Education Consultant Amsterdam, Netherlands, former member CCE
National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan, chair CCE
For many years the authors collaborated with Prof. Fortunato Sevilla III. This paper relates hightlights of our collaboration in the Philippines and on the world, mainly on the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC) and the Flying Chemists Program FCP projects, supported by the Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
The Committee on Chemical Education is one of the standing committees of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). It is tasked to coordinate the educational interests of the IUPAC bodies with activities throughout the world. Among the activities of the Committee on Chemical Education of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) are the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC) and the Flying Chemists Program (FCP).
The Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC)  is a project that has trained teachers across the globe to help students communicate the benefits of chemistry and enhance the public understanding of chemistry. A typical YAC event encompasses two to three days of teacher workshops, followed by a half-day public event where students – the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry – share their enthusiasm and interest with the public. It was a collaboration between the Science Across the World (SAW) Programme  and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
The Flying Chemists Program (FCP)  is an initiative that aims 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.
Though the IUPAC does not have a National Adhering Organization from the Philippines, we were able to conduct activities in this country. The proposal submitted to IUPAC by Prof. Fortunato Sevilla III paved the way for us to collaborate with the local efforts to improve the teaching and learning of chemistry in the Philippines.
Flying Chemists Program: Improving Chemical Education
Prof. Sevilla organized the 3rd FCP as a conference on ‘Improving Chemical Education’ in Manila, with additional support from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the University of Santo Tomas. The conference was designed to introduce innovative instruction for tertiary level chemistry teachers.
Over 300 tertiary level chemistry teachers from all over the country participated in the conference. The total number of the audience was far beyond expectation and video conferencing was arranged to accommodate all participants .
There were five keynote speakers and three workshops during the 2-day conference. Peter Atkins (Lincoln College, Oxford, UK) presented marvellous pictures to show how pictorial representations can help students learn complex concepts in stoichiochemistry. Peter Mahaffy (King’s University College, Edmonton, Canada) gave a vivid talk on visualization impact on learning introductory chemistry at the undergraduate program in his university and also held a workshop on visualizing chemistry. Jorge Ibáñez (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico) showed the audience how to use microscale laboratory experiments to achieve instructional effectiveness. He reduced the amount of the chemicals for green chemistry in his talk and workshop. Fortunato presented how to make good use of low cost microscale experiments and provided a hands-on low-cost workshop. Mei-Hung Chiu reported on the effectiveness of an integrated laboratory program for students at the National Taiwan Normal University via the use of a valuable and easy-to-apply quantitative assessment in the organic chemistry laboratory.
The conference went successfully with the affirmative feedback from the participants. They highly appreciated Prof. Sevilla’s effort on organizing the conference to promote chemistry education in the Philippines.
25th Philippine Chemistry Congress: Creating Green Solutions through Chemistry
Our participation in the 25th Philippine Chemistry Congress allowed us an opportunity to interact with Filipino chemists and chemistry teachers during their annual gathering. We were among the overseas speakers who were invited to Subic Bay to present papers to the Philippine chemistry community. We were hosted by the Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers, which was led by Prof. Myrna Rodriguez as president.
We presented our keynotes during the Symposium on Chemical Education. After lunch Mei-Hung started with ‘Learning and Teaching with a Model based Approach to Chemistry Education’. The keynote was followed by three 20- minute presentations, with one outstanding about the use of portfolios in secondary education. After a long interval for networking and attending the poster session, Lida presented ‘Chemistry around the World, Educating Secondary School Students as Global Citizens’, also followed by a most interesting 20 minute presentation about a camera used as a colorimeter.
After another full conference day we enjoyed our dinner with ocean view with interesting discussions with Fortunato and Maribel (Nonato, president of the Philippine Chemical Society) about a career for women. The situation looks like the same all over the world!
We were requested to give a short presentation during the closing ceremony: Mei-Hung about the International Conference on Chemical Education (ICCE 21) which was to be held in Taipei on August 2010, and Lida about the coming YAC course/event in Manila.
The bus took us back to Manila. On our way we enjoyed a huge farewell ice cream!
Young Ambassadors for Chemistry, in Manila
Prof. Sevilla took the initiative to host YAC in the Philippines, through the Philippine Association of Chemistry Teachers (PACT), chaired by Prof. Myrna Rodrigues. PACT organised and facilitated the YAC course at the Asian-Pacific College, FUSE-LCT (Foundation for the Upgrading of the Standard of Education – Learning Center for Teachers) and the event in the Manila ShoeMart shopping mall.
40 teachers and 60 students from 15 public and secondary schools from Metro Manila and nearby provinces and from as far as Davao City, participated in the YAC program.
Dr. Norietta Tansio of the PACT officially opened the course. After the break (with wonderful food, being common practice during all coming breaks) we introduced the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry project. After lunch Prof. Sevilla presented a short welcome speech. The teachers received a wonderful course book with the YAC program, background information and a nice metal YAC button.
The next morning in the FUSE building we carried out practical (group) work, that generated a great deal of hilarity and the presentation of the creative statistical group results. After lunch the teachers started the practical YAC work: design and produce a innovative cosmetic line with 4 products: perfume (for men), hair gel, shampoo and lotion. The very well organized workshop resulted in great products and again a lot of fun during the 30 seconds TV commercials of the different groups to sell the cosmetics.
During our last morning in the FUSE building, we divided coordination roles for the YAC event with the students. As the organizers already prepared so much, we could quickly finish.
The main YAC activity was held in the ShoeMart Shopping Mall (SM) Manila. SM Manila was a real great location for a YAC event: many shoppers around, a climatized open space and all facilities available.
All students, teachers and organisers wore a YAC T-shirt with the YAC logo and a YAC button. We were clearly audible: Nori and 3 disc jockeys produced a lot of ‘noise’ and also clearly visible: branding with YAC balloons and spotlights on the stage from the higher floors around the open space. Everything went smoothly with students, teachers, chemicals and stationary! The chemicals coordinators did their jobs, while the roving reporters coordinators sent the students out to question the public about their views on chemistry and learning chemistry. They wandered around in the shopping mall, asking the public 3 questions.
Next step was to take the public to their work stations, show them their work and ask three more questions. After swapping roles, the students ran out of questionnaires completely after handing out 100 copies. Mei-Hung took all questionnaires back to Taiwan to analyse answers from the public and the students and also of the participating teachers (filled in at the end of the course).
We asked the participating teachers (N=34), students (N=52) and the public (N=98) to fill in our questionnaires on the quality of the workshops, hands-on activities and their image of chemistry.
The majority of the teachers (98%) enjoyed the workshops very much and expressed that learning incurred through the workshop. The results from the students were similar. Their responses revealed the design of the cosmetic experiments were appealing and educational. These views were also evident from the responses of the public: positive feedback on the chemical experiments and high value about the role of chemistry in society.
As for their images of what chemists are doing, we asked all participants ‘Which of the following pictures shows what you think about chemistry best?’ The results of their responses are shown below (5 points for best and 1 point for least). We found that all 3 groups considered the 2nd picture to be the best representation of chemistry, followed by the 3rd picture. This outcome was considered to be the positive image of chemistry with appropriate manipulations of equipment with peers, unlike the negative images, such as boring in picture 1, incorrect operation of chemicals in picture 4 or a negative image (explosion) in picture 5.
We were very honoured to have National Scientist and 2010 UNESCO-L’Oréal Laureate for Women in Science Prof. Lourdes Cruz with us! Together with Dr. Imelda Servillon (Science Supervisor of the Division of City Schools-Manila, Department of Education) and Prof. Cristina Binag (University of Santo Tomas) she agreed to form our distinguished jury. The jury judged the quality of the product lines and the public presentations of the student groups.
At the end of the event all involved received a certificate of attendance with the signatures of IUPAC’s president Nicole Moreau and SAW’s director Marianne Cutler. This was the end of another glorious day with students and teachers promoting chemistry during our 10th international Young Ambassadors for Chemistry event!
