DVC Chemistry Club students share the fun of chemistry with middle school students

student success

chemistry club

DVC Chemistry Club students, with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, participated in “COOL Nite,” an outreach to middle school students held recently at Cal State University East Bay in Concord. COOL, or “College Offers Opportunities for Life,” is an event intended to expose middle school students to some of the opportunities that are available to them by attending college.

“Although many of the participants are middle school students,” said Jean Ruehl, Chemistry Club co-adviser along with Tish Young, “a lot of parents brought their entire families, so many younger children also were present.”

Chemistry Club members developed a number of interactive chemistry activities for the students, including:

  • using dry ice (solid CO2) to make ice cream
  • a trivia game where students earned free Smarties candy for correctly answering chemistry questions
  • making slime by mixing together solutions of polyvinylalcohol and borax
  • a station where students could spray paper with ammonia to reveal hidden messages and pictures that had been painted in a chemical call phenolphthalein 

The participating middle school students also got take-home bags of goodies that included periodic tables of the elements and chemistry-themed stickers, which were prepared by the Chemistry Club members.

“The Club’s main goal was to spark students’ interest in chemistry by showing them some of the many applications of chemistry in the real world,” Ruehl said. “We wanted to get students excited enough about science that they might elect to study it in high school or even college.”

While the students participated hands-on in the activities, the Chem Club members talked to them about the chemistry behind each experiment, and also told them a little bit about what it was like to study chemistry at DVC 

“The Chemistry Club is new, founded at DVC this year,” Ruehl explained. “It is a student chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the officers, as well as a few other members, are ACS student members. The Club meets twice a month on Fridays during the regular semester. Besides participating in outreach activities, we have taken a variety of field trips, including to the UCSF Medical Center, UCSF research labs, Dow Chemical, and Lawrence Berkeley Labs. We have also invited guest speakers to our meetings to talk about what it is like to transfer to a four-year school, to attend graduate school, and to have a career as a chemist. Our club officers this year were an incredibly motivated group of students who organized all these events on their own.” 

Chemistry Club members who participated in the outreach event were Deann Clark, Hoang Cao, Danielle Turner, Susan Fredericks, Kathy Le, Annie Cheong, Gustavo Gomez, Jennifer Gomez, and Alicia Herrera.

“The Chemistry Club needs to recruit new members for the coming school year,” Ruehl said. “Interested students should check out the DVC Chem Club webpage designed by Cassy Havens, which can be found at www.dvcchem.org/club.

“The Club hopes to participate in similar outreach activities in the future,” Ruehl added. “In order to raise funds for the supplies needed for these outreach activities, the Club holds a ‘Goggle Sale’ during the first two weeks of each semester. The sale is located in front of the chemistry labs in the Physical Science building.” 

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