Share Your Success Story

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Each phrase in the Wordle image above represents a success story. A favorite activity. Chemistry excitement connected to some ChemClub, somewhere.

  • What caught your eye?
  • What do you want to hear more about?
  • What do you want to try yourself, maybe with your own ChemClub?

In the ChemClub annual survey for this past school year, advisors and students were asked to share the activities that were most successful and their favorites. Highlights from those answers are collected in the image above.

Reading through the collected survey answers each year is always fun and a bit tantalizing. By necessity, the descriptions are brief. But they make us want to know more.

For me, one example was “Making BREAKING BAD candy.” Recipe, please!

Another was “Made ‘robot’ sculptures from recycled material.” Photos, please!

It’s great for ChemClub staff to have this feedback in the survey. It can help show if particular activities from the resource packets that we send were super popular among Clubs. It also gives us ideas for future resources to develop and share. And, we love to get this small taste of your Club—what type of stuff your members loved to do during the year.

Looking for an even wider audience to share your success stories and favorites? Look no further. You’re here! The ACS ChemClub Happenings blog needs your story. Advisors and students are encouraged to send their potential blog posts and photos to hschemclubs@acs.org. We even have tips to help get you started.

What’s your success story?

Writing an ACS ChemClub Blog Post

ACS_ChemClub-logoOne the goals of the ACS ChemClub program is to increase communications to and among high school chemistry teachers around the nation.  One way we can make this happen is with online sites, such as the ACS ChemClub Happenings blog.  We strongly encourage all ChemClub advisors and students to contribute and comment on blogs for our site.  To help you, here are some guidelines to help you write and structure your blog post.

Topic Ideas
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  • Fundraising is a very common club activity, either to support a charitable cause to for club activities.  Other clubs are always looking for new and innovative ways to raise money.
  • Brag about your club or student achievements. Let others know about any recognition your club has received, such as articles in the local press, school or district recognition, success at competitions, or community wide events. Link to any reports on club activities.
  • Profile your club. Talk about how you are organized, where you meet, how often you meet.  Discuss any of the structure or features that are present in your club.
  • Ask students to write about their involvement in the club and their science experience.  The most important people in the ChemClub program are the students and hearing their opinions and observations is valuable to everyone.
  • Recommend articles, books, websites or other resources that you have found useful for your club (or teaching in general).
  • Report on projects your club is involved in, such as school wide celebrations, homecoming, career days or community service projects.
  • Tell about activities that you have used in your ChemClub meetings.  It is helpful if you describe activities with enough detail so that others might be able to reproduce them.  Rather than, “Our annual ‘Slime Me, Baby’ activity”, suggest, “We did ‘Slime Me, Baby’, where we covered the advisor with PVA slime.”
  • Describe field trips or outreach activities your club has taken.  Talk about what led to a successful field trip or what may have been done better.

Structure Your Blog Post

  • A well-structured blog posting will catch the readers’ attention, and make them want to read what you have to say. You can help do this by giving the blog post a title that is descriptive and provokes interest. 
  • Put the main point in the first paragraph. Be as concise and direct as possible.  Blogs tend to have short paragraphs (3-4 sentences) that capture interest quickly and retain the reader’s attention.
  • Add details in the paragraphs that follow.  Most blog entries total 200-300 words.
  • Try to write in a friendly and informal style. Use first person ‘I’ and be collegial.  Be sure to avoid jargon, local terms or undefined acronyms.  Explain acronyms on first use, such as American Chemical Society (ACS).
  • Include pictures or video if possible, as they enhance visual interest in your post.  Encourage readers to connect to your post.  Ask a question for others to respond to or solicit alternative approaches.

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Final Hints

  • Spell-check your posts
  • Use bullet points where appropriate
  • Create sub-headings for longer posts
  • Have others read the post to see that it flows properly

Put the Fun First! Ideas for a First ChemClub Meeting

First days of school are popping up all over the place. ChemClubs are getting back in the swing of things too, as members start to get together again for the 2014–2015 school year. Need some inspiration and ideas for your first meeting? Looking for a different activity or two to get students fired up for the year? Here’s a few to get your creative chemistry juices flowing as you plan for meetings.

Students make lemonade to learn about reactions.

Taste the sweet side of chemistry.

Try this “Sweet Lemonade” recipe from the ACS ChemClub Cookbook, submitted by the club from Springbrook High School, Silver Spring, MD. Fill a cup ~3/4 full of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Add 4 spoonfuls of sugar and stir. Take a sip. How sweet does it taste? Stir in an additional tablespoon of lemon juice. Try another sip. How does the sweetness change? When the second tablespoon is added, the acid in the lemon juice is more effective at separating the saccharides in the sugar (splitting the 12-carbon sucrose into two 6-carbon sugars), thus making it taste sweeter than when you added sugar to the first portion of lemon juice.

Chill out with chemistry.

Make ice cream in a bag as you explore freezing point depression. One hands-on activity is at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scrumptious-science-making-ice-cream-in-a-bag/. Then, follow up with the ChemMatters article “Ice, Cream… and Chemistry.”

ColaFountain

Get messy with chemistry.

Yes, the Mentos–Diet Coke geyser has been around for awhile. But a massive jet of soda doesn’t lose its appeal! Try a variety of soda types—cola, non-cola, diet, regular, caffeinated, non-caffeinated, generic, brand-name. What gives the highest result? One description of the activity is at http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/original-mentos-diet-coke-geyser.

