Invitation to engage

Dear Fellow Educators,

I want to start by thanking you for your commitment to opening young minds to the wonders of science. Your mentorship may well be responsible for the big inventions of the next generation. To inspire your students even more, I’d like to help you introduce them to some of the exciting new science initiatives currently being constructed at the Chemistry Department, University of Toronto.

Every spring, we hold an outreach initiative we call the Laureate Events, consisting of the ‘Ask a Laureate’ talks, and the ‘Lunch with a Laureate’ essay competition. In 2020, ‘Ask a Laureate’ will be held on Friday morning, May 1st, at the downtown campus and will feature 

  • an environmental chemist talking about identifying the pollutants that affect you
  • an inorganic chemist talking about the discovery of Frustrated Lewis Pairs, a revolution in the way chemists think about greening the process of chemical synthesis
  • a bioorganic chemist talking about the inspiration of natural products in chemical synthesis
  • an organic chemist, who will talk about reactivity coming in small packages

The essay topics will be related to speakers’ fields of research, and at least one of them will be directly applicable to the Ontario Curriculum, asking students to write a 600-word essay on the life and work of a chemist. If you assign the essay as part of your curriculum, a lot of good entries will be generated. In the past ten years, since we’ve been running the competition, we’ve seen many brilliant young minds expressing wonderful ideas. We’ve even had some of the most recent essays published in the newsletter of the relevant professional association.

Even if you do not participate in the essay competition, the ‘Ask a Laureate’ talks present a not-to-be missed opportunity to expose your students to the exciting work done at the forefront of science, explained in an approachable, entertaining way. They will also get valuable insight into the motivations and the life journeys that have led these men and women to their current careers. Everyone in the audience can ask questions of the speakers after each talk. We’ve found that students ask intelligent, often profound questions, showing true engagement. Students who have placed or received honorable mention in the essay competition, also get the opportunity to engage in conversation with one of the speakers over lunch.

In recognition of the wonderful work you do in mentoring your students, teachers of winning students are invited to lunch with Chemistry Teaching Faculty. We’ve found these lunches with teachers to be very pleasant and useful for exchanging ideas and experiences. We value your input.

I look forward to meeting many of you, as you encourage your students to participate in the Laureate Events.  I also hope to inspire future scientists through this golden opportunity for personal interaction with research scientists at the top of their game.