The purpose of the ChemAttitudes project is to identify how informal educational activities can be used to stimulate interest, sense of relevance, and feelings of self-efficacy about chemistry among public audiences; and to disseminate that knowledge in 250 kits of hands-on activities and supporting professional and educational materials.
Chemistry is everywhere in the world around us and in ourselves. It’s in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the soil we grow that food in, the medicines we take, the clothes we wear, the fuels we use to get around, and all of the materials natural or human-made that surround us. But chemistry is the least represented of the major science fields in science museums and other informal science educational media. A study in the U.K. in 2015 found that a many members of the public "do not see (chemistry) as personally relevant and lack concrete examples of its applications….many of (their) associations were distant from themselves in terms of time (school), visibility (the hidden nature of dangerous chemistry), and accessibility (being hard/difficult)." U.K. researchers found that people consider science to be welcoming, friendly, fun, active and full of discovery and exploration but they consider chemistry to be intimidating, hard to understand, serious, inaccessible, and full of methodical and repetitive activities.
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the ChemAttitudes project is a collaboration between the NISE Network and the American Chemical Society, and will use design-based research to develop a tested theoretical framework and set of educational activities that point the way to greater interest, relevance, and self-efficacy among museum visitors and those who attend events like National Chemistry Week.
Opportunities for NISE Net Partners
Through a supplemental award from NSF, the ChemAttitudes project team is developing a Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop that will be disseminated to chemistry professionals during fall 2020. The workshop content is based on project research, which focuses on informal educational activity content, format, and facilitation methods to support participant interest, sense of relevance, and feelings of self-efficacy with respect to chemistry.
In August 2018, a total of 250 free physical kits were awarded to successful applicants. The American Chemical Society (ACS) helped to promote collaborations between science museums and National Chemistry Week organizers to encourage and promote use of activities during National Chemistry Week 2018. The hands-on activities in the kits can, of course, be used in a variety of ways throughout the year for a variety of audiences. NISE Net and ACS hope to continue their collaboration beyond this initial NSF award to support future informal educational material development, resources for professional development, and perhaps a chemistry mini-exhibition.
Watch the NISE Network newsletter for more details on ChemAttitudes opportunities as the project progresses.
Let’s Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop
Using the framework developed through the ChemAttitudes project, the Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop will take what was learned about activity content, format, and facilitation and share with members of the chemistry community who are in a position to train others in the techniques for making their own chemistry outreach activities better at stimulating interest, sense of relevance, and feelings of self-efficacy.
- Coming Fall 2020 - Learn more
Explore Science: Let's Do Chemistry Kit Recipients
- List of NISE Network partners awarded a physical 2018 Explore Science: Let's Do Chemistry kit
- Applications for physical Explore Science: Let's Do Chemistry kits were due June 1, 2018, all physical kits have been awarded. Learn about the application process: www.nisenet.org/chemistry-apply
A refill kit of supplies was shipped to 250 locations in early May 2019 to encourage continued use of the activities.
The Explore Science: Let's Do Chemistry digital kit is available for download.
Physical kit recipients were required to submit online reports by December 15, 2018.
National Chemistry Week
- Learn more about ACS' National Chemistry Week; the 2018 theme is Chemistry is Out of this World
- National Chemistry Week resources: www.nisenet.org/national-chemistry-week
- 2016-2017: Project planning and development
- March 1, 2018: Online application opens to apply for a free physical kit
- June 1, 2018: Deadline to submit application
- July 2018: Notification of award decisions
- September 2018: Kits delivered to successful applicants
- October-December 2018: Successful applicants host required public event(s)
- October 21- 27, 2018: National Chemistry Week, (NCW)
- December 15, 2018: Event reports due online
- 2019-2020: Development and implementation of Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop
The ChemAttitudes project is funded by the National Science Foundation and is led by:
- Museum of Science, Boston, MA
In collaboration with
- Science Museum of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN
- American Chemical Society (ACS)
- Sciencenter, Ithaca, NY
- University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
- National Informal STEM Education Network
Resources for Reading about Chemistry Communication and Public Attitudes
The National Academy of Science issued a report in 2016 on Effective Chemistry Communication in Informal Environments. NISE Net Director, Larry Bell; the original NISE Net Program Officer at NSF, Dave Ucko; a member of NISE Net’s Committee of Visitors for Research and Evaluation, Bruce Lewenstein: and the Director of Education for ACS, Mary Kirchhoff, all served on the National Academies Committee. You can download a PDF of the report (Part A - 108 pages) and a more practical guide (Part B – 29 pages) at the following location for free: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/21790/effective-chemistry-communication-in-informal-environments.
The Royal Society of Chemistry issued a research report on Public Attitudes to Chemistry in 2015. You can download PDF of the research report (78 pages), a toolkit for communicating about the report (12 pages), and a technical report (80 pages) at the following location: http://www.rsc.org/campaigning-outreach/campaigning/public-attitudes-chemistry/.
About the Project
- Digital kit: http://www.nisenet.org/chemistry-kit
- Learn more about the project: http://www.nisenet.org/chemattitudes
- Learn more about the application process for physical kits: http://www.nisenet.org/chemistry-report
- Learn more about the application process for physical kits: http://www.nisenet.org/chemistry-apply
- Learn more about National Chemistry Week resources http://www.nisenet.org/national-chemistry-week
Funded by the National Science Foundation through the Museum of Science.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DRL 1612482. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Science Foundation.