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Chemistry Bonds

Students celebrate National Chemistry Week with community outreach.


Leave it to young people to relate to young people.

A group of Ohio Northern University chemistry majors celebrated National Chemistry Week by inviting local middle school students to witness demonstrations of the power of chemistry. The lucky students learned how to skewer a balloon without popping it, made “green slime” and got to watch rubber duckies explode.

“The idea was to start an event that we could do yearly during National Chemistry Week,” says Zach Dunn, a senior Goldwater Scholar from Harrod, Ohio. “We wanted this event to be something that would be fun and entertaining, but we also wanted it to be something that would promote chemistry and show people how much fun it can be and how interesting it is.”

The event, officially dubbed the First Annual Ohio Northern University American Chemical Society and Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Demos Extravaganza, was well received by the attendees.

"My favorite thing would be everything involving liquid nitrogen, and the different colored fire,” says Jake Colwell, a sixth-grader at Ada Exempted Village Schools. “The whole thing was just pretty amazing, and I thought it was pretty cool to see students (rather than professors) doing the demonstrations.”

While the event was free and open to the public, the student organizers asked for each family to bring a nonperishable food item for the Ada Food Pantry.

Other events held in honor of National Chemistry Week included a “slime”-making workshop in McInstosh; guest speaker Dr. Wayne Jones from the State University of New York at Binghampton, who presented "Molecular Wires and Devices: Nanomaterials in the Modern World”; a liquid nitrogen ice cream social; “Dress Like an Element” day; and a periodic table made entirely out of carved pumpkins.

All events were sponsored by the Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) and Gamma Sigma Epsilon, the newly founded chemistry honorary. Dr. Jones’ presentation was co-sponsored by the Northwest Central Ohio Local Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS).