Chemistry campers explore the world through hands-on labs

Science is everywhere. It is in everything that we can see, taste, touch, and hear. In chemistry, we explore matter and the changes that it may undergo. At VAMPY, students dive deeper into this subject and gain experience in completing scientific calculations, making predictions based on their answers, and executing a hands-on lab to check their predictions. This fosters a natural curiosity for the world and a desire to investigate what really shapes the universe!

In Trevor Webster’s chemistry class, one of his goals is that campers have an exciting experience in the lab. Students will find themselves executing at least one lab every day in class. We are always asking questions and creating hypotheses about new possibilities in these labs. Campers find themselves creating something new, or proving a scientific possibility. Sort of like an arts and crafts class with more appliances to the real world. Campers enjoy the lab so much one of the first questions heard every morning is, “When are we going to the lab today?”

Throughout the class, we have covered topics relating to nuclear chemistry, periodic table trends, types of chemical reactions, properties of elements, and the electron. In the lab, we reinforced these topics by providing a visual result of natural phenomena. In one lab, campers executed a flame lab where they were able to see what color could be reproduced after burning different salts. The students also conducted an AP level lab where they isolated elements in a compound using a separation method known as chromatography. Additionally, they investigated chemical and physical changes, the light spectrum, filtration, and have even created their very own stir rods used in every lab! 

This year Dr. John Andersland, a WKU biology professor, welcomed the class to take a tour of the electron microscope and learn about the properties of electrons and light and how they can be used to examine objects on a nanoscale. Furthermore, students will visit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, giving them another unique opportunity to study our world and what’s beyond through multiple lenses.

Since the beginning, these campers have taken the challenges we have presented them and continued to excel. They have asked insightful questions, developed cooperation strategies, and skillfully interpreted laboratory details. Hopefully, they continue to ask questions about the world around themand see how it can connect to chemistry!

– Christopher H., teaching assistant