If you’re a chemistry educator, it is likely that during the month of May, you will (or have already) experienced one of the following:

  • A combination of emotions. You may be feeling a mix of excitement, anxiety, and frustration as you prepare your students to take their final exam, a state assessment, or the AP Exam.
  • A pause for reflection on the school year. One technique is to find a rose (a positive outcome that brings you joy), a bud (something that has potential but needs further growth), and a thorn (a negative outcome that needs to be improved).
  • Dueling priorities. You may switch back and forth between short-term goals (e.g., “Is my lesson plan ready for tomorrow?”) and long-term goals (e.g., “How can I improve the quality of my course for next year?”)

In my September editorial, I invited teachers to embrace “the three Cs” of Connect, Collaborate, and Contribute. These strategies have the potential not only to ignite a teacher’s passion for their profession, but also to improve the quality of education. As we move closer toward that light at the end of the tunnel marking the last day of the semester or school year, I encourage you to re-consider the value of each of these core strategies, and how you can weave them throughout the way you teach.


At this point in the school year, some teachers may feel somewhat isolated and disconnected. This could happen when someone is the only chemistry teacher at their school, or when there is a lack of communication among the teachers who work in the same school or division. Some well-intentioned teachers might choose to focus exclusively on their own students and their daily lessons. A mindset of “just shut your door and teach” can have an unintended consequence for teachers: failing to reap the benefits of sharing ideas and supporting their colleagues.

Recently I had a conversation with Anthony Stetzenmeyer, a chemistry teacher in Belleville, Michigan, about the value of connecting with other teachers online. Here’s what he shared with me.

“When I first joined the Chemistry Facebook groups, [Example: AP Chemistry Teachers] I was hesitant to comment or ask a question or to share anything. But the moment I started talking to other teachers, a whole world opened up. I was talking to teachers in same state and in other states as well as other countries. There’s something powerful about all of us connecting with each other while teaching the same subject. It is empowering to read different posts, to comment, and to share the trials and tribulations of teaching chemistry. I can connect with teachers to commiserate with them or to laugh with them about having made the same mistakes. Not only is it empowering, but it also provides validation to the work that we do. From there, you make the connections to figuring out what other professional groups and people are out there. And you can find great people to work with through AACT!” — Anthony Stetzenmeyer

I always enjoy finding new ways to share ideas with other teachers. My suggestion is to include AACT in your discussions when you connect with another teacher! Testimonials from AACT members spread the word about this terrific organization that is dedicated to supporting K–12 teachers of chemistry, both in the US and around the world.


Three of the hashtags on X (formerly Twitter) that really resonate with me are #BetterTogether, #iteachchem, and #chemfam. In my November 2022 Chemistry Solutions editorial, Making Connections: The Value of a Professional Learning Network, I described some of the ways in which I have made progress in my journey as an educator. Having a professional learning network (PLN) has allowed me to learn and grow with others. I recently reached out to three of the teachers in my PLN: Katy Dornbos (@KatyDornbos), Ashley Green (@ashley_green2), and Nora Walsh (@ReitzChemistry). I asked them to share a few anecdotes about how they collaborate and share with teachers from around the country.

This is a great chance for me to adapt and reuse Levar Burton’s famous “Reading Rainbow” catchphrase: There are lots of great chemistry teachers who collaborate with each otherbut you don’t have to take MY word for it!

“Countless times, I have shared a resource, and a week later, another teacher will message me with an updated or modified version of mine. Or I will take an activity that someone else has shared, modify it, and then re-share it. It’s like social media chain mail, except the lab just keeps getting better, and everyone can still see it. We wrote a POGIL-style discovery of the subatomic particles, and Theresa Marx ran with it and tied it all the way back to Rutherford's experiment, complete with archery, data, and models. And because X spans the time zones of the United States, someone, somewhere, is likely to have a resource to share (and also likely to be up early or late enough to share it!) — Katy Dornbos  

“Last summer I was in New Jersey, and collaborated with Doug Ragan in Michigan to do a workshop at ChemEd 2023 on an Introduction to NGSS using Phenomenon. We had to FaceTime multiple times to plan our workshop, buy supplies, and test the demo to make sure it worked. After Katy Dornbos shared a card sort she created for an introduction to stoichiometry, I transformed her paper activity into a digital version for students to do at home. Similarly, Sarah English and I have spent a lot of time working together to make chemistry storylines, coming up with lists of phenomena for the various NGSS standards. We spend countless hours trying to find ways to make our lessons more student-centered and student-driven. People will DM me asking for a copy of a lab. Sometimes they tweak it and send it back to me for ideas and vice versa. It is a domino effect and I love how generous and creative everyone on social media is!” — Ashley Green                                                                                          

