Chemistry Department brings STEM to local community through their Chemistry Open House & Science Exploration Gallery held on campus.

Texas A&M’s Chemistry Department held its 32 annual Chemistry Open House on Oct.19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event took place in and around the Chemistry building and along Ross Street. Following the National Chemistry Week theme of ‘Marvelous Metals’, this year's Open House focused their activities to correlate with the theme. The event had many demonstrations for attendees, such tours of research laboratories in the Chemistry Building. The event also had demonstrations led by James Pennington, associate chemistry professor, called the Chemistry Roadshow that showcased colorful chemical reactions. Their were also hands-on activities for all ages to participate in as well as live music playing throughout the event.

Departmental Outreach Coordinator Stephanie McCartney said that the Chemistry Open House was created by professor Wendy Keenney-Kennicutt and other chemistry faculty thirty-two years ago.

“One of the original purposes was to get chemistry into the community and have people realize that science and chemistry is in our everyday lives and getting them more comfortable with it so they can learn more about it,” McCartney said.

McCartney said that the event was run by chemistry faculty, undergraduate and graduate students and was sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Volunteers from the Physics, Geoscience, Agriculture and Oceanography department were also at the event, helping out with demonstrations and activities for the attendees to partake in.

Chemistical oceanography doctoral student Nathan Lanning said this was his first year volunteering at the Chemistry Open House for the oceanography department, as he and the entire oceanography department wanted to support the chemistry department because both departments coincide with one another.

“One of the big factors of oceanography is chemical oceanography, so we wanted to be able to show off that side of our field and our passions to a lot of students and interested parents,” Lanning said.

Wendy Keenney-Kennicutt, now retired, still volunteers at the Chemistry Open House every year. Keenney-Kennicutt said that the Chemistry Open House is a great way to introduce children of all ages to STEM fields and it begins to engage their interest in science.

“It's kind of our duty to show what we do to the public,” Keeney-Kennicutt said. “It makes kids excited about science and that’s always wonderful.”

Keenney-Kennicutt said that the Chemistry Open House is also a great way to bring children and their parents to the A&M campus, further developing the university's relationship with the surrounding Brazos Valley community.

“So it’s like a weird recruiting tool, you know, we’re recruiting third graders but we’re making it so that they’re interested in coming to college,” Keeney-Kennicutt said.

Lanning said that the Chemistry Open House is an opportunity for public outreach and the event is able to teach interested children and their parents about the different sciences happening around them.

“This is a great way to be able to get them to have a hands-on opportunity to really see what we experience everyday in professional science,” Lanning said.

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