Are you associated with a Kids & Chemistry activity in your section?
Hello Jerry, I enjoyed meeting you and your wife a couple of weeks ago. Thanks so much for stopping by when you were visiting DC. It was great to learn about your program and a little embarassing that I didn't know about you because you and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Local Section have been at this since the pilot of Kids & Chemistry in 1993! I did look you guys up and found that the data about the attitudes of kids who participated in the program vs control classes all came from your group. The kids you visited definitely had better attitudes about chemistry and planned to take science more than the kids in the control classes.
One thing that I really like about you and your group is that you go into the schools several times a year and make a very personal connection with the teachers and students. Long after your grandchildren have moved up and out of the elementary schools, you are still there teaching science lessons to the kids. You use household materials to keep your costs down, but also to show teachers that they can do science activities with their students. You have borrowed ideas from some of the early Kids & Chemistry kits, I'm thinking Pirate Pete here, and best of all modified them so that they best suit the students' needs. You even train other science professionals to teach science lessons. You are awesome!
I'm always impressed when I learn about the efforts of Kids & Chemistry volunteers. One thing that I told you when I met you that I really want everyone to know is that it is very difficult for me to find out about the volunteer work that chemical professionals do to improve science education. It's rarely put in the annual reports. You work with the kids because you love it, not because you want recognition from your local section or ACS. I'd like to change something starting now...I want chemistry professionals to feel that their work is more than just a personal favor for a local school, it's also part of a larger American Chemical Society effort to help elementary and middle school students learn and enjoy science.What you do for teachers and students is extremely valuable!
So please, respond to Jerry's post. I'd love to hear from you and I'm sure that other people are very curious to find out what you are up to. Please don't just limit yourself to the efforts of your local section. Tell us about those things you do personally, too. Tell us how you use your annual leave days (like I did last week) to be a guest presenter for a science class. Or how you, like Jerry have been running a Kids & Chemistry program for years. So...
What have you done to help kids learn and enjoy science?
All efforts, big or small, are huge in the eyes of the teachers kids you work with!
For those of you who don't know me (I think this includes just about everyone who might open this post and read it) I manage the Kids & Chemistry program here at ACS. I used to be an elementary teacher. When I taught second grade, the mother of one of my students purchased an ACS resource for me as a holiday gift. She told me that the science activities were developed by her professional organization...and everything they produce is good. That was a tremendous endorsement for me and I did the activities with my students with confidence that they would work and teach the concepts that I was required to cover in science. Her encouragement inspired me to do more hands-on science with my students and over the years, I saw the benefits of this. My students said that science was their favorite subject. Then, when I taught these same students again in fifth grade, I was surprised by how much they remembered, how much they still enjoyed science, and how high their test scores were. This ACS member really made a difference in the science education of my students and of course helped me learn science, too!
So now that I work with the Kids & Chemistry program, I can honestly say that I know from a teachers' perspective how valuable it is to have science professionals involved in science education. It can be as simple as introducing teachers to quality science resources, or more involved like teaching science lessons in school, planning field trip experiences for them at a university lab, helping a district or regional math-science collaborative review commercial science resources, being on a board reviewing the science education standards. There are many ways the expertise of science professionals can help to improve science education...and this is what Kids & Chemistry is all about.
I look forward to meeting you, finding out what you do, and possibly helping you with your plans to get involved. We do have kits that you can purchase or put together yourself. I'm happy to share my vendors with you and of course the pdf files are all online for free. The materials listed at the back of the presenter's guide will tell you what you need to put together each Kids & Chemistry kit. I can also help you refine your lesson so that it covers concepts in the curriculum for the gretest impact. My job is to give science professionals the tools they need to effectively help kids learn and love science. But....I have to know about you in order to help. You can always communicate with me through the ACS network or by e-mail directly at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for your invitation to take a look at the Kids & Chemistry thread of the network. In a mere 5 minutes I learned of the impressive and inspiring work of Jerry and Bob. Gentlemen, will you be at the upcoming DC meeting? If so, I hope to meet you and hear more about your programs.
