Bridging the industry-high school gap

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  • Bridging the Industry-High School Gap Herb Bassow Germantown Friends School, 31 West Coulter, Philadelphia, PA 19144

    Many schemes to enrich high school chemistry courses through industw involvement have been used in Pennsylvania and in New ~ersey. Some of the more successful ones have been well d~cumented.'-~ The ACS Corporation Associates recentlv has sunoorted the author's a t t e m ~ t s to increase hieh school ;se of industry resources. studenis need to see and understand how chemistw studied in school affects their dailv lives. Such knowledge will increase the scientific literacy 01 all vounesters whether thev become chemists or simolv con- " - . . cerned citizens.

    First. chemistw teachers and science de~ar tment heads in 25 areahigh schools were visited to learn their views of how industry input might he used to enrich their chemistw . . courses. Seven schools were identified by the research and development arm of Sun Oil, a company interested in working with nearby chemistry teachers. Other schools were suggested by contacts from the School District and Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    Next, 20 area chemical industries were contacted to see if they would he interested in participating in our program. Many of the larger companies already give time and financial support to existing educational enrichment programs that encourage minority youngsters to study technical subjects, then help them prepare for and enter engineering careers. They do not focus specificallv on chemistw.

    Twelve of the co&rtrd cbrnpanies offered to work with nearby schools. A calendar of spring 1983 and 1983-1984 ac- ademic vear events was then made which reflected most of the chemis&y teachers' suggested and specific requests. These included talks hv industrv R & D chemists. chemical. and environmental engineers who spoke about their work, chem- istry careers, and the importance of school science courses. Several speakers were former students a t the schools they visited and were especially effective future career role models.

    Visits to industry lahoratories and other facilities were planned also.

    Many teachers requested weekly in-depth help for ahle students engaged in independent research projects. These teachers had neither time nor hackeround for such activitv ~~~ ~ ~ hut felt R & D chemists would ma& ideal project advisors. Manv also asked for weeklv tutors to work with less ahle y~u


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