27 No. 2
Young Ambassadors for Chemistry
As part of the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC) project, the first of a series of four workshops for Science and Language teachers was held 22–26 November 2004 at the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) in Taipei. The workshops are intended to encourage public understanding of chemistry through events for young people in public locations.
Two graduate Young Ambassadors for Chemistry.
The event in Taipei was organized with the support of a number of partners—a measure of the level of collaboration that was achieved in preparing for the workshop. Those partners included IUPAC; Science Across the World (SAW); GlaxoSmithKline; NTNU; National Science Council, Taiwan; British Council, Taipei; Chinese Chemical Society, located in Taipei; and GlaxoSmithKline Taiwan. Representatives from all of the partner organizations attended the opening and grand finale of the YAC workshop.
Young Ambassadors for Chemistry Workshop
Four days of workshops, which followed the “train the trainer” model, introduced 25 participants—chemistry and language teachers and science museum staff from all over Taiwan—to the SAW program for increasing public understanding of chemistry. On the final day, the participants hosted students for a YAC day celebration in a public place.
The Graduate Institute for Science Education in Taipei offered an ideal setting for the workshops. Professor Mei-Hung Chíu, from the Institute, along with Dr. Shu-Nu Chang, provided impeccable organization and facilities. A large stand with all of the workshop details and the YAC logo was displayed the whole week. Visitors could also view a nice selection of posters from last year’s successful poster competition. All course materials were collected in a course book adorned with the logo and packed in a wonderful sustainable bag.
One group of students, during the YAC day, presenting a TV commercial about their new line of cosmetics.
During the first two days of the workshops, Professor Choon Do from Korea was a special guest. He is investigating how to organize a YAC event in Korea.
After introductions, the participants gave presentations about their schools or (science) museums, debated science issues, and discussed the concept of “active learning.” The participants were also introduced to SAW—which has a membership of over
3 100 teachers in 99 countries—and had the chance to join for free.
and participants at the four-day workshop.
workshops concentrated on two topics: “talking about
genetics around the world” and “chemistry in our
lives.” In groups of four, the participants practiced
the “experiments.” For genetics, they constructed
a large DNA molecule from sweets. For chemistry in our lives,
they developed a line of cosmetics with three coherent products.
Each group then practiced creative TV commercials promoting
their new lines of cosmetics. With this training, the participants
were ready to help the students during the YAC event. After
four days of training, certificates of recognition were handed
And then came YAC day! The event wasn’t held in just any public place—it was held in the shopping center in Taipei 101, the tallest building (508 m) in the world! Adding more excitement was a strong storm that occurred during the event. Seventy-two students from three different schools in Taipei worked very hard to show the public the wonders of chemistry. They composed, with a little help from the trained teachers, their DNA models and their lines of cosmetics and TV commercials, hardly noticing the storm and the very windy weather.
After Professor Chíu announced the grand finale, a jury had the hard job of determining which student groups had the best DNA models and TV commercials. At the end of the day, the winning student groups received their prizes and all students were offered a certificate of recognition and presents from the different participating organizations.
Results from Roving Reporters
Apart from the students who worked on cosmetics and DNA, there were three groups of roving reporters. They asked the public questions about the event and their opinions about chemistry (see table below).
Following are a few comments about the event and chemistry in general that the public made to these reporters:
“The event should also be organized in elementary schools and community centers.”
Seventy-two Young Ambassadors for Chemistry participated in the public YAC event.
- “This display helps us understand life and the world.”
- “Chemistry has a positive influence on our life and can improve our society.”
- “By applying chemistry to everyday life, it is easier to learn.”
- “The first thing I think about when I hear ‘chemistry’ are ‘explosions.’”
- “My impression about chemistry comes from tests (exams).”
In Taiwan, like so many other countries, this public activity proved very useful. A large percentage of the public never thinks about all the good things chemistry offers to society. We must work on changing the public perception that chemistry is about explosions and exams. The organizers were thrilled to see an article about the YAC event published in the United Daily News, Taiwan’s largest newspaper!
Two chemistry activity packs from SAW have been translated into Chinese (you can find these packs at the SAW Web site by following the links to “Chemistry in our Lives” and “Talking about Genetics around the World”). This wonderful achievement gives a large portion of the science education world access to a program that enhances public understanding of chemistry so well!
(L to R) Choon Do (observer from Korea), Lida Schoen, (task group chairman), and Mei-Hung Chiu (local coordinator).
next stop for the YAC series will be South America this coming
summer. Project organizers hope to collaborate with as many
organizations in Buenos Aires as they did in Taiwan. Organizers
will also aim to include English teachers; participants in
Taipei expressed they would have liked more English teachers.
The event in Taipei could not have been organized without
the support of the previously mentioned partners.
Across the World <www.scienceacross.org>;
National Taiwan Normal University <www.ntnu.edu.tw>:
Prof Mei-Hung Chíu, National Representative in the
CCE from Taiwan, Dr Shu-Nu Chang; National Science Council,
director Dr Fou-Lai Lin; British Council, Taipei (www2.britishcouncil.org/taiwan.htm>:
director Gordon Slaven, Richard Law, Hsin-Yuan Lai, Iris Hung;
Chinese Chemical Society, located in Taipei <www.sinica.edu.tw/~ccswww/ccs_eng.htm>:
president Prof Kan-Nan Chen, Prof Chung-Yuan Mou, former National
Representative in the CCE from Taiwan;
GlaxoSmithKline Taiwan <www.gsk.com/countryhubs/tw/docs>:
Human Resource & Corporate Affairs Director Deborah Hsu,
addition we would like to thank Cognis Taiwan <www.cn.cognis.com/china/gccognis.html>
for offering the main ingredient for preparing the shampoo,
and BioRad, Life Science Education, for donating the “genes
in a bottle kit” that enabled students to extract their
own DNA <www.biorad.com>.
We also would like to thank all the volunteers and teams of
students for their contributions and enthusiastic participation.
Without them the week would not have been so successful.
This report was prepared by Keith Kelly (language education consultant) and Lida Schoen (science education consultant). Kelly is FACTWorld coordinator <www.factworld.info> and NILE associate trainer <www.nile-elt.com>. Schoen is a titular member of the IUPAC CCE and task group chairman for this IUPAC project. Go online for more details and more photos.
For more information contact Lida Schoen <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
last modified 1 March 2005.
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