1994 Annual Report to ACS

During 1994, the Montana Section of the American Chemical Society continued three themes. These include: Enhancement of education opportunities, service to the Montana ACS membership, and linkage of communication with and between chemically oriented groups and individuals in Montana. In addition, a new initiative for 1994 was to develop mechanisms needed to reach out to the industrial chemists of the section. This summary will reflect our efforts in these areas as we continue efforts in contributing to the health of chemical sciences.

A focal point of the Section's educational and public outreach activities was again National Chemistry Week 1994. Members were again very active across the State, with education materials provided to classrooms and chemistry demonstrations presented. Although the major commitments necessary for NCW activities during the even-numbered years led to section activities of lesser magnitude than in 1993, Section members and affiliates augmented the November activities with similar efforts, such as visitations of classrooms and demonstrations throughout the year. In Eastern Montana, members from Montana State University-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College) assisted in a dozen "Chemistry Magic" presentations at area schools and to the general public through involvement with the MSU-B Student Affiliate. The MSU-B SAACS, formed in late 1993 with the encouragement of Section members Mark Waddington and Rhonda Dillman of MSU-B, was a particular gem to Society activities in 1994, having received funding from an ACS Innovative Activities Project Grant and from local businesses in excess of $1000 in support of the project, "Chemistry Demonstrations for Fun and Education." Well over one thousand people were "exposed" to the positive aspects of chemistry as a result of these extensions of the "Chemistry Magic" show organized by Mark Waddington during National Chemistry Week 1992, after encouragement from Dr. Andrea Stierle of Montana Tech, long-time State Coordinator of NCW.

During the Spring ACS members worked with students throughout the state in finishing science fair projects, organizing science fairs, and providing expert judges to the competitions, with the Section providing savings bonds to students having the best chemistry projects at three Regional Science Fairs. The Chemistry Olympiad was again supported by the Section and the Membership. Led by Gary Freebury of Kalispell, 1995 Section Chair and a high school chemistry teacher, 1100 students received a locally designed exam, with the top eight students receiving awards from the Section. A highlight of the year was the growth of the Chemistry Concept Workshop Program. Spearheaded by ACS member and former sectional chairperson, Dr. Arnold Craig of Montana State University, this National Science Foundation supported program initiated in 1993, is intended to provide exceptional continuing education opportunity for Montana's Secondary Science Teachers. In 1994, three half-day workshops were carried in Billings, Missoula, Glendive, and during an entire week at Bozeman. Another workshop was scheduled for Kalispell during January, 1995.

Many Section members attended the "Meeting in Miniature" held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Montana Academy of Sciences during April at Montana Tech in Butte. Organized by former section Chair, Don Stierle of Tech, over twenty papers were delivered and over 40 attendees enjoyed the presentation by ACS Tour Speaker, Sr. Mary Virginia Orna, entitled "The Chemist as Detective in Examining Art and Artifacts."

As has been the case for some time, ACS members conducted chemical safety workshops and audits of school laboratory facilities. Organized by Russ Hartford and Gary Freebury of Kalispell, these initiatives provided not only a potentially hazardous storage or operation conditions, but also provided educational updating and liaison, which significantly altered the environment of chemical experimentation in the state. Additional service was reflected in the consultative work of our members, who gave advice and analytical expertise in formal to informal settings throughout the year.

The Montana Section again sponsored the annual Fall Social Gathering in October. Held this year near Dillon, Montana (site of Western Montana College of the University of Montana) at Birch Creek, a former CCC camp now used as a field station by WMC, over two dozen members from all corners of the state enjoyed two days at the beautiful site nestled at the foot of the Pioneer mountains.

In continuing our effort to enhance communications among Section members, Executive Board members have made more usage of electronic methods information transmission, including usage of the InterNet, and we anticipate this will be a growth area in the future with the advent of a "new and improved" METNET computer system operated by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, allowing a link with public school educators (including those of our affiliated Montana Science Teacher Association). Our continuing involvement with public school education was evidenced by attendance of members at the meeting of the Montana Education Association in Billings and presentations of in-service programs by several Sections members. We also continued our long relationships with the MSTA.

A new initiative this year was to develop mechanisms needed to reach out to the industrial chemists of the section. With this in mind, the Executive Board invited Andy Valkenburg, Quality Assurance Manager at Energy Laboratories, a major employer of chemists in Billings, to our April Board Meeting. His ideas to enhance the interaction between industrial chemists and those from academics, especially as related to impacting the educational experiences and future career opportunities of public school students, were enthusiastically received by the Board. The Board agreed to create a Committee to probe these interfaces, with Mark Waddington (academic area), Gary Freebury (public schools) and Andy Valkenburg (industry) appointed and with the intention of recommending that a member from industry be later appointed to the Executive Board.

In total, this summary highlights the efforts of the Montana Section to serve the chemistry community and the public at large. We look forward to continuing these efforts in 1995 under the able leadership of Gary Freebury.