The Undergraduate American Chemical Society displayed an interactive demonstration of how to make nitrogen ice cream at East Side Dining on Thursday. 

“The liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstration has been a part of our club since the very beginning,” Kathy Nickson, vice president of the club and senior chemistry major, said. “It’s always cool to see the students involved. There were people lined up before we even started.” 

To make the nitrogen ice cream, the UACS used ultra-cold liquid nitrogen to solidify a milk, sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract mix. The temperature of the liquid nitrogen froze the mix after club members took turns stirring, creating a fresh, creamy ice cream.

The thick ice cream tasted similarly to regular vanilla ice cream. The rainbow sprinkles, Oreo cookies and a brownie from the dessert table at East Side Dining made it a fun, enriching treat. 

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“I actually like this,” Gerassimos Patrikios, a senior chemistry major, said. “Do I think it’s better than frozen yogurt? Yes, I do.”

A grin came across the students’ faces as they took a bowl off the table and added their desired toppings. Options included were rainbow and chocolate sprinkles, strawberries, Oreo cookies and chocolate fudge.

The Faculty Student Association and the new campus food provider, CulinArt Group, helped produce the event to couple students’ passion for the sciences with their passion for sweets. They provided UACS with a space in the dine-in sitting area, small Hershey’s ice cream bowls and other necessities to make the event a success among the students.   

“When Professor Koch approached me a month ago about the demonstration I was delighted,” Dan Lopez, campus executive chef of CulinArt Group, said. “I’ve done something similar before but with molecular gastronomy with different types of chemicals and spheres. This is a unique experience for me to get exposed to nitrogen.”

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The Stony Brook UACS is a student chapter of the national organization, American Chemical Society. The national ACS provides students opportunities to develop connections with professionals in chemistry and encourage those who are interested in science to participate in discussions and scientific demonstrations such as the nitrogen ice cream.

Stephen Koch, a professor in the chemistry department, has been working with ACS for years and was a 2014 ACS fellow, an important recognition for his outstanding achievements and contributions to science, the chemistry profession and ACS.

“The Undergraduate Chemical Society Club is very active,” Koch said. “FSA reached out to me then I reached out to the club and they took over, which is great.”

The location at East Side Dining was accommodating for students passing through or already sitting there eating.

“It’s interesting that they’re doing the ice cream in the dining room,” Praise Cano, a freshman technological systems management major, said. “Some of them were explaining to me what they were doing, it was nice.”

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The club plans on having more entertaining demonstrations like this one throughout the semester. Demonstrations the UACS have done in the past include a color-changing clock reaction, a triple point experiment showcasing a substance in all three states of matter and a polymer demonstration, making bursting bobas like the ones found in bubble tea. “It’s really cool to see how this ice cream event has evolved,” Nickson said. “It definitely involves science and it’s not super hard to do once you have all the supplies.”

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