Education/Outreach

WoPhyS14 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences


November 6-8, 2014, at UNL

Science fuels Lai's fascination with fireworks

Featured in UNL Today July 2014

Rebecca Lai can't wait to see little booms and bursts of science lighting up the skyline each July 4. Lai has incorporated some of the history and science behind fireworks into "A Muggle's Guide to Harry Potter's Chemistry" (CHEM 192H), an undergraduate course she created at UNL. 

Lai plans to offer her Harry Potter-themed Chemistry course again and is developing a lab component for what was just a lecture course. One lab project would involve creating red and green "magic wand" sparklers from chemicals and wooden sticks. Lai will also integrate elements of the Harry Potter class into a seven-week after-school program she is offering at Lincoln Public Schools' Kloefkorn Elementary School. Read more...


Spring 2014 Sci Pop Talks! Where Science Intersects Pop Culture

Organized by CNFM’s Raychelle Burks and Rebecca Lai, plus Kiyomi Deards and Joan Barnes  of UNL Love Library, Sci Pop Talks! is a series of weekly talks open to the public featuring the intersection of science and pop culture.


Dr. Rebecca Lai presents "Chemistry, Harry Potter Style" at Sunday with A Scientist


1:30 - 4:30 p.m., Sunday, June 16, 2013, at UNL's Morrill Hall.

Students to mix potions with reality in new Harry Potter-themed chemistry class

Daily Nebraskan News Article November 21, 2011    Written by Justice Jones


 Featuring CNFM Professor Rebecca Lai

Mandrakes, elder wands and butterbeer. One would not expect to hear these three words used outside of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, especially in an honors chemistry class.

But in University of Nebraska-Lincoln assistant professor Rebecca Lai's "A Muggle's Guide to Harry Potter's Chemistry" class, students can expect a lot more than the usual chemical lab.

When picking a science course, many students, especially nonscience majors, tend to drift away from the chemistry or physics courses because they can be the less "entertaining" classes. Knowing this, Lai sought a new way to encourage more students to sign up for a university chemistry course.

"I really want students to learn science in a broad way, so I combined two of the things that I know best, Harry Potter and chemistry," Lai said.

Chem 192H will be offered for the first time during the spring semester as a prototype. It will be a 15-week course that takes the world of Harry Potter and applies it to everyday life.       

Read more...