Public Understanding of Chemistry, ACS National Meeting

because the media does not have the tools to provide them. Most science writers ... to meetings, such as the ACS National Meeting. They must try to ke...
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Chemical Education Today

Meeting Report

Public Understanding of Chemistry, ACS National Meeting by Nancy S. Gettys

Three public events for area school-aged children were held on Saturday, March 25, 2000, prior to the opening of the 219th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. All took place at the Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco. The photographs tell the story: the programs were successful and a good time was had by all.

Readers may be encouraged to try these ideas in their own area. If so, the local organizers of Carver Kidvention have additional information at or contact Howard Peters (Santa Clara Valley Section, ACS), [email protected] Additional photos of the Kidvention event may also be seen at JCE Online as supplemental material.

✸ Carver Kidvention Photos by Nancy S. Gettys

“Carver Kidvention” was named for George Washington Carver. It was held from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Participants were approximately two hundred 3rd and 4th grade minority students and their parents, all from the San Francisco area. After a brief presentation in which the invention process was discussed—and several inventions such as the Starbucks’ coffee cup holder, Frisbee, and earmuffs were explained— the students were asked if they could invent. A resounding “YES!” filled the room. Then the eager students were divided into groups—each group identified by the symbol of an ele-

ment in the periodic table. During a 20-minute brainstorming session each group identified a problem that they would like to solve, and then began to do so using household “junk”. Materials included cardboard boxes, coat hangers, tin cans, drinking straws, and lots of duct tape. The students’ inventions included a “super pooper scooper” (for cleaning up after pets), a mechanical back scratcher, an adjustable vase to accommodate taller flowers, and an improved design for shoes. After lunch (provided by ACS) students created a display for their invention, and had an opportunity to view the other invention displays.

Meeting Report David Perlman spoke primarily about the public perception of science. Movies such as Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action, and Silkwood present very strong, persistent, images. While you frequently see pictures from the Hubble telescope on the front page, you do not see pictures of new molecules, because the media does not have the tools to provide them. Most science writers work by reading journals and coming to meetings, such as the ACS National Meeting. They must try to keep up with all areas of science. There is a “disconnect” for most of the public with science. The public is in general not well educated in or informed about science. He emphasized that the media are not part of the educational sys688

tem. Their purpose is to inform, not to educate. There are currently unprecedented changes in the media including the emergence of large media companies, and the conversion of traditional newspapers and magazines to “Web Zines”. Effects of these changes are not known. In summary, I must congratulate ACS President Daryle Busch for both his stamina in introducing all three sessions and presiding at the third, and for the selection of topics and speakers made by himself and his staff. Together they provided a stimulating and informative afternoon and evening. Nancy Gettys is a member of the Journal staff.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 77 No. 6 June 2000 •

✸ Doing Science with the Chemists of the Future ACS Student Affiliate groups joined forces with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students from the San Francisco area (two groups of prospective scientists) for “Doing Science with the Chemists of the Future” From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. several ACS Student Affiliate chapters from around the United States and Puerto Rico set up tables along the walls of a large room in the convention center. As the children entered the room they were each given a pair of sparkle safety goggles to wear while participating; these goggles are available through the ACS Online store. Students moved from table to table learning about esterification, diffusion, endothermic reactions, boiling and gas pressure, acid–base reactions, chemistry of peanut brittle, absorbent and cross-linked polymers, colligative properties, identification of unknown substance, bubbles, and natural pH indicators. At a final stop, there was a selection of snacks. Photos by Nancy S. Gettys


Science • Vol. 77 No. 6 June 2000 • Journal of Chemical Education


Chemical Education Today

Meeting Report Photos by Nancy S. Gettys

✸ Chemagination 2025 Essay Contest The Chemagination 2025 Essay Contest was for high school students in the San Francisco area. It culminated at the Moscone Convention Center from 1:00 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 25. Teams of students had previously written essays of 1000 words or less as articles for the October 2025 issue of ChemMatters magazine. The theme was “What breakthrough/ innovation related to chemistry and/or its applications will improve the quality of a teenager’s life in the year 2025?” and the required focus was medicine/health care, foods/cooking, athletics/entertainment, or transportation/environment. Each team displayed a poster that included a proposed cover for ChemMatters and a copy of their essay. All essays had been previously reviewed by the ChemMatters editorial staff and considered for publication during the 2000–2001 school year. A panel of judges interviewed the students during the poster session. Each winning team received a computer, monitor, and printer for their classroom and a $250 savings bond for each team member. The Chemagination 2025 winners were: •


Foods/Cooking: “Freshen Up with Smelnororium”, Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, CA. Students: Shara Cohn, Jessica Reiner-Harris, Debby Sung, Suk Ann Yee. Teacher: James D. Hill.

Chemagination 2025 Essays on display.

Medicine/Healthcare: “A Tale of Two Fullerenes”, Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, CA. Students: Nathaniel Craig, James Ofsink. Teacher: James D. Hill.

Athletics/Entertainment: “The Booze Club”, Lowell High School, San Francisco, CA. Students: Andreas Chandra, David Jang, Jarrett Liang, Sonny Sin, Jason Ma. Teacher: Marycelne Espanol.

Transportation/Environment: “It’s All in the Wrapper”, Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, CA. Students: Sharin Zarafshar, Joane Lee, Justin Liu, Mark Evans. Teacher: James D. Hill.

Journal of Chemical Education • Vol. 77 No. 6 June 2000 •