I have reflected many times in the past on how wonderful it is to teach in a school district that has such close ties to a fabulous public university that has amazing resources to share with the community. Yesterday afternoon I had the chance to bring one of these resources to my classroom to share with my students. It is the University of Illinois’ Chemistry REACT program and it is all about what its name says: reaching and educating America’s chemists of tomorrow. The director of the program is a friend of mine and one of the graduate students who works directly with him is another good friend of mine, so when I got an email asking if I would be interested in having the fourth grade REACT program come to my classroom, I jumped at the opportunity!
After a handful of missed emails and reschedules, we were able to arrange for the team to come by yesterday afternoon for an hour to lead my students in a forensic science activity. For sixty minutes I watched as my students, decked out with safety goggles, explored topics such as fingerprint analysis, chromatography, and chemical reactions. It isn’t very common for me to observe all 26 of my fourth graders engaged in the same activity for such an extended period of time, but this is e
xactly what happened. I don’t know how many of my students will go on to explore chemistry as a career or hobby in the future, but I’d like to think that at least a few will and I’d like to think that it is because of this brief introduction provided by Sarah, Sarah, Alex, and Connor that they will.
Thank you, Dr. Miller, Mr. Brewster, and the Chemistry Department for making this possible!