To encourage excellence in scholarship and service throughout our local section, we have chosen five outstanding members as local section award recipients for the Spring 2016 semester. If you know anyone on this list, please congratulate them!
(1) Middle School Teacher Award: Geoff Freymuth. Awarded for excellence in the advancement of education in chemistry and the sciences for middle school students. 7th grade science teacher Mr. Geoff Freymuth from Jefferson Middle School brings creativity, passion, and innovation to middle school science education. Geoff teaches students how to think using active learning strategies in the classroom. Problems are described as opportunities for discovery and the importance of scientific thinking is emphasized for everyone, not just for "scientists." Mr. Freymuth's work turns students of all kinds into inquirers of the world around them.
(2) High School Science Teacher Award: Grant Meyer. Awarded for service and curriculum development relating to the practice of a chemical science. Since 2013, Grant has been an indispensable teacher and proponent of higher education at Iroquois West High School. He founded an ACS ChemClub and created the school's Innovation Night, which has grown immensely over the years after receiving a substantial grant. In addition to these accomplishments, Grant helped a student get artwork published by ACS ChemClubs as its representative for Livermorium in their Periodic Table of Moles, helped students plan and paint a periodic table mural on the wall (featured on Channel 3 News), and recently got a lesson published on the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT) website.
(3) High School Student Award: Iulianna Taritsa and Ben Schiffer. Awarded based on scholarship and involvement in extracurricular activities relating to the chemical sciences. Iulianna attends the University Laboratory High School and has worked with elementary students in a leadership role by organizing volunteer schedules, communicating with volunteers weekly, and editing and writing the lesson materials. In addition, she has initiated a project to build a fuel cell powered by soil bacteria and will be attending a teacher convention to present the fuel cell project in a poster session. Ben Schiffer, along with demonstrating great utility in the laboratory, played an active role in several extracurricular activities such as Science Olympiad, Scholastic Bowl (as science specialist), and as a member of the Uni High ChemClub. He has done summer research at the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University, entered his research in major national science competitions, and was ranked as a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search.
(4) Local Section Member Award: Joaquín Rodríguez-López. Awarded to current members of the ECI local section for outstanding service in the community and for promoting a greater public understanding of chemistry. In addition to facilitating active learning lessons in the classroom, initiating notable international collaborations, and development of training instruction sessions for members of his research lab, Professor Rodríguez-López volunteers as the faculty advisor for the student chapter of ACS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He participates in planning demonstrations for the community and his involvement and support has helped the group receive startup funds for a new outreach program in collaboration with the ECI local section, titled "bridging the gap: promoting college-level thinking in high school ChemClubs." This program has been extremely successful over the past few years and has led to two new local high schools staring their own ChemClubs as well as the successful administration of the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad exams in the section for the first time in many years.