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by Christopher T. Jones ACS Conference Spring 2006 The Risk Here are some common reasons community outreach is not integrated into chemistry courses. It could be a time-consuming process. It may appear to have little impact. It will cost money I don’t have.

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By christopher t jones l.jpg

by Christopher T. Jones

ACS Conference

Spring 2006


The risk l.jpg
The Risk

  • Here are some common reasons community outreach is not integrated into chemistry courses.

    • It could be a time-consuming process.

    • It may appear to have little impact.

    • It will cost money I don’t have.

    • It is more than I can handle on my own.


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An Example - Background

  • At the University of Illinois, our student affiliates chapter of ACS had an ongoing National Chemistry Week project where we went out to local elementary schools.

  • Our SA-ACS chapter had large numbers of students willing to come for pizza and chemistry demos, but only a small core willing to assist with outreach on their on time.

  • By changing the way we contacted schools, the number of classrooms we were going to dramatically increased.


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An Example - Background

  • We also had an Honors program in which students in general chemistry could get Honors credit by doing an extra project.

    • This had typically been to write a 5-page paper on a designated chemistry topic.

  • I don’t like reading student papers.

  • Students do not like writing papers.

    • This rarely increases student enthusiasm for chemistry which is one of my course goals.


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An Example – The Solution

  • My solution was to make the Honors project be participation in National Chemistry Week.

  • I asked other faculty facing the same issue if they wanted their students to participate. Most agreed.

  • Some faculty later joined me in contacting the schools and planning the event.

  • The core SA-ACS members organized the training sessions.


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An Example - Outcomes

  • The result was that I oversaw the project with less time than I would have spent reading and commenting on students’ 5-page papers.

  • We increased the number of elementary school classrooms visited from about 20 to about 100.

  • Our chemistry students had fun doing a project they will always remember.

  • The University of Illinois gained credit for exposing kids to science at an early age.

  • The project cost was less than the cost of buying pizza for 150 students.


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Another Example - Background

  • When I first came to Brewton-Parker, the main outreach was weekly tutoring that was done primarily by faculty.

  • Two hours a week with little student involvement did not meet my goals.

  • The local elementary school principal was not enthusiastic about college students coming to his school on a regular basis.

  • Other schools are 15-20 miles away.


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Another Example - Background

  • Many Pre-Med students are more likely to become teachers than doctors.

  • I wanted to involve ALL students in chemistry projects that reinforce some topic.

  • I wanted the project to be “hands-on” but safe.

  • The director of the Heart of Georgia Youth Science & Technology Center needed to show that their programs impact our area.


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Another Example - Background

  • The college set its sights on increasing enrollment in math and science from local students.

  • BPC’s Education Division needed more opportunities to expose Math Education and Science Education majors to practical teaching venues.


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Another Example – The Solution

  • My solution was to propose that we hold a Math & Science Festival where kids, parents, and teachers participate in hands-on projects one Saturday each semester.

  • All of my students pick a hands-on chemistry project, design their experiment, create a poster, write a 1-2 page report designed to be used by teachers in the classroom, and a page or less evaluation of their experience.


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Another Example - Outcomes

  • My students practice their projects during one of our 10 labs, so all the students see their classmates’ projects.

  • We have over 100 kids from a 75 mile radius attend the event with their parents, along with about a dozen or more local teachers.


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Another Example - Outcomes

  • While my students typically make up half of the hands-on projects, our Education Division handles another third of the students. The rest of the projects are from other faculty or local teachers.

  • BPC now has over a hundred potential science and math majors visiting campus each semester.


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Another Example - Outcomes

  • Several anonymous donors contribute toward outreach activities each year to fund the Math & Science Festival, an annual Rocket Blast-off, and an annual Astronomy day.

  • Our partnership with the Heart of Georgia Youth Science & Technology Center has been their most successful project in this area.


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My Advice

  • So what have I learned the hard way that can make life easier for you?


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Make Life Easy for Yourself

  • Pick an approach that makes life easy on you.

    • Plan it so that your goals are accomplished.

    • Organize it within your limits.

    • Coordinate it so that you maximize the number of people who can help you.


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Finding Your Path

Determine Your Goals

Set Your Limits

Partner for Impact



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Determine what you would like to accomplish by taking on the project.

Who will it benefit and how?

Yourself

Students

Department

The institution

The community

Local ACS

Determine Your Goals


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Set Your Limits project.


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Set Your Limits project.

  • How much time can you spend?

  • How much will it cost?

  • How much lecture/lab time can be devoted to the project?

  • Is it easier to send your students out or have your audience come to you?

  • How often will the event occur?



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Partner for Impact project.

  • Do not do it alone.

  • Do not do it alone!

  • Do not do it alone!!!


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Partner for Impact project.

  • Integrate the project into your course since students are your most valuable asset and the main reason for doing the project.

  • Identify two or three like-minded colleagues, and see if they would consider assisting with some part of the project.


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Partner for Impact project.

  • Look outside of chemistry for help.

    • Other science and math folks aren’t that bad!

    • Look to your education department for help since most programs require outreach like this of their students.

    • Look to your local ACS chapter.

    • Look to the regional office and local school districts.

    • Look to your institution’s extension office.


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Partner for Impact project.

  • Ask your department or institution for assistance for a small amount of money.

    • Show them what you accomplish, and ask for more.


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Classroom Integration project.

  • Build the requirement into the course syllabus. No volunteers!

  • Give a detailed break down of what is required up front.

  • Motivate students and show them your excitement for the project.

  • Reinforce chemistry topics learned from their projects in class.

  • Get feedback from students so things will be easier next time.


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Ideas project.

  • Weekly tutoring

  • A Saturday event once a semester at your institution

  • One week of sending students out to perform demos

  • Adopting a class for the semester in which a variety of projects are planned


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More Ideas project.

  • Let schools pick from a list of demos or hands-on projects that they can schedule any Friday afternoon.

  • Host science camp for kids in the summer or during the district’s spring break.

  • Have students create science kits for teachers to check out with all the required supplies and lesson ideas.


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Conclusions project.

  • You choose lab experiments to be accomplished in limited time, with limited resources, that still meet your course learning objectives.

  • Obviously, hands-on lab experience is crucial in learning chemistry, so even if it has the same obstacles (time, money, impact, overwhelming commitment), it still warrants inclusion in the learning process.

  • Community outreach is no different. So, start planning what you can do in your community at your institution with your students.


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So Remember project.

Determine Your Goals

Set Your Limits

Partner for Impact


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Acknowledgements project.

The University of Illinois

  • Steve Zumdahl, Susan Zumdahl, Angie Cannon, Roxy Wilson, Christine Yerkes, Tom Hummel, Don DeDoste, Jennifer Firestine, Carolyn Schick, Craig Gerken

    Brewton-Parker

  • David McMillin, Jon Shuman, Ann Calhoun, Forrest Rich, Marvin McClendon, Javad Zadeh, Mariam George, Margaret Haines, Sherra Durden, Norma Harper, Skye Jordan

  • My students, who think I’m a bit crazy, but have joyfully participated in outreach over the years


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Any Questions? project.


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