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Vol. 35 No. 3
May-June 2013

The Project Place | Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives.
See also www.iupac.org/projects

CCE Projects in Latin America

At the Congreso Latinoamericano de Quimica (CLAQ 2012) held in Cancun, Mexico, in October 2012, several IUPAC activities related to projects of the Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) were organized. These included the Flying Chemists Program and the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC) project. Taking advantage of the geographical proximity, the activities were first showcased in Panama.

The general aim of the Flying Chemists Program is to provide emerging countries with the means to improve the teaching and learning of chemistry at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. The project provides the visited country with the expertise needed to strengthen chemistry education and to assist in its development. YAC is a project that has trained teachers around the globe to help students communicate the benefits of chemistry. A typical YAC event encompasses two to three days of teacher workshops, followed by a one-day public event where students—the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry—share their enthusiasm and interest with the public at large.

Panama City

From 20–24 October 2012, the Ministry of Education of Panama and the Universidad de Panama hosted Mei Hung Chiu (Taiwan Normal University and CCE chair), Fortunato Sevilla (Universidad de Santo Tomas, Philippines, Flying Chemists task group member), and Lida Schoen (YAC task group chair). Chiu and Sevilla presented four workshops to high school and college teachers on “Pedagogical Insights for the Learning of Chemistry,” and “Microscale Analytical Chemistry.” Schoen organized a YAC workshop and a public event in front of the Ministry of Education offices that had over 100 participants. Local organizers included Marisa Talavera and Ilsa Austin of the Ministry of Education and Abdiel Aponte and his group from the Universidad de Panama.

Cancun, Mexico

The group then flew to Cancun, Mexico, in connection with CLAQ 2012, where the Sociedad Quimica de Mexico and the Federacion Latinoamericana de Sociedades de Quimica hosted and facilitated the YAC and Flying Chemists workshops and an education symposium. Peter Mahaffy (Kings College, Canada), CCE past chair, joined the group in Cancun, where it offered the following workshops on 27 October 2012:

  • Nonstandard Ways of Assessing and Developing Student Understanding in Chemistry (Mei Hung Chiu)
  • Visualization of Chemistry and Climate Change Science—A Hands-On Workshop (Peter Mahaffy)
  • Microscale Analytical Chemistry Experiments Based on Low-Cost Instrumentation (Fortunato Sevilla)
From left: Lida Schoen, Kazuyuki Tatsumi, Peter Mahaffy, Jorge G. Ibanez, Fortunato Sevilla, and Mei Hung Chiu.

The workshops were attended by high school and college teachers from throughout Latin America (at an average of 20 participants in each). Kazuyuki Tatsumi (IUPAC president), Cecilia Anaya (SQM president), and Héctor Cárdenas (SQM general secretary) welcomed participants at the beginning of the workshops. The local organizer was Jorge G. Ibanez (Universidad Iberoamericana-Mexico City and SQM) who had much assistance from Carlos Rius Alonso (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM/SQM), Juan Pérez (President, PROVITEC, a glass company), Norberto Farfán and Margarita Romero Ávila (UNAM/SQM), Alejandro Zepeda and Manolo Barceló (UADY), and José Manuel Méndez Estivalet (UNAM/SQM).

On 28 October 2012, the group participated in the Symposium on Chemistry Education, which about 100 persons attended. Organized by Jorge Ibanez, the symposium included the following presentations:

  • Alternative Diagnostic Assessment in Chemistry Education, Mei-Hung Chiu
  • Using the Rich Context of Climate Science to Teach Chemistry, Peter Mahaffy
  • Communicating Chemistry, Lida Schoen
  • Analytical Chemistry Experiments in Microscale, Fortunato Sevilla III
  • Teaching Environmental Chemistry through Experiments, Jorge G. Ibanez

The same day, the group participated in the YAC event at which several hundred people took part in the outreach activities. The YAC event took place in front of the town hall Benito Juarez of Cancún, a spacious square.

On the days prior to the public event, the usual YAC training workshop was held. Héctor Alejandro Cárdenas Lara (secretary general of SQM) kicked off the YAC training workshop, which, instead of training teachers, was focused on chemistry and medical students. No one knew how many students to expect nor from where they would come.

As unstructured groups of students descended upon the square, the volunteers did what they could to contain what appeared to be a chaotic situation, but which was simply a popular event with a lot of students and members of the public. Visitors to the event included Cecilia Anaya (president SQM), Nicole Moreau (past president IUPAC), Kazuyuki Tatsumi (president IUPAC), Javier García-Martínez (AM CCE, IUPAC Bureau), and Miranda Wu (president ACS). A local policeman estimated there had been 1000 visitors throughout the day on the square.

“It was both gratifying and inspiring for me,” said Kazuyuki Tatsumi, “to observe many students and young chemists in Mexico and South America participating in these events with such enthusiasm.”

 


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