UIUC REACT Chemistry Program
I know I’ve mentioned before that I really, really, really love inviting special guests to visit my classroom. We haven’t had a large number of guests yet this year (although we have had a goodly number), but I think we’ve averaged special guests about once every three weeks or so. (This is totally a rough estimate, by the way!) Some of our guests have been invited directly by me (such as my father-in-law and my friends from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant), and others contacted me asking if I’d be interested in a visit (such as the U of I Wildlife Society). We have also had guests who have come in to present to the entire school, like Fireman Phil and the local jazz combo.
Today we had some guests visiting the two fourth grade classrooms in the year. They are a part of the University of Illinois School of Chemical Sciences outreach program, called REACT Chemistry. (I don’t know if REACT stands for anything; the website is a little out of date.) We learned about the REACT program when the student who coordinates fourth grade visits contacted us and asked if we would be interested in a visit. We talked about it and agreed that any exposure we can give our students to the resources and programs available at the university are worth bringing to our classrooms!
The other fourth grade teacher and I looked at our schedules, picked a date, and asked the REACT coordinator if it would work. He agreed and arranged to have four chemistry students visit our classes for one hour each. We planned the visit for this afternoon at the end of the day. It was fantastic! The REACT students were great with our students, well-prepared, and engaging. They shared a forensic sciences module that had the students exploring a wide variety of concepts! I was pleased to see that they made sure everyone in my class wore safety goggles when working with chemicals, even though they were all perfectly safe. It was a wonderful way to end an otherwise dreary, chill, rainy day!