UCLA’s 2022 Exploring Your Universe (EYU)

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Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty, postdocs, grad students, undergrads, and alums helped make 2022 Exploring Your Universe a huge success.

A photo gallery from the event can be viewed here and select photos can be viewed below.

After two years of virtual EYUs due to the COVID19 pandemic, EYU 2022 was back in person on November 6, 2022. With approximately 12,000 attendees and over 500 volunteers, it was the largest in-person EYU event ever hosted.

UCLA EYU is an annual science fair which invites families and friends across Los Angeles for free science learning through demonstration booths and talks hosted by UCLA students and faculty members. The one-day festival engages attendees with hands-on, interactive science demos to share exciting science projects and inspire future scientists. Organized by UCLA graduate students and run by volunteers, it’s the largest science outreach event put forth by UCLA students.

This year, over 60 booths were hosted by students from different departments, among which Chemistry & Biochemistry was one of the major departments, along with Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, and Physics and Astronomy.

Science Talks Given by Chemistry Faculty

Professor Paul Weiss gave a talk on “Exploring and Controlling the Nanoscale World” that brought up nanoscale tools and designs that can make a significant impact on our bigger world.

Professor Richard Kaner’s talk on “Fun with Plastics” introduced different types of plastics and their property-based applications.

Professor Richard Kaner encouraged audience participation in his “Fun with Plastics” talk.

During her talk on “The Future of Fast Charging Batteries”, Professor Sarah Tolbert explained how batteries work and the advancement for making fast charging batteries.

Chemistry & Biochemistry Booths

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Student Association (CBGSA) presented visual chemistry experiments of rainbow milk and homemade lava lamps that mixed water-soluble and insoluble liquids together to create beautiful, visually appealing mixtures.

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Student Association (CBGSA) booth.

The UCLA Graduate Biochemistry Student Association (gBSA) hosted the “Extract the DNA of a Strawberry!” booth where guests were taught how to extract a fruit’s DNA.

The UCLA Graduate Biochemistry Student Association (gBSA) booth.

Professor Justin Caram’s group hosted the booth “Illuminating the World of Molecules” that explored what makes molecules glow. Some of their demonstrations included “oobleck on subwoofer” (visualize liquid/solid characteristics of oobleck), “glow in the dark paper”(phosphorescence chemistry), “sound wave software” (visualize constructive and destructive interference) and “crime scene chemistry” (luminol glows blue when interacts with iron in human blood to help identify crime scenes).

The Caram group’s “Illuminating the World of Molecules” booth.

Professor Ellen Sletten’s group hosted the “PHOTONbooth” that showcased fluorescence chemistry. The demonstrations by included making glow sticks with highlighter solution and seeing the fluorescence of common household items such as honey and olive oil under a blacklight.

The Sletten group’s “PHOTONbooth”.

The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) hosted the “Make Your Own Lava Lamps with SACNAS” booth that brought fun by having visitors assemble lava lamps using household materials including vegetable oil and food dye at their “Density and Buoyancy” module.

The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) “Make Your Own Lava Lamps” booth.

Student Members of the American Chemical Society (SMACS) hosted a booth that made drawings with markers washable with water on ceramic plates. They also used red cabbage as a natural pH indicator to test the acidity of household products such as lemon juice and baking soda.

The Student Member of the American Chemical Society (SMAC) booth.

Professor Miguel García-Garibay’s group hosted the “ChromoChem: Colorful Chemistry” booth that demonstrated Solvatochromic effects using Brooker’s merocyanine, a dye that can change its own color depending on the solution and polarity.

The García-Garibay group’s “ChromoChem: Colorful Chemistry” booth.

The professional chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma engaged the visitors at their “Alpha Chi Sigma’s Chemistry Corner” booth by the demonstrations of density rainbow cups and oobleck to learn about the science of density.

The Alpha Chi Sigma “Chemistry Corner” booth.

The “Chemistry and Quantum Information” booth was hosted by graduate students from the Professor Anastassia Alexandrova’s group and the student organization Quantum Computing Student Association (QCSA). Their demonstrations “electron transitions”, “build your own quantum computer”, and “how can we use probability to solve our problems?” explored the connections between chemistry, quantum physics, and quantum computing using light and probability.

The “Chemistry and Quantum Information” booth hosted by the Alexandrova group and the Quantum Computing Student Association (QCSA).

At the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) “Exploring the Nano World!” booth, graduate students and postdocs from across the science and engineering, including many volunteers from Chemistry & Biochemistry (two graduate students from the department are pictured below), teamed up with the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) to present experiments from the CNSI Nanoscience Education Program. Pictured below are a demo about the liquid crystals that are used in TV LCD screens and a “Superhydrophobic Surfaces in Nature” demo. View videos of the demos on the CNSI Instagram page at @cnsiatucla.

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) “Exploring the Nano World!” booth. (Photos courtesy of UCLA CNSI)

EYU is a campus wide collaboration supported by the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences; the Mani L. Bhaumik Institute for Theoretical Physics; the UCLA Student Organization, Leadership and Engagement; 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.

Article by Penny Jennings, penny@chem.ucla.edu and Zhuoying Lin, zylin@g.ucla.edu. Photos by Penny Jennings.