373 The Chemistry CirCus: Outreach for Students of All Ages

Friday, November 6, 2009: 11:40 AM
Longhorn (Camino Real Hotel)
Gloria V. Herrera , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Alma S. Miramontes , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Lizabeth T. Ronquillo , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Cesar Ramirez , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Jose E. Mendez , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Yenni A. Garcia , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
James E. Becvar , Department of Chemistry, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
The Chemistry CirCus (Communicating Chemistry Creatively) consists of a sequence of vignettes exploring many fundamental concepts of chemical science. The Student Member chapter of the American Chemical Society at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) presents performances of the CirCus throughout the school year to K-12 audiences and adults emphasizing Texas science standards (Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge, TEKS). This past year more than thirty presentations were made to more than 3200 students, parents, and teachers in the El Paso region. Over the past twenty years, many more than 20,000 people in this region have witnessed this experiential happening. Each presentation stresses the importance of education, explicitly shows the relevance of the physical sciences, and encourages a K-16 perspective. Age-appropriate activities use an audience-participation, inquiry-based approach to relate science to everyday life. In the lower grades, children believe they are in school just to occupy time; having college-age presenters as role models shows what they can aspire to ---they begin thinking well beyond the grade-school level. The CirCus experience gives secondary students an appreciation for the relevance of science. The Chemistry CirCus provides a reason to stay in school because these budding adults see they are but half a step away from possible careers as scientists.