A significant focus of the St. Louis Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) is directed toward encouraging and supporting STEM chemistry-related activities among children and adolescents. The “Chemistry is pHun” program is one of the Section’s most popular outreach programs. Chemistry is pHun volunteers have historically presented hands-on demonstrations/workshops in classrooms for K-12 students based on well-developed modules. The program has experienced significant change during the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. Sheryl Loux, who served with distinction for the past eight years and received the Section’s 2014 Distinguished Service Award, relocated to Michigan. Will Ridley was trained by Sheryl prior to her departure and has continued the outreach program based in the elementary schools of the Rockwood School District.
The solid foundation developed by Sheryl led to strong support from Cris Dames, Rockwood School District Partners in Education (PIE) facilitator, and productive working relations with 2nd grade teachers in the Rockwood elementary schools. During the academic year 2016-2017, Will Ridley presented the “States of Matter” program 21 times in 12 elementary schools to 926 second-grade students. In the “States of Matter” program solid, liquid, and gas states are explored, mainly of water, demonstrating the addition or release of energy in the form of heat when changing physical states. “Gluep”, a polymer made from Elmer’s glue and a borax solution is made to show a substance that has properties of both liquids and solids. Additionally, “Chemistry is pHun” recently presented a “Polymers are Marvelous Molecules” workshop as part of the Expanding Your Horizons Conference at the St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.
Going forward, Melissa De Wever, President of the Chemistry Club at St. Louis Community College (STLCC) Meramec, has suggested that the Chemistry is pHun outreach program expand into the elementary schools of the Kirkwood School District that is in close proximity to STLCC-Meramec campus. The program will need approval by the Kirkwood School District and agreement from the STLCC-Meramec chemistry students to help with the staffing.
Also there are additional modules, including “What is Matter?” for elementary students; “Using The Scientific Method for a Science Fair Project” for grades 5–8 that are available from Chemistry is pHun for science teachers in the greater St. Louis area. New volunteers are needed in order to offer these programs.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, “Chemistry is pHun” is seeking interested college chemistry students from throughout the St. Louis area, working chemists who can spare an occasional half day from work and retired ACS members with a desire to inspire and encourage an interest in chemistry-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among elementary students. Training is available and a schedule should be completed for the next academic year in September 2017. Please contact Will Ridley, Chemistry is pHun Coordinator, St. Louis Section of ACS, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, cell phone: 314-920-1507, for additional information.