Contact site moderator
Dr. Robert E. Belford
The IUPAC polymer division regards the International Year of Chemistry as a starting point for ongoing engagement with the public to better communicate the important role of polymer chemistry in serving society. Prior to that we had started a division education website to distribute the contents of an educational CD focused on polymers. This website became our principal tool for IYC activities including: a video and essay contest aimed at high school and university students, an international funding call, a list of polymer division sponsored IYC events and conferences. In addition, it provides links to educational websites around the world, videos related to famous polymer scientists and polymer division award winners, and simple definitions of common polymer terms.
This presentation will discuss the results of the student competition and what we learned from it, the international funding call and how it is helping national funding agencies develop best practices for multinational research programs and the most successful aspects of the educational website. An assessment involving use tracking and surprises regarding what are the most accessed aspects of the website will be presented.
As focal point of our celebration of the international year of chemistry, the Polymer Division of the IUPAC has held an International contest entitled “A World Without Polymers?” The contest was addressed to university and high-school students in each of the 60 countries of the national adhering and associate adhering organizations of the IUPAC. The contest invited submission of either a video or an essay on the theme of “A World Without Polymers?”, that is, how the world might be if, as absurd as it may sound, there were no polymers in either today’s or in the future world. The objective of this activity was to encourage a greater understanding by the public of the significance of polymers to everyone’s quality of life. The target audience was the general public, teachers and students where instead such appreciation is lacking and the widespread use of polymers is taken for granted.
The polymer division contacted polymer societies around the globe to help in publicizing this event and received numerous entries for both the essay and video competition. After selection by a panel of distinguished polymer chemists, 3 winning videos and 3 winning essays were selected. These are posted on the IUPAC Polymer Education website found at: http://www.iupac.org/polyedu/page30/page40/styled-13/index.html.
The winners in the video category are:
1. Y.C.S. Lann, First Place Video (Asia)
Yvonne Choo Shuen Lann is a Malaysian high school student who has just completed her Matriculation. She is now pursuing her first-year degree in Pure Chemistry at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) as of September 2011.
2. A. Gomes and team, Second Place Video (Europe)
Andre was part of a group of 5 teenagers that just wanted to have some fun while studying polymers for Chemistry class, and ended up making their own video contribution for the IYC 2011.
3. C. Newby & M. Kunkel, Third Place Video (North America)
This video was written and edited by Melissa Kunkel, a junior at Cornell University majoring in Materials Science and Engineering. Carol Newby is a graduate student and she helped film the movie and did some of the voiceovers.
The winners in the essay category are:
1. C. Stenman, “A World Without Polymers” (Europe)
Charlotte is a high school student in Sweden and contributed one of several entries from her English class.
2. E.O. Peter, “A World Without Polymers” (Africa)
Emmanuel Ochoche Peter was born at Adoka, in Otukpo LGA of Benue State Nigeria. In 2009 he proceeded for his Master‘s Degree in Analytical Chemistry at the Bayero University Kano (BUK), Kano State Nigeria.
3. Bérengère Escuyer et al., “It was a really great morning” (Europe)
Bérengère and her team have graduated high school and are in the midst of further chemistry studies, largely planning for careers in industry.
Each winning entry earned a 12 month subscription to Chemistry International and a copy of the IUPAC Polymer Division Purple Book. The 1st place winners in each category were invited to attend the World Chemical Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. A formal ceremony was held at the Symposium for Younger Polymer Chemists and the 6 winning individuals and groups were announced.
We were fortunate to have Yvonne Lann take part in the ceremony. Also in attendance were her family and members of the Malaysian delegation. During the ceremony officiated by Christopher Ober, then President of the IUPAC Polymer Division, Yvonne made a few comments on the creation of her video and held a showing of her video which was enjoyed by all in attendance. The ceremony was recorded and can be found along with her video at: http://www.iupac.org/polyedu/page42/styled-14/styled-15/index.html.
As a sign of how social media is changing interactions, Yvonne met the winner of the Physical and Biophysical Division (I) Student Chemistry Cartoon Competition, Jessica Hough, on Facebook and the two winners spent time together at the World Chemical Congress attending talks on energy and sustainability.
All of this activity was managed through the Division’s Polymer Education Website. This website was created in 2004 as a means of sharing the contents of an educational CD describing polymer chemistry. The site is now designed to provide a means to communicating with teachers, students and the public about polymer chemistry and its benefit to society. The site has now grown to include information and definitions related to polymer chemistry, links to other educational websites, educational videos that relate to polymer chemistry, and advanced courses in polymer chemistry offered by partner organizations. For the IYC two additional sections of the website were developed. The first was related to the polymer division’s international funding call. For IYC, a funding call was introduced in partnership with the Committee on Chemical Research Funding (CCRF) to fund and study best practices in multi-country (3 or more) collaborations related to polymer chemistry. This successful competition provides research funds for 7 programs at a total amount of ~ $7M over a 3 year period. In addition a page related to IYC activities and the video/essay contest was developed. The number of visits to the website was tracked and it was found that the IYC activities were a significant attraction to the website and increased overall traffic to the site.
Our experience with the video/essay competition and the success of these efforts have encouraged us to continue our activities beyond IYC. Our division plans to hold a video/essay competition again this upcoming year. We are also working with CCRF to take the experience we gained with the international funding call and to identify new funding topics.
Front 3 (l to r): Mrs. Lann, Yvonne Lann, Zuriati Zakaria; back (l to r): Jung-Il Jin, Dennis Smith, Mr. Lann, Christopher Ober, Robert Stepto, Majda Zigon and Ting-Kueh Soon.