This past Saturday, the Loras student chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted the first ever Chemistry Carnival. During this three hour carnival, the St. Joseph Science Hall hosted elementary-aged children who participated in hands-on chemistry-related demonstrations and activities.
All of the activities were aimed to show how chemistry affects everyone’s life – from using sodium polyacrylate as a super-absorber in diapers to testing for starch in food! There were five rooms total, each which had its own chemical theme, such as the “Chemistry of Your Body” or “Green Chemistry.”
Some of the most popular activities included rock-candy making [an activity in which children could watch and learn about crystal formation] as well as silly putty synthesis [an activity where participants could make their own putty and learn about synthetic polymers at the same time].
In addition to these popular activities, over a dozen additional demonstrations remained. An “It’s not Magic, It’s Chemistry” show was also performed every hour by Dr. David Speckhard and Dr. Edward Maslowsky. During this show, children were dazzled and amazed by demonstrations with liquid nitrogen, fiery explosions, and more. They also learned that the real “magic” behind these spectacular sights is actually chemistry in action.
Though an exact count was not obtained, an estimated 300-500 people attended this event. The ACS officers and their moderator, Dr. David Oostendorp, helped to execute this event. However, this success would not have been possible without the amazing volunteers and ACS members who ran the hands on activities, nor would have it existed without Dr. Christina Edwards, who came with original vision of the carnival and was the chief organizer of this event.
The funding from this event was also generously provided by the local ACS chapter. The Loras ACS and Chemistry department hope that this year’s success will lead to another carnival next year, with more chemistry to astound and excite.