USC Union to host National Chemistry Week event

Derik Vanderford Staff Writer

October 23, 2013

UNION — USC Union will host a free event at which elementary school students will have the opportunity to learn about chemistry with university students.

The event — scheduled from 9 a.m.-noon this Friday, Oct. 26, in USC Union’s Truluck Gym — will be held in celebration of National Chemistry Week.

The free event — open to first and second graders, as well as home school students — will be the third annual event of its kind at the university, and university students in Dr. Helene Maire-Afeli’s biology and chemistry classes will present chemistry “magic tricks” and hands-on projects for elementary students.

One hands-on project students will take home with them is a homemade snow globe, made with a baby food jar and a plastic figurine. Maire-Afeli said the project was a popular one at last year’s event.

“My (university) students made the solution, which formed crystals that looked like snowflakes,” she said. “The kids loved it.”

Students will also make “slime” using corn starch, water and food coloring. Maire-Afeli compared it to an experiment seen on the popular television sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” in which the characters mixed corn starch and water together and placed it on a speaker to watch it “dance” as music played. The mixture will start as a liquid and solidify as children play with it. Then, it will go back to a liquid.

One of the new exhibits for this year’s National Chemistry Week event will be the Gamecock biofuel trailer from the University of South Carolina Columbia campus.

Origin Of National Chemistry Week

National Chemistry Day — first celebrated in 1987 by members of the American Chemical Society (ACS), educators and other individual volunteers — was a vision of the former ACS President Dr. George C. Pimentel. His goal was for ACS to hold a simultaneous event nationwide to impress on the public the importance of chemistry in everyday life. The first celebration was kicked off with a parade down the streets in Washington, D.C.

In 1989 the celebration was expanded to a biannual full-week event, and in 1993 National Chemistry Week became an annual celebration.