American Chemical Society's magic show ignites excitement on Family Weekend

ACS magic show captivates students and inspires future chemists

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On October 4, 2019

Photo by Ian Saint: WOOOOSH! Alcohol vapor burns in a spectacularlycolorful display.


The American Chemical Society on Sept. 28 held a free magic show for the public in the Houston Harte University Cen­ter.

During fall Family Weekend, busy families look­ing to take a break came to the Cavness Science Building to learn about the world of chemical reactions and experi­ments.

Kevin Bou­dreaux, co-adviser for the ACS, led the demon­stration through the pe­riodic table highlighting fun facts about helium, hydrogen compounds and luminol reactions.

From dissolving Styrofoam with com­mon nail polish remov­er and lighting gun pow­der cotton balls ablaze to showing the different reactions of helium and hydrogen balloons under high heat, the ACS team captivated the attention of the 78 people in attendance.

“We had more people than expected.” Boudreaux said. “I’m so pleased with the turn­out.”

The ACS has been or­ganizing shows like this one for over 10 years, with increasing success on each outing.

“I’ve repeated many of these experiments for years and it’s still exciting to see the reactions.” Boudreaux said.

Contrary to popular belief, ACS isn’t just an organi­zation for chemistry students. Many students, like junior Tuan Nguyen, have an inter­est in chemistry and use that to support their other passions.

“I’ve always loved chemistry,” Nguyen said. “Even though I’m a biology major, I feel like being able to pull from both studies helps to expand my field.”

Many of the people in the audience were impressed with the different demonstra­tions and chemical reactions.

“The potassium ni­trate-sulfuric acid cotton balls made a pretty big explosion,” freshman Hilary Johnson said. “My mom is an elementary sci­ence teacher and she recorded the whole show to show her stu­dents back home.”

The American Chemical Society has been chartered at ASU for almost 30 years, open­ing students up to networking and publication connections within an international chemis­try community.

Many of its members, like junior Taylor Parmer, aspire to show just how fun chemistry can be to the general public.

“Chemistry is in every­thing,” Parmer said. “It’s reward­ing to show how widespread and entertaining the field can be.”

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