JPL program to highlight the ‘Magic of Chemistry’

As part of the Joplin Public Library’s adult summer reading program, Missouri Southern faculty members Dr. Marsi Archer and Dr. Elliot Ennis will offer a presentation entitled “The Magic of Chemistry” at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at the library, 300 S. Main St.

Archer – a chemistry professor and head of the chemical and physical sciences department – said her portion of the program will offer background on the periodic table of elements.

Elliot Ennis and Marsi Archer will present a chemistry-themed program at the Joplin Public Library.
Elliot Ennis and Marsi Archer will present a chemistry-themed program at the Joplin Public Library.

“I’ll focus on the periodic table, the history of its development and why it has this structure,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff in science that adults may be interested in but don’t remember from their high-school chemistry class, or maybe they never took chemistry.”

Ennis – an assistant professor of chemistry – will present the “magic show” portion of the program.

“I’ll be doing different demonstrations of chemistry in everyday life, such as where I mix coke and milk to show the milk souring,” he said.

As co-advisor of the Chemistry Club, he’s taken part in demonstrations for students in area schools. Whether he’s giving a demonstration to children or adults, the message he wants the audience to take away from it is the same.

“Chemicals are not scary … that’s one of the biggest things I’d like them to see,” he said. “And that science can be fun and approachable.”

Danya Walker, the library’s assistant circulation supervisor and coordinator of the summer reading program, said the presentation is tied into the theme for this year’s adult summer reading program: “Literary Elements.”

“We’re using the periodic table as our basis,” said Walker. “We’ve created our own periodic table with books of different genres.”

Other presentations have focused on the science of Sherlock Holmes, zombies and a local elementary science teacher talking about participating in NASA’s space camp. The program focusing on chemistry was a good fit for the theme, she said.

“The Joplin Public Library always appreciates that we can plumb the depths of knowledge from Missouri Southern,” said Walker.

Archer said that she and Ennis will likely be giving a chemistry presentation as part of Downtown Joplin’s Third Thursday event in September, which will be sponsored by Missouri Southern.