Chemistry Club sparks scientific curiosity in students of all ages


Photo provided by: Maria Kelly.

From hosting bimonthly meetings and events to running experiments at local schools, the Chemistry Club encourages and supports scientific interest in students both on and off the Franciscan University of Steubenville campus.

Junior Maria Kelly, this year’s Chemistry Club president, leads her fellow students in their scientific endeavors.

Frequently referred to simply as “chem club,” the group consists of around 20 students who regularly participate in meetings, which Kelly said focus on participants’ goals for the club.

“It’s more about what they want out of (the club),” she said.

Meetings vary from group discussions, logistical planning and guest presentations from students who have participated in summer internships.

Kelly said that one of the main missions of the organization is to help students find internship opportunities, which the club does by sharing resources and providing exposure to different kinds of research.

Many upperclassmen have already held at least one internship position in their time as students, and the Chemistry Club enlists these students to present to the younger ones, helping them find their own way in the professional realm of scientific research.

Clearing up a common misconception, Kelly said, “Actually, Chemistry Club isn’t just for people in chemistry; it’s for anyone interested in science.”

Though many members, including Kelly, are majoring either in chemistry or biology, not everyone in the club is in a science-based academic program.

“We have a few majors that aren’t even science related at all; they’re just interested (in chemistry),” Kelly said. “It’s really cool to have those people involved, too, because it just gives a different experience.”

While “chem club” is centered around fostering an interest in the sciences for current Franciscan students, those students in turn take their knowledge of chemistry into the local community to share chemistry facts and fun with others.

Kelly said that the club makes it a priority to participate in events hosted by the Carnegie Science Center in honor of National Science Week in addition to visiting local elementary schools throughout the year to lead experiments for younger children.

In October 2018, members of Franciscan’s Chemistry Club travelled to Pittsburgh to set up a booth of information and experiments at the Carnegie Science Center’s ChemFest Celebration. This academic year, the celebration was based on outer space with the theme “Chemistry is Out of This World!”

“We were able to set up with other colleges (from) all over Pennsylvania and Ohio and we had just different labs set up,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of kids there.”

Although the university has been participating in ChemFest for several years, 2018 proved a landmark year for Franciscan. “It was Franciscan’s first year having its own table to showcase the Chemistry Club,” Kelly said.

During the school day on March 5, Franciscan students ran experiments for the kindergarten class at the Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School. Kelly described the experiments with a laugh, saying that they used “anything (that) really gets the (kids) interested, anything that changes colors or kind of starts smoking.”

One of these “smoking” experiments that the club led for the kindergartners involved hydrogen peroxide and yeast, which, when combined, foam into a volcano-like structure.

“The (kindergarten students) were having so much fun,” Kelly said.

In addition to hosting experiments at local schools and participating in events happening off campus, the Chemistry Club also looks to put on its own events on campus at least once a semester, whether that event is a fundraiser, a science-based event or even a scientific lecture.

At the end of the day, “chem club” is a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for students to find support and encouragement in their interests in chemistry and the other sciences. “We’re just kids who like chemistry,” Kelly said.

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