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ChemAttitudes


Between 2016 and 2021 the ChemAttitudes project identified how informal educational activities can be used to stimulate interest, a sense of relevance, and feelings of self-efficacy about chemistry among public audiences; and disseminated that knowledge through distribution of 250 kits of hands-on activities and supporting professional and educational materials, in-person and online workshops, conference presentations, publications, and a range of digital resources that are available for download from this website (see below).


ChemAttitudes / Let's Do Chemistry Resources 

The ChemAttitudes project produced a variety of resources that may be helpful to those engaging or wanting to engage public audiences in learning about chemistry, many of which are available by following the links below.


Publications Related to ChemAttitudes Project

  • Anderson, A., Kollmann, E.K., Beyer, M., Weitzman, O., Bequette, M., Haupt, G., & Velázquez, H. (2021). Design strategies for hands-on activities to increase interest, relevance, and self-efficacy in chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 98(6), 1841–1851. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00193

    This article shares findings from the ChemAttitudes design-based research study about the content and format strategies that museum visitors indicated contributed to increases in chemistry interest, relevance, and self-efficacy. Data indicated that the types of content embedded in an activity influence increased feelings that chemistry is relevant and interesting, while the format used in an activity contributes to increased interest and self-efficacy around chemistry. The design framework created from these findings can be used by other chemistry educators to develop additional chemistry outreach activities that support increased interest, relevance, or self-efficacy in participants.
     
  • Howell, E., Yang, S., Holesovsky, C., & Scheufele, D. (2021). Communicating chemistry through cooking & personal health: Everyday applications increase perceived relevance, interest, & self-efficacy in chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 98(6), 1852–1862. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.1c00125

    This article shares findings from a study conducted to test, with adults in the general US public, what kinds of content can improve interest in, perceived relevance of, and self-efficacy concerning chemistry among publics. Building on the results of the museum-based study, experiment tested the effects of four types of chemistry content: (1) chemistry concepts in general without mention of an application, (2) chemistry applications in everyday life, (3) chemistry applications in societal issues, and (4) each of these types of content but with connections to other science fields beyond just chemistry. In all experiments, respondents who were randomly assigned information focused on applications in everyday life tended to be significantly more likely to report positive outcomes in interest, relevance, and self-efficacy in chemistry more broadly, relative to the other conditions. Information focused on broader societal applications was consistently less successful in comparison. The article discusses the implications of these findings for furthering chemistry communication and education across publics and formats.
     
  • Kollmann, E.K., Beyer, M., Howell, E. L., Anderson, A., Weitzman, O., Bequette, M., Haupt, G., Velázquez, H., Yang, S. and Scheufele, D. A. (2021). Collaboration for chemistry communication: Insights from a research-practice partnership. JCOM 20 (04), N01. DOI: 10.22323/2.20040801

    This article highlights and describes the research-practice partnership between researchers and practitioners from NISE Net science museums across the U.S. and university researchers. The article particularly highlights the relationship between the two research teams: the museum research teams from the Museum of Science, Boston and Science Museum of Minnesota and the university research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the article, we outline challenges and benefits of the project that future collaborations can gain from and illustrate how our strands of work complemented each other to create a more complete picture of public perceptions of chemistry.

Resources for Reading about Chemistry Communication and Public Attitudes


More about the ChemAttitudes Project

The ChemAttitudes project was funded by the National Science Foundation and was led by:

  • Museum of Science (MOS), Boston, MA

In collaboration with:

  • Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), Saint Paul, MN
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Sciencenter (SC), Ithaca, NY
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM), Madison, WI
  • Arizona State University (ASU), Tempe, AZ
  • Other partners of the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net)

Chemistry is everywhere in the world around us and in ourselves but 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 many members of the public do not see chemistry as personally relevant and lack concrete examples of its applications. Many of their associations with chemistry are distant from themselves in terms of time, visibility, and accessibility. 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, and inaccessible.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the ChemAttitudes project was a collaboration between the NISE Network and the American Chemical Society, led by the Museum of Science. It used design-based research (DBR) to develop a tested theoretical framework and set of educational activities that point the way to greater interest, relevance, and self-efficacy among public participants in chemistry outreach activities.

At a launch meeting in 2016, staff from the project partner organizations and advisors with expertise in chemistry outreach gathered in Boston, MA to identify hands-on educational activities with the potential to be improved through prototype testing to be responsive to a starting theoretical framework created by the MOS Research and Evaluation Department, all with the goal to improve public interest, sense of relevance, and feelings of self-efficacy with respect to chemistry. Educational program developers and presenters at MOS and the SMM develop prototypes of the chosen activities and worked with educational researchers at each institution to conduct a design-based research (DBR) process in which both specific the educational activities and the theoretical framework underlying their development were tested and modified to reflect the findings. Researchers at UWM tested aspects of the theoretical framework in an online environment without hands-on interactivity to see what components of the framework were more broadly applicable.

When the museum teams completed their DBR testing, NISE Net kit developers at the Sciencenter and SMM applied their successful kit development process, honed over years of producing kits about nanotechnology, to the design and fabrication of 250 Let’s Do Chemistry physical kits that were distributed to science museums, children’s museums, and university-based chemistry outreach groups affiliated with ACS. ACS and NISE Net promoted collaborations between science museums and university-based National Chemistry Week organizers to encourage use of the kit activities during National Chemistry Week in October 2018 and for all sorts of other programs and events thereafter. A digital version of the kit was placed on the NISE Net website to make resources available to those who did not receive a physical kit.

Through a supplemental award from NSF, the ChemAttitudes project team developed a Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop which was presented to chemistry professionals and informal educators during fall 2020 and winter 2021. The workshop focused on activity design, content, and facilitation techniques to support public interest, relevance, and self-efficacy with respect to chemistry with the intent of training participants to train others in applying research findings to their education and outreach work. Materials used in the workshops were revised based on participant feedback and are available online for use by anyone interested in improving their own chemistry outreach work or in training others.


Project Timeline

  • 2016-2017: Project planning and development
  • Spring-Summer 2018: 250 Physical Let's Do Chemistry kits delivered to successful applicants
  • Fall 2018: Kit recipients host required public event(s)
  • October 21- 27, 2018:  National Chemistry Week (NCW), themed Chemistry is Out of This World
  • 2019-2020: Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Workshop development
  • 2020-2021: Implementation of Let's Do Chemistry Train-the-Trainer Online Workshop                         

Acknowledgements

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.

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