By: ANTHONY AYALA
The Biology and Chemistry Club held an outreach event at the River Park Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The club had a strong representation with Catherine Vaerewyck, the club’s president, Shahir Rizk, from the Biology and Chemistry department, Emily Heidemann, the club’s secretary, and Chris Stewart, the treasurer, being present in addition to IU South Bend student volunteers.
There were six stations that the club set up within the library. They included a bubble section, another was about dried food for space, a glow in the dark differences, a section about stars, another about microorganisms and the last about the solar system.
The bubble module was to explain how bubbles are made and being able to toss them back and forth before they pop. The bubbles contained one cup of liquid dish soap, six cups of distilled water and one tablespoon of glycerin or a quarter cup light corn syrup. These bubbles had more glycerin than normal which allowed a person to hold them.
The second section had frozen ice cream sandwiches. These sandwiches had the moisture removed from them. Dehydrated foods are what is available on the space shuttle for astronauts during their stay. The major reason for doing this is that water is not easily accessible in the shuttle. Removing the water from the food greatly reduces the weight of the food, allowing more to be packed for travel. In space, water is recycled as much as possible to reduce weight in the craft. While a normal ice cream sandwich is smooth these sandwiches were brittle.
The glow in the dark section featured glow in the dark slime that was used to explain two ways things could glow: phosphorescence and fluorescence. Phosphorescence is something anyone who has played with a glow in the dark toy is familiar with. The material absorbs light and will emit it when in darkness for a little. Fluorescence is a material that only glows with a source of light is present.
The section focusing on the stars featured the work of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, an astronomer, and astrophysicist. Her research created a way of explaining the composition of stars. Payne focused on the amount of helium and hydrogen within a star. Her work was the foundation for future study. The club had set up two microscopes that were focused on separate containers of each gas. As one looked through the microscope they could see colored lines which allowed scientists to distinguish between the gasses.
The microorganisms the club presented were tardigrades, which are eight-legged micro animals. These micro animals are water-dwelling and can be found in moss. These microorganisms feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates. Tardigrade has been brought out into space and returned back to earth alive after being rehydrated.
The solar system section featured a video on a television, which taught people about the planets. In addition, there were relevant books that those interested could check out from the library. If you are interested in joining the biology and chemistry club you can reach out to them through Titan Atlas.