ACS Science Coaches—Success Stories
I would like to highlight the fact that previously I had not worked with high schools and their science curriculum, and that this program prompted me to do so. I have volunteered in many areas over the years, but this is the first time, at a high school level, discussing science. I learned from this experience how much I enjoyed the opportunity being a Science Coach afforded me. It was, well, fun.
My favorite part: I gave a presentation on laboratory safety to the science teachers at Ridgeview High School in which we discussed the expectations placed on employees in a laboratory at one of our chemical plants with regards to safety. We presented what the students were required to learn if they were hired into a laboratory with regards to safety and allowed the teachers to see and discuss our expectations. We presented the safety presentation our employees will receive, and it was great discussing safety at that level (something that I feel needs more emphasis in school). The teachers were very engaged in the topic, the presentation was well received, and I had a blast.
After being involved with the Science Coaches program, I hope to spend more of my volunteer efforts towards education going forward.
My favorite coaching experience was bringing the class in to visit the company where I work. The students really seemed to enjoy seeing HPLC equipment in action. We used HPLC to analyze biodiesel samples that the students prepared in the lab at their high school, and we shared the results with them during the visit. This gave them a lot more information about their samples than they could obtain from freezing point measurements and combustion analyses. It also helped to reinforce what they had learned in class about chemical structure and polarity.
My favorite science coaching experience this year was perhaps last week when we visited a local creek to perform water-quality monitoring, including the collection of aquatic chemistry and benthic macro invertebrate samples. Apart from some initial concern that we may not find many, we collected a wide range of different species and were able to identify them. The students were truly engaged and it was great to see such a large number of students interact so intimately with their local ecosystem.
I just wanted to say that this ACS initiative made a connection between me and a Middle/HS chemistry instructor that wouldn’t have come about any other way. My best experience, actually, involves connecting with a passionate and ambitious science teacher that mirrored the passionate and ambitious science teacher that launched my chemistry career 40 years ago!
I had (naively) hoped I would be the catalyst to spark a student’s interest in chemistry, but soon came to realize the students already had that catalyst!
I changed my focus from being there for the students directly to being there more to support their coach, their mentor, and their role model.
I’m still a catalyst and Science Coach, and the students still benefit from my involvement….and I get to work with a passionate and ambitious science teacher. Win-Win-Win situation!
My favorite science coaching experience this past school year was working with small groups of students (6 to 8) who did a series of experiments on single- and double-displacement reactions. These involved such simple reactions as dipping aluminum foil into a copper chloride solution and watching the aluminum change to copper as well as the reaction of silver nitrate with sodium chloride to form the white AgCl precipitate. They performed seven experiments, recorded their observations, and then we discussed the chemical reactions and balanced the equations. I also demonstrated a synthesis reaction by burning magnesium ribbon—always a big hit with 8th graders. This session was particularly enjoyable because with such small groups it is possible to get much more interaction among the students and with myself. I also had time to explain how some of these reactions are used in industry to make products they are familiar with.
I would definitely like you to know that Dr. John Perumattam has been very kind and helpful to me and my students. He has been helping me troubleshoot the AP Labs with the students. His knowledge is invaluable in helping students understand experimental error and especially instilling confidence in their lab work. He comfortably engages with our students during the lab, and I know my students look to him as a strong support in the challenge of their AP labs. Again, I thank the ACS and especially Dr. Perumattam.
My favorite science coach experience is how beautifully and seamlessly Dr. John Perumattam interacted with the students in our labs. He walked around and spoke to them so softly and carefully. He was able to put them at ease, taking their nervousness away about messing up the lab, and he made them feel at ease with a Ph.D. I am so happy he joined us this school year.
I think for me and my kids, the first time that they got to meet Wasiu was an interesting experience. They always want to know what it’s like to be from somewhere other than “here.” So when he got to share his life stories with them and was able to connect a real adventure in the purification of water on another continent, I think that got it!
I personally learned a lot from Wasiu. I have a biology degree, but over the past several years of teaching chemistry I have really learned to both enjoy and respect it. Wasiu helped me answer some of the more technical aspects of water purification and the Pur water powder system. We both enjoyed our time together and hope to continue our relationship for how many ever years he is in the states.
My coach was [a chemistry professor] and besides being a most enjoyable person, he showed exemplary concerns for ideas for teaching science to deaf children. My relished experience is the collaboration we had about priorities in teaching students to prepare them for the future, whether going to college or elsewhere. It is so important for collaboration to happen on a regular basis to keep teachers motivated and abreast of new ideas and other outlooks. I was encouraged because I was teaching the ‘right’ stuff and I was challenged to try some other approaches. I think it is A WONDERFUL PROGRAM! Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this.
I had a great experience with my science coach looking at water quality and testing. He works at a local company and his boss encourages educational outreach. He helped create a lab, and then came to perform the lab. I also met with other employees, and we are negotiating how to dispose of unwanted chemicals in the chemical stock room at my school; That, I think, has been the most educational and generous part of the partnership this year. The time and effort for the lab activity helped the students, but the time and effort to help me with disposal of chemicals in the stockroom has been an amazing benefit for my growth as a teacher and my knowledge about chemical safety. Teachers don't receive any chemical safety training and chemistry majors don't have to learn it in school. Chemical safety and disposal is definitely where I will be focusing my attention until I become competent in this area.
I am so excited to work with Cami and have a chemistry mentor. This program is amazing and having this type of support can only help me to improve my teaching and learning. This is my 9th year teaching chemistry and I feel like every year I am learning more and more! As a biology major I minored in chemistry, but teaching chemistry as a course has required me to learn so much more that what I remember from my few college classes. I also teach at a small rural school and am the only chemistry teacher. So again, thanks for this program so I am able to work with a professional who can help me to learn and grow as a teacher and offer that extra support when I need it!