Chemistry and Biochemistry

Third Series of BYU Chem Camps Provides Genuine Experiments for Children and Youth

Posted: Jul 17, 2018

In June 2018, the BYU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry hosted the third annual series of Chemistry Camps directed by Professors Daniel Ess, Jennifer Nielson, Rebecca Sansom, Kara Stowers, and Joshua Andersen. Chem Camp is a fun-filled three-day event for campers aged 9-12 who participate in hands-on, inquiry-based chemistry experiments. This year, 98 campers attended from Utah, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, and Nevada.

With no rigorous science camps offered for upper elementary school students in the Utah Valley, and with a lack of science camps targeting girls, these professors decided to create their own chemistry camp to fill the gap in available programs for youth. It was especially important for these professors to support girls’ interest in science during elementary school because that is frequently the time when their interest drops off. Consequently, an important criteria of the camp is to have equal participation from girls and boys.

Campers this year participated in experiments such as titrations, electrolysis, polymer synthesis, ester synthesis, caffeine isolation, DNA isolation, and biomolecule testing. BioChem campers grew and examined UV-mutant yeast, performed isolation/amplification/digestion of their own cheek DNA, and tested biomolecules. Campers also had fun tie-dying lab coats and making giant soap bubbles.

At the end of each Chem and Biochem camp, family and friends were treated to a culminating poster presentation by campers teaching about each experiment, and then a chemistry magic show by the directors.

The three days filled with experiments and scientific discussions were made possible by energetic BYU undergraduate students who acted as counselors, and the financial support by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Central Utah section of the American Chemical Society.

The professors and students involved with the camp look forward to a new generation of future chemists next year. Applications will open in January 2019.  Interested parents can find up-to-the-minute details on Facebook ( and on the Chem Camp website


Written by Taelin Wilford/ Photographs Courtesy of Chem Camp