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(Last updated 8/20/07)

 

CHEMIST EARNS AWARD FOR ENCOURAGING DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS

COLUMBUS , Ohio -- What better way for kids to learn about Newton 's laws of motion than by building a marshmallow launcher? Or to study the life cycle of insects by watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly?

For nearly a decade, Susan Olesik, professor of chemistry at Ohio State University, has been working to bring hands-on science experiments like these to elementary schools. Now her efforts have won her the "ACS Award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences," given by the American Chemical Society.

The society announced the award in the August 20, 2007 issue of the magazine Chemical & Engineering News.

The award recognizes Olesik as someone who has "significantly stimulated or fostered the interest of students, especially minority and/or economically disadvantaged students, in chemistry, thereby promoting their professional development as chemists or chemical engineers, and/or increasing their appreciation of chemistry as the central science."


The award recognizes Olesik as someone who has "significantly stimulated or fostered the interest of students, especially minority and/or economically disadvantaged students, in chemistry.


Although directing one educational outreach program is challenge enough, Olesik directs two -- and she's about to begin a third.

Her two current programs, one called Wonders of Our World (WOW) and the other GK-12, connect elementary school teachers with scientists. The third, which will be partly funded by this ACS award, will be called [WOW]squared, and will extend the WOW program to middle schools.

Both original programs started in 1999. Olesik founded WOW, in which professors and college students visit classrooms to lead science experiments. A year later, she became director of GK-12, which teams science graduate students with elementary school teachers, in order to enhance the teachers' exposure to science and their comfort with teaching the subject.

"I will accept this award on behalf of all WOW volunteers and GK-12 science graduate students who, through teaming with the elementary school teachers, are impacting the lives of these young students," said Olesik. "We are a large organized group of scientists who are enthusiastic about our science and our interactions with future scientists. I am proud to have started WOW, but am even more proud of what the combined group has accomplished."

In March of 2008, at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Boston , Olesik will receive a $5,000 award and a certificate. The society will also grant $10,000 to Ohio State , to "strengthen its activities in meeting the objectives of the award," and Olesik plans to dedicate that fund to [WOW]squared.

The ACS award is sponsored by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.

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Contact: Susan Olesik , (614) 292-0733; Olesik.1@osu.edu

Written by Pam Frost Gorder , (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu