2015 Bay Area Science Festival


Discovery Day at AT&T Park gives people from all over the world the chance to engage in hundreds of hands-on activities, interact with local scientists and engineers, and have an educational and entertaining experience unlike any other.

CCHF members from the Du Bois and Sarpong Labs spent the day as the Molecule Makers, sharing CCHF chemistry with over 3,000 visitors and having a bit of messy fun. Three activities were presented to help explain the concept of C-H bond functionalization and its application in CCHF research. In the first activity Nick Chiappini of the Du Bois group gave attendees a first-hand look at a number of molecules (e.g. Tetrodotoxin) synthesized using C-H functionlization techniques developed in the CCHF.

In the next activity visitors learned about enantiomers an how they lead to different properties. Did you know that only 10% of the world's population cannot smell the difference between the enantiomers of carvone? Booth attendees got a chance to test out their olfactory systems with the enantiomers of carvone as well as limonene and menthol. In the case of limonene, one enantiomer smells like lemon cleaner while the other smells like turpentine. These differences were used to show the benefits of chirality and how C-H functionalization strategies can help to make these and other molecules with a wide range of applications.

Visitors also got an opportunity to make slime. Although slime is not directly related to CCHF research, the activity helped to reinforce the concept of large molecules and provided booth volunteers the backdrop to discuss large molecule synthesis and how the CCHF creates polymers via C-H bond activation.

Overall the event was a success. Not only did the CCHF booth receive a tremendous number of visitors, but it was a learning experience for everyone involved. The CCHF was able to share its science with the community and the public had fun while learning about how scientists make molecules.

Author: Maisha Kamunde-Devonish

Related Content