We all know that it is important to have prepared chemistry teachers in place at our schools. Unfortunately, some of us have stories that punctuate the struggle that many new chemistry teachers face as they try to wade their way through the curriculum, required content, preparation of labs and activities, etc. In the U.S. we have a shortage of quality chemistry instructors at the high school level. Part of that problem stems from an inability to retain a large number of these teachers who are overwhelmed by the profession.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) has long recognized the importance of the K-12 chemistry teacher and the struggles they endure. The ACS Advisory Board recently made a watershed decision to financially support a new American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT). This new organization is intended to embrace the K-12 community and provide a number of resources to that community, including a venue to share ideas, articles, blogs and lesson plans, as well as provide a network of support among K-12 teachers and throughout the entire ACS community. The AACT will hopefully become a strong group of professionals that will inspire and sustain each other, as well as inspire college students to pursue chemistry education as a career. The initiative intends to offer membership into AACT at an accessible price and provide many resources of value. The Chemical Education Xchange website will follow the progress of the association. ACS is working to begin providing resources in September of 2014.
The January issue of the Journal of Chemical Education (JCE), which happens to be offered as a free sample issue, highlights the AACT with several commentaries. JCE Editor-in-chief Norbert Pienta mentions the initiative in his monthly editorial. George Bodner of Purdue University in Indiana has advocated for AACT and shares his insight and hopes for the Association. There is also an international perspective provided by Peter Mahaffy of The King’s University College in Alberta. As JCE Precollege Associate Editors, Greg Rushton and I also offer our perspectives. It is interesting to read all of them together, especially if you also read the historical account of JCE provided by Joe Lagowski, a past JCE editor, entitled “From the Beginning: The Journal of Chemical Education and Secondary School Chemistry” that is also included in the January issue. This free issue is packed with many other manuscripts of value for the high school teacher including an activity related to the anti-microbial properties of spices, another activity with a forensics focus, a laboratory involving microfluidics, an electron density and atomic orbital exercise and articles about the curriculum surrounding thermodynamics, kinetics, rate laws and equilibrium.