The Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Kalamazoo Section of the American Chemical Society are hosting Chemistry Day, free, from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Celebrating their 27th collaboration, this year’s Chemistry Day theme is “Energy: Now and Forever.” “Over the years, Chemistry Day has made a tremendous impact on many in our geographical area and even across the state,” said Dr. Lydia Hines, a Western Michigan University Chemistry professor and an officer of the Kalamazoo Section of the American Chemical Society.
Kalamazoo has been leading the region in energy research, conservation, and recycling. From buses that run on biodiesel energy made from used cooking oil, to wind turbine powered classrooms, to solar powered race cars, Kalamazoo is focused on finding new energy resources and capturing those found in nature. Many of this year’s activities will invite visitors to help create energy and to discover how energy works and where it comes from.
Pedaling a bicycle-driven generator, participants will see how much energy is required to power different light sources. Wearing safety glasses, visitors will combine chemicals to creating a glowing, bright light referred to as chemiluminescence. They will assemble a magnesium-copper (Mg-Cu) battery system to light a diode and see a demonstration on water electrolysis. Two different types of chemical reactions that create heat will result in both making crystals and a volcano. Solar energy will be used to activate colors in UV color-changing nail polish and beads.
“Patrons return to interact with volunteers, do hands-on activities, and observe demonstrations throughout the Museum and outdoors. Our longevity has seen youngsters who have grown and now bring their own children to the event,” Lydia Hines reported. Returning visitors won’t be disappointed; their yearly favorites will still be offered in addition to some new ones. Slime, dancing milk, and liquid nitrogen will be back, along with magic moon sand, iron in cereal, shiny pennies, chromatography butterflies, invisible ink, density towers, glitter tornadoes, and magic floating eggs.
Visitors also won’t want to miss the energy exhibits found in the Museum’s Science in Motion gallery. Starting with a battery pack, patrons can build and race their own cars on a track. They can also use hand cranks to power a radio, light-bright set, flashing light, fan, and video camera. Also, discover how gravity and centrifugal force work together to race circular disks.
This annual event is held to celebrate National Chemistry Week. National Chemistry Week is an outreach program of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest single-science professional organization. Chemists and students from local educational institutions, as well as local companies, collaborate to provide this event. This year’s participants include: the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo College, the WMU Chem Club, AB Chemistry students from Gull Lake High School, Kalsec Inc., Pfizer, and Perrigo. The Chemical Society's community service project for Chemistry Day is to collect used batteries for recycling, so bring your old and expired batteries for free disposal!
Admission to the Museum and participation in Chemistry Day activities is free.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees.