Chemistry Club at UC Davis Goes Waste-Free!

by Kate Gibson

The Chemistry Club at UC Davis provides outreach to schools, community groups, and UC Davis students. The annual audience of the Chemistry Club Picnic Day “Magic Show” exceeds 1500 participants, ranging from small children to seniors.

For the first time in the history of the Chemistry Club, the annual Picnic Day “Magic Show” was accomplished without producing any hazardous waste. Joshua Greenfield, a graduate student at UC Davis, was responsible for re-engineering the demos to reflect safer laboratory practices as well as minimize the waste. Debbie Decker, Department Safety Manger, and Josh were also the main people responsible for safety oversight and training for show participants. This increased attention to safety and training helped the show participants to maintain control of the potentially dangerous demonstrations and perform with confidence.

A firey demo that was part of the Chemistry Magic Show at UCD during Picnic Day.

A firey demo that was part of the Chemistry Magic Show at UCD during Picnic Day.

Enabled by a grant from the American Chemical Society (ACS) as well as time contributed by dedicated graduate and undergraduate student volunteers, an interactive science fair area was also held in the Chemistry Courtyard during Picnic Day. This “hands-on” science fair featured borax slime, alginate-polymer “worms”, non-Newtonian fluids, and highly absorbent growth media for plants. Having received a number of compliments, people old and young could be seen walking around UC Davis with their hand-made demos.

For more information please visit the Chemistry Club web-site or send an e-mail to

Author: Bill Miller

Bill Miller is a Councilor of the Sacramento Section of the ACS. He also teaches chemistry at Sacramento City College.

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