So we all know UTD has a ton of student organizations?too many to keep track of. A year ago in the Activities Center, I was overwhelmed by the number of tables, brochures, tri-fold display posters, and free pens. I wanted to get involved in a couple of groups, but how could I possibly sift through them and find the right fit for me? The mere sight of all those booths and overzealous recruiters was enough to make a person give up and just play Battlefield 2 in their apartment. Without sufficient RAM to play Battlefield 2, I had no choice but to trudge through the rows of tables in search of an extra-curricular activity?
It was the t-shirt that hooked me: Top 10 Lines to Land Your Lab Partner. Realizing that I?d understood each chemical pun and innuendo, I knew this was the right club for me. They had a sense of humor and, surprisingly enough, they were quite gregarious for an academic organization at UTD.
The UTD Chemistry Student Association is an award-winning student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Of the best student groups nationwide, the ACS awarded our CSA an ?Honorable Mention.? This year the ACS has recognized the organization as ?Outstanding??an honor reserved for only the top 3% of student affiliate chapters. Just a few years ago, the two-member CSA struggled with raising funds. InChemistry, a publication of the ACS will feature an article about our CSA entitled ?From Outstanding Debt to Outstanding Chapter? in an upcoming issue.
So how did CSA earn such recognition? Not by lurking around Berkner all day! CSA President Danielle Victor says the group focuses on three areas: service, social, and academic events. More specifically, she says the group focuses on, ?service to the community through science; bringing the chemistry, biochemistry, and biology undergrads together with graduate students and chemistry faculty through social events; and attending ACS local, regional, and national meetings.?
When it comes serving the community, CSA hosts many activities for kids from elementary to high school. CSA members assist the younger science enthusiast in performing density, acid/base, and chromatography experiments?which, of course, is far more entertaining than listening to a science teacher at school. A crowd favorite is making slime; not only is it colorful and, well, slimy, but it?s also a souvenir. Throughout the year, CSA both performs demonstrations at the Museum of Nature and Science and attends science and community fairs such as ?Kids in Chemistry Day? and ?Sounds of Class.? For older students at TI?s recent family day, CSA set up a crime investigation lab.
CSA members faithfully man booths at activity fairs on the SU mall. They?ll be out there again to kick off National Chemistry Week on Mole Day, October 23rd. (Get it? Avogadro?s number!) Well, even if you don?t remember dimensional analysis from General Chemistry, you?re sure to enjoy liquid nitrogen ice cream as well as their dry ice and oobleck demos. What?s oobleck, you ask? Oobleck is a mixture of corn starch and water that acts as a liquid if prodded slowly with a pen. Try to stab it and the pen won?t so much as penetrate the surface! No matter your major, CSA?s demos are worth closer inspection?well, as close as safety allows.
If you don?t want to wait around for the next CSA booth, come to one of the meetings! CSA tests out new demonstrations?last semester they electrocuted a pickle to make it glow. My favorite demo is a classic: the coke fountain. Be sure to do this one outside. Get a 2L bottle of coke, preferably not diet, and a roll of Mentos. Roll a piece of paper so that you can quickly slide the Mentos into the bottle. Open the bottle, dump in six to eight Mentos, and back up! If all goes well, the coke will shoot up out of the bottle like the fountain between Founders and Jonsson.
CSA?s most popular social event among its members is the broomball match?students vs. faculty. Since this usually occurs as exams are ending, students are advised not to beat up on their professors too badly before they grade finals. Less violent social events include the fall and spring barbecues and, of course, the biweekly CSA meetings. The next meeting will be Wednesday, September 12th at 5 pm (location TBA). As Victor says, ?You don?t even have to be a chemistry major or have any previous chemistry knowledge?As long as you love to have fun and show kids really awesome science experiments, you are more than welcome to join!?
CSA will be selling lab goggles, safety glasses, laser pens, and general chemistry software weekdays in Berkner from 9am-4pm through September 5. For more information, check out their bulletin board by the stock room in Berkner or visit their website at http://www.utdallas.edu/orgs/csa/home.htm.