Articles

    Outreach and Education Division

    The EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIVISION supports chemistry education at all levels, including K-12, college, and adult/continuing education. It maintains liaisons to the Chicago Public Schools and the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). The Division engages the general public in chemistry-related educational activities, participates in ACS activities at the annual Illinois State Fair, and publicizes all events and news-related content. The division oversees the annual Project SEED program for the Section as well as the Project SEED scholarships. The Division also assists public officials and other community bodies concerning chemistry-related matters. The Education and Outreach Division includes the Education, Outreach, Project SEED, and Public Affairs Committees.

    The EDUCATION COMMITTEE provides chemistry-related educational programs and information to learners of all ages and actively engages with educators at the pre-K-12 and college levels. Subcommittees include:

    • AACT Liaison
    • College Education Subcommittee
    • Continuing Education Subcommittee
    • Chicago School Board Liaison
    • K - 12 Education Subcommittee

     

    The PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ensures that section members and public officials and bodies are informed of matters where the knowledge and practice of chemistry is of substantial public importance. These matters can include government issues, environmental issues and the social responsibility of chemists. The Public Affairs Committee gives the Public Affairs Award biennially.

    The OUTREACH COMMITTEE engages the general public, educators and children in chemistry-related educational activities and participates in many different types of events around the greater Chicago area.   Subcommittees include:

    • Community Activities Subcommittee
    • Illinois State Fair Subcommittee

     

    PROJECT SEED COMMITTEE identifies interested low-income and/or minority high school junior and senior students who are interested in participating in a paid summer research experience with  a college or university faculty member.  It supports financial and logistical concerns for the student/ faculty relationships and communicating  relevant program information to the national ACS organization.  The committee is also responsible for distributing Project SEED awards to support the internships. 

    Science Fair Project Resources

    Kids, it’s that time of year again, right?  When your teachers are asking you to think of science fair project ideas? One of the most common questions that I am asked is to provide ideas for science fair projects.  Since we are all about chemistry here, this article is going to concentrate on projects that emphasize this particular science.  You might be surprised at the vast array of topics that fit under this umbrella!  There is a wonderful resource on the internet from Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, a chemist who actually keeps a chemistry blog at http://chemistry.about.com/b/a/202103.htm?nl=1

    Please note:  All chemicals and experiments can entail an element of risk, and no experiments should be performed without proper adult supervision.

    There she lists some resources to help you get an early start on your scientific masterpiece for this year, including helpful hints about:

    • The Scientific Method - Before you start looking for project ideas, make sure you understand the concept of a hypothesis and have some ideas on how to test one. Science fair and research projects apply the scientific method. The website has an informal explanation and how it is used.
    • Get a Project Idea - Next it's time for some brainstorming. She suggests ways to come up with ideas that use readily-available materials and don't involve a lot of variables, saying that “science doesn't need to be complicated to be good”.
    • Chemistry How-To Guide - This is a list of activities involving chemistry. You could take one and think of a way to predict and test whether changing one aspect of the activity will have an effect on its outcome.
    • Science Projects with Crystals - There are actually several project topics of course, but crystals are the most popular. There are links to instructions for growing different types of crystals and for designing a great science fair project.
    • Food and Cooking Chemistry – Another very popular topic, links are provided for additional science fair project help and food chemistry information.
    • Do Your Project - Once you have an idea and have planned how to perform your project, it's time to start taking data.

    There are also links provided to some excellent articles & resources at http://chemistry.about.com/od/sciencefairprojects/. Get help finding a subject, preparing a hypothesis, writing the report, and making a presentation for a science fair project. There is a guide that is suitable for grade school through university level. She also provides a collection of top-rated science fair project books and resources for students, parents, and educators. There are books that describe experiments, a CD-ROM with thousands of pages of ideas, and reference materials for making posters, giving presentations, and understanding the judging process.

    So, armed with all of this information, let the games begin! I hope that you have a terrific time with all of your projects. (There are of course numerous sites on the internet about science fair projects, but this one might be a little off the beaten path and so we thought it was worth highlighting). 

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    Kathleen Carrado Gregar, PhD, Argonne National Labs 
    [email protected]
    November 2005