ACS presents The Smallest Big Idea in Science

Robyn McNeil, Staff Writer

Students will be able to perform experiments and learn about nanotechnology when FMU’s chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS) presents “Nanotechnology: The Smallest Big Idea in Science” in honor of National Chemistry Week on Wednesday, Oct. 24th.

The event is open to students of all majors and will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the front lawn of the Founders Hall building.

ACS Adviser Dr. Jennifer Kelley, a chemistry professor, and ACS President Yana Sivolobova have been involved with the planning and production of the event.

National Chemistry Week has been observed by the ACS since 1986. Each year the organization celebrates a different development in the field of chemistry.  This year the ACS has chosen to highlight the progress and developments in nanotechnology, the engineering and use of materials at the atomic and molecular levels.

Sivolobova, a senior majoring in chemistry, explained what type of activities students will participate in and what lessons they will learn by doing them.

“[ACS] is preparing interactive activities for all students which will demonstrate some of the fundamental principles of nanotechnology,” Sivolobova said.  “Students will have an opportunity to perform simple, amusing experiments and learn how what they have observed applies to health, environment, energy and materials.”

Students will experiment with common nanotechnology products, such as sunscreen and hydrogel.  However, they will also work with less common materials, like Space Sand and ferrofluid, which were developed by NASA to replicate and contend with conditions in space.

The sunscreen activity will test the effects of prolonged sun exposure and illustrate how the chemicals in sunscreen prevent sunburn and skin cancer.

While experimenting with hydrogel, a chemical capable of attracting and absorbing large amounts of water, students will learn how it is used in products, such as contact lenses and diapers.

Lastly, students will observe how water interacts with Space Sand and ferrofluids.  Space Sand is similar to the type of soil found on Mars, and it is incapable of getting wet because it does not absorb water. A ferrofluid is a magnetic fluid that can control the flow of water and other liquids in space.

Sivolobova explained that the mission of ACS is to raise awareness about the importance of chemistry and the role that it plays in daily life.

“Our goal is to promote the value of chemistry in everyday life by demonstrating how new developments shape our modern society,” Sivolobova said.

For more information on this event and the ACS visit the organization’s Facebook page or contact Kelley by phone at (843) 661-1492 or by e-mail at