Outreach News

The First CT-Japan Photochemistry Workshop

On October 29th and 30th, UConn Chemistry held the first CT-JAPAN photochemistry workshop for high school students. The two-day workshop was held in conjunction with the visit of 5 high school students and 2 teachers of Matsuyama Minami High School from Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The total 50 high school students from Woodstock Academy attended the workshop. The workshop was organized by Prof. Tomoyasu Mani with the help from Prof. Fatma Selampinar and graduate assistants.

Group of high school students

The students from the two countries attended the lectures by Prof. Mani and afterwards jointly performed the experiments, learning new chemistry (photon upconversion on day 1 and charge-transfer absorption on day 2) and at the same time fostering friendship and cultural understanding. The agenda and the materials of the workshop (lecture slides and experiment procedures) are available online. The workshop was in part supported by the Department of Chemistry and Early College Experience. The trip of Matsuyama Minami High School was supported by the Japan Science and Technology through the Super Science High School program.

Science Activity Day at UConn

In the past few months, UConn Chemistry has held numerous events to expand its outreach within the Connecticut community. Some of the more recent events that were held involved the UConn Chemistry Department partnering with local schools in an effort to teach young students about what pursuing an interest in Chemistry can do for them post-graduation. On April 25th and May 17th, the Department opened its doors to various high schools for a day of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on laboratory activities for students.

The April 25th trip was coordinated by the Early College Experience office and Dr. Fatma Selampinar, with activities hosted by Dr. Jessica Rouge, Dr. Gaël Ung, and their graduate students (Alyssa H., Saketh G., Mark T., Kaitlynn A., Erin B., Nishya M. and Rebecca F.).  To kick off the day’s events, students learned about fluorescent molecules and biomacromolecules that can build structures at the nanoscale. During Dr. Ung’s activities, students were taught the principles of fluorescence and how light interacts with molecules. They were exposed to scientific thinking and given the opportunity to construct glow sticks. The students were asked to determine why molecules glowed and made hypotheses that they then verified experimentally. Later, the students gathered and shared the results of their experiments to observe the relationship between chemical structure and a molecules ability to glow.

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UConn Chemistry Provides Workshop for Connecticut Teachers

Photo courtesy of Tomoyasu Mani

May 15th, UConn Chemistry offered a day-long workshop for high school chemistry teachers in Connecticut. The workshop was coordinated by the Early College Experience Office, Dr. Fatma Selampinar, and Dr. Tomoyasu Mani. Dr. Mani, with help from graduate assistants Jason Buck (Mani Lab), and Jingwen Ding and Megan Puglia (Kumar Lab), organized the lecture and experiments. In the morning, the 23 Connecticut teachers attended a lecture on molecular photophysics and electron transfer theory, followed by hands-on experience on charge-transfer complexes. In the afternoon, teachers learned about photon upconversion followed by a demonstration in the lab. They were also taken on a tour of the laser laboratory in the Mani lab, where they observed state-of-the-art laser spectroscopies.

 

Chemistry Building Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Chemistry Building

(Peter Morenus/UConn)

Transformative. Iconic. Chemistry.

Opening in 1999, the Chemistry Building was the first UConn building to be built as part of the 10-year UConn 2000 initiative, a series of 85 capital projects across UConn's campuses. This iconic campus landmark marked the beginning of an amazing transformation of the Storrs campus. In these years, the Department has experienced tremendous growth thanks to the hard work, innovation, and success of all those that call the Chemistry Building “home.” 

UConn 2000, the Beginning of a Transformation

Signed into law in 1995, UConn 2000 was a 10-year plan to transform the University of Connecticut. As the Connecticut Legislature approved a $1 billion package to rebuild and expand the University of Connecticut, the state's investment in its flagship public university marked the largest such initiative in the nation at the time. The success of the bill is credited—in part—to a wave of "Huskymania" that overtook Connecticut as the women's and men's basketball teams vied for national championships.1

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Engaging Future Scientists

  • Science Salon Jr. Event
    2018 Science Salon Jr. participant (UConn Alumni/ UConn Photo)

As part of Homecoming Weekend, children ages 5 to 12 joined UConn faculty, staff, and students for an afternoon of STEM experiments.

The UConn Science Salon Jr. featured manipulations in chemistry, engineering creations, and environmental adventures. The event is an offshoot of the popular UConn Science Salon series, café events designed to encourage public discourse at the intersection of science and culture.

It was held Sunday at the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower on campus.

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Story by Lucas Voghell (CLAS ’20) | UConn Today
Photos courtesy of UConn Today and UConn Alumni

Early College Experience at UConn Chemistry

Last week UConn opened its doors to 34 high school students from Berlin High School and Orville H. Platt High School (Meriden, CT) for a day of science lectures, demonstrations and hands on laboratory activities. The trip was coordinated by the Early College Experience office and Dr. Fatma Selampinar, with science activities hosted by Dr. RougeDr. Quardokus and their students (Molly W., Cynthia G., Veronica H., Alyssa H., Saketh G. and Halle Barber, UConn ‘20). In the morning, the students had a chance to visualize atoms and learn about the forces they exert on other nearby atoms. Later in the afternoon, they had a chance to visualize DNA, interpret a gel and learn that DNA can be used as a nanomaterial, not just a genetic code. To wrap up the day the students were taken on a tour of the Mass Spectrometry Facility, with an educational demo by Lei Wang. A fun day of science and outreach ranging from materials to chemical biology was had by all!

