Elephant toothpaste, flaming gummy bears and exploding pumpkins – oh my!
Auburn University chemistry students inspire next generation of scientists through engaging outreach activities
“Auburn University is deeply rooted in its land-grant mission and it is essential that we provide outreach to support the entire community,” said Vince Ortiz, the Ruth W. Molette Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and faculty advisor for the Auburn University NOBCChE, or National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, Chapter. “These students are inspiring the next generation of diverse chemists who will conduct research leading to more effective and well-rounded advancements in the field of chemistry.”
More than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students made an impact on middle school students in Opelika on Oct. 28.
“As part of the Auburn University NOBCChE Chapter, we conducted chemistry experiments to more than 450 students in fifth through eighth grades at Sanford Middle School,” said Ernest Opoku, president of the university chapter.
These middle school students were able to learn about elephant toothpaste, see flaming gummy bears, watch an erupting soda fountain and even see a pumpkin explode.
The elephant toothpaste demonstration showed how yeast is a catalyst for hydrogen peroxide resulting in a giant chemical reaction. It resembles the amount of toothpaste would look like appropriate for an elephant.
The flaming gummy bear demonstration taught students about the release of energy. As the treats begin to flame, the exothermic reaction gives off a large amount of smoke.
Mentos were added to Coke creating a powerful burst of streaming soda.
Pumpkins exploded after being exposed to liquid nitrogen.
The students also had an opportunity to see interactive tables with pepper and soap, dragon breath, lava lamp, cryogenics and a Ziploc bag explosion.
The event was made possible through the dedication of many volunteers including:
- Aishah Lee
- Chelsea Rand
- Raymond Chidozie
- Kacey Ortiz
- Theophila Dusabamahoro
- Benedicta Donkor
- Sharon Ochieng
- Joshua Ehun
- Taiwoo Adepoju
- Prosenjit Ray
- Andresa Bezerra
- Chase Ledbetter
- Ernest Opoku
The current leadership team of the Auburn University NOBCChE Chapter is:
- President – Ernest Opoku
- Vice President – Jada Neal
- Secretary – Theophila Dusabamahoro
- Treasurer – Benedicta Donkor
- Social Chair – Sharon Ochieng
- Outreach Co-Chairs – Chelsea Rand and Raymond Chidozie Ugochukwu
- Faculty Advisors – Vincent Ortiz and Symone Alexander
For more information about this organization, contact Ernest Opoku at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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