I have taught chemistry at Madison Area Technical College (a 2-year community/technical college) for almost twenty years and have been involved in outreach for the last 10. Three years ago I combined my vocation (chemistry) with my avocation (playwriting, which I now teach as well) and started an organization called Fusion Science Theater (FST). We do outreach shows that use theater to teach chemistry to elementary school audiences. For example, in 2006 we put on a one hour show called the Amazing Chemical Circus composed of three sets of demonstrations or "acts"-- spectral emissions, rates of combustion, and polymers. Each act is framed and guided by a question (Like, "What makes the biggest BOOM?" for the rates of combustion segment) so it is actually an investigation The questions are posed by host characters (a Ringmaster!) and answered by demonstrations performed by MATC chemistry faculty members. Each act culminates in an "Act It Out," where kids come to the stage to play the role of an atom or molecule in a physical dramatization of the underlying concept.
This first show was successful on all fronts-- enthusiastic audience, enthusiastic participants, realatively easy to produce, inexpensive, and evaluation data that showed that kids liked the show AND learned the concepts. So successful, in fact, that we were inspired to write a planning grant to NSF Informal Science Education division in 2007. We got the grant and have spent the last 2 years developing 2 short (10-30 minute) mobile shows that can be performed at libraries, family science nights, schools, museums, community centers, etc. These shows can be done by 2 people and follow the format we stumbled upon in the Chemical Circus-- one learning objective, inquiry-based structure, demonstrations, participatory "act it out". We embedded assessment right into the shows and again, the data was great. But the best news was that a student group from the University of Wisconsin (Students Participating in Chemical Education or SPICE) asked us if they could do a show in addition to the demo shows they traditionally do as outreach. We trained them in a one-day workshop and now they are doing the shows around Madison, WI with similar great results.
Sorry for rambling. Just wanted to share a bit about how theater can be a powerful tool for chemical education outreach.
Best to you,
Holly Walter Kerby
Yes I coordinate and participate in Kids & Chemistry acitivites in my local section - Greater Houston Section. Last year we impacted about 7000 kids in the Houston area. My last activity for the school year was a "Magic in Chemistry" stage show for 700 kids at Travis Elementary in Baytown, Tx. This was one of the largest audiences I've ever done. Pamela Farmer was styled as "Gypsy Rose" and she assisted me. Here are a few pix:
That looks like a fantastic show. Thanks for the pictures. Do you do any hands-on programs with the kids, i.e. where the kids do the experiments?
Yes we do Jerry. Sometimes I use the show to launch a hands-on program. We had an extensive hands-on program with Baytown Christian Academy this spring. Here is a report for our 2008 program that shows the scope of it.
Bob, no one reaches the number of students (more than 7000) you and your group do each year. We do have a couple of groups who have about the same number of volunteers (it's 120 or so, right?). I'm particularly impressed with the level of support your employeer gives to the program. I guess everything is big in Texas!
You and Jerry have something in common--you have both been involved in Kids & Chemsitry since the pilot in 1993. Did you ever meet each other in person?
I'm pretty sure I met Jerry early on maybe in meetings we had after the Pilot was wrapped up. Yes I have about 120 volunteers on my distribution. Without the Company support I get it would be a much smaller effort.
Jerry, Why don't you tell everyone what you do? When I met you, I was very impressed with the activities you developed and the way the kids you work with grow up and years later remember science activities they did with Grandpa and Grandma Kersten.
Today an article was published on our ExxonMobil Baytown Intranet about the Chemistry Show at Travis June 2nd. It's nice to have them proudly promote the program even thoough they always call it "Kids in Chemistry" and I don't work for BTEC and never have!
In the Minnesota Section the Kids & Chemistry activities we do are all hands-on. We have 4 experiments using, for the most part, readily available materials. We visit several schools, usually at the 5th grade level, but for one school at the 4th grade. We do all the classrooms for that grade. In one school we have 6 classrooms of 4th graders, but have enough chemists and parent volunteers to do 3 classrooms at a time. The experiments are:
This is a two part experiment. The first part uses red cabbage juice as an acid / base indicator. Using plastic transfer pipettes and foam polystyrene plates we put 2 drops of the cabbage juice at the equivalent of the even numbers on a clock. Then have the kids fill in a table that has columns labeled Material, O'clock, color, and "acid, base, neutral" The materials are already listed on the table. They are lemon juice, baking soda, pop (soda), washing soda, vinegar, and ammonia water. The blue cabbage juice changes to bright pink for acids, bright green for bases, stays neutral for baking soda and for clear pop, it turns purple. We say that the pop wants to be acidic but is not quite strong enough to push the indicator all the way to pink. So we would call that a weak acid.
