Chemistry Day

Chemistry Day 2016

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. Please check back soon as we announce the date for next year's Chemistry Day!

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!

8:30 Registration
Enjoy a light continental breakfast while you register for the Chemistry Day Scavenger Hunt, visit exhibits and videos, and turn in your transcripts and letters to be considered for scholarships. UNL Chemistry undergraduates will be available to answer your questions.
8:50 Opening Remarks
Welcome from Associate Dean Diana Pilson and Department Chair David Berkowitz and Schedule of Events Overview by Peg Bergmeyer
9:00 Recognition of the 2015 UNL Chemistry Department Outstanding High School Chemistry Teacher
9:05 Colorful Science Demonstrations
9:20 Keynote Address: Chemistry Colors Our World!
Prof. Mark Griep will discuss, “Exploring the chemistry of dyes, pigments, and light”.
9:40 Colorful Vignettes
Prof. Rebecca Lai will answer the question, “What is the color of that dress?” and Dr. Raychelle Burks will demonstrate “Rose pHun: Roses are red?”
10:00 Three Hands-On Science Demonstrations
Students, Parents and Teachers take part in hands-on science demos! Rotate through demos in our undergrad labs. Goggles will be provided. (Parents/Teachers - Information sheets will be handed out to let you know how to do these experiments at home or in your classroom.)
  • Cell phone spectrometer (Prof. Mark Griep)
  • Colored non-Newtonian Fluids (Prof. Stephen Morin)
  • T-shirt Chromatography: Design a free T-shirt using chromatography (Prof. Jason Kautz & Michelle Stara)
11:30 Event Rotations
  • 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; get information on how to apply.
  • Chemistry Quizbowl (Room 133): Compete for prizes. (Profs. Barry Cheung & Stephen Morin)
  • Dyeing for Color (2nd floor lab, Prof. Jason Kautz)
  • Parent/Teacher Round Table (Room 130): Participate in a unique and lively discussion about current topics in teaching, moderated by Dr. Rick Hartung and Prof. Marilyne Stains
1:00 Hamilton Hall Lab Tours
Visit working research labs in the Department of Chemistry. Each visit will last 15 minutes during which the professors will talk about the colorful research taking place in the lab. Use this time to ask questions of your tour guide and/or the professors for the Chemistry Scavenger Hunt.
2:00 Chemistry Colors My World Wrap-up Session
  • Colorful Vignettes: Prof. Jody Redepenning on “The Color of Jeans” and Prof. Cliff Stains on “The Color of Genes”
  • Alumni Panel: Hear how chemistry opened the doors of opportunity for several UNL Chemistry alums
  • Championship Quizbowl Round
  • Announcement of Chemistry Day UNL Scholarship Recipients
  • Announcement of the Inter-school Poetry Contest winner
  • A Closing Vignette: Prof. Steve Morin on “What is the Color of the Universe?”
  • Participation Prizes Awarded (must be present to win)
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 $750 – 1,000. To be eligible students must:

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

To apply for the Chemistry Day Scholarship, bring a copy of your high school transcript to Chemistry Day and hand it in at registration. Winners will be announced at the end of the day!

Learn more about our other undergraduate chemistry scholarships.

*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 Outstanding Nebraska High School Chemistry Teachers in conjunction with its 2015 Chemistry Day (October 3, 2015). If you know of an outstanding high school chemistry teacher, please fill out our form. Nominees will be provided with the application materials for the UNL Chemistry Department's 2015 Nebraska High School Chemistry Teacher of the Year. Completed applications will be due shortly after the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Nominate a Teacher
An Inter-school Competition for Students!

Each school is invited to submit ONE entry in our 2015 UNL Chemistry Day Inter-School Challenge. Entering is simple. Compose and illustrate a poem of no more than 40 words around the Chemistry Day theme, “Chemistry Colors Our World!”

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 Oct 2nd preferred; however, hard copies will be accepted on the day of the event. 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 the entry’s overall originality, creativity and presentation. The winning entry will be selected by the Chemistry Department staff with input from the assembled Chemistry Day participants. All entries become property of the UNL Chemistry Department and the entrants consent to use of their names, likenesses and entries.