Mamoun M. Bader has lectured to university students and given scientific talks to large audiences at conferences for years. What the associate professor of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, Hazelton, found much more challenging was trying to explain molecules to his son's second-grade class. But he also found that experience much more
He's not alone. Volunteers say they get a lot of personal satisfaction out of sharing their expertise with the public and helping to demystify science, says Mary Kirchhoff, director of the Education Division at the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN.
Professional scientific societies, including ACS, offer assistance to members like Bader who want to get involved with informal chemistry education activities. ACS has several programs to help chemical scientists bring the excitement of chemistry to the public via ACS local sections, student affiliate chapters, and divisions.
The ACS Office of Community Activities coordinates two annual events. Held each fall, National Chemistry Week is ACS's largest annual public outreach event for communicating the importance of chemistry to everyday life. And every spring, chemists can help emphasize the positive role that chemistry plays in the world by getting involved with Chemists Celebrate Earth Day.
Kids & Chemistry, a year-round program that helps bring science experiences to elementary and middle school children, is run by the Education Division (C&EN, May 5, page 52). Through the program, "members are helping kids learn and love science," says Patricia Galvan, an education specialist at ACS. She adds that two new kits to plan activities for kids—including safety checklists and tips on how to explain science to young audiences—are now available from ACS via the Web, and more will come in 2009.
For more information on all of these programs, go to www.acs.org/education.