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Lighting up the lab for budding chemists

July 6, 2015—

“I would very much like to see more students enroll in a degree in chemistry,” says Hanan Arnous, one of two chemists who each guided twenty high school students through a week of lab experiments during LAU’s second chemistry camp. Part-time instructors Arnous and Chaza Hammoud conducted five different experiments set by Professor Ahmad Kabbani, who introduced the forty students to the theory and calculations involved ahead of the lab session.

“It was amazing,” enthused high school student Reina Hoblous. “We have lab time at school, but this was something else. The experiments were more complex, the lab time more intense, and the teaching was great.” Hoblous, who joined the camp intending to apply to LAU’s B.S. in Chemistry next year, also hoped to earn one of the scholarships handed out to the camp’s top students.

“We assessed their performance based on the results of the exam they took at the end of the week and on their performance in the lab,” explained Arnous. “The lab experiments included producing aspirin, determining pH levels and oxidizing luminol in a dark room to create light.”

Celine Nimr was among the five students awarded a scholarship to LAU’s chemistry degree. Coming in second overall, she earned an award that covers 20 percent of her tuition throughout the three-year program. “I want to study medicine, so with this scholarship I’m definitely motivated to take my pre-med degree in chemistry,” she shared.

Her fellow student and camper Zeina Charara also won a scholarship. “The camp was amazing,” said Charara. “We loved the experiments and the lab was great. It’s the first time we get to really apply chemistry in a practical way. I will definitely be applying to study chemistry at LAU as a pre-med student, thanks to this week at camp.”

Such news delights Arnous, who is passionate about chemistry but understands the limitations of the field in Lebanon. “We don’t have a strong industry in Lebanon that requires chemists, and of the different pre-med programs available, chemistry is one of the more challenging,” she said. If attendance is anything to go by, there is a passion for the science among high school students. Of the four camps offered last week at LAU, the chemistry camp hosted the most attendees, with forty students coming in from schools across the country.


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