Seventh grade Physical Science students at the Elisabeth Morrow School once again presented demonstrations for the North Jersey Chapter of the American Chemical Society as part of their National Chemistry Week celebration. Taking place at Liberty Science Center, this event had traditionally only featured presentations by high school and college students and teachers, as well as pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Elisabeth Morrow students have participated for the last several years-the only middle school group to do so. Almost every seventh grade student at the school participates.
“I believe it’s important for students to see a wider community of people getting excited about science,” says Gail Weeks, science teacher. “When students have the opportunity to feel that they are doing science, not just passively learning facts, it can be very exciting and empowering for them. Having such a positive first-hand experience at an early age can help students feel more confident in what can sometimes be viewed as an intimidating subject.” She adds, “Students may be more likely to view science as a career option, a profession to respect, or just an area of interest as they get older.”
Volunteering to present also is a great service learning experience for EMS middle school students. “They have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and practice public speaking while having a great time- our students always tell me how much they enjoyed the day,” Weeks says.
After the event at LSC, each student receives a letter from the American Chemical Society thanking him or her for doing a presentation. A copy of this certificate goes in the students’ permanent school records. “Our students feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride after their participation. I feel so fortunate to be able to share my own enthusiasm about science with such capable students,” Weeks says. “I also love being able to show off the high caliber of our students and our science program.”