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Bomb Squad showcases chemistry experiments

By Hannah Kinzer

The Lawrence University Bomb Squad hosted Chemistry Day in Steitz Hall Room 127 to promote chemistry and science on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The event was open to all members of the Lawrence community.

Bomb Squad is a club that focuses on promoting science and chemistry to youth. The club goes to schools and the Building For Kids to present science demonstrations. Bomb Squad member and freshman Cheyenne Beckelman said, “It’s trying to get kids to realize that science isn’t just all about reading books and studying really hard. It can be really fun, so it gets them interested in science at an earlier age.”

The event showcased chemistry demonstrations set up in the chemistry lab. Pizza and cookies were also available for attendees. Members led attendees to the stations in the lab and conducted three demonstrations. One featured colored fire, another included Red Bull and milk, and the third incorporated a glow-in-the-dark reaction.

In the colored fire demonstration, six jars filled with various mixes of solutes in alcohol were lined up on a lab table. Each jar had a wick in it, which was then lit. The flames of the different jars were blue, red, orange or purple, depending on the solution in the jar.

The Red Bull and milk experiment began with filling a glass half-way with milk. Next, the Red Bull was added. The Red Bull sank to the bottom of the solution before beginning to curdle the milk. The resulting solution was described as being similar to cottage cheese in consistency.

The glow-in-the-dark reaction required a tall apparatus with two tubes leading to a single beaker. The demonstrators poured one solution into one tube and another into the other tube simultaneously. While the equation for the reaction was written on the board, the presenters noted that the solutions contained copper and a base whose reaction resulted in a glow-in-the-dark solution.

These demonstrations are generally popular with the children to whom Bomb Squad presents. Beckelman remarked that kids are fascinated and excited by the colorful flame experiment. Ideas for the experiments are researched on the Internet and then chosen for their portability, resource requirements and safety.

In addition, Bomb Squad member and junior Charles Martin says, “It’s fun to educate kids, and it’s also fun to have this time to network and get to know other chemists because we aren’t like athletes or musicians where they get to see each other during rehearsals … it’s a way for us to get to know each other better and have fun and work with kids.”

Chemistry Day emphasized science and chemistry for the Lawrence community. Beckelman hopes the event will help connect the non-science and the science majors on campus.