Public Affairs Lecture
|Public Affairs Awardee—|
Lee R. Marek
"Chemistry On the Late Show With David Letterman-Part 1"
Date: March 16, 2007 Location: Café La Cave
2777 Mannheim Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018
Cost: $34.00 for members of ACS and their guests, $36.00 for non-members,
$17 for students or unemployed
Dinner reservations are required and should be received in the Section Office via phone (847-647-8405), fax (847-647-8364), email (email@example.com), or web by noon on Wednesday, March 14. PLEASE HONOR YOUR RESERVATIONS. The Section must pay for all dinner orders. No-shows will be billed.
Please REGISTER ON LINE
5:00 - 6:00 PM Job Club
5:15 -6:15 PM Topical Group
6:00 - 7:00 PM Social Hour: Complimentary Hors D'oeuvres served butler style. Cash Bar
7:00 PM Dinner
8:15 PM Public Affairs Award Program
Lee R. Marek, Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Chicago; former Teacher, Naperville High School
Abstract: The audience for the David Letterman show is not unlike a classroom full of high
school students or college freshman! It's sitting there daring you to be interesting! One way to capture attention is to do demonstrations that are exocharmic [to radiate charm -- make you want to watch] and to be a bit weird/eccentric. Good teaching is part knowledge, part preparation and part theater and so is doing science on THE LATE SHOW. More important you need a frame of mind somewhat off center to survive doing chemistry on national TV.
As Robert Maynard Hutchins said, "My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young & inflame their intellects." I embrace this idea -- sometimes literally -- both in my classroom, in science programs, and the David Letterman Show! I use what is called the "Phenomenological" approach to teaching science -- introducing a topic with a demonstration or lab so that students have something concrete on which to focus. I use demonstrations as exocharmic motivators to captivate student interest and to focus on the day's topic. To influence high school kids, college freshman, or the general public like the Letterman show audience, you need "presence", to capture their attention.
We live in a world of the 15-second commercial, MTV video, and the National Enquirer. As teaching professionals we need to compete, to show the people that there is something interesting and important in learning; something about which "inquiring minds really do want to know." It boils down to what William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not in the filling of a pail, but in the lighting of a fire".
I will present a number of clips from the 25 shows I have been on in the last 15 years, including one used on his 10th anniversary show and one that was up for an Emmy award. These demos will range from the 8 foot ball of fire shooting across the stage, to the Dyn-o-might soap. I will describe the time I dissolved the set, discuss the 1000 pounds of thermite demo [never done] and show the time the 500 pounds of Oobleck got lose. There will be a clip of the time I almost took out Bozo on WGN! If there is time, I will show some of the other work I did with WTTW, FOX, Inside Edition and U.K. TV. I will also do a few of the simple demos with the audience.
My web site has some demos and more information: http://www.chem.uic.edu/marek/
Biography: Lee Marek received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois and M.S. degrees in chemistry and in physics from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He currently teaches Chemistry 101 and does the chemistry demonstrations and teacher programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He taught chemistry at Naperville North High School for over 30 years. His students have won national recognition in the International Chemistry Olympiad, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the Internet Science and Technology Fair.
For the last nine summers he helped run a history of science program in Europe and has helped run over 500 workshops/programs for teachers, students and the general public in the past 25 years. He was instrumental in starting up and running a teachers alliance group [over 400 teachers] called ChemWest in the Chicago area.
Among the awards Lee has received are the Presidential Award, ACS's James Bryant Conant Award, the ACS Helen Free Award for Public Outreach, Golden Apple Awardee, Sigma Xi and CMA's National Catalyst Award for Teaching. Lee has also been a regular on "The David Letterman Show" since 1990 doing science infotainment. He was a Woodrow Wilson Chemistry Team leader and is now a Flinn Team leader.
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