Halloween Chemistry

halloween-1486549_1280Halloween Chemistry and Mole Day are rising to the top of the most visited list on the ACS ChemClub Activities page. It must be October! If you haven’t visited the page before, ChemClubs offers a new Activity of the Month, well… every month. Each Activity collection focuses on a particular theme. For example, the latest topic is Makeup, Tattoos, and Hair. Each theme has a curated list of links. We comb the web for experiments, demonstrations, informational sites, and videos related to the month’s theme, then categorize and collect them with brief descriptions. ChemClubs also archives past Activity of the Month pages. The Halloween Chemistry and Mole Day pages are typically among the most popular during this time of year.

Mole Day may be over for the year, but bookmark the page for ideas for 2017. There’s still time to use the Halloween collection to get ideas for adding some creepy chemistry and spooky science to your day.

Some things you’ll find on the Halloween Chemistry Activity of the Month page:

  • Looking to make chemistry your Halloween wardrobe of choice? Take a look at the Costumes tab for ideas on masquerading as your favorite element or compound.
  • One link in the Body Parts tab suggests giving a classic demonstration a Halloween twist. You could probably dig up the materials at your house right now. Fill a plastic zip-seal bag with water, add red food coloring, and seal to create a bag of blood. Then, stab through the bag with skewers or sharpened pencils. The bag won’t leak due to the structure of the polymers that make up the bag.
  • Dry ice is indispensable for a bubbling cauldron effect. But, it can also be used to create a crystal ball filled with a swirling fog of the future. Look for the Boo Bubbles link in the Dry Ice tab. I’ve used the homemade container featured in the Sick Science! video at the link with kid-crowd-pleasing results.

There’s lots more to explore. Take a look at this Halloween collection or a different Activity of the Month new or old.

Gifts for Geeks

chemists who say ni t-shirt
Think Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Smart kids tend to love the esoteric, and nothing quite fulfills this tendency better than an obscure academic t-shirt design.  The best-known model of this fashion(?) is perhaps the character Sheldon on the TV series The Big Bang Theory.  He is rarely seen on the show in anything other than a t-shirt.  Sheldon’s shirts feature designs ranging from a periodic tables to the double helix model of DNA.  He also sports designs from various comic book super heroes (Superman, The Flash, The Green Lantern) or obscure internet video series (TableTop, The Guild).

 
 
 

When I was teaching I used to receive a small catalog called the Journal of Academic T-Shirts.  It was filled with all sorts of designs from music, history and science.  It was always a hit when I passed it around in my science classes, and I occasionally ordered something for myself.

When it comes to geek chic, the more obscure the better, as just about anyone can come up with a Periodic Table shirt.  But, where can you or the ChemClub students buy such products?  Here are a few ideas.

Ah - The element of surprise t-shirtZazzle has a number of cool shirts on a page titled, “Chemistry Geek Gifts” , from  ‘Never Forget’ (the Sliderule) to Maxwell’s Equation.  There is also a shirt for ‘the element of surprise’ which features Ah! In the format of a chemical element.

The Think Geek site has a number of shirts and other novelty items, including a Periodic Table shower curtain and a Rutherford-Bohr model atom necklace pendant.

Shirt Woot! has a number of Schodinger’s Cat based shirts and tons of other esoterica. And finally, perhaps the best site of all, Café Press, which listed 288,000 results for a search on ‘science gifts.’ My favorite was one that said “Correlation ≠Causation”. Truer words have never been, well, spoken.