• Your student chapter is interested in helping students learn
• The program should focus on one grade, rather than all the
students at the school. Keep in mind that the principal or
teacher will likely select the grade where chemistry or physical
science is taught.
• Ask which topics are covered in science in that grade because
it’s important that the program will be lessons in the
• Express your willingness to design activities to match
classroom topics or offer to work with small groups of
students during labs that the teacher plans and leads.
• Explain how your program will reinforce vocabulary or science
concepts the teacher has taught. This will catch students’
attention and give them practice applying their learning.
• If possible, offer to have enough members of your student
chapter come to the school at once so that you can each work
with a small group of students.
If the principal or teacher says no… move on to another school
and try again. Your student chapter has something wonderful to
offer younger students. Consider that it is difficult for school leaders to take a chance on people who come into their school. However, when you are able to build a relationship with a school, your
chapter will likely be invited back for years to come.
PHOTO COURTESY OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY.
Using a circuit board, LEDs, resistors, capacitors, and wires, the
electrical engineering module team helped students learn how the
intensity of light can be affected by various factors. Working with
the students are YU ACS student chapter members Yosef Hoffman
(far left) and Ari Cuperfain (second from left).
something like this from scratch,” observes Cuperfain, “you defi-
nitely need to allow some time to figure out exactly what you’re
going to do, and how you’re going to explain the science.”
As Saperstein recalls, the members of the module teams
actually had some very interesting internal debates among
themselves about the best way to explain certain concepts. “We
learned that when we started looking at these concepts from
outside our normal academic setting, it took some extra thought.
Later, when we were working with the kids, we found that analo-
gies and metaphors worked great at getting across key ideas.”
PHO TO COURTES Y OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY.
Zachary Goldstein, YU ACS student chapter board member, prepares a
solution of copper and zinc for an experiment in the electrochemistry
Each section module had its own leader, who organized volunteers involved with that module and oversaw the development of
a lesson plan and hands-on activities. The teams spent many hours
rehearsing and practicing the activities, and finding new options
for processes and materials that might improve the results.
“For example,” notes Saperstein, “in our first module, on
forensics, we did fingerprint analysis, using cyano-acrylate
fuming to make fingerprints develop on a microscope slide. It
took us a little while to figure how to optimize the reaction.”
The team eventually discovered that if they added NaOH to
the cyano-acrylate (they actually used superglue), the reaction
worked much faster.
After the teams had developed the proposed lesson plans
Excitement in the air
and activities, it was time to find a school that wanted to partici-
pate. Saperstein and Viswanathan, who is also associate dean
of academic affairs at YU, dropped by a middle school near the
university, Eleanor Roosevelt Intermediate School (I.S. 143), to
meet with its principal and tell her about the proposed program.
“After about 10 minutes,” says Saperstein, “she called in her sci-
ence assistant principal, and they loved the program so much we
started the following week. There was no red tape at all.”
One of the most beneficial aspects of the number of volun-
teers involved was that the chapter was able to have one vol-
unteer at each table in the classroom, so the student-to-teacher
ratio was roughly 4: 1, allowing the young students much more
direct interaction with the college-age volunteers.
“At the first session, we could already sense excitement among
the students,” says Saperstein. “But when we came back the following week, the students we had been working with were not
only excited to see us, but some actually came in with interesting questions, activities, and experiments they thought might be
related to what we’d been doing.”
inChemistry • www.acs.org/undergrad