WMU News

Insights on popular culture's image of chemistry

Nov. 10, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- An examination of chemistry in popular culture, poster presentations of current research projects and a tour of Western Michigan University's new science research facilities are on the agenda Saturday, Nov. 13, when Michigan's college chemistry teachers meet at WMU.

The Fall 1999 meeting of the Michigan College Chemistry Teachers Association will offer the general public as well as chemistry teachers from more than 15 Michigan colleges and universities a chance to take part in activities that will focus on the issues and research affecting chemistry educators today. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Wood Hall atrium.

A highlight of the day's activities will be a free public lecture, "Almost Like Weighing Someone's Soul--Reflections on Chemistry in Contemporary Film." The 10:40 a.m. talk by Dr. Donald Wink, professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will take place in Room 1001 of Wood Hall. Using clips from such recent films as "The Rock," "Apollo 13" and "Legends of the Fall," Wink will examine the popular culture views that students bring to the classroom concerning what chemistry does or does not involve in practice.

According to conference organizer Dr. Elke Schoffers, WMU assistant professor of chemistry, those attending the event will include chemistry teachers and students from a number of Southwest Michigan high schools as well as faculty members from such schools as Wayne State, Michigan State and Ferris State universities. Instructors from community colleges across Michigan also will attend.

"This is not the kind of conference that focuses on technical talks," she says. "But it will be a wonderful opportunity for anyone who's interested to get an idea of the issues chemistry educators face as well as some of the wonderful research going on."

The meeting also will include a book publishers exhibition and poster displays as well as a discussion on "Building a 'Chem Club': Activities of Successful Student Affiliate Chapters." That talk will be presented by Dr. Mark A. Benvenuto, a faculty member at the University of Detroit Mercy; Dr. Brian P. Buffin, WMU assistant professor of chemistry; and by WMU students.

A tour of Haenicke Hall, WMU's new state-of-the-art science research facility that opened earlier this year, will take place at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public. Other topics on the day's agenda include discussions on "Teachers for the Next Millennium," "Alternative Teaching Methods for Large Lectures" and "The Wayne State Chemistry Curriculum."

The day's events are supported by WMU's Department of Chemistry, the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Research . Cosponsors include the Kalamazoo section of the American Chemical Society and participating book and software publishers.

For more information about the day's activities, contact Schoffers by phone at (616) 387-2265 or by email at <elke.schoffers@wmich.edu>. Information also is available on the Web at <www.wmich.edu/chemistry/news.html>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu


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