I have been involved in several types of community outreach projects to promote science education and chemistry. One of the best was a biannual event I worked on with teachers from each elementary school in our district and from our middle school. It was a Science Extravaganza. The elementary and middle school science departments organized a science fair and students in every class did a small research project to display. At the high school, I organized chemistry students to help with activity tables set up for kids of all ages. We also had demonstration shows and other events scheduled. Four teachers in the district took the lead and it took a lot of work, but it was well worth the outcomes. It has not been unusual for incoming students in my classes to comment that they remember things from those events and it had excited them about studying science at the high school. Our community has a few opportunities for small grants and we were able to secure some funds to pay for t-shirts for our volunteers and signage for the event along with some supplies.
Events like these take a lot of time to organize, but if you are careful in the planning and record keeping of the first one, any that follow will be easier. The first one can be made easier if you have a plan to follow. I encourage you to read the article, “A Halloween Chemistry Show”. You may be inspired to plan your own outreach. The authors provide details about their planning in the supporting information that can serve as a guide. Of course, the authors used “Halloween” as a theme, but you can a similar event with or without a theme. Planning for an event like this should begin months prior, so if you are interested in using Halloween as the theme, you will want to begin making plans now.
I am interested in hearing stories about themes you have used and/or events you have planned. If you are in the midst of planning, send us your questions.