UT Austin women chemists make history with "Thundercloud" experiment

A group of University of Texas at Austin women chemists made history today by setting off more than 60 thermo-dynamic 'thundercloud" reactions.

This was all led by their professor Dr. Kate Biberdorf, a professor at UT with a passion for inspiring more girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math careers. “My goal is honestly just to empower as many women as possible and kind of diminish the stigma around women in stem because there isn't one,” said Dr. Biberdorf.

It took hours of preparation for something that only take a couple of seconds. Dr. Biberdorf invited 67 of her girl science majors to join her on the steps of UT’s tower to make history.

“This was incredibly nerve-racking for me because I have a little bit of mama-bear feeling towards my students. They were playing with hot water and liquid nitrogen, two things I tell them never to do, but now I'm saying do it and throw it near me,” she said.

The objective was to take a bucket of liquid nitrogen and pour hot water on it. The reaction would create a ‘thundercloud’.

“This thundercloud is a classic physical change. It shows the principles of thermodynamics and it shows the energy of movement. There's a lot of different principles that it illustrates,” said Dr. Biberdorf.

Dr. Biberdorf and the girls had a few practice rounds and once they were ready, they gave it their best shot.

The group created 60+ thunderclouds on UT’s campus.

Dr. Biberdorf says her goal is to break down the stereotypes that surround the S.T.E.M. field and women.

“I want to show everybody that you don't have to be a dork or nerd to be a scientist. You can just be a girl who likes explosions and fire and high heels and that's totally fine. If they see it, then hopefully they can be it,” she said.

This experiment was also done as part of a television show called ‘Mission Impossible’. It's a show that features women with jobs in S.T.E.M.