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High School Chemistry Teachers Workshop

March 18, 2023 at the University of Utah Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry

On Saturday, March 18, we held our semi-annual high-school chemistry teachers’ workshop in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah. Organized by Michael Morse, the Saturday morning event brought together approximately 50 participants comprising high-school chemistry teachers from around the region, several chemistry department faculty members, and several University of Utah chemistry majors studying to be high-school chemistry teachers. The workshop promoted learning about and discussing ideas about the teaching of chemistry. We were also delighted to have Eileen Ragsdale, her son Steve Ragsdale, his wife Naomi, and their children participate with us in this event. We were excited to see both new and returning teachers at the event!

Attendance at the workshop counts toward continuing teacher education. It is designed to help Utah chemistry high-school teachers learn more about specific chemistry topics they want to hear about and bring in leaders in chemistry education and industry to provide their insights. The program consisted of three presentations. Michael Morse continued teaching us about how chemists measure the fundamental properties that one sees in all the textbooks with “How do we know what we know: bond lengths and bond dissociation energies”; his talks are always fascinating, and one learns so much. In the second presentation, Gina Frey discussed peer-led collaborative-learning methods in chemistry with “Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL): Effect on student performance, student talk during sessions, and peer-leader facilitation.” The teachers were excited to learn about these methods and asked many questions about how they could be implemented. We were fortunate to have Steve Ragsdale give the last talk, including excellent demonstrations on "Renewable Energy Fuel Cell with Zero Carbon Footprint.” He had us all wanting these cells and using them in our teaching! As usual, everyone asked excellent questions and gave insightful comments during the discussions in all the presentations.

The annual Ron and Eileen Ragsdale High School Teaching Award were presented to Marc Allen from Woods Cross High School during this event. This award honors a regional high-school teacher who is selected for their exemplary teaching that is characterized, in part, by engagement, dedication, equitability, evidence-based teaching practices, and high standards for their students, as well as being an outstanding colleague to other high-school teachers throughout the Valley and an active participant in the Department’s outreach programs. The recipient receives a monetary award, an award certificate, and a “silver flask” made by our own Jeff Statler. We are incredibly pleased to give this award to Marc, whose dedication and enthusiasm for teaching include using varied teaching methods and taking the initiative to continually adapt new ideas to improve the success of all his students. Following in the footsteps of Ron Ragsdale, Marc also brings science to all students in his high school by giving large-scale chemical demonstrations to enhance general interest in science. Special thanks to Ragsdale family for their continuing support of U Chemistry. 

The Workshop ended with lunch, where the engaging conversations continued. We will hold the following workshop on Saturday, Oct 7, 2023. We look forward to seeing all the high-school teachers and the undergraduate chemistry majors and invite interested chemistry faculty in the department to join us also.


Upcoming Workshop - April 27, 2024


Last Updated: 3/28/24