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ACS Needs You!

by Cheryl B. Frech
December 10, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 50

Cheryl B. Frech, Chair, ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communications.
Credit: Daniel Smith/U of Central Oklahoma
This is a mug of Cheryl B. Frech, Chair, ACS Committee on Public Relations and Communications.
Credit: Daniel Smith/U of Central Oklahoma

Why don’t more people volunteer? The answer, say some authorities, is simple: No one ever asked them.

So let me be right up front about why I’m writing this article: I’m asking you to volunteer.

To take some liberty with the well-known recruiting poster, “ACS Needs You!” Specifically, we need you to help children learn about chemistry.

Before you say, “I don’t have time” or “I’m not good at teaching chemistry to kids,” let me assure you that I’m not asking you to do more than visit the American Chemical Society’s website and then offer a teacher or two in your community’s schools some free ACS resources they can use in their classrooms. If your time is limited, you could just send them a link to the materials, which they can easily download at no cost. Of course, if you decide you want to do more, we can use all the help we can get.

Since the ACS Chemistry Ambassadors program was launched in 2009, more than 7,000 members have volunteered to help educate people about the importance of chemistry. One initiative of the program is to provide K–12 teachers with free ACS classroom resources they can use to teach students about the excitement, wonder, and capabilities that chemistry offers.

Getting youngsters interested in and excited about chemistry might inspire some to pursue chemistry as a profession. Most of us would agree that we will need fresh faces in the chemistry pipeline if we want our country to be competitive in tomorrow’s global marketplace. Each of us can do our part by helping teachers gain access to the excellent ACS education resources that can get children energized about chemistry and science.

Members who have helped distribute these materials are effusive in their praise; so too are the teachers who use the materials. Here are just a few of their comments:

How You Can Help

Chemistry Ambassadors:

Students 2 Science:

Chementhusiasts discussion group:

YouTube video messages:

Chemistry Ambassadors’ Facebook page:

“As an ambassador, I eagerly waited for my Jiggle Gel kits to arrive and watched with delight as the students explored polymers and their properties.”

Angela Ellston, primary school teacher, Tasmania, Australia

“I am an ACS Chemistry Ambassador. Last summer ACS sent me the rainbow chemistry experiment packages to use in my daughter’s classroom. Prior to my classroom presentation, I explained the ACS chemistry program and experiments at a parent-teacher organization meeting. The parents and teachers were excited about the opportunity but wanted to know if I could present the experiment to the school’s other fourth-grade class as well. I agreed and presented the experiments to both classes, which consisted of approximately 60 enthusiastic students. This is a great program that ACS offers.”

William A. Ayling, Integrated Science LLC, Liverpool, N.Y.

“In New Jersey we have over 200 volunteers at Students 2 Science. They conduct daylong laboratory experiences with youngsters from economically distressed school districts. We reach more than 2,000 students a year. It is a great opportunity for Chemistry Ambassadors to interact with our youth and make a difference. We have a discussion group, Chementhusiasts, on the ACS Network and locally at where teachers and chemistry professionals can learn about each other’s needs and the resources ACS offers.”

William H. Suits, Chemistry Ambassador, Bedminster, N.J.

“Around 24 years ago, my husband and I began taking our daughter to ‘chemistry day’ at the Kalamazoo Public Library. We had a great time. The activities really enriched our lives. We began subscribing to WonderScience and used to invite the neighbor kids in to do science experiments featured in the magazine. We had loads of fun, and the entire neighborhood of children learned lots more science than they might have without your inspiration. As a former teacher, I know what it means to learn years later that your work made a difference. Thank you.”

Jennifer Tice, Three Rivers, Mich.

Like the 7,000 Chemistry Ambassadors, I hope you will be able to share a little of your time to help kids in your area learn about chemistry. Visit our website to learn more about the many ways you can help. Once you do, we’d like you to tell us about your experiences. E-mail us at, and let us know how things went. Also, check out some of the YouTube video messages from ACS members who have volunteered as Chemistry Ambassadors. Additionally, you can follow outreach events on Facebook and join in discussions on the ACS Network Chemistry Ambassadors page.

I know some people who are asked to volunteer are skeptical. They wonder whether they can really make a difference. To that I would say, ask some of the people who have taken the time to volunteer as Chemistry Ambassadors. I think their collective answer will be abundantly clear: Yes, you can!

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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