Greater Houston Section

  • 03 Feb 2020 7:16 PM | ACS GHS (Administrator)

    Who lit your spark? Likely if you’re reading this you were inspired at some point in your life to study chemistry by some person, probably a teacher or by something you read or watched. This month we’d like to put our ACS-GHS spotlight on the Metropolitan Houston Area Chemistry Teachers Association. This group of teachers is a local affiliate of the Associated Chemistry Teachers of Texas. They meet three to four times a year to network, share and learn from each other. Teachers can earn professional development credit by attending the meetings. In the fall they met to coincide with the ACS National Chemistry Week Marvelous Metals. The Metro Houston area chemistry teachers met on the Saturday before National Chemistry Week for some food, friends, and chemistry fun. There was a periodic table game, in honor of the International Year of the Periodic Table (courtesy of Bean Burr); activities related to the chemistry of metals, in honor of the National Chemistry Week theme of Marvelous Metals; and a few gas related demos and activities (thanks to Amiee Modic) for our teachers who were new to the Metro group and new to teaching chemistry.

    Roxie Allen, brought out some metal related activities that some had never seen, and others had forgotten about, and the exploring began. There was creating an activity series or table of reduction potentials using just small bits of metals, a few drops of solution, and some filter paper in a petri dish; then we used a variety of 9V batteries assembled in series to anodize niobium and titanium wire, creating colorful pieces that could be made into jewelry.

    The information about these metal activities can be found in the Metro Houston folder on the ACT2 website. If you’d like more information about MHCTA or ACT2, please email Roxie  at

    Thank you for being dedicated volunteers to Houston area students!

  • 20 Jan 2020 7:15 PM | ACS GHS (Administrator)

    The new year is a great time to refresh and reset, and the ACS-GHS is ready to go for 2020. We welcomed our newly elected board members and volunteers at the 2020 Section Kick-off meeting on January 18th at the University of St. Thomas. Participants discussed section plans for the upcoming year and made some changes to committee assignments. We have exciting plans for 2020 and look forward to sharing them with our members!

  • 19 Jan 2020 6:26 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    This year, for the first time in recent memory, a student from the Greater Houston Section was honored at the national level for their submission to the Illustrated Poetry Contest for National Chemistry Week. This year’s theme was Marvelous Metals and Isabella Trong, a junior at Memorial High School, was the national 2nd place winner for the 9-12 grade category with her poem on Aluminum. Hopefully this will be the start of the Greater Houston Section having more participation and winning a few more accolades at the national level. Isabella’s chemistry teacher is John Husted and he was excited to hear about her recognition. Please check out Isabella’s poem, which incorporates Aluminum’s characteristics, uses, and a bit of humor as well!

  • 19 Jan 2020 6:24 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    The ACS-GHS held its first online silent auction over the last two weeks of October to auction off chemistry-themed quilts and other items made in honor of the International Year of the Periodic Table. We're happy to report that the event was a great success, raising $665 in support of Project SEED and other GHS activities! We had bids come in from across the US and even some drama as a well timed final bid resulted in a last minute auction victory. Thank you to all our bidders for your support, and congratulations to our auction winners!

  • 20 Dec 2019 6:02 PM | ACS GHS (Administrator)

    As part of the ACS-GHS celebration of 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT), GHS Chair-Elect Crystal Young spearheaded efforts to have the IYPT officially recognized by the State of Texas and the City of Houston. October 26th, 2019 was proclaimed to be International Year of the Periodic Table Day by the City of Houston to coincide with the ACS-GHS Kids & Chemistry Outreach event at the Children's Museum during National Chemistry Week. On Friday, December 6th, ACS-GHS representatives visited City Hall to receive the proclamation commemorating the IYPT directly from Mayor Sylvester Turner. The Mayor commented on Twitter after the meeting, "It's important that young minds continue to be attracted to science in order to ensure the next generation of innovators."

