Chemistry Day Experiences


[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi. I’m Dr. Janet Marshall. I am a faculty member in the
Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I teach Organic Chemistry
on the Middletown campus and also coordinate
the Forensic Science Program for Miami Regionals. One of the things we pride
ourselves on at the Middletown campus is bringing
high school students in for experiential learning. Specifically, we bring
high school groups in to do lab activities. We do that routinely
throughout the academic year with students, about
20 to 24 students, who are perhaps interested in
Forensic Science or Chemistry. And their teachers
will contact us and say, we’d like to
come and visit the campus, and do labs, do
experiments in your labs. We’ll host them. We typically will have
lunch with admission and give the students
a tour of the campus. So, one of the events
we ran last spring was with the Middletown
High School Science Club. And 24 of their students came
in and did a Forensic Science field trip, where we ran a
couple experiments with them. And that was very enjoyable. The other event that we’ve held
three years in a row with plans to hold it again
this spring is what we call Chemistry
Education and Career Day. Originally, this was funded by
the American Chemical Society. Last year, it was funded by
the Quaker Chemical Foundation. And we bring in 100 high school
students from either four or five different high schools. We bring back some
alums who graduated from either the
Regionals or Miami Oxford to help with the event. We run five different labs. We assign the
students to two labs. Then we give
them all lunch. We talk about
career opportunities through either Forensic Science,
or Chemistry, or Biochemistry. For students who are
interested in Forensic Science, we typically run
two experiments. One of them is what we call a
case of copper poisoning, which is an investigative
lab, where students have to analyze a mock urine
sample for ions that would commonly be found
in urine or may not be found in urine, specifically
something like high copper levels. And so, students run positive
and negative controls. They get some experience
with a variety of techniques. It’s a great
experiment for students who might have
limited lab skills, but they get to do a little
bit of investigative work. And the other experiment
we run is detecting cocaine on paper currency. Obviously, we’re not
using real cocaine. It turns out that the active
ingredient in Benadryl gives a positive in this test. The test is actually one
that’s used in the field to test for cocaine. And we have students
run that test, as well. It’s called a
presumptive drug test. And lots of times, they’ll
bring in their own money and try and see if they
can find cocaine on it. We’ve never had that happen. But that’s a really fun
experiment too, again, for students who might
have limited lab skills, but are interested in
forensic type science. For Chemistry Education
and Career Day, we run five different
experiments. We run electroplating
on nails, which is an experiment we run
with our College Chemistry. And that’s always a lot of fun. Students get to work with
batteries and solutions and then analyze how effective
they were at plating a nail. We run the delicious
chemistry of food, where students
learn a little bit about the science of flavor. And then we do a
variety of taste tests. We run high performance liquid
chromatography of soft drinks, specifically looking at
caffeine in soft drinks. So students get to use a
pretty sophisticated piece of analytical equipment. We also run something we call
the Big Bang Theory, which is where students generate
hydrogen gas, oxygen gas, mix them, and ignite
the gases to make water. And that’s always a lot of fun. And then the last experiment
we run is an organic synthesis experiment, which is something
that high school students don’t typically do. And we have them
make the dye indigo, and they dye a piece
of cotton, just like it is done in industry
for dying denim fiber. And so that’s
actually a lot of fun. And as I mentioned,
we’ll assign students to two of the five experiments. They’re working with kids they
know and kids they never met. We allow the high
school teachers just to float during the day,
so they get to actually observe all the experiments. And it really turns out
to be a great experience. Our alums help with all the
labs, so all of our labs are either are instructed by
one of the faculty members here. And then we have an alum
helper, so it really is a great experience.