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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chemistry comes alive

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Paige Blackburn delighted in the scientific properties of a soap bubble during a presentation at Thomas Magnet School last week.
(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons) [Order this photo]
Simple science produced squeals and giggles at Thomas Magnet School last week, during a presentation to the after-school science club.

Dr. Dale Ensor, professor of chemistry at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, shared his presentation "Chemistry Before Your Eyes."

Dr. Ensor is well-known in the area for his chemical demonstrations that illustrate various concepts in chemistry.

How things work

Using simple demonstrations, such as the production of CO2 from vinegar and baking soda to illustrate density of a gas, the decomposition of H2O2 to show how compounds can be unstable, and the soda bottle to demonstrate combustion, students are introduced to various concepts of chemistry or are able to see first-hand some of the reactions they have read about in textbooks.

"Dr. Ensor makes science fun and the kids learn a lot while watching the show," said Chuck Fleming of Quaker Chemical Co., a supplier to ChemicoMays and the General Motors Plant in Spring Hill. The real crowd pleaser? When a banana is frozen with liquid nitrogren and then used to hammer a nail.

Schools tour

The show is made available to elementary and middle schools in middle Tennessee, northern Mississippi and northern Alabama by a grant by the Quaker Chemical Foundation.

"Their support of education is wonderful and benefits many children in Tennessee," said Lisa Damman, a kindergarten teacher who leads the TMS science club. Her husband Dave works for Chemico Mays.

Students are learning as well, not just scientific properties, but that science can be fun. "One student even said he wanted to be a scientist one day. That makes it all worth it," said Damman.