The second part deals with odors. We cut an onion in half and hold it in the front of the class and ask kids to raise their hand when the smell it. The diffusion model works for most kids, but there are always a couple (way in the badk of ther room) who can smell the onion as soon as we cut it. We also use ginger root, cinnamon sticks (rubbed on orange sticks to creat fine particles) and mint leaves (squeeze between finger and thumb, then smell your finger) We ask the kids to write down what each of these smells like. The ginger has a lemony smell. We get lots of strange answers for this. Then we explain that we do not have good words that describe smells (unless we are a perfume expert) so the common answer to what an onion smells like is an onion. For ginger we ask if they could readily tell the difference between the smell of an lemon and the smell of ginger. We leave them with a spelling word, lachrymator, which is something which makes your eyes tear, like an onion or tear gas.
We first demonstrate the growth of polymers using kids as monomers. we have them walk around the classroom once and sit down. Then we create dimers by having one kid put his hands on the shoulders of the next kid from the back. From dimers we gp to tetramers, and finally to small polymers having lines of 8 to 10 kids. We have the polymers line up side by side and talk to them about how it became more difficult for them to move as they grew from 1 to 2 etc. We talk about the fact that one line of polymer cannot move through the other but would have to slide past it. (If it weren't for gravity they could float up and move that way, but gravity holds them to the floor. Then we have chemists, volunteers and teachers cross-link the polymers by standing between the polymers and holding on to two of them. We tell them this will make quite a change. Now we have this big blob. We wouldn't fit through the door, there wouldn't be room to move around the classroom. We tell them we will be giving them a polymer in solution and a cross-linker. To observe what happens.
We give each kid a zipper sandwich bag, one adult gives them 1 tablespoon of 4% PVAlcohol solution, the second gives them 1 teaspoon of 4% borax xolution, takes the bag from the kid and gives it a good shake to get good initial mixing. Then we have the kids knead the gel to finish the mixing. We have the kids take the gel out of the bag, slowoly roll it into a ball and lay it on the bag on their desk and observe what happens. We ask if this is a liquid or a solid. When we get the right answer we say yes, it is a liquid because it deforms to take the shape of the container. We talk about viscosity and demonstrate differences using a bottle of water, a bottle of corn syrup and a bottle of shampoo. And we point out that the gel has a very high viscosity. We have them drop the ball ("don't let it splat all over you") then ask why it bounces. Then we have the kids work in pairs using a yard stick to see how far the slime will string down before the string breaks. We have them measure twice and get the average. One kid holds her gel, the other watches the end of the string to observe how long it is when it breaks. You can't look away, because once it breaks, it is gone and you can't go back to see the endpoing.
The kids then give me thier average individually and I write it on the board in 3 or 4 columns and add the columns out loud to get the total, then divide by number to get the average. We discuss Maximum, Minimum, Range and Average and get the Min, Max & range for the whole set. Then discuss variability. Why is there such a wide range. And why chemists control and record as many variables as possible so that the next chemist can repeat the experiment and get similar results.
I will describe the other two experiments in a separate posting.
We have other outreach programs to kids, including a very extensive "Chemists in the Library" program, but essentially all of them are hands-on. Things that are called "Kids & Chemistry" here are hands-on. Demonstrations that put the show in front or on a stage and don't let kids touch because it is too hot or too cold or too corrosive or toxic are done by others, like the 3M Wizards program, which even now is moving towards hands on.
Thanks for taking the time to write-up what you do. I know that it's a time investment to get what you have in your head out! I'm often asked what other people who volunteer to help kids learn and enjoy science do. So, it's my guess that there are plenty of people reading what you have written with interest.
I've been helping with my son's after school program and Kindergarten class this year. I really enjoy being spotted when I'm out and about and hearing how kids have extended the investigations we did in class on their own at home. They are always very excited about their explorations and discoveries. I think part this excitement is just the normal exhuberance of young kids. It is just my opinion, but I think 5-6 year olds are the happiest most optomistic segment of the population. There's something fun about every age-group, but get a grouup of 5-6 year olds together and there are no obstacles.
