ACS ChemClubs come in many varieties, and in our case we are the STEAM club from Saratoga High School (SHS) in Saratoga, California. In case you have not heard the term, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. We were engaged with lots of different science activities related to art at various events in the San Francisco Bay Area. One such example was the Family Night at the California Academy of Sciences. At the California Academy of Sciences, some 1,500 students from underprivileged schools the Bay Area were invited to enjoy an evening session full of hands-on science activities. The Academy reopened after closing hours and allowed the participants to go to every section of the Academy. The Academy was also filled with booths where children could try hands-on activities. Our SHS STEAM Club sponsored one of these booths and we were able to attract around 300 children per night at our booth!
Another science activity we participated in was a community outreach program at the Saratoga Library, which is right next to our school.At the Saratoga Children’s Library our club was able to provide three different kinds of hands-on science activities for the residents of our city.
Bacon and eggs. A bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Bacon crumbles sprinkled over roasted Brussels sprouts. Even a doughnut topped with maple icing and, you may have guessed, bacon. Hungry yet? These are all food items that have one time or another been on my menu. The common thread, of course, is the crispy, tasty addition of bacon. How does bacon go from its initial properties and appearance to the flavorful, delicious cooked product that many of us love to eat? Continue reading “ChemMatters Infographic: Why Bacon Smells So Good”→
Members of the Westside High School Academic Science Demonstration Chemistry Club spent 2 months during the fall semester and 2 months during the spring semester of the 2016-17 school year planning and organizing our “Morning of Chemistry” days. Once our preparation and planning was complete we presented two morning sessions to the students at Askew Elementary School. During each morning session, students learned about electric circuits, heat transfer, pressure and temperature relationships, combustion, polymers, and chemical reactions via a series of demonstrations and hands-on activities. Students were even allowed to take home a few “souvenirs” that resulted from the activities of the day!
Because science is important in many aspects of life, it’s important to get students interested early and keep them interested throughout middle school, high school, and life after graduation. The Westside High School chemistry club hopes to create citizen scientists one demo day at a time, and with the positive feedback from our first presentations, we plan to continue these “Mornings of Chemistry” next school year.
Visitors to The Dalles Farmers Market, young and old alike, were invited to take a few minutes from their shopping for fresh produce to learn a little bit about chemistry. Our ChemClub from The Dalles, Oregon, received a ChemClub Community Activities Grant to fund hands-on activities last summer and fall at our local outdoor Saturday market. Each activity related to color in some way. Our inspiration was the National Chemistry Week 2015 theme Chemistry Colors Our World.
We offered the activities once a month, from June through October, at the markets community education booth. The five activities were:
Nano bookmarks.Visitors made bookmarks by pulling rectangles of black posterboard through a single drop of clear fingernail polish floated on the surface of a pan of water.
Radial chromatography.Visitors decorated squares of fabric using Sharpie markers and drops of rubbing alcohol.
Solar S’mores.Visitors made s’mores using solar ovens made out of pizza boxes. The activity highlighted the idea that white light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow.
Chem in a Bag.Visitors looked for clues that chemistry was happening in a bag with calcium chloride, baking soda, universal indicator, and water. They observed bubbles, a color change, and a temperature change.
Chemeleons. Visitors painted different acids and bases onto pictures of chemeleons that had been soaked in purple cabbage juice. Depending on the pH of the solution, it resulted in a different color on the paper.
Every activity began with participants getting a safety stamp. After they listened to the brief safety rules, each person got a fruit-themed rubber stamp inked on their hand. For each of our activities that a child visited, they received an entry into an end-of-market drawing for fun science toys from Educational Innovations. We had a great time, and many people got a chance to try some summer science!
To make sense of the endless variety of chemical reactions that can occur, chemists have devised many ways to categorize reactions that seemed similar. One early attempt to explain reactions related to combustion or the burning of various substances involved speculation that a fire-like substance called phlogiston was released. One big problem was the phlogiston could not be detected, and an even bigger problem was that substances that underwent combustion actually gained weight! Continue reading “ChemMatters Infographic: A Quick Guide to Organic Reactions”→