The American Chemical Society, a sponsor of the 2012 Cambridge Science Festival, flew in two employees from the home office in Washington, D.C. and mobilized fifteen volunteers from the Northeastern Section to donate their time Friday April 20 at the Cambridge Science Festival's kick-off event: the Science Carnival hosted by the Cambridge Public Library. Member volunteers ranged from an unemployed chemist, an alternate councilor, first year undergrads and my seven year old daughter who delightfully stamped the chemistry passports of participants!
The ACS Passport to Chemistry program had ten tables which included International Year of Chemistry thematic activities (Environment, Energy, Materials and Health). Among the favorites of the hundreds of children that came through were the *Producing Oxygen Gas* and the *Magic Nuudles*.
After the ooohhh ahhhh moment when the exothermic reaction occurred at the end of the *Producing Oxygen Gas" experiment and they noticed the baggie was warm to the touch, both the kids and their parents loved it when I said "You're a chemist now! You just did a chemistry experiment!" and we sent them proudly on their way to the next ACS table for more chemistry!
We had six children performing the experiment and another twelve waiting at any given time solid from noon until 3pm and I could hear the parents saying to the kids,
"do you really want to wait for the chemistry or would you like to come back later"-the answer was always wait. Sometimes kids have more patience than we give them credit for. Especially when they are waiting and observing and come to the table for their turn they are ready with questions and to listen to instruction. I marvel at the alacrity of the clock when I am working at one of these events: from noon until 3pm I didn't look up from the table. It was only when my seven year old asked if we could take a break did I realize we were three quarters of the way through the event. I took her out to Broadway in front of the library to get a hot dog from a street vendor and I told her she had certainly earned that hot dog for all her hard work!