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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

Connecting children to chemistry

Chemistry+Open+House
Photo by Photo by Leah Kappayil
Chemistry Open House

Strawberry DNA extraction, super slime and polymer smoothies were just a sliver of the numerous demonstrations and hands-on activities available to attendees at Saturday’s 29th annual Chemistry Open House and Science Exploration Gallery.
The demonstrations were put on by faculty and students from all around the Department of Chemistry and volunteers from biology, physics and science related organizations. The event had multiple stations around the Chemistry Building, with presentations like the Chemistry Roadshow, Low Temperature Physics Extravaganza, Research Lab tours and a variety of demonstrations. The goal of the event was to get kids interested in chemistry, but it was open to everyone of all ages.
“Basically it’s all to get kids interested in science and to let them know kind of who we are in Chemistry Department, the kind of things chemists do for the community,” said volunteer and chemistry grad student Anna Christianson.
The Aggies Forensic and Investigative Science Organization (AFISO) was one of the many groups present and their demonstration involved identifying blood at a crime scene. They had four different types of fake blood and real blood that they added hydrogen peroxide to, making a reaction demonstrating how to identify blood at a crime scene.
“What happens when you add hydrogen peroxide and blood together, [is] it foams up quickly,” said Katherina Kang, forensic and investigative science nior. “It does a violent reaction and it’s really interesting to see. So if you were to react hydrogen peroxide with the blood or the fake blood, it wouldn’t react at all, but even with dry blood, it foams up immediately.”  
Christianson said one of the most popular attractions of the Open House is the Chemistry Roadshow hosted by Jim Pennington, instructional assistant professor of chemistry.
“It’s an hour show where he does a bunch of big chemistry demonstrations with explosions, elephant toothpaste, reactions that make a lot of heat or light or slime and so it’s a lot of fun,” Christianson said. “He also puts that on at local schools.”
The Chemistry Roadshow travels all over Texas during the summer and occasionally during the school year to educate and spark interest in chemistry. Pennington’s show includes explosions, elephant toothpaste, an “evil” gummy bear and more.
Iyan Cirillo, College Station resident and A&M Consolidated High School sophomore said the color changing flames was his favorite part of the show.
“I personally liked when [Pennington] was messing with the colors of the flames, with the metal,” Cirillo said. “He explained how it’s used besides chemistry, he explained that it’s used in fireworks and I believe he explained how it burned, but there was a kid crying behind me so I didn’t hear it.”
Wayne Versaw and his son Miles are College Station residents who attended the event. They said their favorite demonstration was “Visualizing the Invisible.”
“They had a light and some mirrors — they’d shine the light and [the mirror] would refract it and he had a lighter and the gas from the lighter — the butane — would interrupt the waves that are refracted in a different way,”  said Miles Versaw, A&M Consolidated High School sophomore. “They had a little TV and you could see the way the actual stream of butane coming out even though you normally couldn’t see that with your eye. That was pretty neat.”

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