2017 “Chemistry Rocks” Activities Night – Report and Thanks!
By Kitty Wagner
NCW “Chemistry Rocks” Activities Night took place on October 27 at Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Princeton, NJ. More than 500 guests ages 5 and up enjoyed interesting rocks, minerals, and man-made materials from the collections of the Princeton University Department of Geosciences, Prof. Robert Cava of the Department of Chemistry, and the Monroe family. Kellie Swadba of Geology presented gypsum in many forms and habits, and members of the Princeton University Geology Society presented Rocks and Tech, the minerals needed for cell phones and other applications. Lawrence High School students took guests on a tour of the earth, with its different types of rock and how they form, from crust to mantle to core.
Guests investigated properties of some of the rocks they saw, including density, hardness, color and streak, fluorescence, and reaction to acid, and they compared the properties of the rocks they saw to the properties of a rock they adopted as they entered the event. Guests watched Princeton U. grad and undergrad students make instant coal from sugar and sulfuric acid. Guests made and dissolved limestone two ways, saw aragonite crystals grown from dolomite, made fossils (or caves) by dissolving sugar cubes covered with clay, used candy to model how different types of rock are formed, dug for fossil shark teeth, mined for beads, watched silicate crystals grow, made slime with borax, learned how to grow a salt crystal garden, and took home instructions for growing their own crystal garden.
Many thanks to more than 115 volunteers who made it all possible! The activities and exhibits were supervised by ACS members, FMC scientists, Princeton Chemistry Department faculty, staff, graduate students and undergrads, Geosciences staff and students, Lawrence High School students, Princeton High School students, and community members.
Special thanks to Princeton University geochemists Dr. Eleanor Barryman, Dr. Clara Blättler, and Dr. Oliver Baars for their well-received series of short auditorium presentations on how rocks form, chemical sediments, and the chemistry of the ocean. Special thanks to Prof. Thomas Duffy for allowing us to use specimens from the Department of Geosciences collection. Special thanks to Prof. Robert Cava for presenting his collection in person, to Tom Monroe for sharing his lapidary and rock collecting expertise as well as his collection, and to Pat and Christin Monroe for assisting him. Special thanks to Lawrence High School Chem Club for creating and presenting the tour of the earth.
Very special thanks to Allen Jones for his contributions to the program and for his photographic record of the event. Very special thanks to Ginny Sari and her assistants for doing all that is necessary to share general chemistry laboratory space with guests. (An experience in a real chemistry laboratory is always a highlight of the evening!) Very special thanks to co-coordinator Louise Lawter for her work on publicity and registration while she was organizing a very successful Illustrated Poem contest. Finally, special thanks to everyone—chemist and non-chemist—who helped with set-up, clean-up, check-in, goggles management, traffic control and all the other general tasks that made the program work.
Hope to see you in October, 2018, for “Chemistry is Out of This World!”