242nd ACS National Meeting
Sunday, August 28 - Thursday, September 1, 2011
Denver, CO

Symposium on Chemistry and Culture

"Jerry Bell and the Joy of Chemistry" Symposium
Monday, August 29, 2011

Organized by Bassam Z. Shakhashiri
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2011 ACS President-Elect

Click here to listen to the talks listed below.


Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of Chemistry
8:40-9:00 a.m.

Jerry Bell: Joyful chemist extraordinaire
A journey full of learning, mentoring and service: from Davenport, Iowa, to Harvard, to UC-Riverside, to Simmons College, to NSF, AAAS and ACS in Washington, D.C., and to UW-Madison. On the occasion of his 75th birthday, we salute Jerry for his contributions and accomplishments...and we look forward to more.

Leonard Soltzberg, Simmons College Dept. of Chemistry
9:05-9:25 a.m.

Jerry Bell and the craft of chemistry
A great painter possesses artistic imagination and creative drive, to be sure. But without mastery of the craft of painting, she would be but a dreamer. Similarly, a chemist must be able to envision molecules and reaction paths; but the craft of chemistry − hands−on laboratory craft − is also essential if the potential benefits of chemical research are to be realized.
Jerry Bell's teaching has stressed hands−on chemistry from his earliest endeavors. That vision has flourished at Simmons College, most recently in the Undergraduate Laboratory Renaissance project. This transformation recognizes that laboratory craft encompasses planning, organization and communication in addition to operational skills. We are systematically replacing expository laboratory experiments with course−based guided participation in ongoing faculty research projects. Three years of assessment data indicate that this approach has a positive impact on student attitudes and achievement.

Barbara Pressey Sitzman, Granada Hills Charter High School
9:30 a.m.-9:50 a.m.

Opportunity, encouragement, support: Opening doors to careers in chemistry
Jerry Bell led the first Dreyfus/Woodrow Wilson Institute for Chemistry Teachers at Princeton University. With this first and important experience, he opened the door to the professional chemistry community for this high school teacher. One such opportunity can dramatically impact a person's professional life. I invite you to consider the nature of doors that can be “opened” and think about ways that we can increase opportunities for prospective chemists. Our support, encouragement and action are critical to the future of science in the United States.

Ron Perkins, Greenwich High School, retired; University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of Chemistry
10:05-10:25 a.m.

What do you get by mixing birds, a bell, a snake, a clock, and seven mysteries?
A few times in each generation, a great teacher will appear who has the ability to engage others in making the abstract concrete and the complex simple; then, effortlessly demonstrate that one's simple understanding is actually far from complete! In fact, it might be incorrect. I enter my conversations with Professor Bell with “full understanding”; I leave knowing that there is much more to be learned! Bell makes the study of chemistry exciting, active, and open. This is the sign of a truly Great Teacher!

Glenn Crosby and Jane Crosby, Washington State University Dept. of Chemistry
10:30-10:50 a.m.

Effectiveness of teacher professional development programs: Perception and reality
The authors have spent a quarter−century working with middle− and high−school teachers and students. Their activities were state−wide, regional, national and international. Some of the programs were integrated with ACS Regional and National Meetings and DivCHED Biennial Conferences, while others were independent of any formal scientific society. The speaker will review the intent of such programs, the perception of success and failure, and some of the logistical, social and political difficulties encountered when running professional development programs.

Henry A. Bent, University of Pittsburgh Dept. of Chemistry, retired
10:55-11:15 a.m.

Suggestions for simplifying general chemistry
Chemistry's hard. It's new words for new concepts—a foreign language twice over. It can't be made too easy. Presented will be remarks regarding SI prefixes, the two topics high school chemistry students say are the most difficult, the problems of atomic orbitals, helium in periodic tables, and VSEPR Theory, a new notation for dative bonds, a Valence Stroke Termination Rule, a simple route to Valence Sphere Models of Molecules, and a challenge: to teach chemistry in “The Grand Manner,” arguably the most distinctive thing that chemists can do, as chemists, for education. And the hardest.

Rodney Schreiner, University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of Chemistry
11:20-11:40 a.m.

Seeing (and hearing and tasting and smelling) is believing (perhaps)
What we know about the world, especially what we know through science, has come to us by means of our senses. Thus, to improve the reliability of our knowledge, we need to appreciate how our senses mediate physical stimuli to create our perceptions. Over the course of many years, I have worked with Jerry Bell to develop numerous “classroom” demonstrations of physical phenomena, including some that reveal aspects of perception. I will describe and present some of these latter types of demonstrations, in whose development Jerry has been essential.