Make something with chemistry.

Raid the recycle bin for clear deli-style containers with a recycle code #6 and bake up some homemade Shrinky Dink-style toys. Use permanent markers to color cut-out pieces of the polymer, then bake at 325° F. Toaster ovens are a portable way to do this with your club. A full description of the activity is in the collection at http://www.terrificscience.org/downloads/NCW/NCW2005.pdf (see page 12).

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Decorate with chemistry.

Create colorful designs on club t-shirts using radial chromatography. Tighten a section of the t-shirt’s fabric over a container such as the mouth of a beaker and fasten with a rubber band. Then, use permanent markers to make several small dots or other designs in the center of the section. Drip rubbing alcohol onto the patterns and watch your design spread! One description of the activity is at http://chemmovies.unl.edu/chemistry/beckerdemos/BD038.html.

Be surprising with chemistry.

Show your students a candle so they can make observations, then light it, blow it out, and eat it. Have their powers of observation failed them? The “candle” is really a cylinder of raw potato (or apple or a stick of chilled string cheese) with a piece of nut stuck into it that burns when you light it. One version of the activity is at http://www.flinnsci.com/media/478451/cf10563.pdf.

Reveal the face of chemistry.

What’s your chemistry face? “Chemisery”? “Chemystery”? A Flinn Scientific demonstration shows that your attitude going into chemistry can make a difference! You’ll draw faces on chromatography paper using potassium thiocyanate and potassium ferrocyanide solutions, then spray with iron(III) chloride solution to reveal each one. A full description is at https://www.flinnsci.com/media/621873/91801.pdf.

Be thoughtful with chemistry.

You’ve just figured out a puzzle. What happens when the puzzle changes? Can you make sense of it again? Students can use small cardstock puzzles to consider the nature of science. They solve a small tangram-style puzzle at the beginning. But, can they re-solve it when you add in another piece? See the puzzles and the activity at http://www.scienceteacherprogram.org/genscience/Choi04.html.

Use your first meeting to build excitement for the rest of the year’s activities! What did your Club do?

 

High School Day at the ACS SF National Meeting

Chemistry & Global Stewardship
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The Golden Gate Bridge–A San Francisco Icon

It has been nearly 50 years since the ‘Summer of Love’ in San Francisco, and this summer you will find a great deal more to love at the 248th ACS National Meeting & Exposition, August 10-14.  A highlight of the meeting for chemical educators occurs on Sunday, August 10th with the presentation of High School Day.

The American Chemical Society hosts a special High School Chemistry Day program for teachers as part of the program as each National Meeting. Presentations explore new methods of teaching, classroom tools, resources, activities on a range of topics. A special High School/College Interface Luncheon allows an opportunity to exchange ideas and network.

 

Ideas for Your Classroom-and Beyond

The theme of this meeting is Chemistry & Global Stewardship so it it appropriate that Mary Kirchoff, Director of ACS Education should lead off the day of activities with an explanation global stewardship and how chemistry is a part of the process.Moscone

Green Chemistry is featured in most of the sessions that run from 8am to 4pm at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco.

Other sessions cover ‘greener’ activities from the Journal of Chemical Education, an exploration of bioplastics, and a calorimetry lab using chemical hot packs.

View all the abstracts for High School Day.

More than 15,000 scientists are expected to attend, and over 11,000 presentations are slated, comprised of symposia that highlight a broad range of scientific advancement.

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Professional Documentation

Attendees can track professional development (based on clock hours) for sessions attended at the ACS national meeting. On completion and submission of ACS forms, participants will be mailed a certificate documenting their participation in the conference.

If your summer plans allow you to travel to San Francisco, plan on attending the ACS National Meeting and High School Day, you’ll be sure to find something you love!

A Grand Summer Conference – BCCE

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Summer conferences are a great way to get a load of professional development in science education while at the same time having a chance to meet other teachers from around the nation.

One of the premier summer conferences is the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE), which is coming up August 3-7 at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The BCCE is a national meeting sponsored by the Division of Chemical Education (DivCHED) of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Since 1970 the conference has been designed and planned for those who teach chemistry, from teachers who are just starting their careers to those who have years of teaching experience. It includes educators at all levels: secondary school science teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, and post-secondary chemistry faculty. This conference is an excellent source of materials, techniques, and chemistry content.

BCCE 2014 promotional pictures

The theme of the 2014 BCCE is “Empowering Chemical Educators for a Greener Tomorrow.” Via special symposia and workshops, the conference will highlight efforts in bringing sustainable chemistry to the classroom. In addition, there are nearly 300 sessions offered over the course of four days on topics ranging from “The Automobile and the Periodic Table” to “Web-based Resources for Chemical Education” to “Views from the Classrooms of Conant and Regional Award Winners.”

Summer is a time teachers like to spend with family and the organizers of BCCE have a number of extra events for attendees and their families, such as a lake cruise on a research ship or a ride on the Saugatuck Sand Dunes.  The Lonely Planet Guides recently named Grand Rapids and the Gold Coast area as the #1 tourist destination in the U.S.!

Professional development, meeting new colleagues, improving your chemical knowledge, fun time with your family? It all adds up to a grand time at Grand Valley State University.