Stern College Chemistry Club Gets a Commendation

The Stern College Chemistry Club received a Commendable Chapter Award for its 2018-2019 activities from the American Chemical Society (ACS). The award will be presented at the national ACS meeting in Philadelphia next spring. The award was based on a review of the chapter final report put together by the club’s past presidents, Tzivia Linfield and Neda Shokrian.

In that report, the authors spelled out in excellent detail the goal that the club had for the academic year and the activities in which they engaged to carry it out.

“Our greatest goal this year,” they write, “was to focus on the theme of green chemistry. The opportunity we have with the young children in elementary school is rare, and we strongly believe that our encouragement to focus on saving the environment can have a lasting impact.” As an acknowledgement of their work, they also received a Green Chemistry Award from the ACS, noting that “undergraduate students exposed to and applying principles of green chemistry and engineering today will be the scientists and professionals building the more sustainable future of tomorrow.”

One example of what the club did with students included instruction around how the chemicals found in regular cleaning wipes end up in landfills and the ways bleach-free wipes, which are less toxic to the environment, work just as well.

It also included an innovative way to teach the students about producing electricity in a sustainable fashion by using lemons to construct a circuit and make a battery. “It was challenging because we had to explain to the students the concept of electrons, acids/bases and current. However, we taught the students the idea that all particles contain electrons, and just like in a battery, electrons flow to the more positive side. In doing so, they move their charge with them, and this flow of charge can turn on a small LED light.” The students were able to combine about 20 lemons into one
continuous circuit to light up a couple of LEDs.

Teacher and student discuss how five lemons on the table in front of them can become a battery.

In response to a question about the impact the club had on the department, the university and the local community, the authors noted that through their work with their fellow students, YU faculty and the teachers and students in the schools, “we were able to stress the importance of an early interest in chemistry, the importance in women in the field, and the importance in carrying out laboratory experiments in an environmentally friendly way.”

Read the whole report and see the picture gallery.