Chemistry Careers Q&A

question marks on a red background

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?
 question marks on a red background

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?

The ChemClub Cookbook at work!


Students make lemonade to learn about reactions.
Students make lemonade to learn about reactions.

Student shows her enthusiasm for the Sweet Lemonade recipe.
A student shows her enthusiasm for the Sweet Lemonade recipe.



Students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy in Washington, DC, had a wonderful time in Chemistry doing a lab on homogenous and heterogenous mixtures. Ms. Burney and Mrs. Gibson, the two chemistry teachers at Chavez PCHS, were graciously given the “ChemClub Cookbook” from the American Chemical Society to help aid their new 11th grade scholars in making chemistry hit a little closer to home.  They used the Sweet Lemonade recipe to see if lemonade does become sweeter, as more lemon juice is added. They really enjoyed using the cookbook!


Students make lemonade to learn about reactions.
Students make lemonade to learn about reactions.

ChemClubs are not the only ones using the “ChemClub Cookbook“. Many other schools are starting to learn about this great book and use it in their classrooms, including a university who added it is a required book for one of their classes! 

Best part of the lab - Tasting the lemonade!
Best part of the lab – Tasting the lemonade!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you ever wondered where the practice of giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day originated? The custom dates back to 1680’s England with the Cadbury brothers who had previously invented the first chocolate candies. These two pioneering chocolatiers secured their place in Valentine’s Day lore with the inspired marketing idea of offering their signature chocolate assortments in decorative heart-shaped boxes to mark the holiday. So began an enduring tradition that blissfully continues on to this day.

Did you know that . . .

Chocolate is literally a blissful treat!

“A chemical known to make us happy when we eat chocolate is anandamide, so named because it means “bliss” in Sanskrit. Not only is it present in chocolate, but it is also produced by the brain and blocks out pain and depression. But when anandamide is produced by the brain, it is broken down quickly, so its effects don’t last. Researchers have shown that chemicals in chocolate may inhibit this natural breakdown of anandamide. This means that when you eat chocolate, anandamide molecules from chocolate stay in the body longer.”


(Haines, G.K. Chocolate: The New Health Food. Or Is It? ChemMatters, April 2009, pp 13-15.)


Valentines01The ChemClub Cookbook is packed with delicious recipes, that were shared by ChemClubs last year, and short chemistry facts relating to each recipe. The ChemClub Cookbook makes the perfect gift for any occasion, all year round. The revenues generated from sales benefit the ChemClub program. Clubs can get the book at the discounted price – just send an email to for the promo code.