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Local Section Best Practices

The following local section activities have been selected as examples of innovation and collaboration. Use these as guides to spark a creative activity for your own local section.

Girls in Science Event

Richland Local Section

Event Description: “Girls in Science,” in its 9th year, is a key event held at Eastern Oregon University (EOU). It has vast exposure in Eastern Oregon, continues to draw a large crowd, and is the crown of NCW and D&I activities for the Section. With help from over 60 volunteers, including ACS Richland and student members, faculty and staff at EOU and support of multiple community organizations, the event served 100+ girls in grades 6-8. We continue to draw particularly from small, isolated communities where schools have limited STEM resources and cannot provide adequate exposure to experimental sciences. Participants often travel several hours to reach EOU for the event. What keeps this event fresh for students are the different theme and activities each year.

“Is this an alien attack?” was the question posed this year, in support of the NCW theme “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry!” The techno-thriller novel Andromeda Strain was the inspiration for the interdisciplinary curriculum developed by a team of anthropology, mathematics, computer technology, biology and chemistry experts who engaged the girls in finding out whether the sudden death of a Halloween party guest was due to an alien attack. With help from a forensic anthropologist, three identical crime scenes were set up, with EOU students playing suspicious party-goers in unusual alien costumes.

Working in teams, the girls collected specimens from the party, with access to Geiger counters to measure radioactivity that aliens could emit. Later, they conducted experiments in labs to find out presence of bacteria, molds, or toxic chemicals that could have contaminated the water or lead in paint chips found around food items. Math activities and graphing, along with computer simulations, were also included. Specific chemistry activities revolved around analyzing household items for presence of toxic compounds. E.g., party guests appeared to have eaten food contaminated with chips scraped from an adjacent wall. They collected paint chips and, using potassium iodide on dilute solutions simulating solutions from digestion of the chips, tested for presence of lead.

Other guests appeared to have drunk different types of bottled water, so the girls tested different water samples for nitrites. Also, they detected presence of radioactivity in orange Fiestaware. This gave an opportunity to educate about radioactive sources and decay and to conduct a graphing activity about the exponential decay of the source as function of distance. Biology activities complemented chemistry with tests on respiratory volume, microscope investigations of bugs and mold collected by swab at the party scene, and dissecting sheep hearts.

The day concluded with each team reporting findings to a direct representative of President Obama so that the US could be placed on “red alert” in case of a real alien attack! Each team demonstrated great ability to reach conclusions from experimental evidence and to synthesize information.

The day was a testimony that real learning occurs when young people are engaged and their interest and creativity are stimulated. There was no canned solution to the case; the solution was left open-ended to empower each group and honor the good work that each had contributed. The Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center played a big role in organizing and advertising the event to 20 different counties in Oregon. Girls received lunch, a booklet outlining the hands-on activities, a t-shirt and the ACS NCW badge.

Event Partners (ACS): EOU Student Members
Event Partners (Non ACS):
Multiple university and community
Estimated Number of Volunteers:
60 (15 Members, 45 Non-members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
125 (15 Members 15, 110 Public)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):

