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Richard Sunberg received the 1996 Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach. Sunberg was cited for his many unique contributions and dedication to public education and community service. His efforts center around his passion to take the fun and excitement of chemistry to students and the public through chemistry "magic" shows, demonstrations, science fairs, laboratory tours, and science contests. For several years he organized a science contest for elementary school children through the local ACS section. This has involved and engaged thousands of students. In 1990, he arranged for President George Bush to greet the contest winners and their teachers at a memorable event at the Cincinnati Airport.
At last count, Sunberg’s chemistry "magic" shows, with the help of many volunteers, had been presented to thousands of K-16 students since 1983. He has donated his evenings, weekends and vacations to this activity to help students who might otherwise never experience chemistry. He has given chemistry presentations at schools, colleges, universities, libraries, churches, hotel lobbies, museums, science centers, family gatherings, ACS workshops, and senior citizen centers.
Mr. Sunberg was recognized as the inaugural recipient of the American Chemical Society Technician of the Year Award in 1989. He played a significant role in the establishment of the Division of Chemical Technicians of the ACS and is a charter member of that Division. Sunberg was active in the NCCTA and CTA from 1978 until his retirement. The Division of Chemical Technicians was a result of these two committees on technician activities that were established in 1969.
Mr. Sunberg demonstrated his dedication to science education for grade school students by donating his cash award to science education programs through Miami University's Partners for Terrific Science Program.