Miami University Middletown Chemistry Education & Career Day
We began planning our Chemistry Education & Career Day before the grant proposal was submitted in July. By October, we had contacted area high school teachers and lined up our guest speakers. The event date (April 12) was chosen by December in order to secure rooms on campus and have plenty of time to organize the details of the day and obtain supplies. We communicated frequently with the high school teachers and guest speakers via email.
A detailed agenda was distributed to all participants and served as everyone's guide to the day. Each student was preassigned to the lab experiments, which facilitated smooth transitions and minimized confusion. Each lab was instructed by a faculty member from Miami Middletown with assistance from our guest speakers (who had also volunteered to help).
We arranged for a catered box lunch, during which the speaker presentations and the door prize drawings were held. An informal survey of the high school faculty and our guest speakers was conducted afterwards and provided useful suggestions for the planning of future events.
- Four local schools participated, bringing in a total of 100 students (number of students was limited by laboratory safety regulations).
- Follow-up survey with participating schools and guests was very positive regarding the variety, organization, and execution of the experiments in that they were well-designed for students to experience college-level labs.
Most successful aspect
The most successful aspect of our project was how much the event was enjoyed by all participants. It was well-organized and ran very smoothly. We received unsolicited, same-day feedback from several of the high school teachers including the following, "Thank you for putting together such a fun and informative experience! My students had nothing but good things to say about their day at Miami. Please extend my sincere thank you to all involved in making this such a successful day. I know a tremendous amount of work was involved in making things run so smoothly! I hope that this is a program that will be available to students in the future! Thanks again - it was great."
Tips for similar projects
Our event worked well because of advance planning and shared responsibilities. We also were fortunate to have enthusiastic participants including our faculty and staff, our guest speakers, and the high school faculty and students. Many of our campus departments (acknowledged in the agenda) provided support for the event, as well.
Additional feedback from schools and presenters included the following suggestions (1) schedule informal "round-table" discussion time for students to talk with our speakers, (2) schedule some speakers at the beginning of the event and others at the end to address student "attention fatigue," (3) include more details about the curriculum for college chemistry/biochemistry majors, and (4) expand the discussion of career options to include medical/dental/veterinary and professional schools.
We plan to repeat this event next year.