SCIENCE, EDUCATION, AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY RELATIONS

We are passionate about chemistry and as a result we want to share that enthusiasm with others through research and in class. We are motivated and inspired by others who share similar interests and commitment to science education. A primary focus is to support and encourage efforts that lead to preparing students especially minorities, women, and students who have limited resources in third world countries who want to learn science. Our research group is diverse and our focus is simply to introduce students to research and its applications from a chemical perspective at the undergraduate level.

In addition, we delighted to help support those that do not have the privileges we have especially when it comes to learning science. Meet Vikram Shankar, (below) a general chemistry student who devotes a lot of effort towards community development and cultural exchange through science. Vikram spent time this summer (2010) transferring some of the things he learned in my general chemistry lecture to peer educators in Togo, Africa.

Togo is one of the poorest countries in the world where a large percentage of students suffer from AIDS and Malaria. Vikram spent about 27 months in Togo while in the Peace Corp, and every year he goes back to work with local communities and non-governmental agencies (NGOs) on various health and educational projects. He is committed to bringing Americans every year from a variety of backgrounds that have an interest in education, health, and natural resource management. This summer he took a science teacher and a naturopathic medical student to Togo with the intention of exposing them to Togolese culture and international development.

He spent the summer on various projects including teaching science classes to peer educators and also raised money to buy books to help them. Efforts include transferring knowledge of the periodic table to the students who would recite this in front of a large community. His efforts towards community and science development are inspiring and admirable and we are happy to support him on this endeavor.

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We are humbled by the student’s appreciation for what we have transferred to them and we look forward to teaching them something new and exciting next year.  Currently, Vikram is attending medical school at Wisconsin-Madison.  Despite this we will continue to be a bridge through him with our Togo friends. 

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 Here are some of the activities we have been involved with.

This year our class was about 20 students. Although Vikram only managed a few weeks this year, he got many things accomplished. The students really enjoyed the learning activities that we prepared which included a list of cool chemistry videos from various sources to share with the students of Togo since chemistry lab experience is limited.

We also put together game cards to help them learn about the periodic table. The idea is to have two sets of cards, one student gets a card and have to find its matching pair by asking questions regarding the element given. They students aim is to figure out which other student has the other matching card. Each student gets two cards, one card the student has to find its matching partner and the other in which he holds secretly so that others try to find its match. Laminated periodic tables were also sent to the students from Sciencegeek.com. Click here for a copy: http://www.vertex42.com/Files/pdfs/periodic-table_color.pdf. The students really enjoyed having these!

Although we didn't go there physically we learned so much cultural from Vikram’s pictures which allows us to learn more about the Togolese culture and the day to day living of people there. We learned about their struggles and the joys in life they experience however simple their life is. It puts things into perspective and I realize how privilege we are.

 

Summer School Students in the Local High School

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Vikram teaching the basics of organic chemistry

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Vikram with his friend and family

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Learning science through experiments

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A special day...a visit from the chief of the village at the local high school

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Awards day! Congratulations on completing the summer science program

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