Marcia L. Gillette
Dr. Marcia L. Gillette is an adjunct senior lecturer in chemistry at Indiana University Kokomo who takes her passion for chemistry outreach into the classroom. Gillette’s volunteerism is fueled by her desire to give back to the education community in honor of several educators who inspired her to become a chemist and those who taught her children.
Born to a family of educators, Gillette was motivated to excel academically. When she was raising her own kids, she became involved in the local school system. Now an ACS Science Coach, Gillette partners with a respected peer and sixth grade teacher, Jan Koloszar, who is a close friend from her long involvement with the schools.
When she visits a local elementary school, Gillette works to boost students’ confidence on difficult science concepts, including hypothesis formation and multiple determinations. To advance their analytical skills and patience, she administers a data-collecting experiment with popcorn, complete with a flawed hypothesis. Students collect, analyze, and criticize Gillette’s experimental design and assumptions to learn ways to improve confidence when conducting experiments.
As an ACS Science Coach, Gillette works closely with Mrs. Koloszar, asking her what topics she would like the students to learn. Together they prepare hands-on activities to help students comprehend science concepts. The mutual respect and clear communication between the two allows Gillette to cater her visits to meet the needs of Koloszar’s classes, so the students get the most out of every Science Coach visit.
Sharing her knowledge with students enhances science education and allows students to learn concepts beyond rigorous standards and tests. Teachers are able to supplement hands-on activities to expand students’ minds, and students are able to relate science concepts to everyday scenarios.
Why she does it:
When asked why she became an ACS Chemistry Ambassador, Gillette said, “I realize that in my own life, teachers impacted me as role models. They demonstrated not only a love for and curiosity about science, but also a strong work ethic, high standards, and an enthusiasm for learning. I strongly believe that the best way for me to say ‘thank you’ to them is to pay it forward, and try to do for young people now what they did for me so many years ago.”
Advice to those considering becoming ACS Science Coaches:
Gillette believes that the ACS Science Coaches program is a positive and rewarding experience for all participants. “It’s a win-win for everyone involved: the students, the teacher, and most of all, the Science Coach!” she says.
Interviewed July 2014.
ACS Science Coaches
ACS Science Coaches are chemistry professionals who share their expertise and enthusiasm for science with an elementary, middle, or high school teacher over the course of one school year.