On the Record

On the Record with Kylie Zawisza

Northern Illinois University Chemistry Club Treasurer Kylie Zawisza participates in last year's NIU Chem Demo Night.
Northern Illinois University Chemistry Club Treasurer Kylie Zawisza participates in last year's NIU Chem Demo Night.

DeKALB – To celebrate “The Wizarding World of Chemistry,” Northern Illinois University’s Chemistry Club members will grab their wands and potions, but instead of robes, they’ll be wearing lab coats.

The club’s annual NIU Chem Demo Night will be Friday in Faraday Hall 143. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will start at 6:30 p.m. Free parking is available after 5 p.m. in the NIU parking deck or in the nearby visitor lot on Carroll Avenue.

This year’s theme will feature Harry Potter-themed experiments. The event is free, open to the public and suitable for all ages.

MidWeek Reporter Katrina Milton spoke over the phone with Kylie Zawisza, treasurer of NIU Chem Club and sophomore biochemistry major, about the event.

Milton: What is NIU Chem Demo Night?

Zawisza: NIU Chem Demo is a free event in Faraday Hall, the chemistry building on campus. Everyone is invited and welcome to attend. The event is hosted by the NIU Chem Club, a club funded by the NIU Department of Chemistry. Our club has two big events each year, NIU STEM Fest and NIU Chem Demo. During Chem Demo, we perform experiments in front of an audience and teach and explain the chemistry of what they saw. Then, at the end, there’s free liquid nitrogen ice cream for everyone that attends.

Milton: Does the event always have a theme?

Zawisza: This year, we have a Harry Potter theme. Last year, the theme was the Olympics, and in the past we’ve done Star Wars. It is usually a themed event, and we change the theme every year.

Milton: How will you incorporate the theme into the event?

Zawisza: Our announcer/moderator will be dressed up as Harry Potter, but since we have lab safety rules, the Chem Club volunteers will have lab coats on. We will have 12 Harry Potter-themed experiments based off of magic themes in the book: potions class with exploding potions, make our own patronus, marauders map that disappears, a goblet of fire.

Milton: Why is the Harry Potter theme helpful for the event?

Zawisza: During the show, we’re going to relate the experiments to Harry Potter and explain the science behind it. Although it may seem like magic, it’s actually just science. Having the theme makes the science more relatable. Relating chemistry to something the kids know, makes it more interesting.

Milton: Why are you involved in NIU Chem Club?

Zawisza: I’m a biochemistry major, and I’m really interested in chemistry. I was involved with the Chem Demo last year and really liked it, so I’m doing it again this year. Chem Demo is a lot of fun, it’s like putting on a chemistry show for the DeKalb community.

Milton: What do you like most about the Chem Demo event?

Zawisza: Sometimes the ideas in chemistry are dry and boring. I like showing people how much I like chemistry, that chemistry is fun and involved in everything. Chemistry is not a big scary science thing that nobody else can do. Chemistry is for everybody.

Milton: Did you attend an event like Chem Demo when you were younger?

Zawisza: No, I never attended an event like this. I would have liked to have it when I was younger, just to see people enjoy science instead of just seeing a science teacher in front of a classroom. All the volunteers at the event are college kids, not scientists or science teachers. We do this because we love chemistry and want to share it with others. We want to spread that joy to kids and the community.

For more information about NIU Chem Demo Night, visit the NIU Chem Club’s Facebook page or email Alyssa Mohr at amohr@niu.edu.

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