Free virtual science festival at UCLA offers fun for the whole family, Nov. 7

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EYU blue logo

UCLA’s free science festival, Exploring Your Universe, returns in a virtual format on Sunday, Nov 7, from noon to 3 pm.

For the second year, the festival will be offered online — not only for the safest possible experience, but also to enable families from around the world to participate. Several members of the department are participating this year as speakers, hosts of guided demos and virtual tour booths, and volunteers.

Via Zoom, the event will offer more than 45 hands-on science experiments and demonstrations hosted by two dozen UCLA departments and organizations. Participants of all ages can follow along at home as UCLA scientists lead experiments on everything from archaeology to bees to kitchen chemistry to black holes. Visitors will be able to take part in do-it-yourself guided science experiments using common household supplies while interacting with real-life scientists on a wide range of subjects. 

2020 Exploring Your Universe Chemistry & Biochemistry Booths

Chemistry & Biochemistry booths at last year’s Exploring Your Universe. 

Each activity will have its own virtual meeting room and all participants will have the opportunity to not only learn from but also talk with real UCLA scientists. As always, attendance is free for all, but registration is required on the Exploring Your Universe website, which also provides a full schedule of activities and a list of easy-to-obtain supplies that families can gather ahead of time for the at-home experiments.

Professor Paul WeissAmong the event’s most popular activities are the “Ask a Scientist”, which give attendees a chance to chat directly with experts in astronomy, chemistry, geology, epidemiology and other fields. Nanoscientist Professor Paul Weiss will answer questions about nanotechnology in the chemistry Q&A session.  
Professor Richard KanerGuests will also be able to watch 15-minute talks on topics including ocean pollution, gravity’s role in the structure of the universe, Earth’s magnetic fields and the world of plastics. The talks will be given by UCLA experts but tailored for general audiences of all ages. Synthetic inorganic chemist Professor Richard Kaner will give a talk titled “Fun with Plastics!”. 

Below are the demos and virtual tour booths that will be hosted by members of our department: 

Professor Anastassia Alexandrov’s group are hosting Exploring Chemistry with Computers! Watch the magic of molecular dynamics simulations, model real phase transitions, and solvation effects in water using the beautiful basics of chemistry!

Professor Justin Caram’s group are hosting the 

Illuminating the world of molecules booth

, where they will explore what makes molecules grow, including concepts like photoluminescence, fluorescence, and chemiluminescence.
Professor Ellen Sletten’s group are hosting the 

Color, Optics, and Fluorescence booth

, where they will explore color, refraction, and fluorescence of household items.

Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry co-ed fraternity for undergraduate students, are hosting three booths Non-newtonian Fluid booth, learn about the phases of matter and make a non-newtonian fluid; Color Changing Milk booth, learn the science behind soap with a shocking color change; and Create a pH indicator! booth, where they will be doing a fun chemistry

 experiment creating a pH indicator from red cabbage to test he acidity of common household substances!

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is hosting the Structure and Color with Nanoscience booth, which will show viewers how structure and chemistry play together on the nanoscale to create beautiful colors and effects; and the Nano and Me! booth, where visitors will learn how nanoscience and biology relate and how we can see nanotechnology in nature and how we learn from nature to make better products for everyday life.

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Student Association (CBGSA)

 are hosting the

Kitchen Chemistry booth

– Join them for some fun at home and kitchen chemistry!

Graduate student Garrett Kukier from Professor Ken Houk’s group is hosting the Crazy Chalk Lab where students can make a solution of colored chalk fizz up and dance!

The Society for The Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Student Chapter at UCLA are hosting the Make Your Own Lava Lamp booth, join them as they host a Density and Buoyancy module where they will show you how to make your own Lava Lamps.

Elephant Toothpaste – Learn about chemical reactions and enzymes in a fun, foamy, experiment.

The UCLA Graduate Biochemistry Student Association (gBSA)

 are hosting the

Extracting the DNA of a Strawberry booth

! Extract a Fruit’s DNA with gBSA!

The UCLA Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) are hosting the Non-newtonian Fluid booth, where visitors will learn about the phase of matter and make a non-newtonian liquid and the Color Changing Milk booth, where visitors will learn about the science behind soap with a shocking color change.

Click here to read about last year’s Exploring Your Universe. 

The festival has been held at UCLA since 2009. Traditionally, the program was held in person, bringing thousands of children, parents and other members of the community to campus. 

Exploring Your Universe is organized by UCLA graduate students and run by student and faculty volunteers. The event is made possible by the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences; the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics; the Campus Programs Committee of the UCLA Program Activities Board; the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences; the UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy; the UCLA Galactic Center Group; and the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,