"Kids & Chemistry" is a national
program that enlists individual scientist volunteers,
many through ACS sections and local employers, to conduct
demonstrations and hands-on activities for children, ages
9-12. This is done in classrooms as well as in informal
Scope. In the latest year for which data is
available, 1996, ACS' Office of Public Outreach conducted
more than 14 training sessions throughout the United
States for this program, and 1,800 scientist volunteers
worked with over 60,000 children on hands-on activities
in more than 1,000 schools, libraries, and other
community venues nationwide.
There is no limit to the number of people who can
participate in the program each year. At present, more
than 20 local sections of the ACS sponsor "Kids
& Chemistry" programs, as do many large and
Target Audience. "Kids &
Chemistry" is aimed at children between the ages of
9 and 12 because it is in this age range that children
are most likely to lose their natural interest in
investigating the world around them.
Hands-on Activities and Materials. The
"Kids & Chemistry" program encourages
volunteers to rely on hands-on activities developed and
marketed by the ACS. All ACS hands-on activities are
reviewed for content and safety.
The activities come pre-packaged for up to 32
children. Each package contains all the necessary
materials and reusable activity books. There are 11 packs
with names such as "Jiggle Jelly, " on
polymers, and "What's In a Color?," on
chromatography. One of the two activity books, the
"Hands-on Activities and Demonstrations Guide,"
contains 19 hands-on activities that can be used with
groups of between 5 and 500 children and adults. The
other activity book, the "Large Event Guide,"
contains the kind of demonstrations that might be
required at a mall or other large event. The ACS plans to
publish additional activity books in 1997, including a
guide to environmentally friendly chemistry. For more
information, visit the Kids
& Chemistry website.
Typical Classes and the Roles of Scientists. "Kids
& Chemistry" was developed so that it could be
used either in a classroom or in an informal education
setting (science museums, youth clubs, Scout events,
libraries, malls, and so on ). About 75% of the
volunteers work in regular classrooms, usually in teams
of four or five to increase the amount of contact they
can have with small groups of children. The ACS also
encourages repeat visits to increase impact. Other
"Kids & Chemistry" venues, such as malls,
are attractive because they offer opportunities to build
partnerships with other groups within the community,
increase parent involvement, and increase the involvement
of scientists who can't volunteer during work hours.
Scientist Recruitment and Training. Most of the
"Kids & Chemistry" scientists are chemists
and chemical engineers who have been recruited through
the 188 local sections of the ACS, through sessions at
national and regional ACS meetings, and through word of
mouth. Interested scientists can attend eight-hour
training sessions held at ACS national meetings or as
arranged by employers or ACS local sections.
Impact. During the 1993-4 school year, the ACS
began pilot projects in four school districts (in
Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, and California). Involved
were 420 volunteers (of whom 182 had attended trained),
working with 2,524 children in classrooms and 6,251
outside of classrooms. The ACS used both qualitative and
quantitative methods to measure the results. Overall, the
program was shown to have a positive impact on the
children, the volunteer scientists, the ACS local
sections, where applicable, and the classroom teachers.
Specific findings are as follows:
- 2300 children were surveyed following individual
classroom events. A large majority responded that
they had learned "a lot" or "a
little," and 97% said they wanted to do
another activity. A majority of the children
indicated that they now knew more about chemistry
and that they believed chemistry helps them every
day. They also said they planned to take more
science classes in high school.
- Surveyed at the end of the program, 75% of the
volunteer scientists said they planned to
participate the following year, and 87% said they
would recommend the program to a colleague.
- Only 38% of the volunteers had attended an ACS
local section meeting in the previous three
years. Also, the volunteers were more likely to
be women than the ACS members as a whole (40% cf.
18% of ACS membership) and also younger (35% were
aged 26-35 cf. 21% of the ACS membership).
- Of the 70 teachers completing questionnaires, 90%
said the students enjoyed the activity "a
lot," 99% said the students learned "a
lot" or "some" from the activity,
and 100% said they would invite the "Kids
& Chemistry" program back to their
- For further information about the "Kids
& Chemistry" program, please contact
- Jodi Greenblatt, Program Manager Phone: