Chemistry is the only science without a national teachers association. The American Chemical Society has a formula to fix that: It’s launching the first-ever association dedicated to K-12 chemistry educators to help support them in the classroom.
If you can name most of the elements on the periodic table, you can probably thank your high school chemistry teacher, who until now has not had an association of his or her own. But that’s changing, as the American Chemical Society announced it is launching the American Association of Chemistry Teachers later this year.
This is really an opportunity for ACS to expand its network and bring the expertise of ACS to bear on K-12 chemistry teaching.
Set to begin operations in September, AACT will be housed within ACS, which will provide financial support for the new organization.
“There’s really this gap out there of trying to meet the needs of K-12 [chemistry] teachers,” said Mary Kirchhoff, ACS education director. “This is really an opportunity for ACS to expand its network and bring the expertise of ACS to bear on K-12 chemistry teaching.”
Joining the ranks of other science teacher associations, AACT will offer resources to support chemistry teachers both inside and outside the classroom, including a regular periodical (members will be able to volunteer as authors, reviewers, and editors) and classroom materials.
“Right now [chemistry teachers] spend a lot of time hunting around all over the web for things they can use in the classroom, whether it’s a lesson plan or a hands-on experiment. They want to be able to go to one place, and they want to know that whatever they find is going to be high-quality, that it’s going to work, and that it’s going to engage the students,” Kirchhoff said.
The new organization will also offer a sense of community—something that ACS discovered chemistry teachers wanted after surveying nearly 4,000 of them. “What we learned was that they were really looking for community,” Kirchhoff said. “Many of them are the only chemistry teacher in their school, and in some cases they’re the only science teacher in their school if they’re in a rural community.”
Although AACT is basically a program of ACS, membership will remain separate, Kirchhoff said. “It’s sort of a different audience, which is why we decided we needed this separate organization but under the ACS umbrella.”
Kirchoff said she expects some ACS members will join AACT, but ACS staff is already in recruitment mode, reaching out to potential new members through its existing networks and at teacher conferences throughout the country. “This is a critically important segment of our education system that we’ve been serving, that we can serve in an even better way, in a more substantive way, that’s going to provide value to the teachers,” she said.