I headed 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?
The 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”!