Chemistry Public Engagement
Both faculty members and students in the Department of Chemistry are active in bringing an understanding and an enthusiasm for chemistry to the adjoining communities. Listed below are some of the projects in which they participate.
The REACT Program is a civic engagement program offered by the School of Chemical Sciences and the Department of Chemistry that began in Fall 2002. It has grown into the largest outreach program of its kind at UIUC. Through the dedication and innovations of the undergraduate staff, the program continues to expand, delivering a variety of programs to many different facets of the communities in East Central Illinois. REACT enlists nearly 400 volunteers per semester to visit every grade school within a 30 mile radius of campus. The mission is to promote hands-on learning of chemistry with local youngsters. REACT also works with groups like the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, the Girl Scouts, and, the Champaign home-schooling groups. Last semester alone the REACT Program reached over 3,000 youngsters!
An annual day camp held each summer for girls in 5th through 8th grade to promote interest in science. Activities and experiments include using science to make art and toys, investigating the earth and environment, exploring the chemistry of food and decorating t-shirts. Supported by ACS and Illinois Chemistry.
The Department of Chemistry has participated in hosting the Illinois Science Olympiad in many past years. Graduate student volunteers design and judge events at the regional and state middle and high school competitions. Approximately 1500 students from 50 schools participate in these one-day competitions.
Project SEARCH (Science Education and Research for Children)
Groups of 2 to 3 UIUC students enrolled in CHEM 199S develop lesson plans and decide with the elementary school teachers what subjects to teach. They visit Urbana or Champaign classrooms 2 hours a week for a semester. This class targets K-5 classrooms.
The Orpheum Children's Science Museum offers the Weekend Wizards program every Saturday afternoon. Programs are free for children who are members of the museum, and cover topics ranging from the stars to recycling. Students and organizations at the University of Illinois participate in providing these programs. For more information, click the link above to visit the Orpheum Children's Science Museum Weekend Wizards website!
Encouraging Tomorrow's Chemists (ETC)
ETC collaborates with the Urbana Middle School faculty. UIUC graduate student volunteers prepare and direct three labs that explore with the students the nature of matter and the special chemistry of chemiluminescence and polymers. Approximately 350 students from 13 science classes participate in this three-day event.