Community Outreach

Energy and Environment Summer Campaign

The potential catastrophic environmental impacts resulting from current exploitation, processing and utilization of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, natural gas) have composed energy sustainability and environmental protection into the most challenging task for a healthy growth of global economy. One devastating example is the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Consequently, intensive R&D effort has been directed to the search for alternative energy sources and ways for environmental protection. In order to increase the general public awareness of issues regarding Energy Sustainability and Environmental Protection, our group plan to organize an annual Summer Energy and Environment Campaign for K–12 and undergraduate students and teachers in local high schools and community colleges. NIU Chemistry has a long history of excellence in chemical education and has well‐established connections with local public schools and community undergraduate institutions in DeKalb, Sycamore and Rockford areas.

We will invite scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, faculty members and graduate students at NIU to introduce their research work related to energy and environmental science in the form of posters and interactive, concept‐based presentations. During this campaign, talented students will have chance to communicate with the researchers. The students are also encouraged to seek personal networking with scientists at Argonne and NIU and to participate in the research work in individual group.

Each student will give a short presentation to briefly describe a particular topic of their interest that they heard at this campaign and what they think they can do in the future. At this campaign, we will also organize the discussion between Argonne Scientists and local high school teachers on the K–12 science education, e.g. demonstration experiments for high school kids and we will also provide lab tours to K–12 students and teachers.

As part of our effort, our group are recruiting K–12 students from local high schools to participate in our solar cell and catalysis projects. We expect that these students will publish their research work prior to beginning their college education, or else very soon afterward. This effort will both prepare students to be the innovative and productive leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and also to make meaningful, pioneering contributions to our world. On the other hand, we will also encourage NIU students to present their research work at local schools and act as teachers through this outreach program. Thus, this effort synergistically contributes to our department's Educator Licensure program.