Student Chapter Feature: K-12 Outreach Programs

Dozens of AIChE Student Chapters are helping to inspire the next generation of chemical engineers through their K-12 Outreach Programs. The Executive Student Committee (ESC) is excited to feature four chapters with an outstanding history of working with K-12 students.

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH)

Since 2011, the AIChE Student Chapter at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH) has partnered with a local elementary school to pique 4th, 5th, and 6th graders’ interest in STEM-related fields. Every trimester, a few dozen UNAH volunteers work closely with the elementary school’s teachers to perform fun science experiments. The chapter visits the elementary school around three to five times each trimester. During their visits, volunteers work in small groups of around three or four elementary school students to perform fun science demos. The chapter has performed dozens of experiments, including starch extraction and vinegar rocket launchers. Depending on the nature of the science demo, students can even perform the experiment themselves for a truly hands-on experience (under the careful eye of the volunteers). In the future, UNAH hopes to organize a science fair for the K-12 students.

To find out more about UNAH AIChE, please visit its Facebook page.

Youngstown State University (YSU)

AIChE’s Chem-E-Car Competition® is very popular among our student chapters. Youngstown State University’s Student Chapter of AIChE has found that it’s even popular among the local high schools. YSU has visited high schools previously to demonstrate its Chem-E-Car in action and promote STEM-related fields with the young students. Thanks to the help of YSU AIChE’s sponsors, around 20-40 high school students receive visits from YSU AIChE volunteers. During their visits, the YSU AIChE representatives demonstrate their Chem-E-Car and discuss what goes into designing and testing it. In the past, the volunteers have enjoyed the opportunity to speak about their engineering-related interests, and the K-12 students have followed up with a thank-you card to express their gratitude and interest. In the future, YSU AIChE hopes to grow its K-12 Outreach events to accommodate additional students as well as corporate interest.

To find out more about YSU AIChE, please visit its Facebook group.

University of Utah

Approximately seven years ago, the AIChE Student Chapter at the University of Utah identified a need to boost STEM recruitment, with a more urgent need among underrepresented populations. To address the issue, the chapter formed the Chemical Engineering Outreach Team, which engages undergraduate chapter members and also includes the participation of some graduate students. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Dr. Tony Butterfield, the team developed teaching modules and presentations. Outreach Team members visit local high schools to present their "What Is ChemE?" talk and perform science demos for young students. The team has also participated in other events such as Science Olympiad and the National Science and Engineering Festival held in Washington, D.C. Several Outreach Team members were first introduced to chemical engineering by the team while in high school themselves, highlighting how effective the program has been. In the future, the University of Utah chapter hopes to partner with research programs to communicate research to a wider audience.

To find out more about University of Utah's outreach program, please visit its outreach website.

University of South Florida (USF)

The University of South Florida (USF) Student Chapter of AIChE organizes "ChemE Magic Shows" in which student chapter members perform fun science experiments for local K-12 students. In these presentations, approximately 10 chapter members conduct around five experiments and explain the concepts behind them to 200-300 K-12 students. The event engages several volunteer roles to plan the experiments, design T-shirts, and raise funds to support the shows. Through the ChemE Magic Shows, USF seeks to promote STEM and ChemE education to local K-12 students. Jose Mendieta, the USF AIChE student chapter president, shares that they "strive to perform experiments safely and allow the students to engage with the experiments and volunteers." In the future, USF AIChE plans to work closely with local schools to host ChemE Magic Shows more frequently, increasing its schedule to two shows per semester.

To find out more about USF AIChE, please visit its Facebook page, Instagram account, or website.

How does your AIChE student chapter inspire the next generation of ChemE's? Let us know at