POCATELLO – The Idaho State University American Chemical Society student chapter has received a 2015-16 Commendable Award from the American Chemical Society.
“It is a great honor and our ACS chemistry club has been very successful in doing good works,” said Joshua Pak, ISU chemistry professor and associate chair, and chapter faculty co-advisor. “A large portion of their activities revolve around outreach for local schools, where we try to encourage kids to study science, stay in school and gain enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.”
For example, every October, the ISU ACS student chapter presents two “chemistry magic shows” free to the public and they visit kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms to deliver hands-on science lessons.
The ISU ACS student chapter also just received a $20,000 grant from the NASA Idaho State Space Grant Consortium to design and deliver a free STEM summer camp at ISU this summer.
“The camps will provide STEM field experiences to students who normally wouldn’t have access to this type of experience,” Pak said. “Some science camps cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but we are trying to give similar educational experiences to kids that may not have resources to attend them.”
The ISU ACS student chapter has 20 to 40 students participating annually.
“They do these things as volunteers, they do not get paid,” Pak said. “But they gain a lot of important skills, such as putting demos together and experience articulating what they know to younger kids and nonprofessionals. Their participation helps them develop professional pride as well. The community benefits and the students learn a lot.”
In the letter from the American Chemical Society announcing the award to ISU, Pak also received accolades.
“Professor Joshua Pak, faculty advisor of the chapter, deserves special commendation,” said Donna Nelson, president of the ACS. “Few faculty member are willing to make the great commitment of time and energy that a successful student chapter. Professor Pak’s efforts certainly represent the best in undergraduate education and mentoring around the country.”