Greetings from ChemClub at Korea International School in Jeju, South Korea! Our ChemClub was created more than a year ago, but this is the first time sharing our news.
X-Beauty: Green Chemistry was the focus of an event on November 19, 2014. Our Club invited a certified cosmetician to speak to the group about “Jeju Green Tea: Healing & Beauty Ingredients.” After learning about Jeju green tea as an ingredient, students made their own green tea hand cream with eco-friendly ingredients.
Why green tea?
Components of green tea include polyphenols, which are well-known antioxidants. Most of these polyphenols are classified as catechins. They are thought to help retard skin’s aging and protect skin from sun exposure. Green tea has been used as an ingredient in anti-aging products as well as sunscreen skin products.
And the “Final Jeopardy” topic for today is: ACS ChemClubs.
The answer is… “Food and Careers.”
I’m not Alex Trebek, but imagine the music for the Jeopardy! quiz show theme song playing in the background.
Time’s up! What is the question?
It is: “What are the two most popular topics suggested by ACS ChemClubs as themes for future resource packets and ‘Activity of the Month’ web updates?
In more than one annual ChemClub survey, food and careers have been hands-down, top, most-mentioned suggestions for future themes to use. Food—yes, destined to be a top choice. Put together a group of teens and food is a natural high-interest topic, with plenty of chemistry-related material available for demos and hands-on activities. One year, ChemClub members were even invited to submit their favorite recipes and related chemistry factoids to create The ACS ChemClub Cookbook.
But careers? Yes, it ties in beautifully with one of the bullet points of the ChemClub mission statement, to learn about study and career opportunities in the many and varied fields of chemistry. ACS ChemClubs wants to help advisors share this information, and, to use words specifically mentioned in the mission statement, to provide students with “fun, authentic, and hands-on opportunities” to do this. In past resource packets, we’ve offered ideas for potential speakers to invite to talk with ChemClubs about a particular theme topic. We’ve given links to specific careers on the ACS “College to Careers” website. We’ve introduced you to chemists through video profiles, such as “Meet a BP Chemist” that’s part of the Energy Foundations for High School Chemistry module.
But, are we filling the need for resources related to careers? In this case, à la Jeopardy!, I don’t have the answers, only questions—for you. If you’re a ChemClub advisor, how do you use career materials in your ChemClub and classroom? What would you find most useful as resources? If you’re a student, what do you want to know about career opportunities? What do you find most engaging? How can we best meet your needs?
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.
I headed to Bristol High School in Bristol, PA, to kickoff their 2013-14 ACS ChemClub with (and I mean this literally) a bang! This was my first chance to test my skill at “improvising” a chemistry presentation.
The room was packed with over 30 eager high school students, including ChemClub president, J. Crump and vice-president, S. Willis. They told me that ChemClub is by far the favorite after-school club at their school. The excitement was for the spectacular chemisty demonstration known as the Gummi Bear Terminator. Their club advisor, chemistry teacher William “Bill” Smith, is all about safety. So goggles were donned by all. In addition, the demo was setup in a hood. The students were awed by the amount of energy released from a simple Gummi Bear treat.
What’s in a theme? The reason for my visit was to help celebrate National Chemistry Week (NCW). The theme of NCW 2013 was “Energy Now and Forever”. This theme focused on the sustainable role of chemistry in everything from energy conservation to energy generation. My ChemClub talk started with discussing cost-effective home energy improvements such as insulation, air sealing (sealing cracks and gaps), and cool roofs (solar reflective, white roof coatings) and continued on to rooftop innovations such as the Dow POWERHOUSE™ solar shingle. This last innovation strives to create a net-zero building envelope, in other words, to create a home or building that produces 100% of it’s own energy. How cool is that!! We also talked about Philadelphia’s effort to become the Greenest City in America, with a PLAN called GreenWorks Philadelphia, and programs like the RetroFIT Philly: Coolest Block Contest, which gives row home owners a chance to win energy-saving cool roof, air sealing and insulation upgrades for their entire block.
Improv Works: the audience was engaged! I thoroughly enjoyed spending an afternoon of “improv” with Bill Smith and his wonderful Bristol HS ChemClub students! It was my first chance to put my “Alan Alda Improv Training” to work. No slides, just a few props, including a copy of Chemical & Engineering News (Jan. 1, 2007) and some cool-roof coated tennis balls! I’m loving being an official “ACS Expert”!