EAC’s 24th Annual Student Chemistry Adventure brings chemistry to life for high school students

The Fantastic Four team, from Willcox High School, composed of Zenailey Medina, Reggie Martinez, Vinnie DeRosa, Maylee Thompson, and AJ Brown,claimed first-place overall [EAC-submitted photo].

THATCHER, AZ—For thirty-one (31) years, Eastern Arizona College has hosted high school chemistry students from rural Arizona schools in the annual Student Chemistry Adventure, S=CH-A.

Last month Eastern Arizona College’s Chemistry Department welcomed 96 high school students and their teachers to the 31st annual Student Chemistry Adventure. Twenty unique teams from rural high schools in Arizona registered for a wonderful day of chemistry.

Teams, composed of 3-4 students, competed against each other while rotating through four separate chemistry activities. Duane DeSpain, EAC chemistry professor, led the Laboratory Competition which had students using chemical reactions to produce hydrogen and oxygen gases and then combining those gases in an exothermic reaction that launched a small pipet rocket through the air. Joel Shelton, EA chemistry professor, led the Speed Activity Competition where students conducted several short activities in 55 minutes. The Knowledge Competition, led by administrative assistant, Valerie Hale, had teams working together to answer chemistry questions. Dr. Phil McBride, EAC senior dean, had students making fluorescent “gummy worm” polymers, experimenting with dry ice, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen in a colorfully charged solution, and determining the density of unknown metals.

After a lunch provided by EAC’s Campus Dining services, the students and teachers moved to the large lecture room in the Math-Science Building. The audience was treated to an array of colorful, loud, bright, and exciting chemical demonstrations presented by DeSpain’s organic chemistry students. Those in attendance witnessed numerous demonstrations including a special treat of ice cream made using liquid nitrogen. The audience was awed by “elephant toothpaste” which featured a spray of foam that almost reached the ceiling. The magic show culminated with a screaming, dancing, flaming gummy worm.

McBride recognized all of the participants and expressed thanks to the high school chemistry teachers for their efforts in providing quality instruction to their students. The Fantastic Four team, from Willcox High School, composed of Zenailey Medina, Reggie Martinez, Vinnie DeRosa, Maylee Thompson, and AJ Brown, narrowly edged out the Periodically Great team, from Duncan High School, composed of Logan Basteen, Emily Hilton, Kaylee Kempton, and Bryant Rapier by three points (260 to 257) to claim first place. Third place medals and a team plaque went to The Atoms Family, from Morenci High School, which featured Josh Biggs, Isabelle Shock, and Quinton Wiltbank.

McBride, DeSpain, and Shelton expressed a special thanks to high school teachers and administrators Charles Ramsey (Benson), Becky Booth (Duncan), Dana Olson (Ft. Thomas), Sarah Steele (Globe), Marilou Cortez (Morenci), Carol Hawkins (Pima), Eric Johnston (Safford) and Kevin Davis (Willcox) for taking time to bring students to this competition. These individuals are truly making a difference in their schools.

For further information about educational and career opportunities in chemistry or other STEM fields or for information about exciting science camps being offered this summer, contact McBride at Eastern Arizona College at (928) 428-8404.

Flourescent Gummy Worms – Globe High School
Colorfully charges solutions – Pima High School