Chapters

Get Your Chapter Moving—Online

Doing activities virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic is the best way to keep your chapter active while building connections safely.
students during a social distancing social hosted by ACS
Students participate in a Social Distancing Social hosted by ACS

September is here, and school is back in session. Whether or not classes are online, conducting chapter activities virtually amid the COVID epidemic is the best way to build connections safely with peers, working professionals, and your local community. Staying as active as possible is also extremely important for keeping members enthusiastic about achieving chapter goals.

So what exactly can you do? We pulled together the best ideas from chapters around the world. Check out these five ways to get your chapter active and engaged in virtual spaces.

1. Come together

Use your regular meetings to do fun stuff as a chapter. Gather the crew online to stream a movie, and share recipes for microwave s’mores, mocktails, or other treats that you can all enjoy together at the same time.

You can also play games like Scattergories, Kahoot!, and Jackbox, or relieve stress with a virtual yoga session, meditation, or even an art class.

Of course, there is always important chapter work to do. Jump-start the year with a meeting for all members to weigh in on a strategic plan and share ideas about what the chapter can do for the year. Be sure to get together on a consistent basis to check in on progress, coordinate events, ask for help, and support one another.

You can also use virtual spaces for recruiting. Try engaging first-year students by partnering them with an upperclassman mentor who can introduce them to your college and the chapter.

Get the word out about your club. You can easily publicize your chapter on social media. And when you’ve got some new members, hold a virtual welcome ceremony for them.

2. Keep your outreach going

Although it’s tough to beat hands-on activities at a mall or science expo, you can still do outreach activities.

Share videos of your demos on TikTok (#ScienceFair is trending!), Instagram, or YouTube.

You can also work with elementary and middle school teachers in the area to showcase demos virtually for their students. Or volunteer your time to tutor students online.

National Chemistry Week will be celebrated online this year. The NCW website is loaded with activities, graphics, and tips on 2020’s adhesive-based theme, “Sticking with Chemistry.” Be sure to check out the site to grab resources and ideas.

For more inspiration, see how the student chapter at Texas A&M University took their Chemists Celebrate Earth Week activities online back in spring 2020.

You can also host virtual chemistry cafés. Bring in experts for a panel discussion on a topic or have members give their own (well-researched) presentations.

Science-themed book clubs and design-your-own-(poster, mask, t-shirt, etc.) contests are also fun ways to share science with the community.

The student chapter at University of Texas, Austin created Safety Moment Monday—a set of slides with quick safety tips in a variety of areas, which was shared with the department.

Remember there is more to outreach than science education. You can raise money to help students with food insecurity, create COVID-19 awareness campaigns for K-12 students, donate blood, and more!

Talk to your department head who can guide your club in brainstorming ideas that will benefit classmates, the department, or members of your local community.

3. Stay on top of your professional growth

Webinars and online meetings take travel costs out of the equation, making it easier to meet with experts from around the world. Invite alumni to discuss their careers or their research with your chapter. Host COVID-19 talks with experts. Have get-to-know-your-professor meetings in which professors discuss their career journeys. Or start a journal club or join the ACS Journal Club as a chapter.

Chapter members can also get together to attend professional development workshops, such as ACS Virtual Classroom courses, the Outreach Training Program, or the Chemistry Advocacy workshop. Watch and discuss ACS Webinars or check with your school’s Career Services office about virtual résumé-writing and other career workshops.

4. Bring in the money

ACS is currently offering grants to both domestic and international student chapters to support virtual activities. (Bonus: Developing substantive grant proposals is a skill you will need throughout your science career!) Many ACS local sections have active student programs, so forging a relationship with yours is a great opportunity not only for funding but for identifying future speakers and activities.

A lot of traditional in-person fundraisers have found ways to go online. Companies such as CustomInk, Bonfire, and Inkd Apparel allow you to design and sell customized t-shirts and other items through their websites. ShopWithScrip supports gift cards sales for a variety of companies, with a percentage of the proceeds going to your chapter. Krispy Kreme Digital Dozens provides contactless doughnut sales (yum!). And many restaurants have expanded their restaurant nights (in which a portion of the proceeds from an evening of sales goes to your chapter) to include to-go and delivery orders.

5. Follow @ACSUndergrad and Share

Each month @ACSUndergrad is posting challenges for students, along with tips for completing the challenges. Follow @ACSUndergrad on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to try one of the challenges as a group, and post on your progress using the designated monthly hashtag. 

September’s challenge is particularly relevant: ACS student members are being challenged to either start a new chapter activity or start a new chapter. So if you spend September trying—or even planning—something new, be sure to include #SeptemberStarts.