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Families and children participating in UNI's Halloween House will receive a different type of treat this October while visiting McCollum Science Hall. While there will be plenty of sugar, including ice cream made with liquid nitrogen and dry ice root-beer floats, the real trick will be UNI students' transforming eleven ordinary classrooms into places such as “Devil's Den,” “Frankenstein's Lab” and “Skeleton Graveyard.” UNI students dressed up for the themed spaces will then perform “magical” experiments as part of UNI's annual Halloween House.
“The Halloween House provides us an opportunity to safely engage our young audience with science and science-related fields and hopefully pique their interest in science,” said Martin Chin, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
Halloween House is organized by the UNI Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society, Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society, the UNI Physics Club, the Gamma Sigma Chapter of The Society of Sigma Gamma Epsilon, UNI Pre-Med Club and UNI STEM Ambassadors. “It's so great that we are able to bring all of these scientists from different fields and backgrounds to put on a show that could collectively inspire the next generation of scientists,” said Wyatt Andersen, co-vice-president of the American Chemical Society student chapter.
This annual event attracts almost 1,000 visitors and gives UNI students hands-on experience planning, designing and conducting chemical demonstrations. “The chemistry students receive a lot of hands-on safety training in how to plan and carry out chemical demonstrations. This is a really important skill to have, especially for those who are going to be school teachers,” said Colin Weeks, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The UNI students who are teaching majors earn required professional development hours by participating in the Halloween House. It also enables them to meet students from other departments and collaborate; an expertise they can take with them when they graduate. “The students enjoy the connections they get with the faculty,” said Weeks. “They also really enjoy the connections they make with other students as they work together to organize this event and run the different activities.”
Students who put on this event have fun and enjoy the change from classes while getting a chance to interact with the community and share their true passion for science. As Joshua Prybil from the American Chemical Society student chapter summed it up, “come to Halloween House and show your kids why science is fun!”
This year's Halloween House will take place from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, on the second floor of McCollum Science Hall. The event is free and open to the public.