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High School Chemistry Teachers Workshop

The Department of Chemistry here at the U has enjoyed a longstanding collaboration with local Utah high school teachers. In 1973, Professor Ragsdale established  the teaching of summer AP classes for students. Then, beginning in the early 1990s, Professor Ragsdale initiated special training sessions for high school teachers. Since his retirement in 2012, former Professor Atwood took over for a short while. However, she has since retired from the Department and now Distinguished Professor Michael Morse has been leading this workshop, getting involved in 2013 and taking over in 2018. This collaboration has evolved into what it is now known as today -  High School Chemistry Teachers Workshop. s

In 2013, the Advanced Placement organization announced that a new topic would be covered in the AP Chemistry exam that year: Photoelectron Spectroscopy. Professor Charles (Butch) Atwood, the Ron and Eileen Ragsdale Endowed Professor of Chemical Education, learned that the AP Chemistry teachers were quite worried about this new topic. They felt they didn’t really know or understand this topic. Butch asked Professor Michael Morse would be willing to give a talk on the subject, and he agreed.

In September, 2013, Morse gave a talk on the subject that was attended by about 50 teachers. The teachers were highly engaged, interrupting his talk to ask questions frequently, and listening intently. Morse doesn't think he's ever had such a highly engaged audience for any lecture he's ever given. At the end, Prof. Atwood asked the teachers if they’d like to hear him talk about other topics in a series of workshops. The teachers were enthusiastic about the idea.

In Fall, 2014, we began holding the workshops twice yearly (Fall and Spring). For each workshop, Morse would present a talk on a subject that the teachers wanted to learn more about, Butch would present results from his chemical education research, and he would bring in an outside speaker to talk about chemical education topics. Sometimes another professor in the chemistry department would give a talk about their research.

When Prof. Atwood retired (June 2018), Morse took over running the program. Ronald and Eileen Ragsdale Professor of Chemical Education, Gina Frey, has also been heavily involved, giving one of the talks every year.

When COVID struck, we cancelled the program for Spring and Fall, 2020 and again for Spring and Fall, 2021. We resumed in Spring 2022, and invited Prof. Atwood back from retirement to give a talk on “Nuclear Chemistry”, which was superb! The program has continued, Spring and Fall, ever since.

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Here is a list of what Professor Michael Morse has covered at the workshop:

Fall, 2013 – Photoelectron Spectroscopy     Fall, 2014 – Chemical Bonding     Spring, 2015 – Entropy     Fall, 2015 – Equilibrium

Spring, 2016 – Kinetics     Fall, 2016 – Electrochemistry     Spring, 2017 – Molecular Orbital Theory     Fall, 2017 – Modern Materials

Spring, 2018 – Acids and Bases     Fall, 2018 – Transition Metals     Spring, 2019 – Spectroscopy      Fall, 2019 – Intermolecular Forces

Spring, 2022 – Nuclear Chemistry (by Prof. Atwood)     Fall, 2022 – How do we know what we know, Part 1 (Ionization energies and electron affinities)

Spring, 2022 - How do we know what we know, Part 2 (Bond lengths and bond dissociation energies)     Fall, 2023 – Reaction Mechanisms and Dynamics

Spring, 2024 – Free Energy (by Prof. Michael Grünwald)

Last Updated: 5/13/24