    Thank you to Mayor Turner for the Commendation! We are grateful for his support of science, chemistry, and the International Year of the Periodic Table.

  • 10 Dec 2019 9:23 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    Botto joined the ACS in 1972 as a college student.  He later joined ACS-Greater Houston Section (GHS) in 1975 when he moved to Houston to work for Exxon. He was elected to the ACS-GHS Executive Board about 1979 and served in several capacities throughout the 80s, receiving the ACS-GHS Local Section Award in 1982 and the ACS Regional Award for the Southwest Region in 1994. He also served as Chairman of the SW Region in 1995.

    In 1978, Exxon asked Bob to conduct a chemistry show for high school students visiting the campus in Baytown.  That began his long career in chemistry outreach. He expanded into a school outreach program and developed a chemical “magic” stage show and performed with volunteer assistants at schools in mainly the Baytown area several times during the school year. Each year for National Chemistry Week, ExxonMobil would allow him time to tour the schools and perform several shows during that week.  When ExxonMobil developed a “science ambassador” program for schools, Bob’s chemistry shows and demonstrations fit in perfectly.  Demand for his chemistry shows increased steadily and Bob recruited a circle of volunteers to help.

    When the National ACS conducted the Kids & Chemistry Pilot Study in the fall of 1993, the Greater Houston Section was chosen as one of four pilot sites nationally. Bob served as a coordinator for the Houston Kids & Chemistry Program and helped to recruit volunteers, test the hands-on kits and orchestrate presentations at the various venues. In 1994 Bob helped the ACS assess the effectiveness of the program in capturing the interest of the kids and changing their opinions toward science and continued to serve National ACS as a member of their Kids & Chemistry Advisory Board for several years.  With the successful completion of the pilot, Bob took up the role of Kids & Chemistry coordinator for the GHS-ACS as Chairman of the “Chemistry in Community” Committee. Each year Bob conducted volunteer recruitment and training sessions, some in conjunction with the National ACS. He maintained a database of volunteers and encouraged them to conduct their own Kids & Chemistry programs at various venues such as libraries, rodeos, parks, camps, kids at work, shopping malls, churches, scouts’ events, museums etc.

    Bob retired from ExxonMobil in 2010 but continues to be an active volunteer with the ACS-GHS. 2019 is the 4th year in a row that Bob has organized the Children's Museum National Chemistry Week hands on chemistry activities. The Children's Museum typically has 300 plus kids and parents visit our tables each year. The volunteers are college chemistry students and this year 58 signed up. 

    He was elected a Fellow of the ACS in 2011 and in 2015 was presented the Helen Free Award for exemplary volunteer service to the ACS. We thank Bob for his years of volunteer service and salute his continued commitment to sharing the joy of chemistry with community members of all ages!

  • 10 Dec 2019 8:53 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    Report from ACS-GHS Community Affairs Committee Chair Kerry Spilker:

    The ACS-GHS had the opportunity to participate in the STEM Expo hosted by San Jacinto College on October 24th at the Central Campus. Ann Cartwright and Cheryl Sellers were on hand to make sure the evening, events and hands-on experiments went off without a hitch. Ruben Ramirez, the Lab Supervisor, came up with the crazy ideas for projects to deliver an exciting evening for all that attended.

    Cheryl Seller, Director of Community Relations with Ann Cartwright, STEM Council Co-Chair

    The evening was a collaborative effort with over 150 student/teacher volunteers with additional help from the Police Department, Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management Department, Market, PR and Government Affairs Department and Maintenance Department. The STEM Expo featured Mathematics, Engineering, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Ocearch, Aerospace, the SJC Foundation and the American Chemical Society-Greater Houston Section. R2D2 was on hand to meet and greet all that passed through the halls.

