Hiram College’s Chemistry Club and Education Club recently partnered together for an art supply drive to benefit local elementary schools. The project was inspired by the Education Club’s focus on partnering with local schools and the 2015 National Chemistry Week theme, “Chemistry Colors Our World,” which celebrates what Steven Romberger, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry, calls a “long intertwined relationship” between chemistry and art.
Dr. Romberger, co-advisor for the Chemistry Club with Carol Shreiner, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, said the relationship between art and chemistry dates back to the 1700s, before certain colors were chemically created.
“Before that time, if artists needed a blue paint that wouldn’t fade, they were forced to use ultramarine, a rare and expensive pigment made from ground lapis lazuli,” Dr. Romberger said. “Before 1700, blue was used very sparingly, and only for the wealthiest of patrons, whereas after 1700, blue became increasingly common.”
Art teachers at several local schools offered ideas for supplies that were needed, and the two clubs sorted out the donations based on each school’s need. Jen McCreight, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and co-advisor to the Education Club with Kelly Lewis, M.A., instructor of education, said the community’s response to the project showed Hiram’s spirit of generosity and giving back.
“Our belief in the liberal arts, in the fact that people learn best when subjects are integrated and balanced, comes out in this drive, as community members felt the cause was important enough to donate to,” Dr. McCreight said. By the time the drive concluded, three large cardboard boxes had been filled with art supplies, and they were delivered to Katherine Thomas Elementary School in Windham, Crestwood Primary School and Crestwood Intermediate School over term break.
Although the two clubs wouldn’t typically partner for community outreach activities, Dr. McCreight said the project showed that working together for such activities was possible – and successful.
“We are hopeful this will lead to future collaboration,” she said. “The Chemistry Club has a longstanding tradition of making chemistry fun for all at cross-campus events, and the Education Club is always looking for ways to bring a love of learning to local children and adolescents.”