I have to admit that it wasn't easy to get my son's Kindergarten teacher to trust me to come in to her class and teach a science lesson. But after reports from kids in the afterschool program started trickling over and the first lesson went well, it was easy. I got in by responding to a note that was sent home asking parents to talk about what they do as part of the Community Helpers unit. I'm not a scientist...but certainly can teach about what they do...and scientists are community helpers, right? So, that was my in! I was so proud when we were having a wrap-up discussion and one of the little girls said that they were like scientists because they asked questions and did experiments find the answers with me. The kids were all so happy when I agreed with her and pointed out what several of them did or said and how that was just like what scientists do. After that, the hesitence was over and I was asked to come in any time I liked.
It seems strange that when I tell teachers about what I do, they always say, "Sign me up! I want a scientist to work with my students." or "I'd love to have someone who could answer those tough questions that the kids sometimes ask me about science." Yet I sometimes hear from scientists that they have offered to help and have been told, "No."...Then this year I experienced it myself when I had a some difficulty helping out in my own child's school. (I had initially offered to help with the 4th-6th graders, even though I have a Kindergartener.) I know that they would have jumped at the chance for me to make photocopies, put books away in the library, or read with kids in the hallway. But teaching a science lesson was a little different. There was some resistence...even after meeting with the principal about it, sending an e-mail to the teachers, and helping with other functions. Has anyone had trouble getting into schools? Or do you have suggestions for other scientists on how to get in?
I don't think your images came through but your project sounds exciting.
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06/17/09 12:38 cc
New ACS Network message:
Please respond "Kids & Chemistry experiences"
A new message was posted in the ACS Network thread "Kids & Chemistry
We're having a workshop at the DC national meeting. The workshop is Become a Chemistry Ambassador through Kids & Chemistry. It will be Monday, August 17 from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm at the JW Marriott in the Grand Ballroom, Salon III. Come have fun and learn about the ACS Chemistry Ambassadors program during this hands – on workshop with Kids & Chemistry. Patti Galvan and Clint Harris will lead the hands - on activity. Learn how to approach a teacher, plan your visit and engage students in an age-appropriate activity.
Chemistry Ambassadors is a new program to connect ACS members with resources and messages that benefit local communities and improve recognition for chemists, chemistry and the American Chemical Society. Whether you have ten minutes or ten hours to volunteer you can make a difference in the public perception of chemistry. Come find out how! Please register with Keith Lindblom at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see you there.
Message was edited by: Nancy Mccormick-Pickett
I'll be coming from a vacation trip to San Francisco and Buffalo to attend the meeting on Tuesday for the poster presentation and the ChemLuminary dinner. I've already got my reservations. If I had known earlier I might have taken advantage of it. Hopefully I'll get to see you there. My trip starts out with a 50 mile mountainous footrace so I might be a bit sore!
Wow. Your trip sounds fantastic. I hope you'll share pictures. I'm sorry you won't be able to come to the workshop. Maybe you could stop by the Office of Public Affairs booth at the EXPO. In any case, I hope to see you at the meeting. Have a great trip!
Ok Sure I'll stop by. I should be there by mid afternoon on Tuesday. Looking forward to it!
OK. I'll see you then. We'll have lots of information about the Chemistry Ambassadors program. You're already a Chemistry Ambassador.
I just sent Kieth an email seeking more information on the workshop. Our LS participates in a NCW one-day activity where every sixth grade student in the parish (county) participates in five hands-on demonstrations. We have 3 (maybe 4!!) CL awards. This is different from the Kids & Chemistry program, but encountered and overcame many of the same challanges. I think the key operator for success is credibility. We got ours by partnering with a higher profile organization and including a school board member on our steering committee. I hope my plans for DC will allow me to attend. Otherwise I'll look you up at the Expo.
Glad to hear from you. We'd be interested in hearing more about your activity and wonder if you could share some pix with us. Partnering is always a good idea to leverage resources and interest. We hope you can attend the workshop and pls stop by our Office of Public Affairs booth (#1521) at the Expo. We look forward to meeting you.
Hi Robert! Glad to hear you'll be joining us at the National Meeting. Would you mind resending your RSVP for the "Be a Chemistry Ambassador Through Kids & Chemistry" workshop to me at email@example.com? I haven't received any messages in my inbox from you.