Sustainability Fair in Oswego Event

Syracuse Local Section

Event Description: The Sustainability Fair was a great success! More than 600 people from Oswego, Onondaga, Jefferson, and Cayuga Counties learned about green products and services provided by 49 vendors and 6 exhibitors. There was a constant flow of people coming to the SUNY Oswego Campus Arena on April 21: students from 4 to 6 pm and community members from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The GM fuel cell car was available for test-driving from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. Many of our visitors also attended two seminars given by Daniel O’Connell, GM director of global field service, support and infrastructure. NYSERDA representative Chris Carrick’s table was also a big hit. Fairgoers learned that they can save more than 50% in federal and state grants and receive 2010 tax breaks on their investments into renewable energy systems. Vendors providing various types of solar, geothermal, and wind power and home-improvement/green construction services were there to compete for our guests’ attention. Organic farmers and organic health food store representatives provided information on obtaining certified organic produce year-long as well on educational and volunteer opportunities. Utility mats and flexible pavements made of used tires and a Hybrid Motorcycle-Car received everyone’s thumbs up. This dream car was created by a father and son team of inventors: Robert Talamo Sr. and Robert Talamo Jr. Robert Junior is a chemistry graduate of SUNY Oswego who works as a high school teacher. A wood-to-gas truck provided by the SUNY Oswego technology department, an electric sports car, a Prius, a Honda hybrid, and a tiny metro cruiser from Smart Car were also exhibited at the fair. The fair was organized on the university’s annual Quest Day - a celebration of student and faculty research and creativity. Hundreds of presentations were given during the day and a symposium on sustainable living and a panel discussion of how each person can contribute to saving energy and protecting the environment were attended by many of our fairgoers. The event was also a great place for networking; the list of businesses working toward achieving sustainability became much longer and our vendors had the opportunity to join a newly formed coalition – Sustainable Upstate Network.

Navigating the New Employment Landscape

Georgia Local Section

Event Description: “Navigating the New Employment Landscape”, funded by an ACS Innovative Program Grant and organized by Georgia section members Deborah Sauder, Lynn Sullivan and Deanna Hall, was held at the Cobb Galleria Center on November 4, 2010. This professional development program was created to give unemployed and underemployed chemists direct access to hiring managers and personnel professionals for a day of structured activities designed to motivate the participants and support them in improving their credentials (resumes) and interviewing skills. Fourteen job seekers spent the day in a series of formal and informal sessions with representatives from seven Atlanta companies, and a panel of four senior managers. “Navigating the New Employment Landscape” was spectacularly successful, meeting the expectations of every attendee, and resulted in two participants being hired into permanent, full-time positions by a participating employer within 6 weeks of the event.

Estimated Number of Volunteers: 3 (all members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
35 (15 members, 20 public)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):

YCC 2nd Annual Poster Mixer 2010

Milwaukee Local Section

Event Description: This event began in 2009 with funding from an IPG. We were solicited in 2009 to form a LS YCC and chose to get the younger members of our section involved through transforming one local section meeting to focus on these members. In 2010, this happened with the October meeting as the 2nd Annual YCC Poster Mixer. At this event, there were presentations from all areas of chemistry, with both graduate and undergraduate students presenting from a variety of area universities and colleges. New to this event this year were poster awards made possible through a grant from the ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses SCHB and a plenary address by Douglas Arion of Carthage College. We targeted attendees from local high schools by including an invitation in the annual NCW mailing. We had an NCW booth with poster winners and handouts for all attendees with a special gift for high school students and teachers. In addition to the over 70 members who attended (with an average attendance at a monthly meeting of 50), we also had approximately 10 nonmembers. Other support was provided by McGraw-Hill Publishing.

Event Partners (ACS): ACS Division of Small Chemical Businesses SCHB
Event Partners (Non ACS):
McGraw-Hill Publishers
Estimated Number of Volunteers:
10 (all members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
80 (70 members, 10 public)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):

Hospitality and Membership

Santa Clara Valley Local Section

Event Description: The primary function of this committee is to contact and welcome new members to the section. We also invite them to participate in our many activities. New members are welcomed by letter and their names are mentioned in the newsletter. To encourage them to become active, we invite them to attend a dinner meeting as a guest of the section. To encourage our local student members, they are offered a free dinner each month. San Jose State University students attend on a fairly regular basis. The success of this idea depends on the student advisor ‘getting the word out’ to his affiliate group. Mid-way through the year, the executive committee decided to extend a 50% discount for the cost of the dinner to members who are currently unemployed. We have always done that for our 50 year members. Part of the responsibilities of this committee that has developed over the years has been to arrange the location and menus for the monthly meetings. We are fortunate to have a centrally located hotel that provides a free meeting room with the purchase of our dinners. Having the meetings at the same place gives some continuity to the programs, because the meeting dates have changed. Having the same meeting day/date each month has improved the attendance a little. The Summer Awards, wine tasting, and catered dinner that is held on the Stanford campus is always our most popular event and is fun to organize. The primary function of this committee is to contact and welcome new members to the section. New members are welcomed by letter and their names are mentioned in the newsletter. To encourage them to become active, we invite them to attend a dinner meeting as a guest of the section. To encourage our local student members, they are offered a free dinner each month. This committee contacts and welcomes new members. They are welcomed by letter and in the newsletter. To become active, they are invited to attend an event as a guest of the section. Our student members are offered a free dinner each month.

