Sigma Pi ignites scientific interest in the community
By Alannah Domangue
Beginning this story with a chemistry joke would prove itself easy, but Sigma Pi members would probably say, all of them argon. It could be the mutual love for chemistry that brings these science enthusiasts together, or possibly the pure enjoyment of watching objects explode.
For a number of years, the chemistry club, formally known as Sigma Pi, has been recognized on a national level under the reins of former university professor, Dr. Darrell Watson. This spring, the American Chemical Society will present the club with the Commendable Chapter Award and the Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award for the previous academic year.
Since Sigma Pi’s charter in 1977, students and faculty consider the club as one of the most active organizations on campus. It focuses on outreach.
Senior chemistry and computer science double major and club environmental officer Zach Winfield said, “Our main goal is to teach kids science isn’t as scary as it seems.”
The team does this through various activities both on and off campus.
A shared favorite among most of the club members is Demos In The Dark, an annual event held in October.
Quy Nguyen, senior biology and chemistry double major and club president, said he enjoys creating the explosions for the demo performance.
Later in the fall, the group hosts a day of experiments for local children called Science Saturday, a favorite of senior chemistry major and club historian Alayne Cockrell.
“All the little kids are so funny when they get to play with the experiments. It’s very special to be a part of that.”
However, club members don’t always spend their time creating attended mayhem. Members work diligently to keep Bell County and the campus clean.
“Those recycling bins around,” said Cockrell. “Those are ours.”
The organization takes responsibility for maintaining campus recycle bins. The club also volunteers on behalf of Adopt-A-Highway for regular roadside cleanup.
Additionally, every April, Sigma Pi never fails to set up its Earth Day booth in the SUB to advocate for green living conditions.
Chemistry club co-sponsor, Dr. Joy Ahlgren-Beckendorf, is new to the organization this year. She enjoys working with students in ways outside of the classroom.
“I learn about my students on another dimension,” Ahglren-Beckendorf said. “The best part is, I don’t have to give them a grade.”
Members said the chemistry club continues to grow, creating further opportunities for locals and students.
Recently, the group worked with local Girl and Boy Scout groups for the children to earn science badges. Currently, the group pushes to create tutoring sessions for lower-level chemistry classes at the university.
Although the club presents high achievements for its work, members welcome other students.
Nguyen said, “You don’t have to be a chemistry major. If you like science, you can come help us reach out to the community.”