2011: [Global] International Year of Chemistry: The Global Stamp Competition
Headed by Lida Schoen (IUPAC, CCE, Netherlands) the Global Stamp Competition , competition [5,6] was launched in Paris on January 2011 during the IYC 2011 opening ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters. The theme of the competition was ‘Chemistry as a Cultural Enterprise’ (CCE), entries were required to highlight the impact of chemistry on a country’s culture and everyday life . Designs were judged for their artistic value, how well they showed the relationship between chemistry and the national/regional culture and the quality of the description.
The main challenge for the organizer, apart from obtaining funding (IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education and GlaxoSmithKline), was the difficulty of making students / teachers / professors aware of this competition in a timely manner. Publishing on different sites (IYC 2011, IUPAC, Science Across the World ) was not effective. Apparently students and teachers don’t pay attention to these media. Next interviews and publications in journals of chemical societies and chemistry teachers associations were tried with little more effect. But the most successful were personal global contacts like with Prof. Sevilla! He turned the competition into a class activity for freshmen. Apart from many quality submissions this generated a lot of valuable peer review.
The competition benefited greatly from social media: the site students used to upload their submissions allowed for sharing comments and reviews. In so doing, the competition itself became a social and cultural enterprise. In fact, among the criteria used by the judges were the number of hits and number and quality of the peer reviews on the site.
After 6 months and 247 submissions from 18 countries in 3 age categories, an international jury with Prof. Morton Hoffman (CCE NR USA, ACS), Dr. Rachel Mamlok-Naaman (CCE NR Israel), Dr. Lynn Hogue (ACS), Datuk Dr. Soon Ting Kueh (CCE NR Malaysia, IKM , FACS), Dr. Anthony Smith (EC2E2N ), Dr. Harry Kelly (GlaxoSmithKline) and Prof. Daniel Rabinovich (USA, stamp expert) announced the winners of the International Year of Chemistry Global Stamp Competition.
- 12–14 age group: Vasilena Vasileva (14) from SOU Hristo Botev, Gorna Malina, Bulgaria
- 15–18 age group: Muzhafar Hassan Ismail (17) from MARA Junior Science College, Taiping, Malaysia
- Runners Up in the 15–18 age group: Stavrou Maria, Spyrou Chrisia, and Stylianou Chrysovalento (Cyprus); Luqman Safwan Che Mohd Fauzi (Malaysia); Kyle Stratford and Max Willinger (USA)
- Undergraduates: Peter Yousef M. Rubio (18) from Santo Tomas University, Manila, Philippines
Due to a generous gift of GlaxoSmithKline the winners received $500 and the runners up $250 (for the group). A selection of the best designs was on display during the IYC Closing Ceremony in Brussels in December 2011.
2012: Central America (Panama and Mexico) YAC and FCP in Panama City
At the Congreso Latinoamericano de Quimica (CLAQ 2012) held in Cancún, 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 (FCP, Mei-Hung) and the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YAC, Lida) project. Taking advantage of the geographical proximity, the activities were first showcased in Panama .
In October 2012 the Ministry of Education of Panama and the Universidad de Panama hosted Lida, Mei Hung and Fortunato (Flying Chemists task group member). Lida organized with help of Mei-Hung and Fortunato a YAC workshop with 25 participants and a public event in front of the Ministry of Education offices with over 100 student participants. Local organizers included Marisa Talavera of the Ministry of Education and Abdiel Aponte and his group from the Universidad de Panama.
As the organisers in the Ministry did not exactly know who was who and having not enough chairs behind the table, ‘poor’ Fortunato, as the only CCE male, had to present YAC.
The course and the event went very well with receptive teachers and enthusiastic creative students! Very special was the tropical storm rain during the lunch break that emptied loads of rain on our (covered) outside venue! During the morning and afternoon event we could never have managed without all dedicated trained teachers, despite a few language problems.
For the Flying Chemists Program we presented 3 workshops to high school and college teachers:
- Mei-Hung: Models and Modelling
- After a short introduction all students produced a C20 (pentagons), quite a few of them even managed to finish a C60 (pentagons and hexagons).
