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John Fortman

2007 Helen M. Free Award Winner

John Fortman, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Wright State University, is the recipient of the 2007 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach. With Rubin Battino, Fortman has produced a seven DVD set which contains ten hours of chemical demonstrations for use at middle school through college levels plus a live show and blooper outtakes. For over 30 years Fortman has performed chemistry demonstration outreach shows for middle and high school students in the Dayton area. In retirement, Fortman continues to inspire and fascinate over 8000 students each year with at least 17 shows.

He has done workshops on teaching and demonstrations around the country. He has designed alternative courses for general chemistry and chemistry for elementary education majors. His course for non-science students was cited as a model in the 1990 AAAS report on "The Liberal Art of Science: Agenda for Action". The alternative general chemistry course was developed while he was a member of the General Chemistry Task Force of the ACS Division of Chemical Education. The course has been characterized as being taught inside-out, upside-down, and backwards.

Dr. Fortman received his B. S. from the University of Dayton in 1961 and his Ph. D. in physical inorganic chemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1965.

Fortman’s interests include the use of analogies and videotaped material. John has been an ACS member since 1962 and was Councilor for the Dayton Local Section from 1996 to 2004. Since he became an ACS Tour Speaker in 1991 he has given over 310 section talks, visiting 163 of the 190 local sections while doing 65 tours including all 29 different tours at least once. He has presented in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

In 1998 he was appointed the Robert J. Kegerreis Distinguished Professor of Teaching and won seven teaching awards at Wright State University. In 1998 he received the CMA Catalyst Award for Outstanding Teaching of College Chemistry. He has published over 50 papers in chemical education in addition to his research publications. He retired in 2001 after 36 years of teaching freshman and inorganic chemistry.