    Set up began at 3:00 pm followed by safety training to be ready for the crowds at 5 pm. The chemistry stations included Shrinky Dinks, Slime, Wave Machine, Acid-Base Demo, Chemistry in a bag, Skewer A Balloon and Divers. The classic chemistry demos were a collection of experimental procedures donated by Mamie Moy. Kerry Spilker, ACS-GHS Community Affairs Committee Chair, hosted two tables titled, Unicorn Milk to demonstrate the concept of interfacial tension.

    Of course, the stars of the evening were the 500 plus special guests ranging in age from 7 – 70 years of age. The guests are part of the Communities in Schools Outreach whose mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and succeed in life. Students participating in the program stay in school longer with improved academics and behavior.

    Visit to experience firsthand Adventures in Chemistry.

  • 09 Nov 2019 5:44 PM | ACS GHS (Administrator)

    Lisa Houston has been an active ACS volunteer for more than 25 years at all levels, including local section, technical division, regional meetings, and ACS national governance, and was recently elected to the ACS Board of Directors as District IV Director. With the Greater Houston Section, she has continued to focus on expanding our outreach and education efforts through the introduction of new activities such as our senior chemist outreach program. She has also been instrumental in recruiting a significant number of new volunteers to the local section board, and her organization skills are often called on when planning section events.

    In 2019, Lisa took on the role of GHS Awards Committee Chair and built a small team to solicit nominations for local and regional awards as well as plan the annual Awards Banquet. All of this has been accomplished while advancing her professional career to her current position as Business Segment leader for two portfolios at Petroleum Analyzer Company (PAC). We congratulate Lisa on her election to the ACS Board of Directors and thank her for her continued contributions to the Greater Houston section!

  • 01 Nov 2019 7:16 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    This Halloween instead of passing out candy to my co-workers, I passed out hands-on chemistry kits for the parents to do at home. I wanted to raise STEM awareness in the community with hopes those participating will develop a passion for chemistry and other sciences. I selected the experiments from the ACS website. ACS has a great website with Classroom Science Activities for teachers, but you knew that, right? They also have an excellent webpage to help teachers and parents facilitate hands-on experiments for kids to explain complex chemistry. 


    Pictured: Wei Wang, Do Hoon Kim, Sujeewa Palayangoda, Hyuntae Yang, Gayani Pinnawala

    The kits contained food dye, cotton swabs, plastic pipettes and instructions to demonstrate interfacial tension. 

    For more information to delight and amaze your friends and family, visit:

    Kerry Spilker

    ACS-GHS Community Affairs Committee Chair

  • 30 Oct 2019 11:41 PM | Dawn Friesen (Administrator)

    Report from Kids & Chemistry organizer Bob Botto:

    We had a wonderful time with the kids at the Children's Museum of Houston on Saturday, October 26th. Volunteers from University of Houston, Texas Southern University and Rice University arrived at 9 am to help me set up. I counted at least 25 so when it was time to welcome the kids at 10 am we were ready! Catherine Faler brought a small banner and a quilt. We had 5 tables set up: Color Changes with Juices, Radish Writing, Candy Experiments, Play Doh (because kids!) and a Theme table for Marvelous Metals. Each table was staffed with at least 4 volunteers. Extra volunteers who came to our event were used by the Children's Museum to staff the Slime Stations. Emily MacWilliams was my contact and facilitated everything.

    The Theme table featured the properties of metals which make up 80 percent of the Periodic Table. Properties such as thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, ferromagnetism, malleability and ductility were featured with objects the kids and parents could touch and feel.

    The hands on experiments were as fun as ever and we added candy experiments this year. At noon we fed all the volunteers pizza and drinks. We had 58 volunteers signed up and they were distributed between morning and afternoon shifts. 

    At 11 am Houston City Councilwoman Karla Cisneros came by to present a proclamation from the Mayor's office declaring National Chemistry Week in Houston. The proclamation was read by Karla Cisneros and received by me and Crystal Young, ACS-GHS Chair-Elect.

    Visitors continued to come and enjoy the exhibits until 3 pm when we shut it down. I would estimate in the range of 300-400 kids and adults visited the displays.

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