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21st Annual Chemistry Adventure brings chemistry to life for area high school students

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21st Annual Chemistry Adventure brings chemistry to life for area high school students

By Lori Dugan

Thatcher, AZ—Eastern Arizona College’s Chemistry Department welcomed 71 area high school students and their teachers from nine area high schools to the 21st Annual Student Chemistry Adventure on April 2, 2013. Each team was comprised of three to four students, each with a unique name including the Triple Bonds from Benson; Chemikazes from Buena High School; Team Destruction and the BRO-mides from Duncan; Fort Dark Wizards from Fort Thomas; Elementables and Polaritics from Globe; Thermodynamics from Mt. Graham High School; Captain Americium, Team Fe (Iron) Man, and Thorium’s Hammer from Safford; Legendary and Chempions from Thatcher; Cowboys, Team Dagger, and Alchemysts from Willcox; and the Illuminators, which was a combined team from Buena and Thatcher.

The Adventure began in the College’s Activities Center. Dr. Gary Sorensen took a few minutes to showcase Eastern Arizona College and describe the academic and extracurricular possibilities available to students who attend EAC. On their way to the Math/Science building to begin the competition, the students stopped at the sand volleyball pit to witness a demonstration of thermite, presented by EAC organic chemistry students.

The rest of the morning was filled with exciting chemistry activities, with teams competing against each other. The competitions involved creating chemical reactions and then identifying the type of reaction that occurred, identifying solutions as acids and bases using goldenrod paper, exciting electrons to produce beautiful colored flames, exploring the shielding effects of beta and gamma radiation, exploring the rate of diffusion of gases, using pressure to suspend a Cartesian diver in a bottle of water, exploring the effect of concentration on reaction rate using Alka-Seltzer and film canisters, accurately measuring the thickness of aluminum foil, and determining the density of an unknown solid by water displacement. Teams were graded on laboratory technique, calculations, safety, and accuracy.

After lunch, the participants put their minds to work on a puzzle activity answering questions covering a variety of chemistry concepts. While results were being tabulated, EAC’s Organic Chemistry students, led by EAC chemistry instructor Joel Shelton, dazzled the students with dancing flames, flying sparks, exploding gummy bears, glowing solutions, and an array of other colorful, loud, bright, and exciting chemical demonstrations.

EAC dean of instruction, Dr. Phil McBride, presented medals to all of the participants and expressed thanks to the high school chemistry teachers for their efforts in providing quality instruction to their students. The Chemikazes composed of Dylan Lewis, Michael Mans, Dillon Snyder, and Caryn Zaruba from Buena High School received the first-place medal and a team plaque. Second-place medals and a team plaque went to the Cowboys from Willcox: Jacob Collins, Hilda Gutierrez, Robert Kramme, and Dakota Levine. Third place medals and a team plaque went to Safford’s Team Fe (Iron) Man, composed of Shawn Clonts, Trina Fox, Emory Montierth, and Ben Murphy.

“We in the Chemistry Department at EAC want to extend a special thanks to high school teachers Robert Purington from Benson; Vince Creviston from Buena; Becky Bell from Duncan; Dana Olson from Fort Thomas; James Hicklin from Globe; Heidi Vosbein from Mt. Graham; Alexander Mutsaers from Safford; and Ty White from Willcox for their teaching expertise and dedication to their students,” said McBride.