Estimated Number of Volunteers: 3 (all members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
5 (all members)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):

Careers in Chemistry for High School Students

Nashville Local Section

Event Description: In 2010, the Nashville Section organized several high school outreach events that targeted minority students, women, and under-privileged youth in the community, with primary focus on their professional and career development. Activities included Celebrate Chemistry Day, poster sessions, Chemical Jeopardy (chemistry quiz), chemistry demonstrations (reactions producing vivid colors and fluorescence, such as Silver Mirror Reaction, Blue Bottle Reaction, Oscillating Reaction, Quick Gold, etc.), laboratory safety, and career information. Several sponsors were recruited to provide information about educational programs, career options, and job opportunities. The Section partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools, college students, faculty, and industry representatives with the preparation of informational posters, college tours, and various other activities for high school students and teachers. Career booths included networking, job hunting information, and career mentoring. Several high school students and teachers were introduced to the Nashville Section and the ACS. Over 200 high school students and teachers from Middle Tennessee participated. Through “Careers in Chemistry for High School Students,” the Section effectively reached a wide and diverse audience (including chemists and non-chemists), highlighted research and technical activities, and provided valuable information about career programs in academia and industry. The event was assisted by more than 30 section volunteers. Tennessee State University, Tennessee Scholars (a division of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce), Vanderbilt University, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, Lipscomb University, and local scientists from Environmental Sciences Corporation and Aegis Sciences Corporation collaborated to present demonstrations and hands-on activities for high school students and teachers. The Nashville Section continues its efforts to provide high school outreach efforts to recruit high school students into the ACS student affiliates group, provide professional and career development information to high school students, and help them transition from high school to college and higher education.

Event Partners (ACS): Tennessee State University, Tennessee Scholars, Vanderbilt University, Lipscomb University, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University.
Event Partners (Non ACS):
Environmental Sciences Corporation, Aegis Sciences Corporation
Estimated Number of Volunteers:
46 (32 members, 14 Non-members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
250 (100 members, 150 public)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):

95th Anniversary Picnic-Innovation Grant

Virginia Local Section

Event Description: A picnic honoring the 95th anniversary of the chartering of the Virginia Section in 1915 was held on Saturday June 12, 2010 at R. Garland Dodd Park at Point of Rocks in Chester, VA. Attending were thirty-five Virginia Section members, their families, members of the public and guests. The event started with John Coe, a master naturalist from the Chesterfield Parks & Recreation department, giving a short presentation on the history of the park and then a nature walk along the boardwalk path through the tidal marsh. Following lunch, student volunteers from the John Tyler Community College chemistry club led several hands-on science activities for children, including film canister rockets and butterfly chromatography. Attendance was 35, including 9 children. This was a good turnout for the event, comparable to attendance seen at the section's dinner meetings. About half of those who attended the event were either ACS members new to the Virginia Section or non- ACS members and their families. The other half of the attendees were Virginia section members who are regularly involved in section activities and their families. Unused paper goods from the picnic were donated to the John Tyler Community College chemistry club, and left over food was donated to the Central Virginia Food bank and Cub Scout Pack 2842.

Estimated Number of Volunteers: 6 (3 members, 3 non-members)
Estimated Number of Attendees:
35 (20 members, 15 public)
Estimated Total Cost (USD):