Sylvia Ware, American Chemical Society Education Division, retired
2:00-2:20 p.m.

Programs—and man—for all seasons
I joined ACS staff as the first manager of the Office of High School Chemistry in 1979, when ACC had few activities for high school teachers and students, but was anxious to expand in this area. This expansion involved not only new staff activities, but growth within the member Division of Chemical Education, Inc., and a new committee at the governance level. Beginnings have always fascinated me, and I was fortunate then, and for the next 26 years, to have Jerry Bell as an advisor, a consultant, a staff member, but especially as a friend, as the Education Division grew to administer, not only new pre-college programs but also new undergraduate and graduate activities. This growth, and the role of Jerry Bell in ACS education programming will be discussed.

Morton Z. Hoffman and Dan Dill, Boston University Dept. of Chemistry
2:25-2:45 p.m.

Four seasons of Chemistry: A Project of the American Chemical Society
The ACS general chemistry book, which was written by a team led by Jerry Bell and had been class-tested and revised over the course of four years in its preliminary versions, was published by W.H. Freeman in 2004. The printed text and its web-based visualization supplements combined a sophisticated scientific approach, cooperative strategies, and active learning techniques with coverage of all the traditional general chemistry topics at a level appropriate for students with a background in chemistry from high school. It was adopted at approximately 50 institutions across the whole range of the academic spectrum, and was used for five years by a total of more than 3,500 students in CH101-102, the year-long general chemistry course for science majors and pre-medical students at Boston University. The evident success of the textbook and the potential impact it could have on the teaching of general chemistry led to the preparation of a Spanish-language version of the book (Quimica), which was marketed in Latin America, and to the development of plans for the preparation of a second edition. In 2007, the ACS Program Review Advisory Group (PRAG) recommended to the Society Committee on Budget and Finance (B&F) that the General Chemistry Project be terminated; B&F concurred and passed that recommendation on to the ACS Board of Directors, which voted to stop all work on the book as of the end of that year.

John W. Moore, University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of Chemistry
2:50-3:10 p.m.

From SERAPHIM to ChemEd DL
Jerry Bell wrote one of the first Apple II programs distributed by Project SERAPHIM and was instrumental in designing KC? Discoverer, which has morphed into Periodic Table Live!, a Web−based, interactive periodic table that incorporates video of reactions of the elements, crystal structures that can be manipulated with a mouse, a convenient way to graph and tabulate properties of the elements, and much more. ChemEd DL, the Chemical Education Digital Library, which now disseminates Periodic Table Live!, provides many other online resources: a collection of molecular structures that can display symmetry, vibrations, and molecular orbitals; an online textbook that emphasizes the applications of chemistry topics to other disciplines and everyday life; a portal for high school teachers with online resources for teaching each topic of the high school curriculum; and a course management system that can be used by anyone to design and present online lessons or entire courses.

Norbert J. Pienta, University of Iowa Dept. of Chemistry; Editor, Journal of Chemical Education
3:15-3:35 p.m.

The Journal of Chemical Education: Print journalism in an electronic world
The Journal of Chemical Education, published since 1924, is meeting the challenges related to changes occurring in print journalism. Maintaining some of the traditions while responding to the current and future needs of the chemical education community has led to new priorities and to plans that anticipate that future. Current and future perspectives will be presented.

Mary Ann Stepp, George Washington University Dept. of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology and of Ophthalmology
3:50-4:10 p.m.

Making things work: Letting life teach you lessons
Starting out as a nutrition major, I ended up as a Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine and a Professor of Ophthalmology with two beautiful daughters. How did that all work out? I had to learn to adapt and learn from whatever lessons life sent me. I have been helped along the way by such a great partner…Jerry Bell, who always encouraged me to go for it. My presentation is adapted from one that I give every year to participants in an NSF-funded workshop, “Forward to the Professoriate,” held at Gallaudet University.

Jerry A. Bell, Simmons College, retired; University of Wisconsin-Madison Dept. of Chemistry
4:15-4:55 p.m.

Que sera sera: Serendipity in a life in chemistry
How many choices in a career are the result of careful planning and how many are based on seizing unanticipated opportunities? What schools do you attend? How do you find your first, or second, or third, or … job? Or do they find you? Why do you teach or carry out research the way you do? What kinds of service to your profession and/or society engage you? What or who are the influences at the pivot points in your career? I will try to provide brief (mercifully) answers that have brought a great deal of joy to my life in chemistry.