Beyond Benign

Lead Teacher Blog

Cassandra Knutson, Lead Teacher

Inspiration from ACS Meetings











I have been to several ACS meetings in the past few years and each time I leave excited and inspired. It’s amazing to see what happens when people with unique ideas and expertise gather together and share. For me, ACS meetings typically kick off with the Division of Chemical Education Chemistry (CHED) Teachers Day Program – a session designed for high school and college chemistry teachers. This week, at ACS Orlando, I had the honor of kicking off this session, sharing a presentation titled “Chemistry and the Final Frontier: Student Designed Sustainable Payloads at the Edge of Space” with another Beyond Benign Lead Teacher, Lurea Doody. In this presentation we explored how students can engage in inquiry and engineering by designing sustainable solutions with GrowBio (Ecovative) materials. I shared how my students designed a “spacecraft” to collect data and bring our school mascot to near space (~100,000 feet) by a weather balloon flight.










As each of the presentations were shared, teachers jotted notes and new ideas, talking with one another about their classroom practices. During the Teacher Day Program, I was particularly inspired by Raychelle Burks’ presentation titled “Viral Videos as Teaching Tools.” In this presentation, Raychelle shared how to use viral media to engage students in chemistry. (Come on, how cool is it to have someone that has been parodied on SNL for their work in chemistry education in your personal learning network?!?)

While the content of this presentation was unique, it was like many others that I attended in which I had opportunities to grow my personal learning network, gather inspiration, connect my ideas with other ideas, and share. ACS meetings and similar are perfect opportunities for intersecting my knowledge and new ideas to create new and innovative learning opportunities for my students. For example, while attending presentations on process oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) I was able to begin considering how to connect green chemistry with POGIL activities.

I will go back to my classroom this week and I will be a better teacher because of my participation at this ACS meeting. My students will benefit from the numerous ideas that I have curated for improving my teaching practices and curriculum. I encourage anyone looking to grow professionally to attend an upcoming conference or meeting – and of course, find and say hello to Beyond Benign Lead Teachers while you are there!

Click here for the full Chemistry and the Final Frontier: Student Designed Sustainable Payloads at the Edge of Space presentation
Click here for Beyond Benign middle school resources on GrowBio/Ecovative activities
Click here for Beyond Benign high school resources on GrowBio/Ecovative activities
Click here for information on the upcoming ChemEd meeting in Naperville, IL | July 21st – July 25th 2019
Click here for details on the upcoming ACS meetings including San Diego, CA | August 25th – August 29th 2019


 Written by Cassandra Knutson, Edited by Janie Butler

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