First published here.
What began as a holiday treat for long-suffering freshman chemistry students has turned into a 50-year tradition. Professor Bassam Shakhashiri took to the stage to perform “Once Upon a Christmas Cheery in the Lab of Shakhashiri” to packed houses Saturday and Sunday, amazing and delighting with a series of chemistry experiments. If you couldn’t score a ticket, watch it on PBS Wisconsin Dec. 16 at 5 a.m., Dec. 18 at 9 a.m., Dec. 20 at 11 a.m., Dec. 22 at 7 a.m., Dec. 24 at 5 a.m. or Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.
On stage at far left, Shakhashiri and Rodney Schreiner, a senior scientist emeritus, perform science accompanied by the Science Is Fun Band, led by Mike Leckrone.
Explosions – the bigger and louder, the better – are a key part of the show.
Bucky Badger helps Shakhashiri perform a color-changing experiment.
A color-changing chemical reaction gives the Tin Man, played by Sam Taylor, the heart he’s always wanted as Dorothy and Shakhashiri look on.
Dorothy, played by Faith Oldenburg, prepares to make a rainbow from monochromatic chemicals.
Shakhashiri says his goal “is to trigger cerebral and emotional engagement to heighten the audience’s joy in learning and to celebrate the role of science in society.”
Santa Claus and Shakhashiri swirl some liquids…
… to create gleaming silver holiday ornaments.
Attendees received a holiday goodie bag containing a “science is fun” button and experiments to try at home.
The Van Rossum family of Fitchburg show off their elf attire: from left, Joey, Dakota and Brenda.
A cascade of balloons ends the show.