Demonstrating Chemistry – Learning Chemistry

DSC_0818This May, the BU Department of Chemistry, in collaboration with the student organization, BU Women in Chemistry (BUWIC), hosted 85 students from English High School and Brighton High School (BHS) for our fifth annual Chemistry Day.   The successful day was coordinated by third-year graduate student, Kathryn Summo (Schaus Group), the BUWIC Outreach Coordinator, with the assistance of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates.  Photos taken by the participants can be seen on flickr.

DSC_0784The day started with demonstrations of liquid nitrogen, the sublimation of carbon dioxide with pH indicators, and making “Elephant’s Toothpaste,” which according to BHS teacher, Ralph Bledsoe, created “oohs and aahs.”  Students then spent time in undergraduate teaching labs performing experiments in the electrochemistry of metals (a variation on a CH 101 undergraduate lab experiment) and identifying antioxidants using glow sticks.  Students then toured state-of-the-art Chemistry and Biology research laboratories with graduate student and postdoctoral researchers who described their work and what it was like to work in a research lab.  The high school participants learned about about major instrumentation (e.g., NMR spectrometers and GC/MS instruments). They also entered a fruit fly lab with high-magnification microscopes fitted with video feeds and light filtration apparatuses.  The day was capped off with a BBQ sponsored by the Department of Chemistry.

DSC_0796BU Chemistry Day is the conclusion of an outreach program coordinated by BUWIC  during the spring semester. Throughout the course of the program, eight BU undergraduate students visited AP, honors, and multilingual chemistry classrooms at English High School and Brighton High School every other week to mentor students, assist teachers with instruction,  perform demonstrations, and coordinate hands-on experiments.

The 2013 BU Chemistry Day was made possible by the participation of:  members of BUWIC (Elizabeth Hirst, Kathryn Summo, Stephanie Maiocco, Jessica Biagi, Gina Kim, and  Elizabeth Villar); teaching lab coordinators (Boris Bezverkhny and Alex Golger); graduate student volunteers (Matt Golder, Evan Judd, Tracy Meehan, and Daniele Ramella); and undergraduate “Outreachers” (Kyle Bannon (English), Zach Bogart (English), Audrey Hertenstein (English), Doug Allison, Kyle Kahveci, Ashley Mellen, Elizabeth Moss, Josh Nelson, and James Priestley.