Chemistry and Biochemistry

Students Love Open Lab Day

Posted: May 14, 2015

The Y-Chem Society hosted two Open Lab Days this year, one on May 9th and the other on May 16th.  Around 250 eager students from local elementary, junior high, and high schools came to BYU start their careers as scientists-in-training. 

"Open Lab Day is always wonderful," said Y-Chem president Ryjul Stokes, "because it gives students a chance to perform experiments. It allows them to experience science in action."

Student participants were divided by age group and each group was given a specific experiment to conduct in the Benson labs. With the help of Y-Chem student volunteers, Elementary school students performed flame tests and identified different metal salts based on the color of the flame. They also built film-canister rockets fueled by Alka-Seltzer. Junior high students made rockets out of oxygen and hydrogen and then had to determine the identity of an unknown ion.  High school students performed a titration and a synthesis of several fragrant organic compounds. 

"Many of the experiments require them to think critically and draw their own conclusions from a method that they helped design," explained Stokes. "We encourage students to think like scientists and question what they are told." 

Other highlights of the Open Lab Days included liquid nitrogen ice cream, a Y-Chem specialty, and Chemistry Magic Shows. But the best part, according to Stokes, was "giving students a chance to get their noses out of the textbook and get their hands dirty (with gloves of course!)."

By Jordan Wright

Photos by Sydnee Stokes