Carnegie Mellon University
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ChemZone

ChemZone is an educational outreach program for students in grades K-12, teachers and the community at large. ChemZone attracts students to science by exposing them to modern and exciting, state-of-the art aspects of nucleic acids science. Through this program, CNAST hopes to foster students' interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) as well as cultivate an appreciation for collaboration and interdisciplinary work.

The program works to improve student engagement, attitudes and beliefs towards science through three distinct outreach endeavors:

  • Leading hands-on scientific demonstrations at university, community, or other local events
  • Providing professional development to Pittsburgh-area middle and high school science teachers
  • Loaning free resources such as materials and experiment lesson plans to 4th-12th grade science teachers through its Classroom Kit Lending Library

Other Resources

Chemistry Demonstrations and Chemistry Lab (virtual/Zoom/Teams) tours

Email to schedule: ChemistryOutreach@andrew.cmu.com

Outreach demonstrations, activities and workshops or Virtual guided lab tours of a Chemistry Research lab are available through prior arrangement – these could be in-person or through zoom.

Focus areas/topics: Atoms, Molecules and Energy, Colors of Chemistry and Spectroscopy, DNA, Enzymes and the Chemistry of Living, Polymers and Macromolecules

Teacher Professional Development Workshops

Available on request (please inquire, schedule).

Teachers who attend the workshops receive Act 48 Continuing Professional Education credit.

Classroom Activities and Workshops by Chemistry Faculty and Student Groups

Email to contact and schedule a classroom visit: ChemistryOutreach@andrew.cmu.com

Fuel Cell Cars [grades 7-12]

Dr. Kevin Noonan

Dr. Kevin Noonan, together with his lab team, works on novel materials for clean energy (solar cell and fuel cell devices). They primarily work in chemical synthesis, designing new small molecules and polymers for this purpose. This hands-on activity for students introduces fuel cell cars. The activity is centered around energy conversion, where students will use batteries or solar panels to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. Then, using these fuels, they will power a small plastic car. The activity is meant to be carried out in pairs or small groups and offers students the opportunity to make hypotheses and test these throughout the activity. All presented experiments can be conducted in the classroom and offer opportunities to delve into stationary and portable power in modern life.

Polymer Adhesive Chemistry & Chemistry of Cycling [grades 7-12]

Dr. Stefanie Sydlik

Dr. Stefanie Sydlik is an Associate Professor in Chemistry and an alumus of Carnegie Mellon and an intercity Pennsylvania Public School. Her expertise is in polymer and organic chemistry, with applications in environmentally friendly and biodegradable plastics and materials. She has developed hands-on outreach and educational modules for Polymer Adhesive Chemistry and the Chemistry of Cycling.

The Polymer Adhesive Chemistry unit provides 5 hands-on experimental modules and serves as an introduction to organic chemistry and mechanics, as students learn principles through the study of epoxy, wood glue, Elmer's glue, super glue, and caulk. This is ideal for AP chemistry students after the AP exam, or can be adapted for any students with a chemistry background.

The Chemistry of Cycling is a discussion of the chemistry and properties of materials involved in cycling including collagen crosslinking and carbon fiber bicycles.

Everything You Want To Know About CSI Laboratory [grades 8-12]

Dr. Anna Kietrys

Dr. Anna Kietrys, together with her lab, works on the role of RNA molecules in the process of neuron degeneration. They explain how neuronal cells can communicate using RNA signals and how we can translate this language for diagnostic purposes. This activity presents a set of experiments inspired by the CSI series. This activity will help you prepare classroom and home experiments on fingerprint and footprint collection, pH detection in soil, DNA isolation, atomic analysis, and others and takes advantage of commonly available resources. All presented experiments can be conducted in the classroom and repeated by students at home.

Chemistry in Your Kitchen & Molecular Cooking [grades 4-12]

Chemistry and Science of Taste and Flavor [grades 8-12]

Dr. Subha R. Das

Dr. Subha R. Das and his lab work on the chemical synthesis of DNA and RNA for biochemistry and nanotechnology applications. Das uses food ingredients and their reactions and transformations to explain basics of science and chemical interactions. Readily available ingredients and cooking provide a fun and approachable context to explore a variety of science and chemistry concepts – from spectroscopy and the science of microwaves to edible emulsions. Workshops or demonstrations (in person or live demo via zoom) provide participants with hands-on activities and short experiments that focus on concepts of molecular interactions, bonding and physical and chemical transformations using food ingredients (e.g., science of emulsions and foams such as mayonnaise and chocolate mousse). These have been a regular part of the PJAS Saturday Science Workshops for middle and high school students. Activities and demonstrations conform to PA Dept. of Ed and NGSS. Teacher Workshops are available on request.

How Enzymes Work [grades 7-12]

Dr. Yisong (Alex) Guo

This class activity is focused on introducing students to the topic of enzymes, exploring what are enzymes, how enzymes work, what affects enzyme activities, and how we can use this knowledge to improve our daily life, fight disease, and even power our planet in the future. The class has both a lecture component and a hands-on component. The hands-on activity will give students opportunities to learn basic experimental techniques that researchers use to study enzyme functions and to monitor and explain enzyme behaviors

The Chemistry of Metals [grades 7-12]

Dr. Isaac Garcia Bosch

This classroom activity designed by the Garcia-Bosch lab, will introduce students to the topic of metals, and their involvement in our everyday lives (materials, medicine, energy, biology, manufacturing, etc.). The activity will have a short lecture component and several hands-on experiments, in which we will learn about spectroscopy, oxidation states, redox reactions and catalysis. This classroom activity can be done in English, Spanish or both.

Homemade Cosmetics [grades 5-7]

Dr. Gizelle Sherwood

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It serves to protect us from environmental stresses and hazards. As such it is important that we understand this organ and how to protect and care for it. In this workshop, students will create homemade skincare products from lotions and lip gloss, to bath scrubs. This hands-on workshop will have students participate in lecture demonstrations and work with the materials and ingredients to create their own formulation of a variety of over-the-counter homemade cosmetic products.