ChemAttitudes

Project Summary

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 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, the ChemAttitudes 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

A total of 250 free physical kits based on the work described above will be awarded to successful applicants in August 2018. Applications will be due earlier in 2018 (exact date to be announced.) The American Chemical Society (ACS) will help to promote collaborations between science museums and National Chemistry Week organizers. The materials in the kits can, of course, be used in a variety of ways throughout the year for a variety of audiences, just as NanoDays kits are. 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.


Timeline

  • 2016-2017: Project planning and development
  • Early 2018: ChemAttitudes physical kit application available online
  • Summer 2018: ChemAttitudes kit distribution (250 copies will be distributed)
  • Fall 2018: Events using kit take place nationwide in connection with National Chemistry Week

Project Partners

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/.


Acknowledgements

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.