Do you remember what sparked your love for chemistry?
Perhaps your enthusiasm originated in elementary school, when a visiting scientist presented an exhilarating demonstration. Or maybe a high school chemistry teacher noticed your facility with the subject and took a special interest in developing your talent.
Chemists of the future are likely to look back fondly on one such educator: Michelle M. Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School, in Ijamsville, Md., who is the 2011 National Teacher of the Year (C&EN, May 16, page 3).
Shearer credits her relationship with her students for much of her success. “My recognition of the power of human connection seems to have the most profound effect on my students’ achievement, especially those who doubt their ability to succeed in challenging college-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses,” Shearer said when the Council of Chief State School Officers announced her selection.
That same commitment to personal interaction with students distinguishes the four high school science teachers whom Senior Editor Linda Wang profiles in the first article in C&EN’s Back to School feature package. These dedicated teachers work magic in the classroom despite having few resources at hand.
Next, Senior Editor Susan J. Ainsworth chronicles the experiences of volunteer coaches who visit local schools to lend support to teachers as they introduce their students to chemistry.
In the final story of the series, Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley examines efforts to revise the Advanced Placement chemistry curriculum and exam to enhance students’ grasp of the material.
We hope these stories will provide inspiration as you work to overcome challenges associated with chemistry education in your own school district.