Chemistry Club on Display
Recently, the Geneva College Chemistry Club participated in a two-day ChemFest, which was held at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center as part of the 2013 National Chemistry Week (NCW). Members of the club shared their scientific enthusiasm and knowledge with nearly 4,000 high school, junior high and homeschooled students by demonstrating the relationship between energy and light.
“The idea was to show that chemistry is in everything, and light can be used very easily to make that connection,” said senior biochemistry major Andrew Hiser.
Hiser was the motivator and organizer behind the Chemistry Club’s participation in the event. “Basically, I wanted Geneva to be involved with NCW so that we could inform the public that we have a great science program,” he said.
Hiser’s passion attracted a large group of Geneva students to help with the event, including club president Ian MacKenzie, senior; Sarah Abbott, senior; Thomas Corwin, senior; Hannah Dell, senior; Peter Doyle, senior; Katelin Grant, junior; Alonzo Mable, senior; Liz McPeek, senior; and Quang Nguyen, senior.
The chemistry club’s demonstrations included an LED light box that displayed the visible light spectra, as well as a fish tank with fluorescent fish (GloFish), fluorescent liquids and a black light. “Most of the older kids had ideas what spectroscopes were and the uses for them, but did not have a good knowledge of fluorescence. However, for the younger kids it was a more difficult task and so we used the GloFish,” said Hiser.
A number of college clubs and businesses—313 volunteers from 36 organizations—provided chemistry demonstrations to aid junior high and high school learning. And according to a general survey of ChemFest guests, Geneva’s Chemistry Club had a very favorable display and a well presented, understandable explanation. “One of the women in charge of giving the surveys was told a great deal about how accurately we had demonstrated fluorescence with simplicity,” said Hiser. In addition, a few middle school and high school teachers asked Geneva students if they would be willing to give future demonstrations at their school.
Club advisor and chemistry professor Dr. Kerry McMahon believes teaching the demonstrations was helpful to students in a variety of ways. “It makes our students prepared so that they are ready to answer questions,” said McMahon. “In order to do so they need to understand the science behind the demonstrations.”
The Geneva students also appreciated the interaction that was made possible through their participation in ChemFest, according to MacKenzie: “I feel that I gained both connections and experience. The kids were fun and interesting; some were incredibly smart and had us on our toes.”
-Jessica Driscoll ’14