Message from the Chair, George Bodner, Spring 2012

The start of the new year marked a transition in my life as I began my term as chair of the ACS Division of Chemical Education. Before doing anything else, I would like to acknowledge the contributions that Arlene Russell has made to DivCHED, not only as chair of the Division for 2011, but as a long-term member of our Executive Committee.

According to the most recent eRoster, the Division has 5,319 members. Most (75%) are regular members; less than 5% are emeritus members. Just over 7% of the total are regular student members, and almost the same number are undergraduate student members. By far, the largest percentage of these individuals (27%) have been members for only one year. I chose to start my comments with these data to emphasize the importance of new members to the activities of the Division. They are literally the lifeblood of our efforts to promote the teaching and learning of chemistry.

The importance of involving new members in the activities of the Division might be emphasized by reflecting on a statistic discussed at the ACS Leadership Institute in Fort Worth last month: Less than 10% of the membership of the Society attends one of the national meetings. So the question becomes: What are you doing for the other 90%?

I believe DivCHED does far more for the 90% than most ACS divisions. Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Journal of Chemical Education, which serves the long-term needs of individuals interested in chemical education, not only in the U.S., but across the globe. In addition to programs the Division hosts at national meetings and regional ACS meetings, we have a long-standing tradition of biennial conferences that focus on the challenges of teaching and learning chemistry. The ACS Exams Institute hosted by the Division provides standardized exams and other assessment materials, as well as study guides for students who will be taking ACS Exams. And this list does not include the many collaborative efforts between DivCHED and the ACS Education Division to produce curriculum materials and professional development opportunities that reach across the curriculum. As a result, there are many ways in which new members can actively participate in the work of the Division.

In the last newsletter, I focused my comments on recent advances in the development of science standards for K-12 education. The basis for this work is an NRC report entitled "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” that is available at the National Academies Press website (www.nap.edu). A group of states coordinated by the nonprofit organization Achieve, Inc., is now developing the Next Generation Science Standards. More information about this process can be found in an “ACS Comment” I had the privilege of contributing to the 12 December 2011 issue of C&EN.

It is my pleasure to report that a significant fraction of the Open Session of the Executive Committee meeting at the San Diego ACS meeting will be devoted to a discussion of two documents. The first was a report entitled “Exploring the Feasibility of a High School Chemistry Teacher Association” that was based on a study of a sample population of 17,000 high school chemistry teachers that was carried out by the ACS Department of Member Research and Technology several years ago. The other document is a report to CHED and the Society Committee on Education (SOCED) from a Task Force for the Exploration of a Chemistry Teachers Association.

The Task Force was created “to explore avenues for creating a chemistry teachers association or affiliation under the ACS umbrella that would meet the needs of middle and high school teachers.” Alternative organizational structures for this association will be considered by both the DivCHED Executive Committee and SOCED during the San Diego meeting, and it is our hope that a recommendation can be made to the ACS Board of Directors for the creation of what the Task Force report describes as “an Association of Chemistry Teachers that can build on the community of teachers anchored in part by the current and successful programs and activities of CHED and the ACS Division of Education.”

I invite comments or suggestions on these topics or other issues from members of the Division.

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