Date: 25 December 2021
Since experiments are conventionally conducted in learning spaces such as labs and classrooms equipped with lab apparatus, it has been a challenge for science related classes or events to happen in this pandemic. And then we thought, why not bring the experiments to them? And from this mere thought, an idea of a “hybrid” national chemistry festival was conceived. It is called a “festival” because we believe that science should be a celebration and excitement, instead of just another subject taught in schools.
Science, especially chemistry, should not be a boring subject but one that invites curiosity and enthusiasm. And that is how American Chemistry Society (ACS) ChemFest 2021 with the theme of “Chemistry Festivals in a Kit: Lab to Home” was brought to life, in collaboration with iDiscovery World. The target audience was for primary students in Malaysia, as we do not wish to neglect the younger audience, but in turn nurture them since young and sow in them a heart for science. The committee prepared experimental kits which were shipped to the students’ home free of charge before the event. All the experiments were designed based on the theme of “reactions”, in conjunction with the theme of the 2021 ACS National Chemistry Week.
The live online event was hosted on 20th November 2021, with 34 ACS Malaysia Chapter facilitators which included professors and lecturers from many Malaysian universities. It is arguably the biggest virtual chemistry festival in Malaysia, with over 200 primary students participating, selected from over 1300 applicants. The event was hosted on Zoom and on Facebook Live. Facilitators and students were separated into small break-out rooms to encourage close interaction and monitoring for guidance. Then, the facilitators demonstrated the experiment as the students closely followed along with the items in the chemistry kit provided to them.
The experiments covered concepts such as “surface tension” of water was explained through various demonstrations using water droplets on coins and paper clips floating on water. Next, the concept of “pH” was introduced, using red cabbage juice as an indicator. This experiment gave exposure for the students on the pH scale and how everyday household food and items interact with it. Lastly, the most exciting experiment was making slime! Slime making served as an example of “polymer chains and cross linking” and provided a basic insight on the chemical structures of polymers and the related chemical reactions.
During the event, the friendly and interactive atmosphere created allowed the students to bombard the facilitators with questions, and this helped to nurture the inquisitive and exploratory learning. The event managed to promote not only scientific insights and theories, but also the application and connections of science to the real world.
The recent pandemic should not stop our students from their STEM learning journey. Many thought that the pandemic has posed significant disruption to the hands-on learning experience, but we have demonstrated that the virtual chemistry festival re-ignited the students’ passion for science like never before. The enthusiasm was also seen among the family members, as parents and siblings joined in the fun during the event. ACS Malaysia Chapter sincerely thanks all the students and parents for their participation in the first ever virtual chemistry festival in Malaysia. Looking at the success, definitely there will be more similar events in the future. Stay tuned!Share on: