LAWRENCEVILLE - Some chemistry professors and students at Georgia Gwinnett College demonstrated Monday that chemistry can be really cool.
In celebration of National Chemistry Week, the students and professors used liquid nitrogen to make vanilla ice cream. The liquid nitrogen, which has a boiling point of about minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, took less than a minute to freeze the mixture of milk, half and half, sugar and vanilla.
"It's really good," freshman Arielka Lara said as she ate her treat. "I never thought they made ice cream like that."
Chemistry professors Chulsung Kim and Mai Yin Tsoi received an outreach mini-grant from the Georgia local section of the American Chemical Society, said Deborah Sauder, as associate professor of chemistry. National Chemistry Week is designed to raise awareness of chemistry and improve the public's perception of the science.
Several people stopped to see what was causing the mist near the table where the ice cream was being given away. The liquid nitrogen, although still very cold, was boiling and evaporating as it was poured into the ice cream mixture. Nitrogen makes up about 80 percent of the air, so the demonstration posed no environmental hazard.
Rhonda Tingle, a biology major who is taking a chemistry class, said she had never worked with liquid nitrogen before, but she knew of its medical applications, such as freezing off warts in dermatology.
Many students either don't think about chemistry or take it for granted, Tingle said.
"This is an interesting way to get some students hopefully interested in chemistry," she said.
The demonstration will also take place from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.