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Outreach: University of California-Irvine Chemistry

UCI Faculty and StudentsThe UCI Chemistry Outreach Program was developed to address the issue of declining opportunities to learn chemistry. In the program, a graduate student or postdoctoral coordinator sends teams of graduate and undergraduate student volunteers to Orange County schools to perform demonstrations and talk about chemistry. The coordinator contacts the high schools, develops the demonstrations, recruits and trains the volunteers, and supplies the volunteers with materials needed for the demonstrations.

The program provides high quality presentations to thousands of students annually. The volunteers are capable of making presentations after only a couple of hours of training because the coordinator provides them with scripts that give details of each demonstration, stage cues for the volunteers, safety and disposal information, and diagrams to draw on the board.

Demonstrations consist of three separate parts: one “flashy” demonstration, one demonstration that explains the theme in more detail, and one interactive demonstration in which students can participate. Each topic takes about twenty minutes to finish, so three of them can be presented in a one-hour class period. Topics include polymer reactions, properties of the elements, states of matter, electrochemistry, redox reactions, separations, analytical chemistry, and exothermic vs. endothermic reactions.

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