ACS Science Coaches–FAQ

Questions Chemists Ask

What is the time commitment for the chemist?
We ask that a chemist commit to six school visits throughout the academic year. We recommend that each visit takes approximately one class period or one hour.

Outside of the classroom, science coaches spend time preparing for their school visit. Additional time may be spent preparing for presentations, answering teacher questions, or identifying demonstrations. It is up to each chemist to decide how much time to devote to planning and preparation. 

Can I be a science coach for more than one teacher?
Unfortunately, no. It is best to limit yourself to one teacher. Similarly, only one donation can be given per chemist. 

Can a school have more than one science coach? 
Sure. When there is more than one science coach at a school, ACS donates $500 per partnership. Each teacher may team with only one science coach. 

The teacher has asked me to work with all 150 of her students. How can I reasonably limit this request?
This level of assistance is beyond the scope of the Science Coaches program! 

Here are some tips to help set reasonable limits and expectations.

  • Meet with a different group of students during every visit. Each appearance may be at a different time or on a different day. 
  • Present to only one class of students throughout the year, perhaps those in a chemistry or environmental science course.
  • Assist with a particular project such as preparing for a science fair or Science Olympiad.
  • Become an advisor to the after-school science club.
  • Tutor small groups of students.
  • Spend all of the visits planning with the teacher. 
What can a science coach do to help a teacher?
See our suggestions for popular ways to assist a teacher.

As a science coach, will I need to document my activities and visits?
There is no need for you to keep a log of your visits. Fill out the two short surveys—one mid-way through the school year and the other at the end of the school year—to tell us about your experiences.  

Is it a competitive process to be accepted into the Science Coaches program?
Not really. There is a two-part application, which both you and the teacher submit. As long as your motivation and plans align with the mission of the science coaches program, it is very likely that the partnership will be accepted into the program. Space available for coaches fluctuates annually, and there is a rolling admissions process.

Hint: Applications for the 2014-15 academic year open June 2, 2014. Improve your chances of being accepted by completing your application as early as possible. Applications will be no longer accepted once we have reached the requisite number of partnerships or after October 30, 2014.

Do I need a consent form to work with students?
The school may require this, however ACS does not. Each school district has a unique protocol to follow. Some schools do require background checks and fingerprints.

Where does the donation go?
Schools participating in Science Coaches receive from ACS $500 per chemist-teacher partnership. This check is made out to the school and mailed to the school address. The teacher should follow individual school accountability procedures.  

What can the money be used for?
The $500 donation may be used in any way that improves students’ science learning experiences. Some popular ways to spend the money include purchasing equipment, science supplies, and field trips. In addition to tangible items, it is acceptable to use the donation to supplement fees teachers may accrue when attending a professional conference. 

This program seems too easy. Are there any additional requirements for teachers and science coaches? 
We try to make participation as easy as possible! Simply complete three short online forms: application, along with one mid-year survey and one year-end survey. Teachers are asked to gather signatures and school information in order to receive a donation to the school. Other than that, any time devoted to the program is spent planning and enhancing science education.

Questions Teachers Ask

How much extra time will this take?
Upon acceptance, teachers are asked to complete two short surveys and documentation forms. In order to receive the donation, teachers complete and return papers stating school official approval of program participation. 

Additionally, time is spent integrating the chemist volunteer into lesson plans.  Figuring out how to do this takes time, and teachers overwhelmingly believe that the energy spent is well worth it. 

Can a teacher mentor another teacher as an ACS Science Coach?
No, a teacher cannot be an ACS Science Coach for another teacher. However, retired high school chemistry teachers and post-secondary educators are encouraged to become science coaches for elementary, middle, or high school teachers.

Is this program for new teachers or those with a great deal of experience teaching science?
Teachers at all levels of experience can benefit by having a science coach. 

  • New teachers find it a wonderful help to have an extra set of hands and someone to answer content questions. 
  • Experienced teachers also appreciate the added assistance. Moreover, seasoned teachers may  better integrate another professional into their planning. Bonus: experienced teachers are often viewed as the science person at their school and frequently share their learning with other teachers. 

How do I have a successful partnership with my science coach?
As a science coach, the chemist agrees to assist the teacher to enhance students’ science learning experiences. To make the most of the chemist’s skills, we strongly recommend communicating with the science coach about expectations and classroom roles of the coach prior to committing to the program.

Not all coaches may be familiar with speaking to children. To help them adapt, teachers can give advice about developmentally appropriate content, and ways to positively motivate and speak with students.