National Chemistry Week ‘All Hands-On’ Outreach Event @ UCSD!

CAICE graduate and undergraduate students (Suds, Samantha, Stephanie, & Charlotte) participated in the ‘All Hands-on’ outreach event held at UCSD to celebrate National Chemistry Week! 

Samantha, Stephanie and Suds get ready for the youth to start arriving!

We brought along with us some of the materials from the new ‘BriefCAICE’ traveling trunk, designed in partnership with the Climate Science Alliance, and the innovative CLEAR CAICE particle counter, designed right here at CAICE!

CAICE researchers investigate the fundamental processes of aerosols and how those processes affect the environment. One important impact that aerosols have on the environment is their importance in cloud formation. We taught the youth attending the event about the role of aerosols in cloud formation by creating a cloud in a bottle! 

You need three things to form a cloud: 

  1. Water
  2. Aerosol particles 
  3. Change in pressure  

We put a small amount of water in the bottle to meet requirement #1. We added some smoke from a match to meet requirement #2. We used a bike pump to increase the pressure in the bottle and then rapidly released the valve to meet requirement #3. 

The result is a beautiful cloud in a bottle! 

Event participants adding pressure into the bottle to make a cloud.

But that’s not all the aerosol science we shared with the youth at the event. 

We also discussed with them that there are particles in the air all around us even though we can’t see them. Using the CLEAR CAICE particle counter students could see a live feed of the number of particles in the air. 

Participants were encouraged to breath into the inlet tube, light a match near the tube, or sprinkle some chalk dust near the tube and observe the change in the number of fine and coarse particles. 

Looking at just how many particles are in 1 cubic foot of air!

Participants also made their own particle collectors, using paper and tape. Using these simple particle collectors they can investigate different environments in their home or at school! They become scientists exploring the aerosols in the environments around them. 

Two young scientists making their own particle collectors.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate National Chemistry Week and engage the next generation of STEM leaders in some fun and educational science! 

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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