“I have an in-person professional learning network that meets regularly, and my activities are the best when I have a collaborative thought partner. In addition to my in-person network, I also feel very fortunate to be part of a professional learning network on social media. Being able to collaborate with teachers on social media gives me a lot of new ideas that I bring into my classroom, and being able to support other teachers who want another perspective for their lesson makes me feel really good. The end goal is improved student learning. The two-way flow of activities and reflection on social media has advanced my teaching more rapidly than before I was involved in these circles. A good way to take your first step into the online PLN is to follow AACT and Chemical Education Xchange, as well as teachers whose content you have already used and loved.” — Nora Walsh

It is my hope that teachers will not only utilize the extensive list of resources that are available on the AACT website, but that they will also take steps toward expanding their network of teacher colleagues. Please feel free to reach out to me on X (@mrfarabaugh), along with President-Elect Martin Palermo (@Mrpchemistry) and AACT (@AACTconnect). We’re very glad to share with you, learn with you, and support you.


AACT is a professional organization in which teachers can contribute to our community in a variety of ways, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Have you found something that works well for you and your students? Teachers can submit original classroom resource ideas in the form of activities, demonstrations, labs, lessons, or projects. Then work with staff to publish your resource in the Classroom Resource Library (and get compensated!) You can also apply to participate as part of the Summer Content Writing Team to help create teaching resources related to the 2024 National Chemistry Week theme of photography and imaging.

I invite you to explore the leadership opportunities that are available through positions on the AACT Governing Board. Share your ideas in Chemistry Solutions, and learn more about becoming a peer reviewer. Do you have a particular area of chemistry that you’re passionate about? Host an AACT webinar, and you can provide professional development for other teachers.

After watching a recent webinar, A Deeper Dive into Project-Based Learning, I contacted Alisha M. Bailey, Program Manager at the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University. I asked her to share some details about her experience as a presenter for an AACT webinar.

“Previously, I participated in a few AACT webinars and decided that I was interested in sharing my own ideas, so I inquired about writing an article. In the May 2021 issue of Chemistry Solutions, I wrote a Classroom Commentary article, “The Value of Integrating Real-World Projects in Science.” Later, I was contacted by Jeramy DeBry at AACT to serve as a presenter for professional development sessions centered around project-based learning. My favorite part about being a presenter was having the opportunity to engage and interact with the AACT community through the virtual surveys and being able to showcase data and technology in real time that others would find useful. If you are an AACT member and are considering sharing your content for a webinar in the future, don’t hesitate! Being a presenter was a great experience, as I was already familiar with the project-based learning content I was presenting, so the overall process was pleasant. Jeramy provided support by being available the day prior to my scheduled webinar to answer any last-minute questions, which was helpful. The AACT community has several resources available to help educators collaborate, connect, and certainly contribute their content knowledge.” — Alisha M. Bailey

Applications now open!

ChemClub 2024–25
Apply by November 1

Science Coaches 2024–25
Teacher Application
Coaches Application
Apply by September 2

In addition, there are several other ways you can get involved and connected with AACT. For high school and middle school teachers who advise an after-school chemistry club, be sure to officially register as part of the ChemClub program. You’ll receive tons of great resources made specifically for a club environment, and be eligible for great incentives, like grants, contests, scholarships, and more. The Science Coaches Program is also an opportunity to connect — as a K-12 teacher of chemistry, you’ll be paired with a chemistry professional (your coach) who helps bring chemistry to life for your students and can support and collaborate with you on projects. As a participant in the program, you’ll also receive a $550 gift certificate from Flinn Scientific to use in your classroom!

Discover stories and insights from teachers like you who are connecting, collaborating, and contributing to the chemistry education community in this issue of Chemistry Solutions.

  • In the feature article, you’ll get a follow-up from the two teachers who explored ChatGPT in their classroom in our September issue.
  • You’ll learn about new technology tools a high school chemistry teacher uses to improve his teaching effectiveness and student engagement in his classroom.
  • An early career teacher reflects on his journey from individual to partner-based assignments to cultivate a collaborative learning culture in his chemistry classroom.
  • Hear from an experienced teacher as she shares a unique perspective since transitioning from the high school chemistry classroom to a new challenge as an elementary science teacher.

Hang in there, everyone! Summer is just around the corner. I hope that each of you can pause and reflect, finding a bright spot or a positive takeaway from this school year. I also hope that you’ll consider a specific way in which you will expand your PLN and contribute to the AACT community. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns.

If you’re attending the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) at the University of Kentucky (July 28 – August 1), consider signing up for an AACT workshop (there are several on Sunday, July 28 and Monday, July 29). Maybe we can meet up and find some time to chat. Finally, I would like to share that it has been a special honor for me to serve as your AACT President for 2023-24.

Matt Perekupka

Michael Farabaugh
Board President, AACT