Eastman Hosts ACS National Chemistry Week Celebration for Area 4th Graders
KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Area fourth-graders Tuesday made plastic fossils, learned about the chemistry of firefighting through demonstration and saw practical applications of fluorescence firsthand.
It was all part of the Celebration of Chemistry for 4th Graders, held Tuesday and again today at the Eastman Employee Center and sponsored by the Northeast Tennessee Section of the American Chemical Society (NETSACS).
This year's theme is "The Sweet Side of Chemistry: CANDY!" It marks the 24th annual event hosted by Eastman Chemical Co. and the 27th year the American Chemical Society has sponsored National Chemistry Week.
Ginette Tolleson, a technology manager for Eastman, and Eastman scientist Tom Markley gave students from Tennessee Avenue Christian School in Bristol, Tenn., a presentation on fluorescence.
Tolleson, using a black light, explained and demonstrated that fluorescence is used in laundry wash powders and liquids, highlighters, fishing line, clothes, toothpaste, sunscreen, UV-filtered glass and plastic and some cleaners. It's also used to do medical testing for drugs or cancer and for crime scene blood and fingerprint analysis. It can even be used to check metal welds for leaks or cracks.
She said fluorescence occurs when ultraviolet or UV rays — just higher than the visible light spectrum — are absorbed by molecules, causing the molecules to give off visible light.
Indian Springs Elementary School students Will Franklin Akard and Rachel Niebruegge, both 9, said making the plastic fossils was one of their favorite activities at the event. Rachel's father works for Eastman.
Fourth-grade Indian Springs teacher Teresa Calhoun and Church Hill Elementary teacher Susan Davidson said students enjoy the event.
"They are having a really good time," said Church Hill fourth-grade teacher Tonya Warner, adding that the fourth grade there hasn't been to the event since the mid-1990s. "They are more engaged in this than any field trip in awhile."
Fourth-grader Sydney Cloud of Church Hill Elementary said she enjoyed the presentation on the chemistry of firefighting by the Eastman Fire Department. Asked about a potential career involving chemistry or science, Church Hill's Evan Davidson, 9, said he might consider it, but a classmate has different plans.
"I want to be a teacher," said Sydney, whose mother works for Eastman.
Church Hill's Emily Wyatt, 10, said she enjoyed the chemical reaction demonstrations, while Church Hill's Sara Winegar, who turns 10 in December, said she liked making plastic fossils.
NETSACS President Shawn Daugherty, an Eastman Chemical Co. employee and former group leader in the chemistry lab at Eastman, said each year the group invites about 150 schools to the event, with about 70 responding.
"Every year, we let between 24 and 28 schools attend," Daughterty said, adding that this year 25 schools — or about 1,400 fourth-graders — will attend. Church Hill had 62 students at the event Tuesday; Indian Springs had 68.
Today, students from Flatwoods Elementary in Southwest Virginia will ride more than an hour to Kingsport for the event. Daughtery said NETSACS will help that school — which she said is the one that will travel the longest distance this year — with transportation costs.
Each day, a morning group arrives, followed by an afternoon group. They overlap for an 11 a.m. show by magician David Vaught, owner of Top Hat Magic Supply in Bristol, Tenn.
Vaught teaches kids that "science and chemistry are not magic," Daughtery said.
Stephanie Testerman, who does local public relations for National Chemistry Week, said sponsors of the event include Eastman Technology, AirGas, Jacobs Engineering, Drachrom, Vulcan Materials Co., Bays Mountain Park, Friends of the Gray Fossil Site, Hands On! Regional Museum, VWR International and Lab Glass.
The event also involves some area high school students. Sullivan Central High School students Tuesday escorted fourth-graders and did a demonstration of density, and Sullivan South students are set to do that today.
"I did it last year," Central senior Anna Grace said of helping with the event. She said some of the other high schoolers assisting Tuesday participated when they were in fourth grade.
Other activities and presentation stations included dentistry, Hands On! Museum, the Boone Watershed Partnership Inc., chemiluminescence (light from a chemical reaction), electricity and BAE Systems.
Other elementary schools attending Tuesday were Chuckey, Cloudland, Abingdon, Greendale, Highland View, Saint Mary's, Surgoinsville, Grandview, West Pines, Northside and Yuma.
Schools attending today are to include Nolachuckey, Woodland, Ridgeview, Southside, Roosevelt, Cedar View Christian, Emmett, Jonesborough, Hal Henard and Anderson.
NETSACS has more than 300 member chemists and engineers from 11 counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.