Behrend celebrates National Chemistry Week - The Behrend Beacon

Behrend celebrates National Chemistry Week

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Author: Jess Tropp

National Chemistry week lasted from Oct. 16-22. As one of the participating schools, Behrend’s Chemistry club painted windows of the Otto Behrend Science building last month, and judged posters for a grade school contest. Chemistry club and its advisor, Mrs. Halmi, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Penn State Behrend and Chairperson of National Chemistry week for the American Chemical Society, helped run Potter’s Potions, later renamed Hogwarts Potions and Chemical Magic.

Potter’s potions was a demonstration held as part of Potterfest, an annual event started last year, which serves to “provide fun, fantasy, and education...Harry Potter style...for years to come.” Potterfest, which is run by Edinboro University, collaborates with 12 organizations.

According to Mrs. Halmi, the purpose of the event is to “bring science to kids;” and tying in with National Chemistry week, “it’s a good way to encourage people interested in Harry Potter to think about the science part.”

More than 65 elementary aged children attended the demonstration, in addition to 12 Chemistry club volunteers. When asked about the possibility of running Potter’s Potions next year, Mrs. Halmi responded, “We hope to be invited back.”

The theme for National Chemistry week this year is actually “our health, our future,” according to asc.org. Another event that is still in conjunction with National Chemistry week was the hands-on demonstrations on Saturday, Nov. 5. Members of the Erie Chapter of the American Chemical Society ran the hands-on experiments in relation to this year’s National Chemistry Week theme. Two of the demonstrations involved testing the amount of vitamin C in orange juice and iron in cereal, for which visitors performed the tests themselves with the help of/under the guidance of the program presenters.

Also occurring during, but not directly related to National Chemistry week was a seminar, Metallic Hydrogen and Insulating Sodium. It was about developing a chemical intuition under pressure. The talk focused on how software such as XtalOpt and Avogrado could be used to help chemists predict and understand how chemicals behave under pressure. Dr. Zurek, Associate Professor of chemistry at University of Buffalo, chose the topic, which happens to be her research focus, for the seminar because she thinks exposing the topic to chemists is important.

According to Dr. Bennett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Penn State Behrend, students took away from Dr. Zurek “an area of chemistry we don’t often expose them to.”

James Pander, a senior in Chemistry at Penn State Behrend who worked with Dr. Zurek before, expressed his feelings just prior to the event, “I’m excited. I get to see what [Dr. Zurek] worked on over the summer; it’s chem. At high pressures, chemical intuition is completely different. Some really interesting and weird things can happen.”

But don’t think the fun stops after the demonstrations. Dr. Liptak, Assistant professor at University of Vermont gave a talk, Metal Containing Proteins, on Nov. 1. Likewise, the talk was not be in conjunction with National Chemistry Week. According to Dr. Bennett, “We like to expose our upperclassmen to chemistry research that’s going on outside Behrend. We bring in speakers. It just so happens [this seminar occurred] during National Chemistry Week.”