Seton Hall’s American Chemical Society Chemistry Club took first place at the 2019 North Jersey American Chemical Society ChemExpo competition and defeated top schools from the state such as Princeton, NJIT and Stevens.
This was Seton Hall’s first time competing in the ChemExpo competition. The theme of this year’s competition was “Marvelous Metals.”
Anne Pino, a junior English major, chemistry minor and vice president of the club, spoke about her experience working with her partner to use Play-Doh and potatoes to conduct electricity.
Pino said she and her teammate, Andrew D’Amato, a junior criminal justice major and chemistry minor, felt nervous about the competition, especially because the other teams went all out with matching t-shirts, lab coats, and multiple tables.
They were able to get to their main focus, which was teaching the concepts from the experiment and presenting them to children.
“I think the fact that myself and my teammate enjoy working with children made a big difference,” Pino said. “Instead of simply explaining abstract concepts behind a table, we were kneeling beside the kids, making PlayDoh balls with them and even getting them to repeat keywords like ‘conductor’ and by the time we were finished they could explain the concept behind the experiment.”
Pino said the interactive experiment was perfect as it allowed kids to be hands-on with the teaching. Incorporating fun elements into their one experiment helped win over other schools, Pino said.
“By using a battery pack, two balls of Play-Doh, and some LED lights we were about to show how Play Dough acts as a conductor being about to transfer electricity from the battery pack to the light,” D’Amato, who is the treasurer of the club, said.
He added how he felt about the club going to this competition saying, “Seeing the passion that many universities have for the STEM field, highlights the bright future ahead.”
Joseph Badillo, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the club’s adviser, reacted to the competition.
“I was surprised by the turnout,” Badillo said. “To see the different universities coming together to interact with the community was priceless.”
In addition to this competition, the club participates in several events throughout the year.
“We have professionals come in and speak from the fragrance, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries,” Badillo said. “Faculty also will talk about the research in their labs and other research opportunities.”
Alumni and guest speakers will talk to the club members about career building and networking to add to their resume. This has allowed students to obtain internships and full-time jobs.
The club also attends social events and traveling to national meetings, and hosts tutoring sessions for students struggling in chemistry. The students are planning several field trips like the National ACS Conference.
“The ACS National meetings open future chemists’ eyes to the myriad of opportunities and career paths you can pursue with a degree in chemistry,” Badillo said. “I think chemistry majors, and anyone who likes science, in general, should join ACS because what makes this club unique is that it is truly built to help our members.”
Badillo added that this club allows one to develop great relationships and offer great leadership opportunities, as the students volunteer for local kids.
D’Amato said, “Our club provides a great way for a student to explore their passion for chemistry even if they are not necessarily a chemistry major.”
Victoria Rossi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.