The Young Ambassadors for Chemistry (YACs) project facilitates the flow of ideas between chemistry and society using young people as mediators. YAC utilizes a “train the trainers” approach so that teachers can help students communicate the benefits of chemistry, and in doing so increase public interest in chemistry. YAC is a partnership between the Public Understanding of Chemistry subcommittee of IUPAC’s Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) and the Science Across the World (SAW) Network.
The fifth YAC event, held in South Africa in March 2007, built upon the successes of those held earlier in Taipei, Taiwan; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Krasnoyarsk, Russia; and Gwangju, Korea.
A typical YAC event encompasses four days of workshops and preparation with educators, followed by a one-day public event where students—the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry—share their enthusiasm and interest with passers-by. The initial workshops for teacher trainers and teachers are based upon two topics: “Chemistry in Our Lives” and “Talking about Genetics around the World,” for which SAW has extensive documentation and training experience. The trained teachers carry out SAW projects, including communicating with partner classrooms in other countries and preparing students for interactions with their communities. In carrying out the SAW projects, students research aspects of chemistry in the local context. The culminating public event, usually held in a public square or a busy mall, is where the young students become Young Ambassadors for Chemistry and present their findings to the public.
Science Across the World has developed documentation for many activities for students to do active research; for example:
- Looking at how renewable energy is used on a small scale in the neighborhood?
- Interviewing older people in the community about changes to land use and natural habitats during their lifetime.
- Investigating GM crops and foods, their regulations, and how the media covers the issue.
- Surveying the foods students eat during a typical school day and looking at food advertisements and the role of food labelling.