Chemistry Day

Chemistry Day 2016

Registration is open!

Chemistry Day

Chemistry Day is hosted by the UNL Department of Chemistry and is a FREE day filled with science demos, chemistry lab tours, hands-on science experiments, and a light breakfast and lunch for all participants! Students, parents, and teachers will also have the opportunity to learn more about the UNL Department of Chemistry undergraduate program, careers in chemistry, and scholarship opportunities!

This event is intended for junior and senior high school age students and parents/teachers.

For more information about Chemistry Day, please contact

The UNL Department of Chemistry would like to extend their gratitude to the Carl A. Donaldson Fund in Chemistry for their continued support of Chemistry Day!

Chemistry Day aims to:

  • Introduce students to the UNL Department of Chemistry undergraduate programs including clubs, award winning instructors, and scholarship information
  • Increase the number of UNL BA and BS Chemistry majors
  • Get students thinking about the relationship between their chemistry degree and their future career
  • Introduce opportunities available, specifically graduate and professional schools
Potential Events
  • Guests will see the award-winning Chemistry Resource Center, our Undergraduate Instrumentation Center, and the Undergraduate Lounge
  • Learn about the latest chemical research during research lab tours that are led by professors
  • Student will be introduced to our undergraduate program, the relationship between their degree and their future career, clubs, award winning instructors, and scholarships during a 50-min presentation that includes numerous "exothermic" chemical demonstrations
  • Lunch and T-Shirt Chromatography
  • A special roundtable lunch discussion for teacher's only
Potential Activities
  • Hydrogen gas is highly flammable and produces a loud bang when ignited
  • Sugars in the gummy bear are oxidized by KClO3
  • N2 gas is condensed to its boiling point (77K) under conditions of high pressure. It readily freezes many household objects and evaporates rapidly.
  • Elephant toothpaste made by the reaction of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide using a KI catalyst
  • Kinetics - This interactive demonstration shows how reaction rates can be affected by concentration of the reactants.
  • Red organic dye found in red cabbage acts as an acid/base indicator
  • Liquid iron is formed from the reduction of rust using aluminum metal
  • Nylon - the condensation of an organic diacid and diamine to form a polyamide, nylon
  • Simple hydrocarbons are highly flammable organic molecules often used as a fuel source. Our bottle rocket flies when isopropanol is ignited by electric current arcing across two wires.
  • CO2 would normally put out a fire; however, in this case Mg actually pulls oxygen from the CO2 in order for it to burn, which leaves pure black carbon
Chemistry Day Schedule

Here's what to expect at UNL Chemistry Day!

8:00-8:30 Registration (Hamilton Hall 2nd Floor Chemistry Resource Center)
Turn in your transcripts and letters for the scholarship competition. Enjoy a continental breakfast while you visit exhibits. UNL Chemistry undergraduates will be available to answer your questions.
8:30 Opening Welcome (Room 110)
Welcoming comments by Chemistry Department Chair David Berkowitz, the Schedule of Events Overview by Peg Bergmeyer, and Recognition of the 2016 UNL Chemistry Department Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher of Year.
8:50 Keynote Address: Representative from the State Crime Lab
9:15 Inter-School Poetry Contest
9:30 Chemistry Demonstrations (Prof. Jason Kautz)
9:45 Hamilton Hall Lab Tours
Visit working research labs in the Department of Chemistry. Each visit will last 15 minutes during which professors will demystify the research taking place in the lab.
10:45 Vignette: DNA sequencing
10:55 Chemistry Majors Q&A (Room 110)
Hear how chemistry is opening the doors of opportunity for several UNL Chemistry majors.
11:15 Vignette: mass spectrometry in the service of forensics(?)
11:30 Event Rotations (Order by Assigned Group)

Lunch (2nd floor Chemistry Resource Room): Enjoy a free lunch catered by Valentino's Pizza.
Chemistry undergraduate majors and College of Arts & Sciences representatives will be available to answer questions during lunch including information on how to apply.
T-shirt Chromatography (2nd floor): Design a free T-shirt using chromatography (Jessica P)
Chemistry Scavenger Hunt (Jason Kautz)
Parents/Teacher Round Table (Room 130): Participate in a unique and lively discussion about current topics in teaching, moderated by Dr. Rick Hartung.

1:00 Three Hands-On Science Demo Rotation (Order by Assigned Group)
Students, Parent and Teachers Take part in hands-on science demos! You will have the opportunity to take part in three hands-on demonstrations. These demos will take place in our undergrad labs. Goggles will be provided.
Topics: TBA
Parents/Teachers - Information sheets will be handed out to let you know how to do these experiments at home or in your class room.
2:30 Chemistry Quizbowl (Room 110): Compete for prizes. (Profs. Barry Cheung & Steve Morin)
3:00 Wrap-up Session (Room 110)
Closing Vignette:
Announcement of Chemistry Day UNL Scholarship Recipients
Participation Prizes Awarded (must be present)/Peg

Click here to register Chemistry Day 2016!

Mark Your Calendars!

Last year we had an amazing turnout of students, parents, and teachers from across the state and the tri-state area. In all $7,500 in scholarships were awarded to high school seniors and numerous prizes were given out for the day’s activities. Each year we are surprised how quickly our registration list fills to capacity, so get your registration in quickly once it’s open. Hope to see you in October!

Alternatively, we invite you to visit our campus another time for a tour of our facilities. If you are interested in a tour, please call Peg Bergmeyer at 1-402-472-3514.

Chemistry Day Scholarships

High School Seniors can register to win scholarships ranging from $500 – 1,500.*
 To be eligible students must:

  • Have an overall GPA of B+ or better
  • Have completed a high school chemistry course

To apply for a Chemistry Day Scholarship, hand in a copy of your high school transcripts and a brief letter of recommendation (no more than 500 words) from a teacher, principal or other party familiar with your chemistry abilities at the UNL Chemistry Day registration desk. Winners will be announced at the end of the day!

Learn more about our other undergraduate chemistry scholarships at .

*Students who win are required to enroll at UNL as a Chemistry Major if they wish to receive their scholarship.

Nominate an Outstanding Nebraska High School Teacher for Recognition at Chemistry Day

The UNL Chemistry Department would like to recognize an Outstanding Nebraska High School Chemistry Teacher in conjunction with its 2016 Chemistry Day Program (October 8, 2016). If you know of an outstanding chemistry teacher, please submit his/her name and contact information at:

Nominees will be provided with the application materials for the UNL Chemistry Department's 2016 Outstanding Nebraska High School Chemistry Teacher Award. Completed applications will due shortly after the start of 2016-17 school year. The names of nominators will be kept confidential.

Nominate a Teacher
Special Announcement: 2016 UNL Chemistry Day Inter-School Challenge

Each school is invited to submit ONE entry. Write and illustrate a poem of no more than 40 words around the Chemistry Day theme, “Solving Mysteries through Chemistry”.

Particulars: Any poetic style is acceptable but no more than 40 words. Single page electronic formats (pdf, jpeg or ppt) submitted via email to prior to 10/08 preferred; however, hard copies will be accepted. One entry per school permitted. Prizes will be awarded.

Judging: Entries will be judged based on relevance of the poem and the accompanying illustration to the theme and your high school and the entry’s overall originality, creativity and presentation. The winning entry will be selected by the Chemistry Department staff with input from the assembled participants. All entries become property of the UNL Chemistry Department and the entrants consent to use of their names, likenesses and entries.