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Department celebrates chemistry with Open House

Despite the chilly weather, kids of all ages turned out to the Department of Chemistry inaugural open house, “Chemistry: Beyond the Magic.” Families arrived from across Greater Vancouver to participate in the fun and celebrate chemistry.

Held on Saturday October 22, the event featured a number of hands-on activities, giveaways and chemistry shows, and was timed to coincide with the United Nations sanctioned International Year of Chemistry and Canada’s National Chemistry Week.

Several major facilities were open for tours including Biological Services, LASIR, the Shared Instrument Facility and Crystallography Lab. An activity room set up in the graduate student lounge offered children the chance to create marshmallow molecules, green slime and sparkly lava lamps.

Despite the cool weather, the liquid nitrogen ice cream station in the outside breezeway was an instant hit. According to event co-organiser and graduate student Angela Crane: “This was the first event of its kind that the [Chemistry] Department has run in a really long time and you just can’t know what to expect. Turnout was great and the ice cream was definitely a big attraction, kids and adults were lining up.”

Chemistry demonstrations took the main stage, with shows including: Thermodynamics, Fuels and the Environment, Polymers, Molecular Kinetics, Periodic Trends, CSI: Performed by Actual Chemists, Organic Chemistry and States of Matter. The presenters kept audiences on the edge of their seats with lots of explosions, fire and more than a few humorous quips.

Faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students volunteered their time for the day, wearing the ever-popular bright yellow Got Chemistry t-shirts.

Generous event sponsors, Greens Organic + Natural Market, Mahoney & Sons Public House and Thermofisher Scientific, provided snacks and meals for guests and volunteers, ice cream supplies, and chemicals for the demonstrations respectively.

Chemistry Department Demonstrator and event co-organiser Tamara Kunz was really happy with how the event ran, “this [Open House] was a test-run for us. It was a definite success and something that we plan to build on in the future." With such positive feedback, this event can only grow bigger. Let’s hope we see more like it in the future!

Photo: Children line up for liquid nitrogen ice cream.