by Salvador Bernardino
A small club from a community college with a great motivation to positively affect its community with science is what would describe our American Chemical Society club located at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA.
Beginning in 2012 founded by former club President Rodrigo Tellez, the club has grown from a very small group of students to over 30 members and growing every semester. We are set forth with the motive to inspire the youth in our community to venture towards STEM fields. We seek to expose the exciting and curiosity-creating areas of science out of the challenging concepts STEM education is well-known for. Whether it be demonstrating the negative temperatures of liquefied nitrogen on random objects or displaying a much warmer demo with the burning of methane bubbles, we put on a chemistry show that leaves students in awe and wanting more.
Safety is always a concern during these shows and most cannot be done at home and always discourage students from doing so. However, during our hands-on events we do demonstrate a range of demos from lava lamps created by the fizzing of aspirin in water and vegetable oil to the properties of milk with soap and food coloring, which can all be done safely at home.
We have participated in events such as The Record’s Family Day at the Park and Stockton is Magnificent, and performed chemistry demonstrations at schools like Dr. Stallworth Senior Charter School, Valenzuela Elementary School, Khol’s Elementary, and Collegeville Elementary.
Between shows we focus on other things in our community by either volunteering at St. Mary’s Dining Hall, donating blood, or cleaning up local parks. Our principles as a club encircle the main objective to lead, inspire, and motivate. When faced with science in general, many students don’t have the confidence level to pursue STEM related fields such as medicine, engineering, etc. Since we try to target schools in low-income/disadvantaged areas of Stockton we get many students audiences like this.
When we explain the science behind the demonstrations we perform, many students are don’t believe they could see themselves in our positions in the future. However, when they realize that the backgrounds of many of our members are similar to their own, the intimidation ceases. Many of our members come from similar schools we target, immigrant families, or are even immigrants themselves looking for a better future. This establishes the fact that regardless of status or background, one could still pursue dreams that were once foreign or thought to be unattainable.
Coming from a community college, we also reveal that the routes to becoming successful aren’t always traditional in terms of the notion going to a high-end, prestigious university is the best/only way. You can still achieve your dreams of becoming a doctor, scientist, engineer, etc. by first going to a community college. Just like our demonstration of a candle being used to spark the explosion of a hydrogen balloon, we hope to spark the minds of the youth in our community.