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!
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).