Port Angeles High School’s Science Club attends chemistry lecture at UW

Port Angeles High School’s Science Club attends chemistry lecture at UW
Posted on 01/18/2018
Port Angeles High School’s Science Club attends chemistry lecture at UWThanks to support from the YMCA and Port Angeles Education Foundation, nine Science Club students attended Donna Nelson’s lecture The Science of Breaking Bad: A Look Behind the Hollywood Screen at the University of Washington on January 10. “The students were recognized at the start of the evening as the only high school aged students in an auditorium where half the attendees were professional chemists,” remarked John Gallagher, Port Angeles High School science teacher. 

Dr. Nelson is a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma and volunteered her time as science advisor to the hit TV show in order to make sure they got both the science and the classroom teaching right. The chemical formulas and molecular models you see behind the actors are her design, and the high school chemistry lessons are her creation as well. She even did all the stoichiometry for them. She failed only twice to influence the production – when she told them the colors of their chemicals were inaccurate they chose to keep them the same because they looked cooler, and she couldn’t convince them to use the metric system!

Dr. Nelson’s position as science advisor to Breaking Bad directly influenced one state’s drug enforcement policy when she testified that changing one portion of a molecule in marijuana was not enough to make it legal to sell to high schoolers as was being done. When the defendants heard she was going to be an expert at the trial they settled the case and removed their product from the market. 

The evening ended with a photo opportunity for our students with Dr. Nelson who was quite happy to encourage the next generation of chemists and pleased to see that five of the nine students were female as one of her other projects has been encouraging gender equality in science departments of research universities.

For additional assistance, please contact:

M. Patsene Dashiell
Communications & Community Relations Coordinator
Ph: 360-565-3703
Port Angeles School District
Central Services – 216 East 4th Street
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