work in chemistry and his discovery of oxygen, but also about the
dangerous experiments he performed at home in the process of
making his landmark discoveries.
The more the merrier
Many chapters used their field trips to drive home — or discover—
the multidisciplinary nature of the science. CSU Sacramento students toured the Novozymes facility in Davis, CA, where guides
showed how multiple fields collaborate to facilitate their enzyme
Another multidisciplinary approach that some chapters use is
to plan their field trips in conjunction with other scientific organizations on campus. For example, CSU Long Beach joined forces
with the Biology Student Association to tour the Orange County
Crime Lab in Santa Ana. Meanwhile, members of both the University of Michigan, Dearborn ACS student chapter and the university’s Society of Physics Students toured the Fermilab in Batavia,
IL. It was a great experience and showed that there is room for
overlap and inquiry among the scientific disciplines.
Other student chapters invited groups from off-campus to join
them. University of Detroit Mercy (MI) students joined the Education Committee of the Detroit Local Section and 30 area high
school chemistry teachers to tour Pewabic Pottery in Detroit. Participants observed the kiln room and the giant ovens that bake the
water out of ceramic pieces to harden them. The group then visited a studio where clay was processed and made ready for use in
molds, and also learned about the inorganic chemistry of colored
paints and salt glazes. Afterward, they were taken to a workshop
where they designed and painted ceramic tiles to take home.
Student members at the University of Tennessee at Martin
(UTM) combined their field trip with an outreach program to local
high school students, with the help of an ACS Innovative Activities Grant. Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Mme Marie
Curie’s 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, a group of 24 college and
high school students visited Oak Ridge, TN, and toured the Y- 12
History Center and the American Museum of Science and Energy
(AMSE) to learn the history and science behind nuclear technology, including how nuclear technology is used in electricity-pro-ducing power plants.
Planning and logistics
Trip planning should begin by polling the chapter members and
finding out which types of events are most interesting to members.
“Tailor your activities to what members want to do and you will be
more likely to have a great turnout of students,” advises Elizabeth
Ebensperger, chapter president at Carroll University.
Scheduling is the most common challenge student groups
reported. Some trips— like a brewery tour, for example — can
be planned for a weekend, but most outings need to be arranged
during the week. “Start considering days that work for everyone
super-early in the semester, get a list of two or three laboratories/
trips you would like to take, and start calling them right away,”
advises Christina Dobson with the University of Central Missouri.
“Check with the lab and make sure that this is something they
Chemistry is everywhere, so the opportunities for field
trips are nearly endless. But
to get your planning started,
here’s a list of spots other ACS
student members have visited:
• Industrial chemical
• Science museums
and historic sites
• Forensic laboratories
• Public health labs
• Oil refineries
• Glass factories
• Power stations
• Environmental test labs
• Sanitation facilities
• Pottery factories.
A Few Field Trip Ideas
PLANNING FIELD TRIPS
Planning off-campus trips may
take a month to a full semester
to arrange. Here are tips and
ideas for planning an off-campus event.
• Establish with the
host an appropriate
• Arrange an orientation/
preview for students
prior to the event.
• Plan transportation
• Establish time of
departure and return,
and length of tour.
• Specify cost(s) to
students, if any.
• Observe appropriate
• Conduct a follow-up
• Send appropriate
allow, ask if there is a minimum/maximum amount of attendees,
and ask when is a good time to visit.”
Taking a field trip to a facility that is local is usually the best bet
for student groups. It makes transportation easier and keeps the
overall trip shorter, so it will interfere with fewer schedules. One
reasonable place to start, then, is with the ACS local section. Reach
out and see which ACS members have connections to facilities
that you would be interested in touring. Chances are, there will be
a local section member who can at least give you an introduction
to any local lab or facility. For example, students from the Uni-
versity of Detroit Mercy were able to tour Midwest Analytical in
Ferndale, MI (a specialty analytical laboratory) by connecting with
owner Kevin O’Mara, a chemist active in the Detroit Local Section.
Dave Tiberi, president of the Saint Vincent College (Latrobe,
PA) chapter, recommends keeping the tour group fairly small—
less than 20 people. “It is much easier to get a small group to a
Making field trips work for your chapter depends on choosing
the right trip for the audience and planning well. As Tiberi says,
“The easier it is to organize a trip, the more trips you can make!”