National Chemistry Week to demonstrate everyday applications for students, community

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National Chemistry Week on BYU campus promises to serve up ice cream, magic shows and activities for the family  Oct. 20–26.

National Chemistry Week is celebrated annually during the third week of October. The week includes chemistry “magic” shows, a research poster session, a children’s hands-on chemistry workshop and a symposium on the annual theme. This year’s theme is “Energy Now and Forever.”

Physical chemistry professor Matthew Asplund is the chair of the Central Utah Section of the ACS and the coordinator of the Chemistry Week activities on campus. He has been involved in the annual celebration since 2000, and said he stays involved because he enjoys it and feels it is important to show how chemistry affects people’s everyday routines.

National Chemistry Week Magic Shows are great for families, students and dates. The magic shows are so popular, tickets sell out every year within days of becoming available.  Photo courtesy College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
National Chemistry Week Magic Shows are great for families, students and dates. The magic shows are so popular, tickets sell out every year within days of becoming available.
Courtesy College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

“Our goal is to make chemistry present in their lives,” he said. “We want to give them something to be excited about.”

The community gets especially excited about the “magic” chemistry demonstrations—so excited, that tickets usually sell out within days of being released.

This year’s magic shows will run Oct. 22–25 at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in W111 and W112 in the Ezra Taft Benson Building. Shows on Monday, Oct. 21 will be at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. for family night. Tickets are currently sold out, but seats will be available on standby at the shows.

Organic chemistry professor Jennifer Nielsen said she noticed how young children, in particular, were excited about the shows.

“They always wanted to touch the demonstration materials,” Nielsen said. In response, she decided to create a hands-on children’s show that would be safer for them to interact with.

For the past five years, the children’s show has been held at the Provo Library, and students from elementary schools all over the valley show up to participate. This year’s Kids’ Hands-On Chemistry Workshop will be held at the Provo Library in the Children’s Section on Saturday, Oct. 26, 1–3 p.m., for pre-K through elementary students.

Members of Y-Chem make liquid nitrogen ice cream to sell to students throughout National Chemistry Week. Photo courtesy College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Members of Y-Chem make liquid nitrogen ice cream to sell to students throughout National Chemistry Week.
Courtesy College Physical and Mathematical Sciences

BYU chemistry students also get involved with the fun of National Chemistry Week. Y-Chem, the student chapter of the ACS on campus, uses the opportunity to turn skills into cash.

“Y-Chem makes and sells liquid nitrogen ice cream throughout the week,” said Y-Chem faculty adviser Scott Burt. “It’s one of their major fundraisers.”

Y-Chem will sell the ice cream for $1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5–8 p.m. during National Chemistry Week in the Benson Building.

Students are also able to participate in the research poster session on October 25, where they will present the work they have been doing as a part of their mentored undergraduate research.

To learn more about on-campus National Chemistry Week activities, visit the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s chem week web page.

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