Attendees at the summer 2016 Sovereign Native Youth Program (SNYP), led by the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs (NCIA), had great chemistry in their session this year.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) chemistry professor Mark Griep- who leads a Track-3 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand science course offerings at Nebraska’s tribal colleges- added chemistry learning for the native youth, with help from six college students vising the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) for a summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) opportunity.

Judi gaiashkibos, NCIA director and Scott Shafer, assistant director, advise Griep on his NSF-funded “Framing the Chemistry Curriculum” Track-3 project. Griep returned the favor by sharing chemistry lessons in the SNYP sessions on July 29 at Doane University.

“We offered a five-part, hands-on activity for these 25 middle and high school students from across Nebraska, said Griep. The activities were: extracting color from indigenous Nebraska plants, which local tribes used to dye fibers; using those paints to depict the atomic structure of neon (“Ne”); separating the pigments in those paints by paper chromatography and applying spectroscopy.

The REU students included volunteers from the 2016 UNL Chemistry University, Sara Brubeck of University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Anne Heintzelman of Northwest Missouri State University, Katie Goerl of Kansas State University; Philip Yox of Concordia University, and Terianne Hamada of Whittier College.

“The REU helpers really enjoyed the experience,” Griep said, and added that two of the REU students appreciated when several SNYP students asked about the science behind the activities, valuing the college students’ chemistry expertise.