The Association of Chemical Engineering Graduate Students (ACES) seeks to enrich our community through outreach events benefiting local students and schools. Through the ACES Outreach program, UW Chemical Engineering (ChemE) graduate students seize the opportunity to teach and reinforce scientific concepts to younger students of varying grade levels while mentoring and inspiring them to become the next generation of scientists and engineers. ChemE grad students consistently volunteer for the events we coordinate to help make them successful.
ACES Outreach partners with the Seattle Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program which aims to mentor and inspire low-income and underrepresented high school students to pursue careers in mathematics, science, and engineering. Together with MESA, we plan, coordinate, and execute outreach events where grad student volunteers perform interesting, hands-on science experiments for ~150 high school students. At these events, we give the students an overview of the diverse opportunities offered by the chemical engineering field and perform experiments displaying basic scientific concepts, e.g. liquid nitrogen demos, silly putty polymerization, etc. Also, we typically do one event designed for high school seniors interested in learning about biological sciences and developing laboratory techniques.
We also work with two Seattle schools to set-up events where we can mentor their students on science-based projects. Over the past several years, we’ve volunteered at Bryant Elementary School as mentors for 4th and 5th graders to help them design and carry out experiments for their annual science fair. This year, we also started working with Cleveland High School and acted as “consultants” for freshmen on designing their product testing projects in their chemistry class.
Additionally, ACES provides volunteers and support for various events around campus, such as UW Engineering Discovery Days. Discovery Days is an annual event that shares information and work from UW’s engineering disciplines with students, teachers, and families and has numerous hands-on exhibits and attractions led by UW faculty, students, and staff. The Chemical Engineering exhibit typically includes an introduction to Chemical Engineering and experimental demonstrations, such as the “walk on water” experiment and engin-earrings. In 2011, three ACES officers ran the Introduction to Chemical Engineering booth. Most of the visitors to our booth were high school students and their parents who were considering their potential college paths. It provided us with a great opportunity to explain what ChemE’s can do in both industry and research and to shed light on how diverse a career in chemical engineering can be.