By Katy Raynes
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Five Chemistry Club members and Dr. Rob Mishur, an adjunct professor, put on a show of chemistry demonstrations April 10 in celebration in Henry Bonilla Science Hall.
In order to accommodate the large number of people interested, Mishur had to add another session of demonstrations. The lecture hall filled up quickly and left many eager spectators having to wait for the second showing. The first took place 7 to 8 p.m. and the second 8 to 9. The coordinators of the event offered priority seating to any families with children in attendance.
The Chemistry Club representatives — Michael DeLomba, Gabriella Gonzales, Stephanie Larios, An Vu and Ashley Whiteside – first sprayed acetone over their protected area to ensure easy cleanup.
Mishur began the session by explaining the chemistry department and the American Chemical Society collaborated in order to make the event happen. DeLomba, the club’s president, elaborated why the event was necessary in the first place.
“The goal of this event and the goal of (the) Chemistry Club in general is to get more people excited about chemistry,” DeLomba said. “Our science department is mostly made of biology majors, and only about 10 of the few chemistry majors end up graduating per year. So with this event, we want to help raise awareness about our chemistry department at UIW and get some more chemistry majors and chemistry graduates here.”
When the presentation began, Mishur explained the theme of their Earth Day-related celebration was water.
“In these demonstrations, ‘water’ is the star,” Mishur said. “We’ll be working mostly with reactions that use water. But toward the end of the session, we’re just going to light some stuff on fire since that’s pretty much why we all came here in the first place.”
The students and Mishur then led nine experiments including “The Non-Burning Towel,” “Will A Tissue Hold Water?,” “Colors, Bubbles and Fog,” “The Blue Bottle,” “Polyurethane,” “Ethanol ‘Whoosh’ Bottles,” “Gummy Bear Inferno,” “Combustion of Magnesium and Carbon Dioxide” and “Thermite Reaction”.
The experiments demonstrated chemical reactions ranging from expanding volume, color changes, fog, sparks, flames, and combustion. As the session progressed, so did the magnitude of the chemical reactions.
The last two demonstrations had the greatest impact. Mishur warned the audience about the penultimate experiment, “Combustion of Magnesium and Carbon Dioxide”.
“Do not stare directly at the burning magnesium,” he said. “Magnesium is what fireworks contain. It’s what makes them appear bright. The carbon dioxide we’re adding will speed up the reaction, so it’s very important that you not look directly at it.”
The experiments mounted in scale until the last one, “Thermite Reaction.” It dealt with mixing and burning solid aluminum powder and rust. As one of the products of the reaction was liquid iron, Mishur was careful to proceed with caution.
“Iron melts at about 1,530 degrees Celsius, or 2,786 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Mishur. “So getting to close to it or having too short a fuse would be suicide.”
After four attempts at lighting the mixture, the students and Mishur reluctantly abandoned the experiment.
“We got the finale to work for the second session,” Mishur said. “It was such a bummer it didn’t work out the first time. But we got eight out of nine to work, and that’s better than we could have hoped for.”