Members of Club Chem present a Chemistry Magic Show on stage before an audience.

2017 in Review: ClubChem

Categories: Students

ClubChem is an organization dedicated to the MIT undergraduate chemistry community and friends.

Achievements of the 2016-2017 Academic Year

Over the last year, ClubChem has hosted a number of events, each with the intent to promote chemistry on and off campus and to foster a community of undergraduate chemistry majors. Their main events were experimental chemistry outreach programs called Magic Shows as well as faculty dinners and social events on campus.


Magic Shows are ClubChem’s main outreach program, primarily targeting elementary and middle school students in the greater Boston area. Over the last year, they hosted multiple shows each semester both in and outside MIT, trained new magicians, and designed new demonstrations. On campus performances varied in size, ranging from a couple dozen participants in a small classroom to more than 100 audience members for special occasions like Family Weekend. The highlight of the year was Science on Saturday in March, where more than 1000 children and parents packed Kresge Auditorium for an hour-long stage show and then enjoyed hands-on activities with both ClubChem and representatives from other groups in the Department.

ClubChem was also involved in events outside of MIT. For the first time, ClubChem participated in the annual Cambridge Science Festival in April, performing demonstrations to a live public audience at the MIT Museum. They also traveled to local schools for classroom demonstrations. In April 2018, ClubChem plans to attend the USASEF in Washington for the third time to showcase chemistry as part of a larger MIT cohort that includes presenters from various departments. In addition to continuing existing traditions such as Family Weekend and USASEF, ClubChem hopes to expand access to magic shows to better serve lower-income communities in the area.

Faculty Dinners

In the 2016-2017 Academic Year, ClubChem hosted a total of six dinners with Chemistry faculty members, including MLK Visiting Professor Steven Richardson. At each dinner, undergrads from all years attended and learned more about both the research and the personalities of the Chemistry faculty outside the classroom, while the faculty heard about the undergraduates’ experience with MIT and the Chemistry Department. In May, they invited 5.12 Lecturer Dr. Paula Ruiz-Castillo as a special guest to end the faculty dinner series for the academic year, and students greatly enjoyed hearing her perspective as a former MIT graduate student and now lecturer. ClubChem is excited to continue hosting faculty dinners in the year to come.

Community Building Events

To promote a sense of community among chemistry undergraduate students on campus, ClubChem hosts social events such as Donut Mondays and Ice Cream Socials once or twice each month in the undergraduate lounge. In the 2016-2017 year, they also piloted a mentorship program pairing upperclassmen with freshmen to offer guidance throughout their first year. Topics of discussion ranged from introductory classes like 5.111/2 and 5.12 to finding UROPs and choosing a major. In February 2017, ClubChem members traveled to Northeastern University for a joint student chapter event with attendance from many schools in the greater Boston area.

With the introduction of the Course 5-7 joint major for the 2017-2018 academic year, ClubChem anticipates holding social events to support and welcome the joint majors into the community, in addition to furthering the existing community building events. A newly designated Department-Undergraduate Liaison position within the ClubChem leadership hopes to encourage more open communication between undergraduates and faculty.

Club Chem is funded by the late Mr. James K. Littwitz, SB ’42, who, on the occasion of his 60th reunion, decided to demonstrate his continuing support for MIT’s Chemistry Department and its students by establishing an endowed fund to promote undergraduate activities. The Littwitz fund has been providing funding for Club Chem for many of the activities described.

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