The swirl of colors is mesmerizing and fascinating to the eager young eyes watching intently. The fluorescent reds and oranges, the pastel yellows and blues on labcoats, on hair, on safety glasses, in petri dishes and in flasks become the center of attention as the chemists on stage keep shocking and surprising their young audience. Throughout the course of a single day, hundreds of youngsters sit on the edge of their seats believing what they thought impossible the day before.
Three years ago, the scientists from the Celanese Clear Lake Technical Center took on the challenge of captivating the interest of young students from local area schools. Over the course of those years, more than 3,000 students from four different elementary and middle schools have benefitted from an amazing series of demonstrations that serve to make the youngsters want to ask more questions than can be answered. Thanks to the outward community reach of Celanese’s Global Impact Week, that challenge has far exceeded the original expectations of pure entertainment and fascination.
The Celanese Research & Development scientists who come each year to LaPorte Elementary (Celanese’s sister school in the Clear Lake area) to perform these chemistry demonstrations have become far more than a distraction from their daily class schedule. Each year when the October day approaches, the kids wonder what new and mesmerizing scientific demonstrations will “wow” them. Also each year, the scientists receive a rare pleasure to be treated like rock-stars when they arrive on campus. There are few things more gratifying than watching excited children in their orderly lines waiting to meet the R&D crew who bring the materials for the day’s show. The lines become chaotic as they rush over with giggles and screams just to express how excited they are that they will be participating in this year’s chemistry show. When was the last time chemists were treated as if they were LeBron James or Kanye West appearing for a sold-out event? The payoff for the scientists is not in dollars, but in deep breaths and bulging eyes after each demonstration.
As Hans Selye said: “The true scientist never loses the faculty of amazement. It is the essence of his being.”
What the chemists from Clear Lake R&D have accomplished is to create that amazement in young scientists with the hope that it remains with them forever.