Chemistry Day promotes love of science

Posted By: Megan Conway

Fifteen years ago a tradition was started in the Chemistry Department at UNL and Dr. Mark Griep was one of the main people behind it.

"How can we recruit undergraduates to the department? We had a variety of ideas. One of them was a fall tour and that turned into Chemistry Day," says Griep. 

This Saturday the annual Chemistry Day will welcome around 120 high school juniors and seniors from across Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

"It’s kind of giving people an idea of what we do here, what they could do, what types of careers they could launch starting off with the study of Chemistry," says Dr. David Berkowitz, Chemistry Department chair.

"We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. We’ve gotten a lot of teachers calling the next year saying ‘we brought students last year, can we still get them in this year?"’ says Peg Bergmeyer, Chemistry staff assistant.

Students will do hands on experiments, meet professors and explore campus. One popular event is a quiz bowl.

"It gives them a chance to show some of their knowledge of Chemistry, especially as it pertains to the topic of the day, which is how ‘Chemistry colors our world,’" says Stephen Morin, Chemistry professor.

The day is also for teachers to come get new ideas and use the Chemistry Department as a resource for help.

"It also gives us an opportunity to visit with the teachers about how they can better prepare their students, so that when they come into the University they can do better in their Chemistry courses," says Rick Hartung, Chemistry lecturer. 

Students don’t have to major in Chemistry to attend. It’s for everyone, like CJ Ways who attended the event two years ago.

"Being in a hall that I’ve never been in before and being in the classrooms and seeing the labs hands–on; it was fun to see what you’d be doing in college," says Ways.

The professors say it’s all about cultivating the love of science in the younger generations.

"What I would enjoy probably the most is seeing students walk away with a smile on their face recognizing, ‘you know what, science is cool; it’s interesting; I can do it; I can understand it," says Jason Kautz, Chemistry Professor.

For more information on Chemistry Day, just click on the link to the department’s website.