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Posted 05.18.05

'Magic of Chemistry' To Be Showcased at American Chemical Society Symposium

Program has served more than 1,900 girls, encouraging them to study science

COLUMBIA, MO -- When the Girl Scout juniors of the Heart of Missouri Council receive an unsigned letter that promises a special gift, the young crime scene investigators must analyze the evidence using chemistry to determine the sender's identity. This mock investigation is part of the "Magic of Chemistry" program, a series of workshops held at the University of Missouri-Columbia designed to stimulate and maintain interest in science among young girls.

Sheryl Tucker, MU associate professor of chemistry and Magic of Chemistry founder, has been selected by the Chemistry Division of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present the Magic of Chemistry program and her contributions to the broader impacts of science at the 2005 American Chemical Society's national meeting. Tucker is one of 50 chemists selected to participate in the "Broader Impact" poster symposium that will be held the week of Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C.

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Under Tucker's direction, Magic of Chemistry has evolved from a two-year pilot program with 35 Girl Scout participants into a bi-annual, partnership program consisting of three rotating workshops: "Case of the Unsigned Letter," "Fun with Polymers" and "Chemistry of Color." Every year, Tucker and the Girl Scouts-Heart of Missouri Council work together to provide 400 junior Girl Scouts in fourth through sixth grades with an experience that will build confidence and knowledge in their perceptions of their scientific abilities, Tucker said.

"The broader impact is the development of our nation's human resources at the lowest level--children in grade schools," Tucker said. "This program is designed to ignite and retain young girls' interest in science at an age where national studies indicate they begin to lose this curiosity. We must have girls entering the 'pipeline' before we worry about them leaking from it."

The American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee has recognized the program nationally for the "Best Single Event in a Local Section Promoting Women in Chemistry." In addition, the Girl Scouts-Heart of Missouri Council has received a Quality Recognition Award from the Girl Scouts of the USA for its partnership in the workshops.

To date, more than 1,900 girls, 400 Girl Scout volunteers and 550 MU volunteers have participated in a Magic of Chemistry workshop.

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