Chemistry demonstrations help community learn

Chemistry faculty members and students from Mercyhurst University and other area schools were stationed at the Millcreek Mall to interest shoppers of all ages with demonstrations and interactive experiments all about nanotechnology on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Mercyhurst University faculty members and students led hands-on chemistry demonstrations tailored for elementary and middle school students. The program’s theme, “Do More with Less,” focused on nanotechnology: what it is and what it can do for our society.

Other participating schools included Penn State Behrend, Allegheny College, Edinboro University, Gannon University, the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville and Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy.

Some of the stationed activities offered were mole tattoos to represent the unit of measurement used in chemistry to express amounts of a chemical substance, with the value of 6.022×1023, as well as learning about how temporary tattoos stick to skin, smelling scent-filled latex balloons to guess what scents are inside, learning about magnets and how their poles make a difference in their magnetic abilities.

“I believe the mall is a poor location to demonstrate chemistry. I don’t think people going to the mall really want to learn chemistry as they shop,” said junior biology major Heather Christensen. “The community should be aware of ways that science can improve their way of living.”

One of the students who participated was 8-year-old Melanie.

“Science is my favorite thing about going to school,” she said. “When I grow up I want to be a science teacher. They should have science days more.”

This event, which has been going on in Erie for over 20 years, helps the community to stay current with emerging technologies. By discussing medicine, cars, computers, and sports, and even sun screen, the students were able to understand more about nanotechnology in their everyday lives.

This year’s program was sponsored by the John Nesbit Rees and Sarah Henne Rees Charitable Foundation and the Erie chapter of the American Chemical Society and marked the 25th anniversary of National Chemistry Week.