ing was a terrible time for high school students to come to
school and focus on chemistry.” After conferring with teachers, a
better time and a different approach were identified.
The group then developed the “Chemistry Extravaganza” to
introduce the Student Affiliates to high school students. The
event included a dry ice and indicator solution demonstration
and a quiz game based on chemistry topics. This time, more
than 50 students showed up. The lesson learned: build excitement about chemistry first — and then add formal structures to
aid learning. “If we had started with a diagnostic test, we would
have driven students away,” Blake notes.
In the initial stages of a collaboration, it is important to listen to what teachers and school
districts want. If they have
struggling students who need
tutoring at lower levels, and a
chapter envisions a program
that only tutors for advanced
placement, there will be disconnects. Even when all parties are
enthusiastic about collaborating,
arrangements take time to put
in place. There is often bureau-
Tech instead,” Blake says. “He’s now an engineering major in
the honors college.”
Collaboration spans a generation
For more than 20 years, Duquesne University has hosted
an annual ACS Student Affiliates “In Miniature” symposium.
The event gives undergraduate students from the host cam-
pus, as well as nearby universities (such as Seton Hill, Indiana
University of Pennsylvania, St. Francis University, and Slippery
Rock), a forum to develop all-important presentation skills.
Rose Clark, professor of chemistry at St. Francis University,
applauds the effort. “We typically
start our students in research after
their freshman year,” Clark says.
“In Miniature” is a wonderful
opportunity for students to get
practice without the pressure that
comes from presenting before the
bigger audiences at ACS regional
or national meetings.”
“In Miniature” was the brain-
child of Duquesne faculty mem-
ber Theodore Weismann, who
launched and ran the program
for two decades until his death in
2007. “Ted had an innate devo-
tion to education and this was his
legacy,” says Jeffrey D. Evanseck,
professor of chemistry and bio-
chemistry at Duquesne. “His was
a true, pure desire to help stu-
dents in the Pittsburgh region.”
In carrying on the program,
Evanseck has kept many tradi-
tional elements, and has also
added a major communications
component. Through this effort,
he shares information with chemistry faculty members outside
of Duquesne to make them aware of resources and opportuni-
ties that can benefit their students. “If you really want to help
students, you have to help the faculty who are helping them at
their local institution,” Evanseck notes.
According to Clark, it’s important for undergraduate institutions to have these types of collaborations in order to achieve
the higher level of research and training for undergraduate
students. “We all win,” Clark observes, “because students see
the graduate programs at major institutions, and then will be
interested in them.” iC
UNIVERSIT Y OF CENTRAL OKLAHOMA
Once in place,
Shanna Speaks, president of the Student Academy of Forensic
Science, (right) and another student hold up their freshly created
tie-dye T-shirts during NCW 2008. The event serves as a fund-raiser
for both UCO-SAACS and the Student Academy of Forensic Science.
cracy to maneuver through before school districts can give permission for new programs. Sometimes this can take months.
Once in place, collaborations often produce unexpected
results. For example, through his work with Student Affiliates
chapters, Blake was able to recruit a number of local teachers to
a training course he conducts in the summer.
According to Blake, the long-range goal of all these efforts is
to interest high school students in studying chemistry at Texas
Tech and becoming Student Affiliates themselves, and thus perpetuate the Texas Tech Student Affiliates chapter. While it’s too
early to gauge success, Blake does offer this anecdote involving
a student who came every week to take advantage of tutoring.
“He was planning to go to another university, but based on
his exposure to Student Affiliates he decided to come to Texas
LYNNE FRIEDMANN is a freelance science writer
based in Solana Beach, CA. She is a Fellow of the
American Association for the Advancement of Science.