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Toys + Chemistry = Learning + Fun

Jan. 30, 2007 — Toys and household items can be used to teach chemistry in a fun and entertaining manner, according to speakers at a Feb. 6 lecture aimed at high school chemistry teachers in northern Utah.

“We hope to make it easier for teachers to show their students how chemistry relates to everyday life – and have some fun in the process,” says chemist Anita Orendt, staff scientist at the University of Utah’s Center for High Performance Computing and chair of the American Chemical Society’s Salt Lake Section.

The society is sponsoring the lecture by Mickey Sarquis and Lynn Hogue, both from the Center for Chemistry Education at Miami University in Middletown, Ohio.

They will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Discovery Gateway, 444 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City. News media are invited to cover the lecture, which is titled “Using Toys Creatively in Chemistry.”

The lecture is open only to invited high school chemistry teachers along the northern Wasatch Front, American Chemical Society members and families of both the teachers and society members.

A summary of the lecture says: “What’s the chemistry of a self-inflating balloon? Or a drinking bird? Or popular magician’s tricks like putting a needle through a balloon? This presentation will make you smile and may bring out your inner child. See how simple toys and common household items can be used to unlock the mysteries of chemistry.”

It adds: “If you agree that play is learning without punishment, then you’ll also agree that toys are ideal tools for learning science. Toys have the capability of uniting fun, hands-on play with minds-on learning. Feel like a kid again as you explore ways to use toys in your outreach programs, to spice up your classes or to use with your own kids or grandkids.”

Hogue served as a high school science teacher for 30 years before joining the Center for Chemistry Education as associate director in 1992. She has directed or taught more than 50 programs for teachers funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and other organizations. She co-authored several teacher resource books and has worked with school districts nationwide in presenting in-service education programs for teachers and updating their science curricula.

Sarquis is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Miami University and is director of the Center for Chemistry Education, an internationally recognized leader in chemistry and science education. A proponent of active learning, she has received numerous teaching and service awards. She has published more than 60 books, monographs, chapters and articles, and is a widely traveled guest lecturer and tour speaker.

Sarquis and Hogue have worked together for more than 15 years developing lessons for teachers and students using chemistry-based toys. They have made numerous presentations for chemists, teachers and students.

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