The National Science Foundation has awarded the American Chemical Society a $1 million grant to communicate with the public about chemistry and its contributions to society. With the help of its members and other organizations, ACS plans to engage U.S. audiences through programs at science festivals and at elementary and middle schools during the International Year of Chemistry 2011 and beyond.
The grant “enables ACS efforts to sustain the momentum of IYC 2011,” says ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs. “Our members, committees, local sections, technical divisions, and our external IYC Partners—and their networks—will be vital to help the project be a success.”
ACS’s partnerships with the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists & Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), the Society for Advancement of Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) will help extend the program to nontraditional audiences, notes Bradley D. Miller, director of ACS’s Office of International Activities, who wrote the grant proposal with Terri M. Taylor, assistant director for K–12 education. ACS is also reaching out to other groups including 4-H, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and community service organizations.
For the school-based program, ACS is designing hands-on science kits that will be distributed for free to teachers in the fall. And ACS is working with the Science Festival Alliance to develop chemistry-related programming, including demonstrations and Science Cafés. Wherever members of the public interact with chemists, Taylor says, “we want them to walk away with an increased awareness and understanding of the contributions of chemistry to their well-being.”
The new program builds on the International Chemistry Celebration, which ACS launched in 1999 under the leadership of former ACS president Helen M. Free, Miller points out. Experience gained from that effort contributed to the society’s work on IYC 2011, which weaves into the new program. “This is not a one-off,” Miller says. “It has been building over the last 12 years.”