FMU club celebrates National Chemistry Week

Staci Poston, Assistant Editor

Francis Marion’s chapter of the American Chemical Society will be holding Chemistry Olympics on Friday, Oct. 22 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the University Center in celebration of National Chemistry Week.

National Chemistry Week spans from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24. This year’s theme is “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry.” The chemistry club hopes that the events they have planned for the Chemistry Olympics will help raise interest in and provide information about not only their organization but chemistry in general.

Al Knowlton, a senior chemistry major who is a member of the club, explained the purpose of the Chemistry Olympics.

“This is what we’re doing to raise awareness of chemistry at Francis Marion,” Knowlton said. “We’re trying to let people know two things: that there’s a chemistry club, and that chemists aren’t necessarily weird, scary people.”

There are many different activities planned for the Chemistry Olympics. By participating in the games and activities that are planned, students can gain understanding about chemistry, have fun and possibly win prizes. Some of the prizes that will be offered include bumper stickers, National Chemistry Week temporary tattoos, t-shirts, stuffed moles, colored lab goggles, periodic table posters and flasks full of candy.

The activities include games such as periodic table twister, pin the functional group on the benzene ring, toss the cork ring on the ring stand, and guess how many grains of sand makes 10 grams.

A mole scavenger hunt will also take place in honor of Avogadro’s number.

“There will be (little paper) moles hidden all over campus, and people have to go find them,” Knowlton said.

Another planned activity is blindfolded mouth pipetting. Participants will practice pipetting a liquid, probably vinegar, by mouth. They will attempt to draw up a certain amount of the liquid without being able to see what they’re doing.

Speed molecular model building will provide another activity in which people simultaneously compete and learn with each other.

“We’re going to show people how to build models of molecules … then whoever does it the fastest wins,” Knowlton said.

Another activity is called titrate to the lightest pink in 30 seconds.

Knowlton provided some background information on the activity.

“A titration is an analytic method used to determine how much of some substance is in a solution,” he said.

He explained that an unknown amount of acid will be present in a solution. Participants must neutralize the acid with a base. When neutralized, a phenylthaline indicator will turn pink. The participant whose indicator is the lightest pink wins.

“We’re going to give people hands-on experience with equipment and demonstrate that chemistry isn’t really that hard,” Knowlton said.

In honor of the National Week of Chemistry, the group will also be co-sponsoring a symposium with the Chemistry Department and the SGA on Oct. 21 in the Lee Nursing Building auditorium. The symposium will feature Rhonda Craig, an FBI forensic DNA examiner. Refreshments will be offered at 3:30 p.m., and the presentation will begin at 4 p.m.

Anyone interested in joining the chemistry club is welcome to come to the next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The only prerequisite is an interest in chemistry.

“We want to let people know that the chemistry club is out there, and that not all of chemistry occurs in a lab – it’s in everyday life,” Knowlton said.