Meeting/Event Information

    Holiday Party with Lee Marek, "Chemistry on the Late Show With David Letterman"

    December 04, 2015
    5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
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    Fountain Blue
    2300 Mannheim Rd.
    Des Plaines, IL 60018

    Here are some video highlights of the Chicago Section's December meeting with Lee Marek:

    Video 1: 


    Kick off your holiday season with chemistry at the Chicago ACS Holiday Party! Not only will Chicago's own Lee Marek regale us with his adventures bringing chemistry to David Letterman and his late night TV audience, we'll also have: 

    • Gifts for you! (From Hospitality Chair Richard Cornell's raffle treasure trove)
    • Even more prizes
    • Our annual nonperishable food (and check!) drive for the Loaves and Fishes group
    • Our annual toy drive for a local Silent Santa group
    • Friends from Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry
    • One of the best networking opportunities of the year!


    5:00 - 7:00 Social Hour with cash bar
    7:00 - 8:00 Dinner, door prizes, and raffle
    8:00 - 8:15 • Introductory remarks by 2015 Chicago ACS Chair Inessa Miller
    • Transfer of the gavel to the incoming Chicago ACS Chair, Mary Jo Boldingh
    8:15 - Main Talk - Lee Marek



    LEE MAREK taught general and organic chemistry, presented chemical demonstrations and teacher programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Previously, he taught AP & Honors Chemistry at Naperville North High School for almost thirty years. His students have won numerous awards, including 3 chosen to be National Chemistry Olympiad participants and several for Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Projects.  Lee has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign, a Masters in physics and a Masters in chemistry from Roosevelt University.  He has completed additional course work at more than 20 colleges and universities. 

    He has a strong interest in the History of Chemistry and has travelled extensively in Europe, studying the history of science.  For 13 summers he co-led a history of science program in Europe.  Lee has helped in the execution of well over 600 workshops/programs for teachers, students and the general public. He was the catalyst behind the Weird Science demonstration team, a small group of inspired teachers that toured the country inspiring other teachers, where he presented to more then 300,000 teachers, students and general public.  Lee worked on science programs with Fermilab for over 20 years and served on the Friends of Fermilab board for 20 years.

    He was a Woodrow Wilson Chem Team leader for ten years and a Flinn Chem Team Leader for nine years.  Lee is one of the authors on Flinn’s 23 volume set of ChemTopic’s and he helped develop the Flinn eLearning materials. He helped start and then ran CHEMWEST, a teachers alliance group of over 400 teachers, in the Chicago area for 14 years.   He has presented via videos, laser disks, DVDs, some of the first streaming science videos on the web, and consulted for a number of other science related projects.  Lee and his students became regulars [over 35 performances by either him or his students] on "The David Letterman Show", with one of his segments was a finalist for an Emmy. He was highlighted on the 40th anniversary of the Bozo Show and a CBS news special Education: Our Nation’s Toughest Assignment, and numerous regional and national television programs.  He authored several kid’s science books and kits and worked on several projects for Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman.

    Among the awards Lee has received are the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science, Christa McAuliffe Fellow, American Chemical Society's James Bryant Conant AwardACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach, CMA's National Catalyst Award for Teaching Chemistry, Chemical Industries Council of Illinois Davidson Award, Sigma Xi Outstanding Teacher Award, Those Who Excel Award Illinois, Tandy Technology Scholar Award for Outstanding Teachers, Governor’s Master Teacher, Association of Science & Technology Centers’ Honor Roll of Teachers, Golden Apple Awardee and Chicago Section ACS Public Affairs Award.

     His complete vita and other information on his programs and activities can be found on his web page:


    The audience for the David Letterman show is not unlike a classroom full of high school students or college freshmen! It's sitting there daring you to be interesting! One way to capture attention is to do demonstrations that are exocharmic [to radiate charm-- make you want to watch] and to be a bit weird/eccentric. Good teaching is part knowledge, part preparation and part theater and so is doing science on THE LATE SHOW. More important, you need a frame of mind somewhat off center to survive doing chemistry on national TV or for a class of 440 as I had this fall.  As Robert Maynard Hutchins said, "My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young & inflame their intellects." I embrace Hutchins’ idea - sometimes literally both in my classroom, in science programs and the David Letterman Show! I use what is called the "Phenomenological" approach to teaching science -- introducing a topic with a demonstration or lab so that students have something concrete on which to focus. I use demonstrations as exocharmic motivators to captivate student interest and to focus on the day's topic. To influence high school kids, college freshman, or the general public like the Letterman show audience, you need "presence", to capture their attention. We live in a world of the 15-second commercial, internet, Facebook, Youtube, and the National Enquirer. As teaching professionals we need to compete, to show the people that there is something interesting and important in learning, something about which "inquiring minds really do want to know." It boils down to "Education is not in the filling of a pail, but in the lighting of a fire" William Butler Yeats.

    I will present a number of video clips from the 35 Letterman shows I have been on in the last 25 years - including 

    • One used on his 10th anniversary show and one that was up for an Emmy award.
    • The 8 foot ball of fire shooting across the stage
    • The Dyn-o-might soap.
    • The time I dissolved the set
    • The 1000 pounds of thermite demo [never done]
    • The time the 500 pounds ofOobleck got loose.
    • A clip of the time I almost took out Bozo on WGN!  
    • If there's time, I will show some of the other work I did with WTTW, FOX, Inside Edition and U.K. TV.  I will also do a few of the simple demos with the audience.

    My web site has some demos and more information.



    • Garden Salad with a variety of dressings; 
    Choice of entree:

      •     Chicken piciatta or
      •     Broiled whitefish (NO LONGER AVAILABLE)
      •    Vegetarian pasta primavera with alfredo sauce

    ( Included with the chicken and fish entrees are potatoes and a peas,mushrooms & carrot medley)

          -• Chocolate sundae 



    rafflegiftsRaffle gifts will be numbered randomly and placed on side tables in the dining room. Each attendee will draw a number when they register that evening for the meeting.

    Gifts will be handed out throughout the evening by calling up groups of individuals having a series of numbers. Meeting attendees are asked to claim their gift only during the time their numbers have been announced. Those individuals who do not claim their gift will have another opportunity to claim them at the end of the evening. Individuals must present their number in order to pick up their gift.

    Door prizes of wine will only be handed out to those 21 or older. A substitute prize will be handed out to students under the age of 21. As always, please do not open your wine at the table.


    We will be collecting nonperishable food items (no glass containers) for charity at the December Holiday Party again. The food will be donated to the local Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry for distribution. Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry is a community-based, non-profit organization established to provide food and personal care essentials to residents in need. CHECKS ARE WELCOME TOO!

    We will also continue our toy drive to collect children’s toys for toddlers to 12 year olds. The toys will be donated to a local Silent Santa program.

    Please open your heart to these two programs and bring a nonperishable food item and a new toy to the holiday party.

    Please, do NOT donate any clothing -- Thanks 


    Iota Sigma Pi is a National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, with an active chapter in the Chicago area (Aurum Iodide Chapter). It gives awards to qualified women in chemistry and holds a variety of programs that include monthly professional talks by members and invited speakers, field trips, and a December joint meeting with the Chicago Section of ACS. Monthly meetings are held from September to June each year.



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    $35.00 Member

    $37.00 Non-member

    $20.00 Student/Unemployed/Retired

    $10.50 SPECIAL FOR K-12 Chemistry Teachers 12-4-2015 meeting ONLY

    $10.00 Tote bag: CHICAgO elements - natural canvas

    $10.00 Tote bag: CHICAgO elements - blue

    $0.00 Lecture only