Mary Anne White of Dalhousie University demonstrates how powdered sodium polyacrylate can turn water to gel at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, NS.

Mary Anne White of Dalhousie University demonstrates how powdered sodium polyacrylate can turn water to gel at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, NS.

For the second year in a row, the Maritime CIC Local Section has reached out to the general public through its Travelling Chemistry Café. The series began in 2015 with Matthew Lukeman of Acadia University and continued this year with science advocate Mary Anne White, a professor at Dalhousie University. 

At the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, NS, White started the event by discussing the elements and how all things are made of atoms. She went on to highlight how all matter is made of chemicals, including things we don’t often think of (like water), the chemistry of toothpaste and how fluoride strengthens our teeth, as well as the chemistry of hair and hair products. Not one to leave her audience without concrete examples, White brought along several everyday items to showcase how chemistry is deeply embedded into our daily lives. For example, a diaper contains the super-absorbent polymer sodium polyacrylate, biodegradable and compostable packing materials are made of starch while FriXion pens exhibit the thermochromic ‘magic’ of disappearing ink. White closed the session by taking questions from the audience, which included Grade 10 and Grade 11 students from Baddeck Academy as well as cruise ship passengers visiting Baddeck. Information on upcoming Travelling Chemistry Café talks will be posted on the CIC website at www.cheminst.ca/connect/local-sections/local-section-events.