ChemClub Spotlight: Sweet Home High School
By AACT on February 6, 2023
Sweet Home High School ChemClub
Sweet Home High School in Amherst, New York includes past and current chemistry students. According to one student in the club, they seek to understand how chemistry affects their lives from the technology they use, to their careers, and beyond.
The club was founded with 12 members in 2017 by the current Teacher Advisor Dr. Sarah English. At least 20 club members showed up for this interview, some of whom had just finished decorating holiday cookies as part of the club's annual Festivus party.
The club meets each week, and above all, they like to have fun.
“What makes this club unique is that everyone just has fun, and we always try to do something different” one student said. “We all just come because of the love of chemistry, and because of this love, it doesn't matter what we look like, or where we come from. We just come.”
The club gives back to their community. Last year, a group of students visited a local elementary school for the school’s science day.
"We had like over 300 elementary kids show up and ... the chemistry club members that were seniors came and just did a massive amount of volunteering and playing with all the kids and doing science experiments and stuff like that. So that we're hoping to continue with that and maybe possibly branch out to the other elementary schools, we'll see" Dr. English said.
The club also brings in the wider science community to engage with students in the club. Using Skype, the students have an opportunity to speak with a scientist "about their research and how they make science an accessible part of our lives" one student said.
Current ChemClub members have no shortage of past members to look up to.
Dr. English said she still keeps in contact with at least eight of the original members, all of whom have gone on to work in science. Former members of the club overall work in pharmacy, chemistry research, chemistry law, material science, and even a local chemistry company. One is starting her PhD in Chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).
Former members of the club who are now in college also return to the school as part of a panel to educate current members, especially juniors and seniors, about what to expect in their first year of college and help prepare them.
Even though the club likes to have fun and try new things, some traditions stay the same. For example, according to one student, club members get to carve pumpkins and fill them with dry ice1 each year.
"Some students in here when they join ChemClub, they’ve never carved a pumpkin before in their lives” Dr. English said. “For a lot of them, it’s a first-time experience doing that.”
They also make holiday ornaments. "We made holiday ornaments using Borax and then using copper-plated redox reactions"1 one student mentioned.
In the future, this club looks forward to ordering mini circuit boards to make their own conductivity testers for solids and liquids. “We're actually planning on ordering the parts for that and then having some of our amazing physics and AP physics students help everybody out to build those and then and then test different things around the room” Dr. English said.
Whether it's a new activity, or a popular tradition, students know that every week there will be something exiting for them to do each week.
“With other clubs we know what to expect, but with chemistry club, we walk in and Dr. English always has something new and exciting for us to do” one student said.
All activities completed as part of the ChemClub Program should be conducted by students under direct supervision of the teacher advisor. Safety precautions are outlined in all activities published by the ChemClub Program and should be followed. Teacher advisors should use RAMP to evaluate all activities before use, or if using alternative materials or procedures. ACS cannot be held responsible for any accidents or injuries that might result from conducting the activities without proper supervision, from not specifically following directions, or from ignoring the cautions contained in the resources. For more information related to safety, visit the AACT Safety Collection.
Interested in doing similar activities with your Club? Check out these resources from AACT: