Fermi Questions: Back of the Envelope Calculations

The Art of Estimation
When I was in high school, in the days before electronic calculators were available, we learned how to use mechanical slide rules (see ChemMatters, April 2004, p.4) for our calculations. While they were great for getting a good answer to math problems, they didn’t keep track of the decimal place. That had to be done by keeping track of an order of magnitude estimate of the answer. Continue reading “Fermi Questions: Back of the Envelope Calculations”

Happy Mole Day

The Union Homeschool ChemClub in Union, New Jersey, made it a fun Mole Day celebration in 2016. With the ChemClub Periodic Table of Moles nearby and a stuffed ACS mole watching over the event (see photo), they started by calculating the molar mass of several chemicals and then prepared different molar concentrations of sucrose, sodium chloride, and magnesium sulfate solutions. After adding their chalk artwork to the sidewalk, they calculated how many moles of chalk they left on the sidewalk. Then they were given a mole of four different metals and had to use their chemistry skills to identify each one. They topped off the celebration by making delicious sugar cookies that spelled out “Happy Mole Day” (see photo).

Pleasant View School’s 2015-2016 Activities

Our Pleasant View School ACS ChemClub has been very active this year. Our club activities are designed to help achieve our school’s goal in science to “foster an understanding and appreciation of the scientific method.” We were able to do this over the course of the year with a variety of activities, including hosting a Science Expo, and organizing field trips to help clean up the shores of the Mississippi river in Memphis, and a visit to our local wastewater treatment plant.

Science Expo

Last January, Pleasant View School’s ChemClub in Memphis, Tennessee, opened the gym to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students to display their Science Expo. A variety of science experiments were laid out: dry ice bubbles, milk fireworks, and an explosive volcano to name just a few. You can try similar experiments yourself take a look at Boo Bubbles and Interactive Colors in Milk. The electric energy of excited students and creative projects helped ensure that chemistry remains a subject that will continue to attract students for years to come. Continue reading “Pleasant View School’s 2015-2016 Activities”

The Martian Virtual Book Club

You’re stranded.

Not much to eat. You’re injured. Someone took your ride. No way to contact someone to come pick you up. No one else around.

What next?

Oh, has anyone mentioned that you’re on Mars?

Share character Mark Watney’s experience as he fights for survival in Andy Weir’s book The Martian. Will he be able to survive? How can he use science to solve his problems?

Continue reading “The Martian Virtual Book Club”

Seminole HS ChemClub Off to a Colorful Start

Greetings, from the newly formed Chemistry Club at Seminole High School, Seminole, FL! We are all so excited about this club and have done so many fun things so far! We started our first meet and greet session by dyeing goggles that we wear every time we have an activity (at every monthly meeting). Not only are our chemistry students interested in being a pSeminole_4art of the club, but our enthusiasm is contagious, as underclassman who haven’t even had a chemistry class are involved too. We’ve done fun experiments such as testing solubility rules by making hot chocolate, separating polymer letters from m&m candies, and doing radial chromatography t-shirts.

We partnered with the Seminole HS Technology Students Association to screen print “Life is an experiment, test your hypothesis” onto our colorful chemistry shirts. Thanks again to Mr. Winsey and his chemistry/equipment lesson after school!

We are heading into February and having our 1st ever Chem Cook-off (major ingredient-chocolate). Five teams of five ChemClub members each are working together to create a chocolate dessert without knowing what type of chocolate they will be given. We are working with the cooking teacher, Mrs. Whitfield, in her kitchen. Each group has their own recipe and will bring in their own basic ingredients, along with their creative flair. We are really looking forward to tasting all the scrumptious desserts that result.

In March, we will be studying how art and chemistry are related and work together by watching awesome video clips on beautifulchemistry.net. We are thinking about the nature of crystalline architecture as art.

In April, we will study the atmosphere and climate by doing the crushed can experiment and working with dry ice. We might possibly view a Bill Nye video on pressure.

In May, we are planning on talking about chemistry careers and having some University of Florida pharmacy students talk with the members.
Seminole_3 Seminole_2 Seminole_1