The Science of Cool: New Paltz Celebrates National Chemistry Week

The Chemistry Department and Chemistry Club hosted Family Mole Night on Friday 25 October in celebration of National Chemistry Week.  The title of the theme this year was, “Energy Now and Forever!” and most of the experiments, designed for children within the New Paltz community that spanned ages from 8 to 12, were related to energy.  Over 20 undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry and other disciplines in science assisted children in hands-on experiments involving the first law of thermodynamics, the combustion reaction, and the elements of the periodic table.  About 35 children registered for the hour and a half event.

National Chemistry Week
Every year, around the third week of October, Chemists and scientific professionals celebrate National Chemistry Week.  The American Chemical Society picks a different theme each year.  For 2013, it was Energy: Now and Forever.  Different activities are planned at the various local sections around the country.
The Mid Hudson section is one of 187 local ACS sections that participate in year round programming, which includes organizing Chemistry themed talks and hosting events where the public can see Chemistry in action.  For this year's NCW, several of the colleges in the Hudson Valley hosted elementary school children and allowed them to work on science experiments and see demonstrations.    

One of the colleges that take part is SUNY New Paltz.  

This year, the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce also helped to ring in NCW.  At their October After Hours mixer at Barnabys, one of the scientific experiments that SUNY New Paltz had planned for the children was performed for the Chamber members in attendance.  This experiment was designed around the concept of combustion.  Two candles were lit, and each one was covered by a glass beaker.  Two different sized beakers were used.  The seal was made air tight between the beaker rim and the table so that only the air contained within the beaker would be usable by the flame.  As the flames burned, they used the oxygen in the available air supply and released carbon dioxide gas.  When this experiment is done for children, they are asked to predict which candle will burn out first.  The flame under the smaller container will burn out first because that system has less oxygen to be used up.  

The New Paltz Chamber attendees were also able to hear about some of the other activities that would be taking place during NCW.  In a final Chemistry demonstration for the evening, a chemical volcano was made using colored vinegar and baking soda.  At the college locations, the NCW night is often ended by making ice cream using milk or cream and liquid nitrogen.  


Shown above - Goerge Ruger, Owner of Palladium Science Academy - science experiments for kids.