClub Kickoff

I KatieHuntheaded to Bristol High School in Bristol, PA, to kickoff their 2013-14 ACS ChemClub with (and I mean this literally) a bang! This was my first chance to test my skill at “improvising” a chemistry presentation.

The room was packed with over 30 eager high school students, including ChemClub president, J. Crump and vice-president, S. Willis. They told me that ChemClub is by far the favorite after-school club at their school. The excitement was for the spectacular chemisty demonstration known as the Gummi Bear Terminator. Their club advisor, chemistry teacher William “Bill” Smith, is all about safety. So goggles were donned by all. In addition, the demo was setup in a hood. The students were awed by the amount of energy released from a simple Gummi Bear treat.


What’s in a theme?
Bristol NCWThe reason for my visit was to help celebrate National Chemistry Week (NCW). The theme of NCW 2013 was “Energy Now and Forever”. This theme focused on the sustainable role of chemistry in everything from energy conservation to energy generation. My ChemClub talk started with discussing cost-effective home energy improvements such as insulation, air sealing (sealing cracks and gaps), and cool roofs (solar reflective, white roof coatings) and continued on to rooftop innovations such as the Dow POWERHOUSE™ solar shingle. This last innovation strives to create a net-zero building envelope, in other words, to create a home or building that produces 100% of it’s own energy. How cool is that!! We also talked about Philadelphia’s effort to become the Greenest City in America, with a PLAN called GreenWorks Philadelphia, and programs like the RetroFIT Philly: Coolest Block Contest, which gives row home owners a chance to win energy-saving cool roof, air sealing and insulation upgrades for their entire block.

Improv Works:  the audience was engaged!
I thoroughly enjoyed spending an afternoon of “improv” with Bill Smith and his wonderful Bristol HS ChemClub students! It was my first chance to put my “Alan Alda Improv Training” to work.  No slides, just a few props, including a copy of Chemical & Engineering News (Jan. 1, 2007) and some cool-roof coated tennis balls!   I’m loving being an official “ACS Expert”!

Additional Reference:
Cool Roofs

Congratulations to an Award Winning ChemClub Teacher!


Congratulations to Michael A. Morgan, the ChemClub advisor at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School, Los Angeles, Calif., who is the 2013 recipient of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Chemical Education Western Region Award for Excellence in High School Teaching.

Learn more about Michael Morgan in his biography posted on the Western Regional Meeting (WRM) website.

The picture taken during the Awards Ceremony, Michael proudly wears his ChemClub pin!

Michael Morgan with Richard Zare at the WRM Awards ceremony
Michael Morgan with Richard Zare at the WRM Awards ceremony


Congratulations to Michael from the entire ACS ChemClub family!


ChemClubs + Chemistry = Clean Water for 650 Children a Year!

water dropFresh clean water—seemingly  accessible and plentiful as the air we breathe.  Whenever we need it,  it streams freely from the faucets into our homes or is available in plastic bottles. It may be difficult to imagine that more than 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. It is distressing that every day more than 4,000 children die from diseases caused by contaminated drinking water.

In an effort to deliver clean drinkable water to those without, ACS has partnered with Procter and Gamble (P&G) to purchase water purifier packets. P&G, in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed a low-cost technology in the form of water purification packets that can be used to turn potentially heavily contaminated water into clean and safe drinking water. These packets are being distributed through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) foundation.

Each 4-gram packet treats 10 liters of water similar to the water treatment process used in municipal water systems. The active ingredients in these packets are calcium hypochlorite as a disinfectant and ferric sulfate as a coagulant. As the result of this treatment, even heavily contaminated water meets World Health Organization standards for safe drinking water.  See the packets in action on the CSDW website.

The ChemMatters video below shows how water is treated at a Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats a whopping 370 million gallons of sewage a day!


So what are ChemClubs doing to help?

This year, ChemClubs will reach out to their community with fundraising events to raise money and awareness of the significance of clean water.

Our goal is to raise $5,000 (with over 500 clubs—less than $10 per club!) to purify 500,000 liters (over 132,000 gallons) which means clean water for over 650 children for a year.

Watch the thermometer rise as donations are received. The ChemClubs are making a difference in the world with chemistry!

Watch this blog for posts of ChemClubs raising money for the Coins for Cleaner Water Initiative, such as: Hall High School and East Syracuse-Minoa High School.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever wondered where the practice of giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day originated? The custom dates back to 1680’s England with the Cadbury brothers who had previously invented the first chocolate candies. These two pioneering chocolatiers secured their place in Valentine’s Day lore with the inspired marketing idea of offering their signature chocolate assortments in decorative heart-shaped boxes to mark the holiday. So began an enduring tradition that blissfully continues on to this day.

Did you know that . . .

Chocolate is literally a blissful treat!

“A chemical known to make us happy when we eat chocolate is anandamide, so named because it means “bliss” in Sanskrit. Not only is it present in chocolate, but it is also produced by the brain and blocks out pain and depression. But when anandamide is produced by the brain, it is broken down quickly, so its effects don’t last. Researchers have shown that chemicals in chocolate may inhibit this natural breakdown of anandamide. This means that when you eat chocolate, anandamide molecules from chocolate stay in the body longer.”


(Haines, G.K. Chocolate: The New Health Food. Or Is It? ChemMatters, April 2009, pp 13-15.)


Valentines01The ChemClub Cookbook is packed with delicious recipes, that were shared by ChemClubs last year, and short chemistry facts relating to each recipe. The ChemClub Cookbook makes the perfect gift for any occasion, all year round. The revenues generated from sales benefit the ChemClub program. Clubs can get the book at the discounted price – just send an email to hscheclubs@acs.org for the promo code.