Club Spotlight: Chemistry Club
A public safety announcement was recently a hot topic of conversation after Starbucks released its annually-sought-after pumpkin spice beverages. Pumpkin spice lattes have been tested by a series of independent chemical research firms and the results came back revealing high alkalinity in these annual beverages, with pH levels ranging from 13.7 to 14.2. Beware the basicity of this beverage before you buy!
If you understood the joke in the previous paragraph—perhaps even smiling to yourself after you finally processed it—then the Loras College chemistry club is probably the place for you.
But even if you didn’t get the joke, don’t worry—clever science jokes and puns aren’t all this club is known for. Chemistry club is comprised of a fun, mutually-science-loving group of Duhawks who are interested in helping the community, spreading scientific knowledge, hosting fun events for the club itself, and even traveling to national chemistry conferences once a year.
“My favorite part about being a member of the chemistry club is the opportunity to volunteer on and off campus. From the Walking Classroom at Lincoln Elementary to the Chemistry Olympics and Carnival of Chemistry on campus, the chemistry club offers us the great opportunity to give back and share science with the community,” said senior Zach Ney, current chemistry club president.
The main outreach events the chemistry club puts on includes: the Chemistry Olympics in the spring and the Walking Classroom all year long. Loras’ annual Chemistry Olympics is one of the biggest events the club puts on. It is a day for local high schoolers to come to campus and compete in various laboratory events. The most accurate answers win each event, and at the end of the day, one school brings home a trophy. This is a great opportunity for prospective students to glimpse a fun side of chemistry while also receiving a first-hand look at Loras’ chemistry department.
Additionally, the club leads a STEM education program at Lincoln Elementary school.
A few years ago, the Lincoln after-school program began working with a Loras Honors Program group to bring a nationally-recognized “Walking Classroom” program to Lincoln. It has been a great success with both Loras students and the Lincoln students they get to work with, and the club has been happy to continue the tradition. Both “The Walking Classroom” and the Chemistry Olympics are great outreach opportunities that would look good on anyone’s resume, from education majors to STEM majors.
Other than outreach, the chemistry club also focuses on club inclusivity and social events. There are generally a few “chemistry socials” per semester than include everything from science pictionary, ultimate spoons, and creating ice cream with liquid nitrogen. At the beginning of the academic year, the club hosts an annual barbecue complete with yard games and Dr. Oostendorp at the grill. At the end of the academic year, the club participates in an end-of-the-year pool party and cookout at Dr. O’s house. Both are fun events and historically have had great attendance; who doesn’t want free food?
Juniors and seniors in the club also get to attend the national spring American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting, where they can listen to research talks, attend a graduate school fair, meet other chemists, and present their own research posters. Last year, the spring ACS meeting was held in Orlando, FL. This year, the spring meeting will be held in Philadelphia, PA. The national meetings are one of the most exciting events the chemistry club upperclassmen look forward to each year, and often result in close friendships.
“The chemistry club is very inclusive, with the desire to make close knit friendships. [It] showed me that, even though science classes can be challenging and require many outside-of-class hours to complete assignments, we still know that having fun and socializing is an important part of college. Through the chemistry program, I have made some of my best friends, and I would not change it for the world,” said senior Keighley Lipetzky, another club officer.
So why does this club have such a happy community? Well, the answer is quite simple: the optimist sees the glass half-full; the pessimist sees the glass half-empty; and the chemist sees the glass completely full—half in the liquid state, half in the vapor state. What other club on campus can claim the same sanguinity?
“The chemistry club helps to form a strong sense of community for all its members, and community is one of the most important things at Loras. So, whenever I see another club member in the Science Hall—or just walking through campus—I make sure to say hi,” said senior Sarah Krieger, event planning officer for the club.
Joining Loras’ chemistry club is easy—just send an email to junior communications officer Kylie Holubar (Kylie.Holubar@loras.edu) and she will add you to the club email list. This club can be as high-commitment or as low-commitment as you want it to be—attend as many meetings, volunteer opportunities, or events as you want to fit into your schedule. You can also show additional support to the chemistry club and science department by following them on Instagram (@lorascollegechemistry) and Facebook (Loras College Chemistry Department).
*Finally, the author would like to apologize for not adding more chemistry puns to this article; unfortunately, she can only come up with good ones periodically!