ACS Science Coaches–Activity and Presentation Tips

The most common reason chemists become Science Coaches is they enjoy working with students. Students of all ages enjoy having guest presenters and will be interested more than usual during a classroom visit. When a science coach poses a question to a small group of students, the students are going to really think (and respond), and when their efforts are praised, they will feel they have what it takes to do science. By knowing students' developmental and education stage learn helps science coaches effectively interact
with students.

How Chemists Can Help

  • Suggest demonstrations
  • Help plan and present lessons
  • Prepare hands-on science experiences
  • Assist with student laboratory activities
  • Find or evaluate science resources
  • Write grants
  • Answer science questions from students
  • Provide career information
  • Bring in guest speakers
  • Assist with a special project
  • Tutor students
  • Help students conduct their own research
  • Advise an ACS High School ChemClub
  • Mentor a Science Olympiad Team

Teaching Strategies

Teachers use multiple strategies to manage classroom behavior. With guidance from the teacher, chemists may find the following strategies to be helpful:

  • Learn and use students’ names
  • Require students to raise their hands for permission to speak
  • Use a signal to get the group quiet quickly
  • Stop and wait for attention from all students before speaking; doing so will ensure that settles down and pays attention to the speaker
  • Give “thinking time” after you ask a question; resist filling in the silence
  • Use concrete examples that reflect students’ experiences
  • With elementary students, praise attentive and helpful behavior; publicly acknowledging good behavior will encourage others to behave
  • With middle and high school students, ask questions to individuals or small groups; sit in a chair or squat down beside students to get the most thoughtful responses

Common Chemistry Topics

Below are some examples of lesson topics science coaches may help explain. 


Topics vary from district to district and grade level.

  • Water
  • Matter and its changes
  • Chemical change
  • Classification
  • Designing and conducting experiments
  • Measuring
  • Recording data

Middle School

Students may learn chemistry only once between sixth and eighth grade or study it each academic year. 

  • States of matter
  • Density
  • Physical and chemical change
  • Atoms, molecules, and the periodic table
  • Covalent and ionic bonds
  • Acids and bases
  • Designing and conducting experiments
  • Using tools of science
  • Measuring
  • Representing data
  • Developing explanations based on evidence

High School Chemistry

Students may take several science courses that incorporate chemistry-related content, including:

  • Acids and bases
  • Atomic theory
  • Bonding
  • Equilibrium
  • Nuclear chemistry
  • Organic / biochemistry
  • Periodicity
  • Reactions
  • Solids, liquids and gases
  • Solutions
  • Stoichiometry
  • Thermochemistry

Developmental Traits

Elementary School Students

  • Enjoy being helpful
  • Respond well to praise
  • Need concrete experiences
  • Can either handle equipment or listen (they can’t do both at the same time)
  • Openly show appreciation and enthusiasm

Middle and High School Students

  • Get embarrassed easily
  • Do not want to volunteer to assist in front of peers
  • More likely to participate in small groups than with the whole class
  • Need concrete experiences to help understand abstract concepts
  • Want learning to be relevant to their lives
  • Need praise even though they may not appear to respond to it
  • May not show appreciation even though they feel it