One of the main focuses of the Villa Park High School (VPHS) ChemClub is to bring in guest speakers from California Universities to keep faculty and students current on ongoing chemical research. These interactions between these professors and the high school students are extremely valuable, as they humanize and personalize the next level of education our students are heading toward! We are so grateful for them taking the time to both lecture at our lunch meetings and spend time afterward with the students one-on-one!
On September 13th, Professor John Haan, Professor of Chemistry and Research Scientist at California State University, Fullerton, visited the VPHS campus to give a lecture on his research “Chemical Research on Direct Formate Alkaline Fuel Cells” which is supported by grants and nationally published in research journals. Dr. Haan and the students had much discussion about the green chemistry of the Fuel Cell and its application to actual hand-held devices. He had quite a crowd around him after the presentation!
The November speaker was Dr. Phil Janowicz, also from California State University, Fullerton, who has created not only a complete teaching program in Organic Chemistry with immediate responses to the student on bond angles and more, but most recently an eye-tracking system that allows him to study the student’s eye movements as they use the program so he can better understand how they are thinking and what they are looking at when they succeed or not. After the talk, Dr. Janowicz’s regaled students with stories of his undergraduate days back east at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) much to the delight of the current Club President and Vice President (who both applied to MIT and have already had their interviews)!
The VPHS ChemClub was founded last year and had a formal induction ceremony last spring to bring in the new Board members and award a scholarship to the founding President. The scholarship will be an annual event for the VPHS ChemClub President due to their work and commitment to the club in arranging speakers, and to Chemistry as a discipline, as all Board members plan post-secondary education and careers in this field. For example, this year’s President, H. Zhou, and Vice President, B. Gee, both scored 5’s on their AP Exam’s last spring, and are pursuing careers in science.