Chemistry & Biochemistry Club at the Robinson Community Learning Center

Author: Student Guest Writer Andrew Kim

Demonstration by Chemistry & Biochemistry Club

For students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Notre Dame, the world of science is something that is deeply integrated into their everyday lives. Whether it’s through the numerous hours cramming for an organic chemistry final, or the late nights spent in the research lab, science has already found a way to captivate the minds of a wide variety of Notre Dame students. What people sometimes forget, however, is that science does not have to be all about complex reactions and novel breakthroughs. Science is also about asking small questions such as “why does water freeze” or “why is the stove hot”. Spreading this understanding can make it easier to draw others, especially young children, to the field and help cultivate the next generation of aspiring scientists.

Over the past year, students in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club have been volunteering at the Robinson Community Learning Center to help spark a passion for science in children within the South Bend community. On their most recent visit, these volunteers demonstrated how various household chemicals, such as citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, can react to produce enough carbon dioxide to blow up a balloon. While this experiment is well-known to experienced scientists, to the room full of 3rd and 4th graders, the expanding balloon brought a round of gasps and wide eyes. This demonstration showed the kids that science can be much more than worksheets in the classroom, but rather a fascinating field that can explain the world around them.

In the future, the Chemistry & Biochemistry Club plans to host more events like those held at the Robinson Center. After all, it only takes one short “aha” moment for a young kid to become completely engrossed in the world of science, and it is up to those who already love it to create these magical moments.