The University of Scranton Student Affiliates Chapter received the 2003 National Chemistry Week Chemvention competition grand prize on March 28 at the ACS Student Affiliates Chapters Award Ceremony in Anaheim, Calif. Scranton snagged a $1,500 computer system for taking top honors.
Four other finalists—student affiliate chapters from Gannon University, Erie, Pa.; Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas; the University of Southern Indiana, Evansville; and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee—each won a $50 pizza party.
The ceremony capped the inaugural year for Chemvention, which challenges ACS student affiliate chapters to solve a chemical problem on a budget. This year, chapters could devote no more than $100 to developing a procedure or device to measure the oxygen content of air as accurately and precisely as possible.
Scranton’s team came up with the most accurate solution by adapting a common chemistry experiment. By placing steel wool in a plastic tube, sealing one end, and immersing the other in water, they could determine oxygen content by measuring how far the water traveled up the tube as the steel wool oxidized.
Air Products & Chemicals donated the prizes, and Robert J. Coraor, the company’s manager of technology transfer, helped to oversee the competition.
Both the students and the industrial sponsor “got a lot out of Chemvention,” says David Harwell, manager of the ACS Office of Community Activities. “The students enjoyed the challenge and using their chemical knowledge outside of the classroom, and the sponsor said they would like to participate again.”
The next Chemvention challenge will be announced on Aug. 15.