A significant focus of the St. Louis Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is directed toward encouraging and supporting STEM chemistry-related activities among children and adolescents. The “Chemistry is pHun” program is one of the Section’s popular outreach programs. Chemistry is pHun volunteers have historically presented hands-on demonstrations/workshops in classrooms for K-12 students based on well-developed modules.
Chemistry is pHun experienced significant growth in the academic year 2017-2018. In addition to the Rockwood School District Partners in Education (PIE) program, presentations were given in elementary schools in the Kirkwood School District, River Bend Elementary School in the Parkway School District and Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic School in Ladue. Will Ridley with expert assistance of Melissa de Weaver and Lisa Balbes presented the “States of Matter” program 33 times in 16 elementary schools to 1312 second-grade students. In the “States of Matter” program solid, liquid, and gas states are explored, mainly of water, demonstrating the addition or release of energy in the form of heat when changing physical states. “Glue(p)”, a polymer made from Elmer’s glue and a borax solution is made to show a substance that has properties of both liquids and solids.Amy Kerkemeyer and Will Ridley presented the program “Crushing Cans” to 240 students in the 3, 4 and 5 grades at the River Bend Elementary School all day STEM Fair on February 6, 2018. Seventy-two soda cans were crushed in a spectacular manner by rapidly inverting a can containing boiling water into a bucket of cold water. The condensation of the steam to liquid water results in a vacuum that smashes the can.
“Chemistry is pHun” presented “Polymers are Marvelous Molecules” workshop as part of the Expanding Your Horizons Conference at the St. Louis Community College-Meramec, March 12, 2017. Presenters from the St. Louis Section of ACS, Amy Kerkemeyer, Rhonda Woerndle, Cynthia Chapple and Anuradha Vummenthala, described the properties of DNA, a biological polymer, and Glue(p), a synthetic polymer composed of polyvinylacetate crosslinked with borax. Three groups of twenty 7-10th grade young women then extracted DNA from strawberries and prepared Glue(p) by mixing 30 mL of 50:50 Elmer’s glue and water with 11 mL of saturated borax solution.A new program “Acids, Bases and the Scientific Method” developed by Will Ridley was presented to the 8th grade class at Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic School on April 3, 2018. In this presentation the students use the steps of the scientific method and hands-on titration to determine the relative content of acid in lemon, grapefruit, orange and apple juice.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, “Chemistry is pHun” is seeking interested college chemistry students from throughout the St. Louis area, working chemists who can spare an occasional half day from work and retired ACS members with a desire to inspire and encourage an interest in chemistry-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among elementary students. Training is available and a schedule should be completed for the next academic year in September 2018. Please contact Will Ridley, Chemistry is pHun Coordinator, St. Louis Section of ACS, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, cell phone: 314-920-1507, for additional information.