The Chemistry & Biochemistry Club at Science Alive

Author: Student Guest Writer Ethan Lettich

The Chemistry & Biochemistry Club at Science Alive 2024
The Chemistry & Biochemistry Club at Science Alive 2024

This past Saturday, February 10th, the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club of Notre Dame volunteered at a booth for Science Alive at the St. Joseph County Public Library in downtown South Bend. This annual event gives young kids the opportunity to explore many fields of science in an interactive manner.

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Club set up a booth where kids could explore the science behind the reaction of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate – more commonly known as baking soda. While the reaction may not serve any practical purposes, it gives children the opportunity to visualize microscopic chemical changes on the macro level. In this case, a balloon with the baking soda was placed over a vial and dumped into the solution containing citric acid. As carbon dioxide evolved, kids were able to witness the magic of the reaction when the gas began to inflate the balloon.

They learned that the magic of the reaction could be connected to objects from their everyday lives. For instance, citric acid is in the sour fruits they enjoy, and baking soda is an important ingredient in the fluffy cookies they love. Additionally, the product of carbon dioxide was already all around them in the atmosphere. The goal of this experiment was to show children that chemistry no longer had to seem like a foreign science, but instead, one that is a part of their daily lives.

Events such as Science Alive provide children of the local South Bend community with the perfect opportunity to discover their interests in science. The classroom can only stimulate a kid's imagination so far. An interactive experience, though, even if it is for just a few short minutes, provides them with the tools to begin fostering an interest in science. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Club offers this opportunity for young students and perhaps may even help shape the future undergraduates and scientists of Notre Dame.