Chemistry club mentors younger students

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In awe, second grade students in Kendra Pugh's science class at South Breeze Elementary watch the experiment. Chemistry club students visited all elementary schools in the district throughout the year.

Science is just another part of the daily life of Chemistry Club students. Senior Brandon Murrell is president of the club and devotes his time to teaching and mentoring the youth in and around Newton.

“I enjoy it quite a bit. It is fun to just do some of the experiments without all of the write ups or technicalities of it and more of just focusing on doing interesting experiments while still knowing what is going on for the most part though. Also, it is in a big group setting which makes it more fun, just because you are with others,” Murrell said.

Since there are no Chemistry classes available for freshman, there are not many underclassmen involved. Club sponsor and Physics teacher Adrianne Wedel would like to see more sophomores involved.

“They don’t really have a chance to see if they like it or not because they sign up for clubs right at the beginning of the year, so they are very hesitant. We are predominantly seniors, and a handful of juniors. But there are only two sophomores, Jonah Hodge and Emma Roseberry,” Wedel said. “I would have to say probably around 40-50 students are in Chem Club, but I want to attract more.”

However in only the second year of the club, the students have been doing a lot for the people around Newton. Murrell applied for a grant to help with the activities and shows that they do and the places they visit.

“I wrote a grant last summer through the American Chemical Society to receive money to do a science community outreach experiment and we received the grant. We used the money to go to all of the elementary schools and Cooper over the course of this year to do science experiments with the children there,” Murrell said.

The experiments that the club members have showed the second graders have been informational, but also fun for the kids. The materials they used consisted of different kinds of juices, laundry detergent and other things the kids were familiar with, but at the same time it introduced them to things have not seen at their age.

“At all the grade schools, we have done the same things. We worked with acids and bases. We were looking to see which juices contained actual fruit juice,” Wedel said. “They took kool-aid which actually doesn’t contain actual fruit juice, and they added laundry detergent, if it changed colors than it contained actual fruit juice, and they enjoyed that.”

Students from the elementary schools benefit from the guidance that they receive as well. In addition club members gain experience and a few good laughs.

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Students gain a hands-on experience while working with the high school students.

“I think it is very beneficial that we are able to do this with the younger kids and to kind of get them excited about science. Hopefully that stays with them throughout their years of schooling,” Murrell said. “One other thing would be some of the comments that they make when watching the demonstrations, those are usually very funny.”

Wedel would agree that science is not really the go-to subject most high schoolers would pick as their favorite, but students would be surprised with how much they actually enjoy it.

“I think it is a certain group of students that enjoy it and I don’t know if anyone else here knows what all we do in Chemistry Club,” Wedel said. “We are awesome, we are the best; Embrace your inner nerd.”

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