MU students and faculty help celebrate National Chemistry Week

MANSFIELD – Mansfield University Chemistry Club members and Assistant Professor Michele Tague took part in the National Chemistry Week (NCW) celebration held at Northside Blodgett Middle School, Corning, N.Y. on Oct. 21.

Chemistry Club members Allyson Cornwell, Bryan McCullough, Brendan McDermott and Joe Mandeville visited sixth grade classes and conducted a demonstration on forensic science that they designed.

In the workshop titled, “Whodunit? Chemistry in Forensics,” the students were given a scenario where they found a mystery note on their desk and they are asked to find the identity of the author of the message.

“In forensic science, scientists use a method called chromatography to separate components in a mixture,” Tague said. “The way mixtures separate can be characteristic for a type of material and can help identify unknowns based on their composition.”

The students were given three black markers to test using paper chromatography to compare to the mystery note ink to determine if the note was written by a bully, a best friend or a crush.

“The demonstration was positively received with students exclaiming that this was their favorite activity performed that day,” Tague said. “Students asked how they could perform tests at home and were excited to show their friends and families. One student even mentioned that she wanted to be a forensic scientist.”

Along with the MU group, scientists from the region held 10 different demonstrations, ranging from ceramics to recycling paper to fiber optics.

NCW is a community-based annual event that unites American Chemical Society local sections, businesses, schools and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to the quality of life. This year’s event ran from Oct. 21 through 27.