MCCC Students and Faculty Embark on
Annual Chemistry Road Show

11/14/06


In their annual chemistry road show, students and faculty from MCCC and Rider University presented an array of scientific marvels to enthusiastic youngsters at five area elementary schools. Part of an observance of National Chemistry Week from Oct. 23-27, the program is designed to bring science concepts to life - not only in terms that children can understand, but with enough thrills to encourage youngsters to consider future careers in the sciences.

According to MCCC Associate Chemistry Professor Helen Tanzini, who coordinates the yearly project with support from the Trenton Section of the American Chemical Society, the goal is to use hands-on activities to show scientific principles in action. "The children consistently react with amazement and delight," Tanzini said. She notes that in addition to 12 current students, she was pleased to have six MCCC alumni come back to lend a hand. "One took off the morning from his classes at UMDNJ, where he is a medical student," she said.

Over the course of five days, the volunteers visited 720 students from third through fifth grade. The schools included MacFarland in Bordentown, Dutch Neck in West Windsor, Grace Norton Rogers in Hightstown, Cranbury, and Langtree in Hamilton. In preparation for the visits, a second group of volunteers spent an evening organizing materials and mixing solutions. "There were four people working for four straight hours to get the projects ready," Tanzini said.

Participating in Mercer''s Chemistry Week
road show were: (front row, l. to r.) MCCC alum
Rachael Jones, students Virlyn Gibson and
Judy Athmejvar; (back row, l. to r.) MCCC faculty
members Helen Tanzini and Bruce Chorba, and students Pete Meagher, Tim Klockner, and Chris Bennett.
MCCC chemistry student Christopher Bennett,
right, with Dutch Neck Elementary School
students and teacher Jeff Grabelle.

This year's theme, "Chemistry in the Home," focused on chemicals commonly found in the home, and the ways in which they can interact to form new substances. Among the experiments were a demonstration of chromatography, a common separation technique used by scientists; the making of artificial snow, using the highly absorbent polyacrylate; a demonstration of how Milk of Magnesia neutralizes stomach acid; and the ever-popular "slime," a mixture of PVA (polyvinylalcohol) and Borax detergent. Students also received a souvenir packet, "Your Home - It's All Built on Chemistry," which included activities and discussions for young scientists.

MCCC faculty members who participated this year included: Tanzini, Carlo Alfare, Bruce Chorba, Marianne Reynolds, Diane Hilker, Ron Smith, Mary Ann Norcross, and Yvonne Greenbaun. Rider faculty included Alex Grushow and Bruce Burnham.

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