Sam and Sumita Mitra
Drs. Sam and Sumita Mitra are a husband and wife team who are passionate about sharing chemistry knowledge with students throughout the state of Minnesota. Retired chemists from 3M, the duo work in multiple schools as ACS Science Coaches to educate students about chemistry in everyday life.
Sam Mitra frequently assists science teachers in the greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. His goal is to show high school students how science and chemistry make a difference in their lives. Sam describes how chemistry is used to create products many students may take for granted, provides career advice about science jobs, and discusses the relevance of chemistry in world affairs.
Equally devoted to sharing chemistry with students, Sumita Mitra travels more than 120 miles to volunteer as an ACS Science Coach in a rural Minnesota school. Sumita is a fan of conducting hands-on activities with students, and loves to show them how chemistry is used in everyday life. As a scientist at 3M, Sumita developed dental filling materials and adhesives, a highly-technical subject but one that translates well to the classroom. The students quickly grasp the basic science of dental fillings as Sumita explains the chemical process. In particular, they enjoy applying their newfound knowledge by creating filings for cow's teeth.
“The students appreciated learning how much chemistry is involved in the creation of almost everything they use in their daily lives—from cosmetics to dental fillings,” says Sumita.
Why they do it:
When asked why they chose to become ACS Science Coaches, the Mitras shared that a driving force of their volunteerism is the desire to personally contribute to communities in positive ways. Sumita says, “The enthusiasm and sense of achievement that the students display certainly makes my day.”
Advice to those considering becoming ACS Science Coaches:
From showing students how ordinary objects are manufactured with chemistry, to explaining chemistry in abstract scenarios, the Mitras believe volunteerism in schools is a way to increase the exposure of science careers to students. Overall, their dedication as ACS Science Coaches is to “make science more interesting and exciting for young people,” says Sam.
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.