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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Chemistry club plays with fire

    Physiology sophomore Danielle Correia burns paper during a chemistry magic show for an audience in the Old Chemistry building on Saturday.
    Physiology sophomore Danielle Correia burns paper during a chemistry ‘magic’ show for an audience in the Old Chemistry building on Saturday.

    Magicians never reveal their secrets – unless they’re members of the UA Chemistry Club.

    The group invited community members to its bi-annual magic show Saturday afternoon and wowed children by showing them that science is more than just the periodic table of elements.

    “”It’s a great place to see chemistry at its fullest, not like in a dry lecture,”” said Trahern Jones, a chemistry and biochemistry junior and vice president of the chemistry club.

    One of the experiments demonstrated how magnesium burns better in carbon dioxide than in air. Small pieces of the metal were heated with a blowtorch and placed inside a hollowed-out block of dry ice.

    The magnesium created a white light that was almost too bright to look at, said Brett Stoll, a chemical engineering freshman. Magnesium is used in road flares because it burns longer then other materials and is not water-sensitive.

    “”The main point to get across to you is fire is cool,”” Jones told observers.

    About 50 people attended the show, which took place in the Old Chemistry building.

    The chemistry club also impressed the crowd when members lit a $1 bill on fire and the dollar remained unharmed.

    “”It’s the outreach part I like,”” said Danielle Correia, a physiology sophomore and executive outreach chairman for the club. “”It’s getting the kids to see a different face of science.””

    The chemistry club also travels to schools to perform shorter versions of the magic show for young students, Correia said.

    The club is part of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemistry Society, which encourages its affiliates to perform magic shows to spark interest in science, said Lisa Barrett, a chemistry and biochemistry senior.

    Near the end of the show, a segment demonstrated green experiments that help keep the environment healthy.

    “”It’s how we can use chemistry to reduce, recycle and reuse,”” Jones said.

    Club members also constructed a “”burning rainbow”” by placing different metals, including copper, sodium, lithium and potassium, on a rod and lighting the whole thing on fire, Barrett said. Different metals created different colors of fire like blue, green, red and bright yellow.

    “”Scientists can use this method to identify metals found on other planets,”” Barrett said.

    They also demonstrated a water-into-wine trick, which showed color changes with acids and bases. When the club poured water from one beaker into another with different amounts of acids and bases, it changed from clear to red to a milky white, said Lucy Van, a pre-pharmacy sophomore.

    “”I think today everything worked out,”” said Correia, adding that during rehearsal, some experiments went awry.

    The group does get a little nervous about the burning dollar bill, she said.

    In addition to playing with fire, club members enjoy making ice cream using liquid nitrogen and hosting guest speakers at their meetings.

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