Teaching and learning chemistry in the context of our world is a hallmark of the resources, services and products produced by ACS. Students and educators know that the ACS is synonymous with quality. ACS continues to be a leader in science education – to inspire students to seek knowledge and careers in science and prepare them for the realities of the global marketplace.
In 2012, we reached out to thousands of eager, young elementary and secondary school students in new and innovative ways. We provided a new generation of undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities to learn skills they will need to compete and succeed as they move forward with their careers.
The ACS hosted the 44th International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Washington, D.C., from July 21-30. The competition engaged 283 students from 72 countries in practical and theoretical examinations at the University of Maryland. Numerous activities were offered to nearly 600 participants during the ten-day event. The Dow Chemical Company was the sole financial sponsor ($2.5 million) of the 44th IChO, along with generous donations of facilities and personnel by the University of Maryland at College Park. The U.S. team won one gold medal and three silver medals. Christopher Hillenbrand earned a gold medal, placing 16th in the overall competition, and Sidharth Chand, James Deng, and Jason Ge won silver medals.
ACS celebrated the 75th anniversary of welcoming undergraduate students into the Society. Since the ACS bylaws were amended in 1937, the number of undergraduate students and chapters has grown to over 18,000 members and 1,040 chapters. The celebration of the 75th anniversary of welcoming undergraduates into ACS – combined with the establishment of Reactions: The ACS Undergraduate Blog and implementation of an integrated social media strategy – resulted in the establishment and reactivation of 53 chapters, including ten on two-year college campuses.
International Year of Chemistry Challenge Kits, created through a grant from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, were designed to take students on an imaginary trip around the world to meet scientists, learn about chemical reactions, and get a sense of the wide variety of ways that scientists use chemistry to solve world problems. Over 10,000 kits were distributed to upper elementary and middle school classrooms across the United States. Survey results from teachers who received kits indicated that over 95 percent found the lessons in the kit helped students realize that chemistry is used to solve real-world problems.
The ACS High School Chemistry Club Program, established in 2005 with 15 clubs, now has more than 520 clubs across the United States and Puerto Rico. The number of clubs participating in this exciting, engaging activity grew by 12 percent during 2012. Additionally, in 2012 the program published a highly regarded and well-received cookbook, populated with recipes and activities submitted by ChemClub participants.
ACS participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which culminated in a three-day finale Expo at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center on April 27-29. In the lead-up events, ACS provided a “Nifty Fifty” speaker for a local high school, the ACS Mole marched in the Cherry Blossom Parade, and a special STEM Congressional briefing was held that included Bill Nye as a panelist. Based on estimated numbers from the Convention Center, nearly 200,000 people participated over the three days, the second largest event the Convention Center has ever seen. At the ACS booths, over 6,000 children and adults either did a hands-on activity, took a picture with the Mole, learned about green chemistry, or viewed a video podcast.
The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) America International Group, the American Chemical Society, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers continue to collaborate in offering the SCI Scholars summer industrial internship program, which introduces chemistry and chemical engineering undergraduate students to careers in the chemical industry. The program hosted 31 internships in summer 2012 and will host 38 internships in 2013. Every SCI scholar selects a high school chemistry teacher to receive recognition and a $1000 award.
During 2012, the ACS Office of Professional Training (OPT) and IT staff developed a system that allows ACS-approved programs to submit their periodic reports online and provides an interface for the Committee on Professional Training (CPT) to complete the reviews of these programs online. The successful pilot test of CPT Periodic Review System (CPRS) was completed during the summer, culminating with CPT’s review of 25 reports using this paperless system. Beginning in 2013, all periodic reports will be submitted and reviewed using CPRS. The implementation of this system eliminates the need for chemistry programs to make photocopies of their reports and course materials and mail them to ACS. CPRS also eliminates the need to ship over 500 pounds of printed materials to three CPT meetings per year.
The ACS Science Coaches program was renewed for three additional years in August 2012. This program encourages chemists to volunteer to assist a teacher on an on-going basis throughout the school year. Science Coaches (chemists) make a minimum of six one-hour visits and assist on an as needed basis via e-mail and phone. For the 2012-2013 school year, 102 chemists signed on to assist a teacher at the elementary (19 partnerships), middle (28 partnerships), or high school (55 partnerships) level in 30 states plus Puerto Rico.
One of our most successful efforts, the ACS Scholars Program, continues to help underrepresented minority students achieve their dreams of degrees and careers in a broad range of chemical sciences. In all, nearly 2,450 African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American students have participated in the program since 1995. Of those, nearly 1,330 have earned bachelor’s degrees in a chemical science and 40 percent have entered the chemical science workforce. More than 147 of these ACS Scholars have gone on to earn doctoral degrees in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related discipline.
Another premier program, Project SEED, offers high school students the rare opportunity to work in academic, government, or industrial research laboratories for an 8 to 10-week term. In 2012, the program placed 431 economically disadvantaged high school students in more than 130 research laboratories in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, under the supervision of 434 volunteer scientific mentors and coordinators.
The Project SEED Scholarship Subcommittee awarded 29 Project SEED College Scholarships, totaling $145,000, to former SEED students for their freshman year. In addition, three new renewable Ciba Specialty Chemicals scholarships ($5,000/year) were awarded for the 2012 – 2015 academic years.