By Tiffany Whitfield

Old Dominion University's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry hosted its first "Reign in Chemistry and Science Day" with two objectives in mind - to inspire young people to pursue science careers and to show off the possibilities available at the new Chemistry Building.

"The students who came were able to see and meet chemists of a wide range of ages, and a wide range of backgrounds," said Emily Hardy a lecturer in the department and one of the organizers of the event. "Hopefully, this event showed people that ODU is a resource and find science more accessible."

More than 125 students from across Hampton Roads in grades four through 12 were on hand to participate in a day of STEM activities. They toured the Chemistry Building, saw a show in the new Michael and Kimthanh Lê Digital Theater and Planetarium and took part in science activities related to machine learning, organic synthesis, environmental chemistry and chemical reactions. They also had a chance to tie-dye their masks while learning about the science behind dyes.

"ODU Chemistry and Biochemistry is proud that our faculty and students are dedicated to sharing their research and love of science with the public," Craig Bayse, department chair, said. "The new building gives us the opportunity to showcase their work and raise awareness in young people that STEM careers are within reach."

In addition to Hardy, Assistant Professors Trandon Bender and Kyle Lambert organized the event. They led a series of science demonstrations ranging from hydrogen balloon explosions to liquid nitrogen cryogenic freezing.

"We did a liquid nitrogen demonstration to show how you can cool things to cryogenic temperatures and how that freezes the water in living cells," Lambert said.

Undergraduate and graduate students came up with new approaches to talk about their research projects in a way that was accessible to anyone from fourth grade and up.

"We want the community to realize that here at ODU, we are open and vested in them learning about our department and the impact we can have in their day-to-day lives," Bender said. "We are a federally funded institution, and we owe it to the public to give them information about what we're doing and how they can benefit from it."

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is planning to host the event again in 2022. To learn more about the new Chemistry Building, visit this website.

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