Three girls watch sugar dissolve during Chemistry Rocks event

Princeton chemists share science with local kids at 'Chemistry Rocks!'

Nov. 17, 2017 1:51 p.m.

Sisters Maya (11), Willa (5) and Zara (9) dissolve sugar cubes encased in putty to see how caves and fossil impressions are formed while attending the “Chemistry Rocks!” event at Princeton University’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory on Oct. 27. The event was hosted by the Princeton section of the American Chemical Society.

On Oct. 27, more than 500 community members visited Frick Chemistry Laboratory for the 2017 National Chemistry Week “Chemistry Rocks!” Activities Night.

Children and young people ages 5 and up were invited to don safety goggles and get their hands dirty with hands-on activities, games and presentations related to the chemistry of Earth. They learned about rock-forming minerals; made caves, slime and limestone; watched coal form; investigated ocean chemistry; dug for fossils, and more.

The event was hosted by the Princeton section of the American Chemical Society.  

Young boy looks at rocks
Children making slime at Chemistry Rocks event

Alex (8) uses a black-light flashlight to see fluorescence in rocks and rock-forming minerals. “I like minerals. They’re shiny,” said his friend Thomas.


From left: Vaishnavi (9) and Shriya (8) make slime with borax and glue. “It’s fun to learn,” said Shriya.


Professor Robert Cava talking to children at Chemistry Rocks event

Robert Cava, the Russell Wellman Moore Professor of Chemistry, explains rock formation to a rapt crowd, including, from left, Yan, William (5), Alex (8) and Thomas (8).


Graduate students show children how to make coal

Chemistry graduate students Mia Borden, left, and Alyssa Ertel show children how to make coal from sugar and sulfuric acid. “It’s a fun way to share what I like about science with kids,” said Borden. “They’re very enthusiastic.”

Crowd in chemistry building lobby during Chemistry Rocks event

More than 500 community members ages 5 and up attended the evening event, where they learned about chemistry and geology through hands-on activities led by professors, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, undergraduates, and AP chemistry students from Princeton High School, and Chem Club members from  Lawrence High School.