Sigma Pi and volunteering: perfect chemistry

It was 9 a.m. on a weekend. Why would a bunch of kids and Crusaders wake up so early on their day off? Sigma Pi Chemistry Club says it’s because science is fun.

The campus organization hosted an informational event for children in Wells Science Hall Saturday, Nov. 16.

Linda Files and Gregory Palmer pour liquid nitrogen into a container of apple juice, creating slushes for the kids. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

Linda Files and Gregory Palmer pour liquid nitrogen into a container of apple juice, creating slushes for the kids. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

As youngsters from the community arrived on campus, they received a pair of goggles and a brochure of all the activities for the day.

One demonstration featured a giant bubble, where children were engulfed in a huge soapy ring. Another option was the slime  section, a chemical concoction to get the kids excited.  What child doesn’t love to play with green goop?

The favorite of the day was the liquid nitrogen juice and ice cream. Chemistry Club members poured nitrogen into tubs of orange or apple juice, freezing the drinks to create tasty treats. The children enjoyed watching the colorless, odorless smoke crystallize their favorite breakfast drinks.

Associate professor Dr. Linda Gao teaches in the College of Sciences and advises Sigma Pi. She helped oversee the planning of Science Saturday.

“I hope the kids get a positive message about chemistry from today. It’s a cool way to make people excited about the small things, like the uses of household chemicals you see in daily life,” Gao said.

Sigma Pi is made up of chemistry majors and minors but welcomes anyone with a knack for experimenting.

The group puts on a variety of events every semester, but Science Saturday is a favorite for members. Senior cell biology major and environmental officer Codi Hammons co-directed the event.

She hopes the youngsters left with a better attitude toward science.

When Hammons joined the organization her freshman year, she appreciated the work Sigma Pi does for the community, like highway cleanup and educational events like Saturday’s. She encourages students to join their group.

She said, “I’ve made a lot of friends through this. Science Saturday is definitely my favorite thing we do.”

When Sigma Pi members aren’t volunteering, they have monthly meetings, which include safety lessons, event briefings and, of course, pie.

Kendall McGahey helps with the shaving cream art station where children use food coloring to make designs. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

Kendall McGahey helps with the shaving cream art station where children use food coloring to make designs. Katelyn Holm/The Bells

Senior cell biology/bio chemistry major and vice president of the club, Lindsay Leissner, loves seeing what the members bring to meetings.

She said, “Last time we met, we had pizza. It  was a pizza pie because we always have to have pie at meetings. It’s so much fun.”

Author: Katelyn Holm

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