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Chemistry and Biochemistry News

Keyword: outreach

Dr. Jody Johnson, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry, presented the Susan Slattery Memorial Lecture on Pollinators:  Here Today, Save for Tomorrow.  Dr. Johnson discussed the chemistry and biology involved in pollination and what students can do to help ensure the future of pollination here in Maryland.  Her presentation was very interesting, lively, and well-enjoyed by a large crowd of students, faculty and staff.  

Chemistry faculty members were happy to participate in and provide workshops for this year’s Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) event.  Dr. Tracey Mason had a lot of fun teaching the girls about the chemistry of film photography. The students produced a light reactive chemical that was used to produce a negative image of their photograph. Light was shown on the image to expose their pictures. The girls were able to take home the photographs that they had exposed!  Dr. Michelle Ivey and Dr. Sara Narayan helped the girls learn about the chemistry of glow sticks. The students mixed two solutions together to produce an illuminated substance of a pretty purple and blue light. The girls took home their glowing necklaces.  The faculty enjoyed sharing their love of chemistry with the middle school girls.

The School of the Sciences has been hosting an Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) day-long event for middle school girls for many years.  EYH is dedicated to providing gateway STEM experiences for girls that spark interest in STEM activities and careers. This year, 98 middle school girls participated!  In addition, we had 75 SU volunteers and STEM professionals to assist the girls with a wide variety of hands-on workshops from a variety of STEM fields. The girls were each able to choose and participate in three hands-on workshops and also to hear from keynote speaker, Alyssa Shedlosky, a robotics engineer with Becton Dickinson. A great day was had by all!  Congratulations to Dr. Kim Tucker who coordinated the event.

July 4th wouldn't be July 4th without fireworks!  Our students learn the chemistry behind the colors of fireworks in General Chemistry.  In brief, the colors are produced by heating metal salts that emit characteristic colors. The atoms absorb energy and release it as light of specific colors. The energy absorbed by an atom rearranges its electrons from their lowest-energy (ground) state, up to a higher-energy (excited) state. The excess energy of the excited state is emitted as light. The amount of energy emitted is characteristic of the element, and the amount of energy determines the color of the light emitted.  For example, yellow fireworks are produced by sodium salts and orange fireworks are produced by calcium salts.  Purple fireworks are a mixture of copper compounds which are blue and strontium compounds which are red.  Happy July 4th- enjoy the fireworks!

Congratulations to graduating biochemistry major Chris Toth on receiving the Chemistry Department’s Service Award at the May Celebration!  Chris was recognized for his dedication to participating in department events, especially his leadership in leading Open Houses and recruiting new students to our department!

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