Sunday, August 5, 2012

Green Chemistry at the Museum of Science in Boston!

Every year, the Museum of Science in Boston hosts a number of "Green" activities and events for Earth Day (April 22). A major part of these events includes a set of tables set up with "Green Science" activities for children. This year, while Biology and Physics were strangely absent, Chemistry was present en masse.

Get it? Physics wasn't there, but Chemistry had mass(e)? Knee-slapper, I know.
Our Chemistry department has sent volunteers to the Museum for Earth Day every year in what has become a tradition for us. Gordon couldn't possibly pass up an opportunity to be Chemically Green!

Not be Green? What name so?
This year, our ACS chapter organized the activities that our volunteers would perform, and nearly all of the volunteers themselves were chapter members. A few of the better loved and more common Green Chemistry education activities were chosen - the creation of biodiesel (p. 5 in the link),

With handy paper demos for explaining the chemistry of the reaction!
and a local favorite: the M&M activity (p. 9 in the link).

Children seem to like this one for some reason.
In addition, a number of volunteers from Gordon operated a separately organized Beyond Benign activity table.
Beyond Benign volunteers, including Ean M. and Owen W. of Gordon College
We left Gordon early, and arrived at the Museum at around 10:30. We set up our table with what supplies were needed, and then the kids rushed us. What kid doesn't get interested when M&M's are added to the situation?
What child wouldn't be dazzled by that smile?
We had enough volunteers that no one person was stuck doing the same activity all day; volunteers often moved from one activity to the other and could even take short breaks.

Gordon volunteers doing activities with children.
Working with the children was quite fun! They were energetic, and open to the concepts of chemistry and sustainability. They ranged from old toddlers to young high schoolers, and their parents were happy to have us work with them.

The kids seemed to like us too.
After many hours and many more children, we packed up and arrived back at Gordon around 5:30. It was a good event and a good experience that we're excited to repeat next year.

You know - provided they keep the scary stuff in the back...