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Utah High School Chemistry Teachers Workshop

April 30, 2022

Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry


Finally, after having to wait two years because of Covid, the semiannual high-school chemistry teachers’ workshop was held on Saturday, April 30 in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah. Organized by Michael Morse, the Saturday morning event brought together 45 high-school chemistry teachers from around the region, and several chemistry faculty from the department to learn about and discuss ideas about the teaching of chemistry. We were also fortunate to have Eileen Ragsdale and her son Steve Ragsdale join us for the morning. It was great to have them participating in this event.

Attendance at the workshop counts toward continuing teacher education and is designed to help Utah chemistry teachers learn more about specific chemistry topics that they want to hear about, as well as bringing in leaders in chemistry education to provide their insights. The program this time consisted of three presentations: “Learning Nuclear Chemistry in 60 minutes” by everyone’s favorite chemistry educator, Butch Atwood; "Lean Think: Revolutionizing Education by Doing Less" by a well-known local high-school teacher from Davis High School, Julie Laub; and “Course-level social belonging: Effects on student performance and persistence in General Chemistry”, by Gina Frey who is a faculty member and chemical-education researcher at the University of Utah Department of Chemistry. The discussions during the presentations were lively with great questions and comments. 

Steven Ragsdale Eileen Ragsdale and Julie LaubThe Ron and Eileen Ragsdale High School Teaching Award was presented during this event to Julie Laub. 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 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 extremely pleased to give this award to Julie, whose devotion to education and teacher development, and her focus on creating an inclusive and encouraging environment for students are remarkable. We are also deeply grateful for her continued work with our outreach programs including the high-school teacher workshop, the summer program, and Advanced Placement Lab program.

The Workshop ended with lunch where the engaging conversations continued. The participants voted to hold the fall workshop on Saturday Oct 8, 2022. We look forward to seeing all the high-school teachers again and invite interested chemistry faculty in the department to join us also.


Last Updated: 5/17/22