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Catawba Hosts Middle Schoolers at "Solving Mysteries through Chemistry" Event

November 08, 2016

Category: Academics, Chemistry, Events, Students


IMG_0747.jpgBy Shannon Garrick '17

As a way to celebrate National Chemistry Week, Catawba College's American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted area middle school students, their families and teachers at a "Solving Mysteries through Chemistry" event on campus October 22.

The event, held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Shuford Science building on campus, was made possible by a grant the ACS received.

The event began with the students learning the most important sets of rules about lab safety, followed by a short discussion on the scientific method. Those attending witnessed a demonstration of elephant toothpaste or a "volcano of foam" that is caused by rapid decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. They also saw a demonstration of luminol, which exudes the chemiluminescent properties of the chemical and glows. Thereafter, these students proceeded to explore several different areas, learning how to solve mysteries through hands-on demonstrations that they performed.

These demonstrations were entitled: "Killer Plants," "Guts to Glory," "Glass to Silver," "Pop Your Top," "Sink or Swim," and "How High". The "Guts to Glory" demonstration taught students about the eating habits of owls. Students were able to dissect the undigested portions of an owl's food, known as the pellet, and discover what the owls had eaten by identifying the bones found. "How High" was a demonstration based bouncy balls. During it, students learned about polymers and the process of polymerization; they even made and colored their very own bouncy ball.IMG_0813.jpg

A mid-morning break gave the students an opportunity to mingle over a periodic table arrangement of cupcakes. Each experiment, the cupcakes, and the demonstrations allowed participants to learn a little more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and the scientific method in a fun and exciting environment. The participants also received a taste of the small, personal attention that every member of the Catawba College community has grown to love.
Due to the collaborative efforts in the science department at Catawba, students of the ACS were graciously assisted by members of other scientific organizations on campus, including Gamma Sigma Epsilon, Environmental Catawba Outreach (E.C.O.) and Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta). All Catawba student volunteers worked together to put on an outstanding event.