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American Chemical Society

Key Features

The American Chemical Society (ACS) offers a wide variety of programs and publications designed to improve precollege science education. The focus here is on three national programs in which scientists play important roles:

  • In "Kids & Chemistry," scientists visit classrooms or informal education settings involving children between 9 and 12 years of age to do demonstrations and lead small groups of students in hands-on activities.
  • In Project SEED, research scientists act as mentors to economically disadvantaged high-school students during the summer.
  • In Operation Chemistry, scientists are members of teams that provide professional development to grades 4-8 chemistry teachers.

Also provided here are brief descriptions of three programs of curriculum development and related professional development for teachers. These use scientists less but are important ACS activities:

  • FACETS
  • SciTeKS
  • Chemistry in the Community (ChemCom)

Becoming Involved

  • Active members and officers of scientific and technical societies with an interest in improving their societies' involvement in science education will find the American Chemistry Society projects of interest. The ACS is much larger than most other societies, but the extent, range, and chosen focus of its science education activities are instructive.
  • Scientists in disciplines related to chemistry with little or no previous involvement with K-8 science education might want to become involved in "Kids & Chemistry." This program helps volunteer scientists learn a little about what goes on in young people's classrooms while also allowing them to make a real contribution.
  • Chemists, chemical engineers, and related technical professionals involved in laboratory research can contribute to the education of economically disadvantaged high-school juniors and seniors by becoming summer mentors under Project SEED.
  • Scientists who wish to become involved in the professional development of teachers are likely to find and be able to observe "Operation Chemistry" workshops in their area.
  • Chemists and chemical engineers can play an important role as resources for the developers in the ACS' three national curriculum programs: FACETS, SciTeKS, and ChemCom.

Overview

Scope of ACS Activities. The ACS is the world's largest scientific society, with more than 150,000 members, mostly chemists and chemical engineers. The ACS is recognized as a world leader in fostering scientific research, and it also sponsors a host of educational activities at all levels. Among the ACS Education Division's many activities are several projects in formal science education, including curriculum development. Among the ACS Office of Public Outreach's many activities are several projects that enlist the volunteer efforts of scientists all over the country, such as "Kids & Chemistry." In some of these projects the ACS 188 local sections play a role.



"Kids & Chemistry." This national program managed by the ACS' Office of Public Outreach brings volunteer scientists into classrooms and other settings to do chemistry demonstrations and to lead children, ages 9-12, in hands-on activities. The activities were developed by ACS and are available in pre-packaged "activity packs" that include two activity books. "Kids & Chemistry" training is available to scientist volunteers at ACS national meetings and through employers and ACS local sections. The ACS views the 9-12 target age range as critical because this is when many students lose interest in science.

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Project SEED. This national program managed by the ACS' Education Division places economically disadvantaged high-school students in academic, industrial, and government research laboratories for eight to ten weeks during the summer. Each student participates in a chemical research project under the direct supervision of a scientist/mentor and, in so doing, learns what it is like to work as part of a team engaged in hands-on research. Each student receives an educational stipend and may also apply for a second summer.

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Operation Chemistry (OpChem). In this national program directed by the ACS' Education Division and supported by the National Science Foundation, four-person "OpChem teams" are trained at national summer institutes to provide professional development to teachers of chemistry in grades 4-8. Each team consists of a college faculty chemist or science educator, a chemist from industry, a high-school teacher, and a teacher from the target grades. A variety of formats are used by the teams in their professional development of local teachers. Funding for this phase is usually found through federal Title II grants, foundations, universities, local businesses and industries, and/or the teachers' school-systems.

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 Three ACS Curriculum-Development Projects.
  • FACETS is a grades 6-8 curriculum composed of 24 modules that integrate the science and technology present in the chemical, biological, and geoscience industries. The curriculum can be supplemented by classroom visits by area scientists.
  • SciTeKS is a two-year "tech-prep" program under development for grades 11 and 12 students who are planning to enter a community-college technician program or to seek direct employment in industry as technicians. Scientists and technicians have helped develop the activities.
  • ChemCom is a year-long high-school chemistry and society program that includes course materials and professional development.

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Organizational Information and Contacts. Look here for information about the ACS' Education Division, Office of Public Outreach, and contacts.


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