ChemFriends Expo set for Wednesday, Thursday

Staff reports

Students and parents from across the parish will have the chance to see science up close and personal this week at the 2008 ChemFriends Expo, set for Nov. 5-6 and the Gonzales Civic Center, 219 S. irma Blvd.

The tenth-annual event is described as “a science fair with a twist.” Instead of students demonstrating experiments to adults, representatives from various chemical companies and universities will give demonstrations on how various aspects of chemistry affect everyday life and to raise awareness and interest in chemistry within the community.

Admission to the event is free, with costs covered by member fees from organizations participating in the event.

Every 6th grader in Ascension Parish is invited to attend on one of two days, and all schools in Ascension Parish are active participants in the program. The Ascension Parish School Board coordinates the logistics for the students.

The grand finale of the event is a ‘community night’ Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., where anyone can attend the event. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

According to information from the group’s Web site, around 1,700 students attend the event each year and another 700 people visit for community night.

Participants in this year’s event include Air Products, Ascension Parish Government, the Ascension Parish School Board, BASF, CF Industries, Dupont, the Gonzales Fire Department, Honeywell, Lion Copolymer, Motiva, OxyChem, PCS Nitrogen, Rubicon, Shell Chemicals, the Southern University Chemistry Department and Williams.

Experiments from the event are offered to area teachers so they can recreate them in their own school laboratories. In addition, many participating companies offer “road shows,” where they visit schools to discuss science and chemistry and perform experiments.

ChemFriends was launched in 1997 in Gonzales to raise the awareness and interest of science and chemistry in students and the community through the collaborative effort of local chemical companies, educators, government, and business professionals. The expo typically contains 16 different booths of demonstrations where groups of students spend about 15 minutes listening to presenters and participating in hands-on experiments wherever possible.

For more information on the ChemFriends Expo, visit www.chemfriends.org.