AACT Member Spotlight: Anne Schmidt

By AACT on July 7, 2021

Anne Schmidt

Every month AACT spotlights a passionate member who is dedicated to enhancing chemistry inside and outside the classroom. This month, we spotlight Anne Schmidt. She teaches Chemistry and AP Chemistry at Bay Port High School and General Chemistry at Bellin College in Green Bay, WI.

Tell us about yourself.

My first teaching job was at Lincoln High School in Manitowoc, WI, where I taught chemistry and coached Cross Country, Track, and the Science Olympiad Team. Four years later, I took a job at Bay Port High School Green Bay, where I have worked for the past 20 years teaching chemistry and AP Chemistry and coaching the Science Academic Team. During an AP Chem Saturday study session in 2008, a group of students recommended that I start a Bay Port Chem Club and model it after the life-changing experiences I had while working at Science Outreach. This original group of ambitious students has now watched their club grow into an impactful organization that improves chemical education in our area. Teaching has allowed me to serve my community in ways I had never planned for at the start of my college education. My high school self would never have believed I would eventually become a high school teacher of 24 years and a General Chemistry instructor at Bellin College and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

Why did you become a teacher? Did you always want to teach?

Teaching was not my original life plan. My original plan was to become a Naval Aviator. After graduation, I attended Purdue University with an NROTC Scholarship, where I pursued a chemical engineering major and completed the required NROTC coursework and training. Everything I had worked for as a high school student came to fruition; however, something didn't feel right. At Purdue, I found I wasn't keen on engineering, and that military life might not be the right path for me. So, I transferred to the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh (UWO) to complete a Professional ACS degree in Chemistry. A classmate recommended I work for a group called Science Outreach. A UWO professor led this group, and all the members were science majors. We helped carry out elementary teacher science education programs taught by local science teachers, led Science Olympiad competitions for high school students, performed chemical demonstrations, and conducted science activities at elementary schools. Here is where I found my passion for teaching. I realized that teaching was something I was good at, enjoyed doing, and challenged me in ways I had never thought possible. So, I completed my BS in Chemistry, BS in Education, and minor in Mathematics.

In three words, what would your students say they learned from you?

Problem Solving Abilities

Why did you become involved with AACT? What are the benefits of being involved?

Chemical education has become my life's work, and I have always sought opportunities to become a better educator. At the beginning of my education career, I had science teachers at my high school to connect with or attend a yearly convention run by the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST). Many of the teachers who taught for Science Outreach were also active members of WSST, and it was an excellent way to reconnect with them yearly. However, this only allowed me to interact with, learn from, be inspired by, and connect with local or state teachers. AACT gave me the ability to evolve into a better chemistry educator because now I had the potential to grow from the knowledge, experience, and pedagogy of chemistry teachers from every state in the nation. The curated materials, webinars, and articles available through AACT help every chemistry teacher become the best version of themselves in the classroom. Every chemistry teacher can benefit from becoming an AACT member!

What do you do to remain current and bring the latest science into the classroom?

I have five methods to bring current content, the latest science, and best practices into my classroom: publications, podcasts, blogs, conferences, and a personal interest in cutting-edge companies. Each year, I have students join in to keep me current by discussing their favorite science article, podcast, blog, or companies that interest them. In addition, attending conferences and being an AP reader has immensely changed my best practices and aided in my keeping up with the latest science. Below I have listed my top three favorites for each category. Publications: Journal of Chemical Education, Science News, and Chemistry World Podcasts: Science Vs, Short Wave, and Science Friday Blogs: IFL Science, Wired Science, New Scientist Conferences: ChemEd, NSTA, and WSST Cutting-edge Companies: D-Wave Systems, Real Graphene USA, and Tesla

If you could pass on one word of wisdom to other chemists what would it be?

My wisdom would need to be two words: Ingenuity and Perseverance.