2012 Helen M. Free Award Winner
For a lifetime of sharing the excitement of science with audiences of all ages—in the classroom and beyond—retired teacher Ron Perkins of Naples, Fla., was named as the 2012 winner of the American Chemical Society’s Helen M. Free Award for his achievements and outreach in the field of chemistry.
Perkins, a longstanding member of ACS, worked as a high school chemistry teacher in New Hampshire and Connecticut for 33 years. While in Connecticut, he served as Science Facilitator for Greenwich High School, leading a 15-member team of chemistry and physics staff to enhance science education. He has lived in Naples since his retirement in 2010.
His outreach efforts, however, have extended far beyond his teaching career. In 1994, Perkins founded Educational Innovations, Inc., a company that provides teachers with the necessary documents and supplies for science demonstrations. He served as the CEO of Educational Innovations, Inc., for 16 years.
A firm believer in hands-on learning, Perkins has presented more than 800 chemical demonstration sessions in 39 states. Several of these sessions were held at ACS National Meetings.
His passion for outreach encouraged both students and colleagues alike to share the world of chemistry with others. Perkins’ Advanced Placement chemistry students frequently presented on chemistry-related topics at local elementary schools.
Perkins’ success as a teacher was further emphasized by the success of his students. For example, one young woman he taught was the first female on the U.S. team for the International Chemistry Olympiad.
In 1982, Perkins suggested the way to improve chemical education was by funding summer teacher workshops. His idea inspired the creation of the Dreyfus/Woodrow Wilson Summer Institute and later led to his position at the Institute of Chemical Education where he assisted in designing teacher workshops.
Perkins was recognized in Philadelphia at the 244th ACS National Meeting & Exposition.