North Jersey Section
American Chemical Society

NJ-ACS Participates in Somerset NJ 4-H Fair

I’m pleased to report that Eve Krupka and I started working with Somerset County 4-H Fair this year in January and we ran a booth at the fair in August. I never knew there would be so many school age children participating and visiting this fair. Our booth was a great success. I think we had more than 500 kids come to our booth during the three days. Those who were helping at other booths brought their siblings and friends to our booth. Visiting children told their friends and their friends came the next day. Parents thought we were one of the clubs and they wanted their children to join our club.

The first day was the most difficult. The summer camps and day care centers were bringing their kids in large numbers. We had to run 5 to 6 experiments at a time to accommodate all of them. Camp and day care councilors wanted the procedure to do these activities on a rainy day to keep them busy. By about 2 PM, Eve and I were totally exhausted. Fortunately, a high school student, her mother and teacher in Hillsborough came to help us. I contacted them through Hillsborough senior group. They were great help and gave us some rest. We certainly had about 250 children on this first day. We used more than 200 filter papers. The older kids were very fascinated to learn about the color theory, especially how we see the color with our eyes.

We could not show Eve’s Radial Chromatography. We did not want to use isopropanol in the tent. However, we had her lab coat and procedure on display. Quite a number wanted the procedure. We told them, it will be published on the web site in a month or two. Some did not want to wait for it. They photographed the procedure with their camera.

Second day we had pH and a penny with a letter on top. This was also a great success.

Third day we had edible experiments. Eve did ice-cream experiments and I took care of chemistry structure building with gum balls. We had a middle school student and his mother in the morning to help. Morning it was rather slow. The crowd started coming in great numbers in the afternoon. The booth was always full. Many parents wanted the procedure to make ice-cream at home. With the structure building, I was showing how the fluffiness of pancake and cake is due to breakdown of the soda (sodium bicarbonate) to release CO2. The simplest reaction was shown to explain stoichiometry. Some non-chemists said “if they had learned it this way, they would have studied chemistry”. The organizers were very impressed with our presentation; they came and thanked us.

I also want to thank my all time helper Bill Suits. He came on Sunday evening to get his big periodic table for display and brought the table, thinking it may be needed. The next evening he came to give printed stickers with invitations to NCW in Liberty Science Center in October. This helped us a great deal to publicize NCW activities. When I was distributing the flyers, visitors informed me they certainly want to attend. Bill’s help in all our street fairs and recent 4-H camp workshop, and his encouraging words were very invaluable. Bill, Thank you very much. Eve was there all the three days. She took care of all that was needed for pH experment and Ice cream. That included buying, preparing, bringing and writing the procedures. Without all this help it was not possible to make this a success.

Eve and I both had to go after 10 PM to pick up our stuff. We went home by 11:30. We needed full rest at least for a day. It was tiring but very rewarding. It was wonderful to have a partner like Eve to work with. I will never forget these three days.

– – Dodda Leelavathi

2009 Somserset County 4-H Fair