Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

Science Open House

Open House Schedule


(1:00-2:00) HOW TO BEND LIGHT TO YOUR WILL  Witness a dazzling series of demonstrations explaining how your brain perceives color,  how to render objects invisible, and how to make your very own laser.  The chemistry department’s Dr. Michael Grubb will provide an enlightening introduction to light, color, and quantum mechanics (it’s not as difficult as you think!).  Entertaining and educational for all ages.

(3:30-4:00) ENERGY EXTRAVAGANZA!  The open house will end with a literal bang as the chemistry department’s Dr. Kenny Miller showcases the awesome power of chemical energy through a series of explosive demonstrations.  Learn about the chemistry of combustion, behold the astounding energy content of food, and observe the behavior of matter as it is cooled down to -320 °F.



THE LONGEST STRAW (CHEM Stairwell.  Diego Novoa):  Come and find out how good of a vacuum you can make with your mouth by measuring how far you can suck water up through a 10 meter straw.  In the process, learn how a vacuum actually works (they don’t actually suck…they blow!).  Can YOU break the theoretical limit for the longest possible straw?

ACOUSTIC LEVITATION (CHEM 117.  Ryan Dorsey):  Sound is nothing but an oscillation of air pressure fluctuations known as an acoustic wave.  Using a special arrangement of ultra-sonic audio speakers, a standing acoustic wave can be formed capable of levitating small objects and even droplets of liquids!  What will YOU be able to levitate?

MAGNETIC LIQUIDS (CHEM 117.  Cory Jolley):  Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids that can be manipulated by magnetic fields.  These amazing liquids seem to be the stuff of science fiction films, and indeed have often been used to generate futuristic special effects in Hollywood.  See what amazing shapes you can form out of the liquid.

ACID OR BASE (CHEM 117.  Delainey Winder):  Indicators are special chemical compounds that change color in the presence of acidic or basic solutions.  Learn how YOU can make your own indicator at home from cabbages, and measure the pH of everyday household substances.

ELECTROMAGNETIC PROPULSION (CHEM 117.  Blake Letzler):  Current travelling through a coil of wire generates a magnetic field through the middle of the coil through a process known as induction.  Here, we have exploited this idea to propel a small magnetic train-car through a copper coil of wire.

CHEMICAL FINGERPRINTS (CHEM 117.  Daniel Windsor):  How do we know what atomic elements compose the matter around us?  Come find out!  Each element has a unique fingerprint of colors that it will emit under the right conditions.  See if YOU can identify the mystery elemental compounds on display here.

PENNY-POWERED MOTOR (CHEM 117.  Jessica Liesse):  Pennies, which are made from copper-coated zinc metal, can be made into a simple battery known as a voltaic pile with enough power to drive a small motor.  See this penny power in action, and compare the effectiveness of the penny battery to a commercial one.

DO THE WAVE (CHEM 117.  Lexi Dobbs):  Why do musical instruments produce pleasing sounds?  How can you blow up a wine glass by singing with perfect pitch?  Play with our wave machines to learn about standing waves and resonant frequencies.

TRAPPING IONS (CHEM 117.  Kyser Seaney):  By rapidly altering the electric field surrounding charged particles, particles of a particular mass can be levitated in stable orbits.  This same idea is used to select molecules of a particular mass from a mixture in an ion trap mass spectrometer.  Here, we demonstrate this idea on the macroscopic scale as we levitate powdered sugar in a stable orbit between two charged spoons.

LIQUID NITROGEN ICE CREAM (CHEM HALLWAY.  Chemistry club):  Flash freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen (-320 °F) results in a creamy texture, since the fast-forming ice crystals are smaller than in conventionally prepared ice cream.  Taste it for yourselves!

NATURAL PRODUCTS (CHEM 117.  Dr. Bill Collins):  Many everyday chemical compounds such as pharmaceutical drugs, vibrant dyes, and pungent perfumes are extracted directly from plants.  Come watch as chemistry’s Dr. Bill Collins performs some of these extractions live.

SUPERCONDUCTING TRAIN (CHEM 117.  Dr. Aimee Morris):  Superconductors expel magnetic fields almost perfectly due to the baffling Meissner effect.  Watch a superconducting train float around a magnetic track.  Someday in the not-to-distant future, you may be able to ride a full-scale superconducting train in Japan!










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