Art in Nanochemistry

Kumar Group Uses Electron Microscopes to Create Awe-Inspiring Images

Nature is a masterful artist, responsible for the sweeping vistas around us. Nature's hand is also evident on the microscopic level when microscopic objects are magnified a billion times over. Using high power electron or optical microscopes, Professor Challa V. Kumar and his Ph.D. students capture the natural world on the nano-level, creating awe-inspiring images of natural materials that are as majestic as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.

Over the past few years, Kumar and his students have designed an art exhibit entitled, "Art in Nanochemistry." The exhibit consists of individually framed, hand-colored electron micrograph images. Over twenty unique pieces exist in the collection. These pieces have been featured in locations such as the Homer Babbidge Library Gallery, the Bradley Airport Gallery, and the Windham Hospital Art Gallery.

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2018 CT Middle School Science Bowl

2018 Science Bowl Volunteers

On Saturday, February 24, 2018, the Connecticut Regional Middle School Science Bowl event welcomed approximately 200 students and coaches—and their family members—to UConn for a day of learning and friendly competition. The Middle School Science Bowl is a fast-paced, question-and-answer-style event that emphasizes the importance of STEM education. This year, 32 teams from 24 different middle schools throughout Connecticut participated in the Science Bowl competition where they answered questions in the fields of Life Science, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, Energy, and Mathematics. It is through the Science Bowl that students are able to engage in a challenging academic competition with peers that share a similar passion for science.

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UConn Chemistry in Motion at Science Salon Junior Event

UConn Chemistry lecturer Dr. Clyde Cady directed several dozen budding scientists through two interactive demonstrations of “Electrons in Motion” during last month’s Science Salon Junior event. Science Salon Junior, held during UConn’s 2017 Family Weekend, featured exciting experiments for children ages 5-12. Throughout the event, Cady and Greg Bernard, CLAS Director of Alumni Relations, led a team of chemists that included Professor Dr. Mark Peczuh, graduate students Svetlana Gelpi and Xudong Wang, and undergraduate student Shahan Kamal. In one demonstration, Salon Junior participants electroplated zinc onto copper pennies and then “brassed” them by heating them in a flame. In the other demonstration, students prepared solutions and observed the phosphorescence of a ruthenium (III) bipyridine complex. As the lights went out to observe the phosphorescence, one participant quipped, “Now I see the light!” Cady’s perspective on the event is equally profound, reflecting, “I hope we illuminated the power of chemistry for our young scientists and polished their interest in STEM so that it was just as bright and shiny as the brass pennies we made.”

These fun, kid-friendly demonstrations were part of the inaugural Science Salon Junior program, an off-shoot of UConn’s successful Science Salon events.

 

Photos courtesy of the UConn Foundation & Dr. Mark Peczuh

2017 Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl

Science Bowl audienceOn Saturday, February 25, 2017, the Connecticut Regional Middle School Science Bowl event welcomed approximately 200 students and coaches—and their family members—to UConn for a day of learning and friendly competition. The Middle School Science Bowl is a fast-paced, question-and-answer-style event that emphasizes the importance of STEM education. This year, 32 teams from 19 different middle schools throughout Connecticut participated in the Science Bowl competition where they answered questions in the fields of biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics, and math. It is through the Science Bowl that students are able to engage in a challenging academic competition with peers that share a similar passion for science.

The Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl is hosted by the UConn Chemistry Department and organized by Assistant Professor in Residence Joe DePasquale and Program Assistants Aneesa Bey and Ashley Orcutt. This event would not be possible without the assistance of approximately 85 volunteers who donate their time to prepare for and participate in this exciting competition. Among the volunteers are undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, and local high school students. Many of the volunteers are STEM-based majors who share the same affinity and aptitude for science as the young competitors.

The Department of Chemistry would like to thank Gerber Technology, the UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the UConn Institute of Materials Science for their support. The Department would also like to thank the UConn School of Engineering Diversity & Outreach Center, Connecticut Science Center, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway Restaurant for their contributions to this event as well.

The top teams of the day were:

First Place: Talcott Mountain Academy (Avon, CT)
Second Place: Middlesex Middle School (Darien, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Cloonan Middle School (Stamford, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Irving A. Robbins Middle School (Farmington, CT)

Talcott Mountain Academy will represent Connecticut’s middle schools at the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C. April 27 – May 1.

The National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. “The National Science Bowl® continues to be one of the premier academic competitions across the country and prepares America’s students for future successes in some of the world’s fastest growing fields in science, technology, and engineering,” said Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, Acting Director of the Department’s Office of Science, which sponsors the nationwide competition, now in its 27th year. “Each year the DOE Office of Science provides this unique opportunity, and I am honored to congratulate all the competitors who are advancing to the national finals, where they will continue to showcase their talents as top students in math and science.” More than 14,000 students compete in the NSB each year.

More information can be found on the CT Middle School Science Bowl website and the National Science Bowl website.