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. Rouge, Dr. 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!
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.
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.
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
On 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.
Author Jennifer Bento is a graduate student in the Polymer Program at UConn in the research group of Chemistry Professor Doug Adamson. In her reflection below, Jen describes the implications on her career path that resulted from her participation in the UConn chemistry REU program. She connects this experience to choosing UConn for graduate school, and her subsequent success in garnering a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
I received my undergraduate education at Simmons College in Boston where I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics in 2011. During my undergraduate career, I was a teacher’s assistant, a study group leader and an ambassador through Beyond Benign in a Green Chemistry Fellowship program that performed outreach at local Boston public schools. As a Beyond Benign fellow, I was able to work with undergraduates at my institution and meet fellow scientists at local colleges and/or universities in the Boston area. Together we performed hands-on activities with students in grades K-12. I hope that our efforts motivated the students to continue their education in STEM fields. I also helped students at Simmons learn organic chemistry in my role as a TA/study group leader. These fulfilling experiences with students have inspired me to pursue a career as a college professor. My research advisor at Simmons, Dr. Richard Gurney, encouraged me to apply to a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the NSF to gain further research experience at a PhD-granting institution and to get a sense of what being a graduate student would feel like. I applied and was accepted to the UConn Chemistry REU the summer before my senior year of college. UConn was able to offer exciting research with a successful REU student track record. Continue reading
For three weeks during May and June, a group of UConn graduate and undergraduate science and education majors have been engaged in something magical. They have been getting middle school students absorbed in chemistry.
Known as the UConn Science Wizards, the college students gave hands-on polymer chemistry demonstrations at inner-city and rural middle schools around Connecticut. They took a playful approach to teaching science, using a polymer the middle schoolers could relate to: Silly Putty.
“I love the program!” said Michelle Goodwin, science teacher at East Hartford Middle School. “It really gets the students excited about science.” Continue reading