Thanks, and we'll see you next month!
You may be interested in attending the Planning Science Events for Kids workshop which will be part of the undergraduate program. We will not be checking student ID's at the door, so anyone registered for the meeting can attend.
The point of this workshop is to provide a couple of solid and adaptable ideas on how to make the most of demo shows so that they are a great teaching and learning opportunity. This could help you with your hands-on demos.
Planning Science Events for Kids Sunday, August 16Capitol Hilton Hotel, Congressional Room11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The ACS K-8 Education Program and the Committee on Community Activities invite you to discover how science outreach can pair with the power of theater and literature to create fun and educational experiences for kids. Watch a live show complete with demos, audience participation, and actual kids! Then go backstage with the presenters to learn how you can use this model to add drama to your demo shows. Harry Potter will also be on hand to help you get started on the brainstorming process of creating hands-on activities for the 2009 Chemvention Competition. This year’s theme: Behind the Scenes with Chemistry – The chemistry behind the "magic" and mystery of TV and movies. The winner and 3 finalists will be awarded travel $$$ towards travel to the next National Meeting!
Also...we're looking for children between the ages of 4 and 11 to participate in the live show. It will really help to see the real deal and then use that as a reference point when we talk about ways to make the most out of demos. So if you are bringing your 4-11 year old children to the meeting, please bring them to see this 30 minute play. It would be best if the children arrive at 10:45 and leave at 11:30 am. That's the portion of the program they will really enjoy.
I look forward to meeting all of you and learning about what you do to share your love and knowledge of science with children.
Patti, Thanks for the invitation. I'm getting squeezed on time, but I have it on my calendar. Bob
I understand how that goes! It's going to be a fun and I hope very useful workshop. Three or 4 CL awards is pretty impressive. It sounds like you already have quite a bit of experience sharing science with kids. That's one thing I always enjoy about the meetings...talking with people who do such neat things to get kids to really love and understand science.
Some years ago I saw a demonstration in which two large iron balls (e.g. about 3 inch) were rolled to strike each other with a good amount of fource. Most such head on strikes generating a sound & light. One of the intents of the demonstration was to show that the kinetic energy of the balls could be converted into other forms of energy directly. In that specific instance the iron balls used were acquired from a cement plant for which they were used to grind down rock - they were used and presumably smaller than original.I've spoken to a vendor about getting some new such iron balls. My recollection is that carbon steel balls worked better than other alloys such as stainless steel. I presume that some surface oxidation (rust) helped the process. Does anyone have any additional specifics on this demo that could assist me in getting the optimum item from this vendor?
I've never heard of that one but it sounds cool! Yes I think carbon steel would work best. I know the kind of balls you are referring to. Don't know where you could get any but a pair of Civil War cannon balls should work. I've got some from Virginia and Gettysburg. I'll try banging a couple 6-pounders together. Hopefully no explosives inside!
We had a very busy Kids & Chemistry year in our Section, particularly December! In December I put on a Chemical Magic Show for 400 kids at Nottingham Middle School in Dayton, Tx and then helped one of our coordinators do hands-on experiments using the Chemistry's Rainbow kit for 250 kids in Mont Belvieu Intermediate. It was an all day event. We also used the same kit for the 4th and 6th grades at Baytown Christian Academy in Baytown. I'm retired now from ExxonMobil but I'm still coordinating the Kids & Chemistry in our Section and I've got a part time assignment with ExxonMobil Public Affairs to help support our school Science Ambassadors with Kids & Chemistry activities. Here is a photo from the Nottingham show. Happy New Year to you all!
I've posted several simple science experiments for children at www.candyexperiments.com. These experiments give instructions on how to do things like test candy for acid using baking soda, test candy for oil, find bubbles in dissolving Pop Rocks, and make a Skittles density rainbow. Children love dissolving, stirring, and playing with colors as they experiment, and parents love pouring all that candy down the drain.
Hope you enjoy sharing candy experiments with kids!
Here is my Kids & Chemistry Report for 2010. I don't think all of my volunteers responded to my request for a summary of their activities so I'm sure even more activities were held. Even so we had a busy year here in the Greater Houston Section.
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