- Mei-Hung: Alternative Ways of Assessment
- Lida: Communicating Chemistry, Teaching as the Most Difficult Job in the World Explained.
- Fortunato: Microscale Analytical Chemistry Experiments Based on Low-Cost Instrumentation
In connection with CLAQ 2012 , the Sociedad Quimica de Mexico and the Federacion Latinoamericana de Sociedades de Quimica hosted and facilitated the YAC and FCP workshops. Peter Mahaffy (King’s University College, Edmonton, Canada), CCE past chair) joined the CCE group.
In the morning the FCP program offered 3 hands-on workshops:
- Alternative Diagnostic Assessment in Chemistry Education, Mei-Hung
- Using the Rich Context of Climate Science to Teach Chemistry, Peter Mahaffy
- Microscale Analytical Chemistry Experiments Based on Low-Cost Instrumentation, Fortunato
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 Jorge Ibáñez (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City and SQM) had much assistance from Carlos Ruis Alonso (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and SQM).
During the afternoon the group participated in the Symposium on Chemistry Education, which about 100 persons attended. Organized by Jorge Ibáñez, the symposium included the following 30 min. presentations:
- Alternative Diagnostic Assessment in Chemistry Education, Mei-Hung
- Using the Rich Context of Climate Science to Teach Chemistry, Peter Mahaffy
- Communicating Chemistry, the importance of language, Lida
- Analytical Chemistry Experiments in Microscale, Fortunato
- Teaching Environmental Chemistry through Experiments, Jorge Ibáñez
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 Cárdenas 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 for the event, nor from where they would come.
Unstructured groups of students descended upon the square, filled up with a huge Periodical System around iron frames, that we used as tables for the experiments. Our 8 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 enthusiastic 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.
Within the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education it has been a privilege and a great pleasure to collaborate with Prof. Fortunato Sevilla III. We wish him many more healthy years to continue his beneficial and successful work in the Philippines and elsewhere on the Globe.
- CCE project proposal ‘Research-based evaluation of the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry project’: http://www.iupac.org/nc/home/projects/project-db/project-details.html?tx_wfqbe_pi1%5Bproject_nr%5D=2007-005-2-050 (last accessed October 2013)
- Science Across the World website: http://www.scienceacross.org (last accessed October 2013)
- CCE project proposal ‘FCP Philippines’: http://www.iupac.org/nc/home/projects/project-db/project-details.html?tx_wfqbe_pi1%5bproject_nr%5d=2007-018-1-050 (last accessed October 2013)
- Fortunato B. Sevilla III, Report Improving Chemical Education in the Philippines, Chem. Int. 30, 4 (July- Aug 2008): http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2008/3004/cc2_170408.html (last accessed October 2013)
- Editor Chem. Int., Chemistry International, 33, 6 (Nov-Dec. 2011) The Global Stamp Competition: http://old.iupac.org/publications/ci/2011/3306/8_stamp_competition.html (last accessed October 2013)
- Lida Schoen, ConfChem Conference on A Virtual Colloquium to Sustain and Celebrate IYC 2011 Initiatives in Global Chemical Education: Global Stamp Competition, J. Chem. Educ., Publication Date (Web): October 8, 2013 (Communication). http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed300878w?prevSearch=%255BTitle%253A%2BGlobal%2BStamp%2BCompetition%255D&searchHistoryKey (last accessed October 2013)
- IYC 2011 Global Stamp Competition project idea: http://www.chemistry2011.org/participate/activities/show?id=110 (last accessed October 2013)
- Science Across the World Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/108632725863761/ (last accessed October 2013)
- IKM: Institut Kimia Malaysia.
- EC2E2N: European Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Education Network
- Countries with 1 or 2 submissions: Bulgaria, Colombia, Cyprus, France, India, Indonesia, Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Ukraine
- Editor Chem. Int., CCE Projects in Latin America (May-June 2013), Chem. Int. 2013, 34, 5: http://www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2013/3503/pp1_CCE_projects.html (last accessed October 2013)
- CLAQ: Latin American Chemistry Congress