students excited about the sciences before they lose interest in
them. The experiments we do with the students often use household products and show the students that they are literally surrounded by chemistry and the sciences in general. This revelation
shows students that science is relevant and gets and keeps them
interested. I personally have used some of the experiments we do
with elementary students with my high school students just to
show them that chemistry is everywhere and to spark their interest. Our outreach program has taught me how important it is to
make science relevant and to get students, especially young ones,
interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math-ematics] fields.”
To encourage current classroom teachers to conduct hands-on
activities with their students, we provide each school with a copy
of Wonder Science. These books are available through the ACS
web store for about $45, and they provide more than 600 science experiments (requiring minimal equipment and expense)
that teachers can conduct with their classes. These experiments
include basic instruction on science concepts to help teachers
explain activities and procedures. Many teachers have praised the
book highly, saying it is an enormous and frequently used asset.
Some of the schools we have visited do not have a science text
for a particular grade; equipping them with Wonder Science is just
one way that we can help address this void.
Helping students develop skills for science is important, but
communication skills are also critical in scientists’ future careers.
Unfortunately, undergraduate and graduate faculty consistently
describe their respective students’ communications skills as weak.
We help address this concern (in a modest way) by offering an
essay contest that encourages elementary students to write on
topics such as “What do you enjoy about science?” and “What
did you enjoy about today’s experiments?” ACS student chapter
members review the papers to gauge and analyze each student’s
level of excitement, thoroughness, and writing style and then
reward the top students by contributing science kits to their
classes. The kits we use are donated to us by CHED and are also
available by way of the ACS online store, as well as through sev-
eral other online retailers.
It’s worth noting that these are not “one and done” events.
Follow-ups that provide each school with resources, conversations,
and competitions are critical to outreach success.
Help with funding
Although we have been incredibly fortunate in many aspects,
accomplishing and funding these activities with only a small
group of volunteers is a challenge. We are lucky to have a strong
alumni base and active community members whose generosity
exceeds expectations. Stakeholders, like Dow Chemical Company, who have a vested interest in the education level of the
future workforce here in the Kanawha Valley, have supported
our efforts generously. These donors, in conjunction with money
our members raise through fundraising activities, allow us to
provide these much-needed services to local school systems at
The effect that we have in our local schools is best summed up
by those working in the schools. Principal Barbara Black notes, “The
partnership established between WVSU and my school has not
only inspired students with hands-on experiments and exhilarating
demonstrations but has also kindled a fire in my teachers about
Together with community and university support, the cur-
rent and former members of WVSU’s ACS student chapter work
together to affect, encourage, and inspire tomorrow’s scientists
as they find their passion.
Micheal W. Fultz is an assistant professor of chemistry and the
ACS student chapter advisor at West Virginia State University.
ABOVE: A young student helps with the elephant toothpaste demonstration.
RIGHT: Member Katie Poole displays her National Lab Day button. Each year, the WVSU chapter
takes part in community activities celebrating National Lab Day.